It seems Winnie Harlow was always meant for the spotlight, especially when it comes to the beauty industry. Growing up, “I really wanted to be a YouTuber,” she says. “That stemmed out of me loving beauty products and wanting to see reviews. That was always something that I was really into on my own.” Today, she’s a top runway and editorial model, a spokesperson for vitiligo, and has amassed 10 million Instagram followers and over 30,000 TikTok followers. Still, while she is highly influential in her own right, just the other day, she took to Twitter looking for hair wash day recommendations and sharing her favorite of the moment, showing that her love of learning about all things beauty is still going strong.
Now, Harlow is taking on a new role in the beauty space as the new global brand ambassador for SinfulColors nail polish. The model has been working with the team on a collection of limited edition Winnie Harlow x SinfulColors collaborations that will be released all throughout 2022. The formulas are still the same cruelty-free and vegan nail polishes that people have come to know and love at the two to three dollar price point that makes it tempting (and easy) to indulge in any passing trend, shade, or finish.
Below, Winnie Harlow talks with NYLON about her early love of makeup, her favorite skin care practices, and her new partnership with SinfulColors.
What was your relationship with beauty like growing up?
I definitely have always been a product junkie and I think that's from my mom. She not only was a product junkie, but also worked for Mary Kay and Avon. So, I've always been super obsessed with products. I have pictures of me with lipstick on at three years old. I've always been that type of girl.
Did you always know that you wanted to be involved in the beauty industry or did that come out of modeling?
I wanted to be so many things before I was a model. I wanted to be a ballerina when I was young, and then I wanted to be a journalist. I think around age 16, I also really wanted to be a YouTuber and that stemmed out of me loving products and wanting to see reviews. That was always something that I was really into on my own. That's how I learned to do my own makeup.
When you got into modeling, did that change how you felt about beauty?
It was obviously a new experience getting hair and makeup done every day for work. It became less of a special, one-off situation and became more of a job. But it's a great part of my job that I get to learn things about what I'm interested in. It did become a lot with an overload of build-up and products on my skin, so I had to make sure that I took good care of my skin as well.
What is it like working with a lot of makeup artists, who didn't know your face and your needs maybe as well as you do yourself?
Very difficult and very challenging. It's always a learning experience. My favorite makeup artists that I work with are the ones who understand that while they may know the craft, I know my face, and are open to hearing what I have to say. I always end up looking the best when an incredibly talented artist is open to listening to my expertise, too. I work with Adam Burrell all the time. I work with Steven Tabimba. I've also worked backstage so much with Pat McGrath and her team. All of my favorite experiences have been when Pat's backstage. I know she and her team are going to make me look the best because they also want to make me feel my best. So, if I was like, "Oh that foundation might be a little bit too dark, or it might be a little bit too light," they would ask, “What shade do you think that should use?" of this bomb-ass, Pat McGrath foundation.
What is your favorite category of beauty right now?
Skin care, for sure. I'm always into everything, though. I love anything that's going to be reparative and deep conditioning for hair, but I don't wash my hair as often as I wash my face. So skin care, to me, is something that is daily and it’s what I am obsessed with now. I'm always looking for the next best product and serums and creams and stuff. Right now, I'm really loving Sunday Riley's serums, their vitamin C and their retinol. I've been using those for a few months now and I'm really enjoying them.
What look makes you feel most like yourself?
When I have my hair slayed and no makeup is when I feel the most like myself. I currently have black hair with a streak of blonde on the side. I feel like this is going to be my new go-to vibe for awhile. I think it showcases my skin really well, with the streak of blonde. I still feel comfortable, but then I feel glam at the same time — that's very me. Comfortable, yet glam.
Tell me about your daily routine.
I start out my day — I brush my teeth, wash my face. I throw on tons of serums, depending on what my skin feels like that day. If I wake up feeling all right and hydrated, you know what, I did a good job last night on my skincare, cool, then I just need something light, SPF and then out the door.
How did your partnership with SinfulColors come about?
I'm such a fan of their nail art and stuff. I like to get creative on my own time, but usually for modeling work, I don't get to be very creative when it comes to my nails. It's typically kept pretty simple. So, when it came to this collaboration I was like, finally, a job where I get to play with nails and have fun it.
How often do you get your nails done?
Pretty often. I obviously get my nails done for every job, but I also get my nails done on my own time. On my own time, in the summer or during my birthday, I like to have really long, sharp nails. When I'm working, I tend to keep it more natural and I like to stick to simpler colors, neutral tones and browns. Unless I have an event that I really want a crazy design then I like to play around and see what I’m feeling in the moment.
I have my nail tech that I typically go to, or actually, he comes to me. My nails never lift, crack, or chip when he does them, and that's amazing. Finding that person that really is taking care of your nails as well as giving you that bomb look is super important.
What are your current favorite SinfulColors shades?
I did this shoot for them where I was rock climbing. The colors were so bright and I had these red nails and they were so vibrant and I was obsessed. I remember wearing red nail polish all the time because my grandmother loved nail red nail polish. She would just paint her nails in the bathroom by herself. Having those bright right red nails just was so nostalgic to me.
I also love the entire Essenchills collection, it’s very zen-like and each polish has a different scent that makes you feel relaxed like eucalyptus and chamomile. I also love their Quick Bliss collection because they dry in one minute, which is great since I’m always on the go and can do my nails right before leaving the house.