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Rumi Neely, Fashion Toast

Rumi Neely
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'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.

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