Rumi Neely, Fashion Toast


"I do all my own makeup for my blog; I don’t have a crew. I’ve got an assistant and I have the luck of having my boyfriend take all my pictures, and my friends also take a lot of my pictures. At the very beginning of my blog, in 2007, I was using a tripod against a garage door. Then, my boyfriend caught me. He was like, ‘What in the hell are you doing?’ [Laughs] I was like, ‘I don’t know! It’s a weird blog,’ because I didn’t want people to know about it really. I’d graduated pretty recently from college and I was doing this whole thing on Ebay where I would buy vintage clothes and try to make them modern by styling them in certain ways—or restructuring them almost—and sell them. That was probably my segue into creating a blog because it was my first online presence. I would get a lot of questions from people via the Ebay messaging system, asking where this pair of shoes was from, or that hat or whatever. At some point, I was like, ‘I wonder if there might be more interest in that aspect of what I'm doing...’  The name Fashion Toast kind of just got stuck in my head. I wish that there was a meaningful reason—but there really isn’t. I’m was thinking, ‘Why did this get stuck in my head? Maybe it’ll get stuck in someone else's.’ I don’t love [toast]. I like jam a lot, but you can pretty much only eat jam on toast. So I enjoy toast as, you know, a pathway. [Laughs]

I have built a great audience, but it's hard not to think of things in terms of the last post on your blog. It’s terrifying in a weird way, to always be like, ‘What’s next, what’s going to look better? What else can I do with photography? Is my clothing too inaccessible? Am I not affordable, am I not relatable?’  You do start dressing in a way just to satiate people. Should it still be completely based on your personal-style instinct? I mean, you can really get into a weird place, but it's definitely something that you should be thinking about. There's no right answer.

I don’t get too picky about my shampoos and conditioners. I just get into one product at one time and then switch them out really readily—I think that’s kind of better for your hair. I also try to make sure—as much as I can without being a crazy person—to look at the ingredients, making sure there’s nothing crazy harmful in there. For example, the whole Yes To Cucumbers line seems all right, and it’s pretty cheap. A lot of the stuff I use in the shower is largely drugstore, since it runs out so fast. For shampoo, I like Avalon Organics Thickening Shampoo. Sometimes I’ll splurge on a conditioner, like the Moroccan Oil Hydrating Mask. I really love it, but you go through it so quickly, and I feel a little bit crazy to always be buying thirty, forty-dollar conditioners. I’m really liking L’Oréal's Evercrème Deep Nourishing Mask; I use it as a conditioner and leave it in for two or three minutes. My hair is damaged at the ends in a crazy way, so I try to get the most hydrating conditioners that I can.

Right now, my hair is ombré-ed. I think it started by accident—it was 2009—because I was bleached blonde. It just looked awful—so wrong with my complexion. I guess I was feeling it at the time, but when I look back at the photos now, I’m like, ‘I look so sallow.’ The whole yellow-undertone Asian thing just was not working with that. Anyway, it got really damaged from that obviously, and I decided to stop touching it at all and just let it grow out. That kind of looked cool; I wasn’t doing anything with it for months and months and months. All of the blond eventually grew out, and I thought, ‘I think I’ll do that again.’ So, it’s been a yearly process—I’ll go and have them dye from half-way, down… I haven’t found a colorist that I would go back to for the whole process because they don’t really get it. They always put the bleach in too high, so I always have to go in and correct it, and it turns into a huge, annoying process. But, I’ve been to people that have been really good at fixing what the last person did! [Laughs] But then, I also don’t really care, I’m just like, ‘Oh, whatever. It’ll grow out and look normal-ish in a month or two.’

I shampoo every day; it’s awful. But I don’t feel like I’m fully ready for the day if I don’t shampoo. People are like, ‘What’re you doing? You’re ruining your life!’ I’m like, ‘I don’t know, I put on waterproof mascara every day, too, and my lashes seem fine, so…’ The concept of dry shampoo is really appealing, like, ‘I’m not going to wash my hair!’ But, I just like washing my hair. That said, I do love Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray. This stuff is one step to Gisele hair. You just shake it and spray it and muss it around. I use it when I really care about how my hair looking on a certain day, because it’s hard to brush out and you’ve got to commit to having that in your hair...

Oh, and I also brush my hair when it’s wet, which is apparently awful to do because it pulls the strands when they're in their weakest state. I have really fine hair, but a lot of it, and it’s kind of hard to manage. So if I don’t brush it when it’s wet, I’m just going to end up with a tangled mess. People say it's bad, I don't know! I feel like I missed the phase in my life when I was supposed to learn all of these things. [Laughs] A comb won’t cut it, because it’s so easy to tangle, so I just go at it with a brush—I have a Mason Pearson that works really well.

But before I brush it—a slightly protective measure—I put in some oil. So that’s good! My favorite is Essence Absolue by Shu Uemura; it smells amazing, and it’s got a really good texture to it. In general, I like to look at ingredients a lot, so if I see something that’s likely the element that I like in the product, I’ll just go buy the organic or pure version of it on Amazon—like argan oil, or jasmine or rose hip oil. They’re kind of applicable for everything, I think. Even the argan oil—right now, I want to extend the life of my Rodin Olio Lusso, so I just put some argan oil in there and it’s fine. I also fell in love with jasmine oil from using the Olio Lusso—it has jasmine in it—and I bought that a little container of the pure version; it makes a really great perfume.

This is probably the most ritual-type thing that I do: if I want my hair to be sort of ropey and beachy—I learned this on a shoot with Free People, from the hairstylist—I put it up in two small buns for ten or fifteen minutes, and then just undo the buns. It makes the perfect waves.... It’s super easy to do, and my friends can laugh at me while my hair looks like Chun-Li’s, so it’s fun for everyone!

I've found that a lot of the oils that are good for the ends of your hair are really good as facial oils, as well. But I already have slightly shiny skin, so I’d rather just not put oil on during the day. My favorite moisturizer is Embryolisse—it’s a really good texture for day, it’s not super heavy, and it blends in really easily, and works almost like a primer. At first, it was hard to find in LA, but now I just order it on Amazon. They have all of the French pharmacy products on Amazon, it’s amazing.

I'm really into products from Jurlique and Caudalie—they’re companies that I fully trust in terms of the quality of the ingredients they use. I mean, I learned the term ‘biodynamic’ by using Jurlique and reading the backs of the bottles. [Laughs] I was like, ‘There’s something beyond ‘organic’?? Holy crap!’ It’s even better than organic. I wash my face every night, religiously, with Jurlique Purely Bright Cleanser, which I’ve been using for a while and love. The Purely Bright Night Moisturizer is awesome, too. But the second I get home, when I’m done going out for the day, I have to wash my face; it just feels nice to get everything off. If I have makeup on, I also use the Klorane Soothing Eye Make-Up Remover with Cornflower Water, and I’ll add a little bit of argan oil to break up the mascara, because it’s waterproof. Sometimes, I mix in a bit of the Ahava Time To Clear Eye Makeup Remover… I know, I’m like a freakin’ chemist. [Laughs] Because I feel like, I don’t know, the oils are better for breaking up the mascara. People have told me I can use pure Jojoba oil or argan oil as eye-makeup remover, but I feel like that smears your vision for too long. I like to use a little combination. Also, I’m obsessed with exfoliating. [Laughs] Like, freakishly. I have two Clarisonics, one for home and one for travel, and I’m always intrigued by new exfoliants to try out. This is my favorite: Caudalie Deep Cleansing Exfoliator. But exfoliating's really an obsession. A few days ago, I saw this product on Amazon that I was laughing at—slash want to buy. It’s an extending handle for your Clarisonic so you can use it for your body. At first I thought, ‘OK, that is just weird’…but now I’m intrigued.

Some people say it’s bad to go at your skin like that, but I’m always willing to try out something new. I mean, I’m not super faithful to a lot of products—maybe just Maybelline Turbo Boost Volum’ Express Mascara. I like the brush—and also Great Lash. I always use the waterproof version because it holds the curl better. I’m kind of annoying when I go on shoots—on one hand, I’m super interested in what the makeup artist is using, because that’s how I find out about new products sometimes—but on the other hand, I’m the girl that brings her own mascara and is like, ‘Please use only this.’ I also usually bring either my Shiseido Eyelash Curler or one from Shu Uemura. If the makeup artist wants to line the waterline, then I feel like it’s more hygienic to use your own. I always have some of my own stuff and just ask, ‘Can you please use this?’

In terms of makeup, I’ve been pretty faithful to Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation in OC2 for a while. I think I read at one point that Lauren Santo Domingo loved it, and then I came across it at a store when I was in Tokyo. I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll try this out,’ and they had an exact match for my skin—which is always my main issue with foundation—and I never looked back. I put it on the same way I do moisturizer, or sometimes I’ll use a Beauty Blender, which I’ve gotten into lately—that’s one thing I learned from a makeup artist. I was like, ‘What is that creepy pink thing?’ and then I was like, ‘Oh, I want one!’ [Laughs] If I’m going out and maybe doing something for the blog, I guess I’ll wear foundation. If I’m just bumming around, I won’t always wear it, though.

I’m also really into highlighters. I don’t do blushes or concealer or any of that. I think I just love the idea of highlighters. I have probably two or three that I love, like the RMS Living Luminizer. It is so, so good, and so pretty. And then the Madina Chic and Shine Stick—I’ve used it so much, there’s no sticker left on it. I just pat it on my cheekbones, and then one of the best tips anyone can use, which is the whole highlighting-the-inner-corners-of-your-eyes thing. That really brightens up your look. I also use the NARS Multiple, which I have in a couple colors: Copacabana and South Beach. South Beach I got when I was more into a bronzy type of look…. Actually, I used to be obsessed with bronzer, and then I just wasn’t all of a sudden. I have weird instincts that I follow when it comes to this stuff—I’ll just suddenly not care about, maybe ever doing a cat eye again, or ever wearing bronzer. So right now, my routine is Koh Gen Do foundation, some highlighter, and Maybelline mascara, and that’s all I care about. And still a cat eye—I use the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner, which is a felt-tip pen and it feels like you’re literally drawing on your face; it’s fun. But I switch up the eyeliners a lot. The Maybelline Master Precise is great. And sometimes, I’ll get into weird phases where I’ll just do the gel pots and use a brush. When I go that way, I like Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner and the Smudge Pot by Stila. Overall, a little cat eye is my favorite look, and the felt-tip application makes everything a lot easier, plus you have a lot more control. You can use the pen to get the outline of it on your eye, and then just fill it in with something darker… It takes practice, and stabilizing your elbow—I go into a crazy position when I'm putting on mascara and eyeliner. Like, my feet are out here, and one arm is balanced on the sink, because I feel like support is what it’s all about. [Laughs]

For eyeshadow, I’m obsessed with the Clinique Lid Smoothies—I have Licorice on right now. With powder, it gets everywhere, but the Lid Smoothies stay put if you use a brush. I’m really particular about the way I put it on; I like to keep it really localized on a smaller part of the eyelid, and not have it be an exaggerated swoosh, which makeup artists always try to do with me. That, or an orange lip. People always think I should have an orange lip, which I just can't stand. Maybe it’s because they think it emphasizes my ‘exotic’ look—since I’m half Japanese, half white—but I think it looks awful. I’m so not a lips person. If I’m at home, I’ll just use the Nuxe Rêve de Miel—it feels so, so good—but if I want a little bit more shine and I’m out, I’ll use Lucas’ Papaw Ointment or Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment. I love the Fresh stuff—it has that kind of lemon-y smell, without being overpowering. If I want a little color, I’ll go with Clinique Almost Lipsticks, which are like a stain. I wear a pinkish one called Shy Honey over lip balm, so it’s barely noticeable at all. like the Sugar Lip Scrub from Fresh, and for a shower scrub, since body scrubs can be so expensive, I’ll just make a little vat of sugar and olive oil—and that’s a scrub. It’s kind of greasy, but I like it on my legs. And you know exactly what’s in it!

I use The Powder by La Mer to make my skin more matte—it’s just a translucent powder. Or, if I’m like, about to shoot, I’ll put some Make Up For Ever HD Powder on. That’s probably my main issue—I get kind of shiny."

—as told to ITG

Rumi Neely photographed by Emily Weiss in Los Angeles, CA in January 2013.

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • Doll

    Ohh I loved this she seems soo nice
    Are the Koh Gen Do foundations really that good?

  • BEBA!

    one of the best "Top Shelf" EVER. Rumi is the best!


    I always wonder what Rumi wears in terms of makeup - really loved this post ITG!

  • amelia

    This was so good to read, Rumi seems really lovely

  • Lowry

    Am a hairstylist and just want to give her locks some tender loving care! Those ends are fried, girlfriend! Ombré needs to die a quick death. Too many ladies are frying their hair to bits! Not a fan, never was. Also, quick tip... if you MUST brush your hair when it is wet, please please use a soft bristle paddle brush. It will detangle without pulling out and damaging hair. The Morroccan Oil line makes an EXCELLENT paddle brush:

    • chicnoir

      We, the curly cozily girls of America recommend a "tangle teezer" for brushing hair when wet.

      • Isabel

        She did actually get one if you read her Formspring. I believe it was somewhere after this interview, so that's maybe why it didn't get mentioned.

  • Amandamarie Rodriguez

    It's great to see my favorite blogger into organic beauty! I've always grativated towards more raw, natural products; obsessive in reading ingredients. It definitely makes a difference! Clarisonic, jojoba oil, and a wooden comb are my absolute must haves.

  • Lola

    Thanks for this! Always interesting to hear more about beauty from fashion bloggers!

  • AKM

    This may seem terrible, but I was never very interested in her blog... until now! She seems a bit neurotic (as we all are), down to earth & like she would be great to sit next to at a dinner party. I like that she doesn't come across as being obsessive about any given thing, but is quite honest about the need to change things up. Refreshing! Thank you for this

    • kneelbeforetigers

      SAME HERE! Never was a regular reader of her blog, but after reading the above & agreeing on so many items, I'm going to give her a new chance!! And yes, the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray is the TRUTH!

  • Caity

    Great post! What an inspiration!

  • Cay

    Might be my favorite top shelf ever. Thanks!

  • Bonnie Clyde

    Love this post !!!

  • beautyidealist

    I really enjoyed this, especially since it seems she truly does love beauty! I've been hoping to see her on this site since she has posted about beauty products on her own blog.

  • Guest

    Talk about hitting the genetic jackpot! She's gorgeous. I enjoy her blog mainly because of Colin Sokol's photographs, which are usually quite stellar. While I can't use any of her makeup tips (completely different skin tone) I did steal her ombre hair idea and I continue to love it.

  • Couteau

    Drôle. She's cooler than her blog.

  • thekch

    Love you Rumi!

  • Diana

    I'd love to know where her top is from in images 3 and 4..? Thank you!

    • Paulina

      You mean pictures of Embroylisse and Jurlique products?

      • Diana

        No, just the white long-sleeved top she is wearing in the pictures that don't feature any products :)

    • Cat

      I believe it's Alexander Wang.

      • Diana

        Thank you so much!

  • Jeanne

    She's one of my favorite bloggers!

  • kimberlyloc

    I'm not a Fashion Toast reader (though I've skimmed a bit before), but I SO appreciate reading about an influential fashion blogger who favors natural and organic beauty products. It's quite refreshing, and I knew from the moment I saw that jar of argan oil as I was flipping through the pictures that I had to read this post. I've been devoted to natural and organics for years, but to really get more people interested in green luxury beauty, we need more people like Rumi (and, um, you, Emily!) talking about the wonders of oils, serums, pure ingredients and the like. Thanks for the nice post! xx

  • HW

    Finally! I feel like I've been waiting so long to see this interview. I love Rumi and her blog. She seems so genuine. If you read this, Rumi, keep your blog personal and exclusive to your individual style; that's why people enjoy it so much. Please don't feel like you have to cater only to your readers!

  • Cate

    I have browsed through her site once or twice but I'm not a religious follower. After reading this, I feel I can relate to her a lot more. I don't think it's so awful of her to have admitted her "bad hair habits". I actually think it's kind of endearing when she states that she must have missed that part growing up. I kind of feel the same way!

  • Paulina

    I love her blog and follow it all the time :) and I think it's a great Top Shelf! I appreciate the fact that Rumi actually uses expensive and cheap products while I was imagining that she might use only these from the top shelf ;)

  • snax


  • Holly Skelton

    Love the post.

    Rumi is so gorgeous and has some great hair and beauty
    product recommendations. I loved this post. Holly xx

  • Cristina

    I've been following Rumi's blog habitually for the past 3 (maybe 4?!) years. I read it every day with my coffee. And she's funny too?! Love her.

  • Michelle

    Thank you thank you thank you for this post!!! I have been obsessed with her for a while, and have been following her blog. I have been hoping you would do a top shelf on her! Love her natural look. Sorry, totally disagree with previous post, I love love love the ombre hair!!! It looks awesome, and much less damaging and done looking than all over highlights! You can always trim off the bottom, what are you going to do with fried roots? Please Please do a post of your favorite hair colorists and stylists. I love into the gloss!! xox

  • Joy Of Stranger Sensibilities

    She is definitely a pioneer. She really changed the landscape for fashion blogging.

  • claribel

    I feel like i've waited 2 1/2 years for this interview lol!

  • Jessy

    Loved this. I learned about a lot of new products that I can't wait to try. ♥

    jessydust | Toronto Fashion Blogger

  • camwink

    Where are her pants from?

  • Kate South

    She seems down to earth and funny, maybe slightly neurotic (just like me!) and I like her approach to her beauty routines.

  • celyn_lifeisashoe

    such a great feature! I had fun reading about all her beauty must haves and routines!

  • Sara

    I don't get why some people tend to try to seem low maintenance mentioning using the cheaper products like Embryolisse when apart from that we can see some Clinique, Mario Badescu, Kiehl's and Dior in her shelf.

    • Cat

      Maybe she actually enjoys those cheaper products... I for one like to know what more affordable products people are into. I am happy to pay more for some of my staples which I really love, but who doesn't like finding lower cost alternatives that work just as well? Such recommendations are always welcome with me!

    • Guest

      Yeah because Clinique, Badescu and Kiehl's are totally expensive.

      • Sara

        First of all, I didn't say they were expensive. I didn't realise maybe they are a similar price range in the USA, but in Europe they start at double or 3 times the price. Obviously Dior is more expensive as well.

  • SF City Editor

    I just love the Topshelf posts because they give me insight into what everyone else is using, and I might discover new items, or find like in this piece that we have several of the same items....

  • Lucy Garrick

    I found Fashion Toast a couple of years ago when googling 'fashion blog' after being stuck in a rut with my wardrobe. Seriously enjoyed this. She has very similar taste to me when if comes to makeup so I've written a little list! X

  • Artist and fashion blogger- LA

    I also always switch up my shampoo and conditioner... read somewhere a while ago that it's good for the hair. Still haven't found a favorite line though...


  • Anna

    Rumi is great blogger!

  • lena

    I've been a huge fan of Rumi's blog for years and I can't even tell you how many of these products I want to buy after hearing she uses them.. at the same time after reading this interview I'm really wondering why half Asian people always feel like they have to mention at least once in every interview that they're half Asian? And they always do it in these pseudo-casual way even though you can tell they've been preparing themselves to bring it up the whole time. I'm half Japanese like Rumi but I don't understand whether it's a defensive or narcissistic thing to constantly discuss your ethnic background. Apart from that I really loved this interview, girl really knows what makeup suits her and I like that she's conscious about what she's putting on her skin.

    • monica

      Haha, I was getting the point of your comment until you said "I'm half Japanese"... :)

  • Maria

    Based on products mentioned, I can tell she's an ITG reader!

  • Bee

    Great post but I want to know what Karla Deras uses to get that amazing skin and the secrets for her perfect body!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please make it happen, Emily!

  • Hayfa

    I love her so much :) She seems like a lovely person in this little mini interview :)


  • Nina

    She seems really fun and sweet! Will check out her blog. Love that she's not afraid of admitting her "hair sins", like washing daily, when everyone else raves about how they only wash once a week. As a fellow fine haired girl with the urge to wash frequently, this is sooo refreshing to hear, thanks!

  • another label by you

    she has really nice complexion. great interview

  • Vicki

    Hi Emily and Rumi, you inspired me to buy a tube of the Lucas Papaw (which I keep calling Paw Paw which I'm sure is not right!) ointment. It was expensive on Amazon but I did find it on ebay and some sellers offered free shipping for anyone who's interested. I'm hoping it lives up to the hype, I need something good to put on my poor dry lips! :)

    • Jody

      I love it! It's an Australian product and I've been using it for over a decade. The packaging hasn't changed in that time, although they've introduced the tube size (for years it only came in a big tub) and a tube in Australia will set you back about $12, give or take. I hope that helps in terms of pricing. A small tube will last you FOREVER. It's so perfect if you have chapped lips especially, it will soften the dry/flakey skin immediately. If i have chapped lips or windburn/sunburn, I put it on before bed and when I wake up I pop some more on and let it soak while I'm in the shower. Then I gently buff my lips with a wash cloth and voila, perfect, soft lips. Its also great as just a regular lip balm, but you can use it like you would any of the other "super balms" such as Eight Hour Cream, minus that yucky petroleum taste/smell/feel! We just call it PawPaw in Aus, I think in America the fruit is referred to as Papaya. Hope this helps and sorry for the over share, but its just one of those products that inspires me to write long, nostalgic paragraphs!

  • Fabita Punk

    I also have a fashion blog and most of my pictures are taken with my tripd too beacuse no one would help me...not even my husband :( you're so lucky

  • Joyce

    love this feature. I don't always like following her blog, but right now i'm liking it again. this was interesting!

  • Ahmed Ashraf

    wow, Rumi! she comes across so well in this interview... love that she's not always able to do the 'right' thing like all of us. sometimes we're just lazy! :)

  • Lydia Teo

    I love how she started out with a tripod like many new fashion bloggers out there...this interview made her so much more relatable!

  • gr8p

    I love her blog! Great interview

  • Carly Tati

    Thanks for the post. Can't wait to try the Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray.

  • JWO

    please please please do a top shelf on audrey gelman!!!

  • Behind the Mirror

    Love Ahava products!!!! Can't wait to get back to your blog again...

  • Chie Achacoso

    Im not big into fashion but this pic reminds me of
    cucuy couture they have cute stuff

    party shoes

  • Asia Carter

    Love the advice she gave about searching the more organic ingredients in certain products online I never thought to do this. I love Rumi's hair and I love that she makes mistakes in beauty like most of us. Rumi is not anything if consistent. It is one of the reason's I love her blog. She stays true to her aesthetic and while she doesn't always seem relateable in her photos and the clothes aren't always accessible she has amazing style. Her boyfriend is an excellent photographer as well. I enjoyed this post Rumi doesn't often give you inside scoop on her as a person but when she does she comes across as a very sweet person.

  • Shari

    May be I should tell you that AHAVA is not the best brand to advertise about. For example they produce in illegally built settlements in Syria but mark their products "made in Israel". I think this stands in contradiction to the organic vibe they are trying to stand for...

  • maji trich
    I think this is very informative blog regarding hair & beauty.

  • naim

    Thanks for the tips! They were
    really helpful!



Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray
Jurlique Purely Bright Cleanser
RMS Living Luminizer
L'Oreal Evercreme
L'Oreal Evercreme Deep Nourishing Masque
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè
Jurlique Purely Bright Night Moisturizer
Klorane Soothing Eye Make-Up Remover with Cornflower Water
AHAVA Time to Clear Eye Makeup Remover
CAUDALIE Deep Cleansing Exfoliator
Clarisonic Body Brush Extension Handle
Maybelline Volum' Express - Waterproof
Maybelline Volum Express Waterproof Mascara
Maybelline Volum' Express Turbo Boost
Maybelline Volum Express Turbo Boost Waterproof Mascara
Shiseido Eyelash Curler
Koh Gen Do
Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation
Koh Gen Do
Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation
NARS The Multiple Stick
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner
Maybelline EyeStudio
Maybelline EyeStudio Master Precise Ink Pen Eyeliner
Clinique Lid Smoothie Antioxidant 8-Hour Eye Colour
Stila Smudge Pot in Black
Nuxe Paris
Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm
Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment
Clinique Almost Lipstick
La Mer
La Mer The Powder