“I’m from Chevy Chase, Maryland, which is right outside of DC. But I’ve been living in New York since 2005—I moved here when I started modeling full time. My first shoots were all with Bruce Weber when I was still in school…Hollister, then Ralph Lauren, then Abercrombie. Those were the only brands people wore where I went to high school so people were like, ‘Oh wow!’ [Laughs] Then I signed with IMG and started to do high fashion—my first big show was Balenciaga with Nicolas Ghesquière and James Kaliardos. James was really supportive from the beginning of my career, and I did a lot of shoots with him. At that time, I was the only American model. Everybody else was Russian or Eastern European, so I didn’t look ‘high fashion.’ I guess it took James putting in a good word to get the French to notice me. [Laughs]
It’s so funny because the industry is really different now than it was when I started 11 years ago. Back then, you weren’t supposed to have Facebook, you were supposed to be more mysterious and elusive. It wasn’t cool to be on social media. And now, obviously, the whole game’s changed. Which I think is great because you can show your personality more. And I think it makes everyone feel more collaborative. I certainly feel less competitive about it than I did when I was younger. It’s better to work well with others, I’ve learned. And then I’ve been getting into acting—that’s been really fun for me. So I guess that’s my next step!
I am all about fitness. I played field hockey and lacrosse growing up. When I moved to New York and started modeling, I wasn’t as active or as focused on taking care of myself. It took me a long time to figure out what worked best for me. I worked with different trainers trying different things and nothing was getting me in the type of shape I wanted to be in. Because I have this athletic body, I have to be careful about not getting bulky. It was really frustrating—until I found Tracy Anderson in 2009, right around when I started dating Sean [Avery, my husband]. I’ve been working with Tracy for about eight years now. The workout is so intense, but now if I do a different kind of workout that doesn’t make me feel like I’m going to keel over and die, then I don’t feel like I got an actual workout in. [Laughs]
Working out every day makes me feel more mentally awake for sure. And it’s important for my job that my health is something I maintain. Before I had a routine, I would book a job and feel like I had to do a juice cleanse and not eat to get skinny quickly. I never have to think that way anymore because I’m constantly taking care of myself. And also I credit my husband for kick-starting me into working out. He’s a professional athlete and so good about taking care of himself. Even in the off-season–when most guys don’t work out all summer—he works out every single day.
Other than that, I started taking prenatal vitamins, which are good for you even if you’re not trying to get pregnant. My nails were always peeling off and I could never grow them, and once I started taking the vitamins they got super strong. Maybe that’s why my hair started growing too. I’m really bad at remembering to take them every day but I’ve been trying to be really good about it.
I never had any pimples growing up until I turned like 22, and I got really bad acne on my chin and jawline. So I saw all these dermatologists to see if I was allergic to something—apparently I have a very mild milk allergy and went on some antibiotics to clear it up. Now I’m all about skincare. When I wake up in the morning, I wash my face with Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser, which gets you clean but is gentle enough for every day. I also exfoliate every day with the Tata Harper Smoothing Scrub. It’s not scratchy—it just feels like a good massage.
And then I use this Estée Lauder Micro Essence Skin Activating Treatment Lotion as a toner. I think it’s a true testament to the brand—I’m not a spokesmodel for them anymore but I’m still using a lot of their products because they’re so amazing. I think their Advanced Night Repair and the lotions are just the best. The Daywear lotion smells really good, like cucumbers, and it’s also just super hydrating without being too thick. The Estée Lauder Micro Essence Infusion Mask is something I always travel with—I put them on in the car after I fly somewhere and no one even knows you just got off a plane. Your skin looks flawless after–no pores.
After I moisturize, I like to use an oil. Squalane oil is seriously the best. Nobody knows about it but it’s amazing. Whenever I have it on, makeup artists always say the makeup goes on so well—just dewy and amazing. It’s an ingredient that’s in everything–it’s in every moisturizer, but Peter Thomas Roth sells it in its pure form. You put it on as the last step over your moisturizer. It’s colorless, odorless, and it’s made from like, sugarcane or something? Yeah, it’s amazing.
Now that I’m a little older, I’m starting to focus more on eye creams, too. I switch between the Shiseido and Tatcha pots. Both have iridescence in them so when you put it on it illuminates the whole area. And every day I use this Supergoop Daily Sunscreen SPF 50. I really like because it goes on really light without a white film. And then to take all my makeup and stuff off at the end of the day, I like Epicuren Gelle. It’s a velvety gel that removes makeup but also has vitamins in it. It takes everything off in one swoop—much easier than a lot of things. For my job I’m always taking off layers of makeup.
I’ve never been into facials, but I just started seeing Joanna Vargas and I think she’s amazing. I’ve also been going to the Tribeca Medspa for dermaplaning for years. I started when I was on billboards for Estée…When the photos are so close-up, you have to take care of the peach fuzz that you don’t always notice on your face. No one really knows about it, but I was reading some stuff about how, back in the day, movie stars like Sofia Loren would shave their faces and it actually is really good exfoliation for your skin. I do that every couple of months.
After I work out, I like to dry brush all the dead skin off my body. It makes me look amazing. If I’m sore, the Mio Skincare Workout Wonder Gel is really nice. It’s a really minty, fresh spearmint that’s supposed to increase circulation, decrease inflammation, relieve aches. Or else I have this Hawaiian Body Oil from Alba Botanica I use after dry brushing. That one smells good, but I’ve tried a few different brands and I’m always changing it up. And then I've been using Kiehl’s Coriander or Lavender shower gel for years now. I sweat a lot, so if I put on a heavy body butter it traps the heat in and it’s just unbearable. This is a really light breathable lotion that’s still moisturizing and nice.
Day to day, I don’t wear much makeup. I will for events obviously, but I don’t even have that many products. I like to use one product in three different places—for example, I have this rose-colored Vaseline that I use on my lips and as blush. There was a time where I did wear a lot of makeup and I remember my friend asked, ‘Do you have dirt on your face?’ because I had put so much bronzer on it actually looked dirty. But now I have the MAC Taupe blush—it’s the same one Pat McGrath always uses—and it’s the perfect color. They don’t sell it on its own, so you have to buy the refill and fit it into a palette. I use it on my cheekbones and in the eye socket, and then the Vaseline as blush and then the RMS Living Luminizer or the Nars Orgasm Multiple. I think it just makes you look younger and fresher.
For brows, I use this Lancôme brush to fill in a little bit, which I never had to do before but now I notice little bare spots. And then Marc Jacobs has a really good gel-based black eyeliner that I use to do a little flick. It’s not a cat eye, but just to extend the eye a bit and to draw it out. After that, I’ll use YSL Vinyl Couture Mascara. I like mascaras that have the fatter brush and a formula that really fresh and wet.
If I need to do a full face of makeup, I use Estée Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Foundation because it covers but isn't cake-y. And then I have this Lancôme Teint Idole Makeup Stick, and I just put it under my eyes and if I have a pimple or a spot or something and around my T-zone. For going out, I like a red lip. I always keep these in my bag just in case—Nars Dragon Girl and MAC Candy Yum Yum.
So I really don’t know how to do my hair at all. [Laughs] I always just end up putting it back into a bun. Everything I use is for texturizing—Tigi Superstar, which is a thickening spray that a lot of hairstylists use, and the Ouai Texturizing Hair Spray. Whatever will make it bigger. Recently I bought this Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Shampoo and it’s really good to use every day. Because that’s the other thing—I work out so much I want to wash my hair every day even though you’re not supposed to. I prefer the way dirtier hair looks anyway too, and the Perfect Hair Day line helps with that.
I go to Rodney Cutler for my cut and Harry Josh for my color. I started getting gray hair when I was 20–like, really gray hair–so I get my grays painted out every couple of weeks. I guess that’s why people with dark hair end up going blonder when they get older because it’s easier to cover grays with blond. I have all of Harry Josh’s products too, but day to day I really don’t even brush my hair.”
—as told to ITG
Hilary Rhoda photographed by Tom Newton at her home in New York on July 22, 2016.