From cover girl to social media queen, Kate Upton has been heralded as the everyday supermodel. She exclusively shares her beauty secrets with Liz Dwyer…
Kate Upton took one look at the rule book on how to become a supermodel and fecked it right out the window. Despite repeatedly being told by agents to lose weight and have a breast reduction when she was new to modelling, Kate refused to buckle or conform to industry ideals. “I love my curves” says the 22-year-old from Florida of her figure, so she set about finding another way to rule the runways.
While landing the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2011 helped catapult Kate into a different league, it simultaneously pigeonholed her as a sexpot glamour model, leaving her out in the cold when it came to castings for fashion weeks and high-end editorials – which is where she ultimately wanted to be. Undeterred, she set about using social media to brilliant effect, amassed millions of followers across every platform, and after a YouTube video of her dancing at a basketball game went viral, the fashion pack started to raise their well-groomed brows. Three Vogue covers and a Model of the Year award later, and Kate’s managed to smash the size zero mould that’s dominated the industry aesthetic for almost two decades now.
In fact, Kate’s well on her way to doing a Tyra Banks on it and becoming a “super-mogul” – with Hollywood movie deals (Tower Heist, The Other Woman), contracts with Gillette, talk of a lingerie line, and she’s just been signed as the new face of Bobbi Brown make-up, cementing her status as America’s favourite everyday supermodel. She lets us in on her beauty rules.
What was your first interaction with make-up/first product you ever used?
I was probably 13. I actually had to wear makeup because I used to show horses. My mom taught me how to apply it, and I would coordinate my makeup with whatever outfit I was wearing—a red lip to show English, or a brown smoky eye to show Western.
I grew up using Bobbi’s products—I had them, my mom had them, my sisters had them. And we all still have them. It’s great to be part of a company whose products I really use and believe in.
How did you first meet with Bobbi?
I wanted to meet her after seeing the Pretty Powerful campaign – I always tell her that her campaign was pretty powerful for me. It was about how every woman is beautiful and powerful. She’s an American beauty icon. Just being in the same room with her inspires me.
Would you describe your daily beauty routine as high-or low-maintenance?
I spend a lot of time outside so I prefer a natural makeup look. I use Bobbi’s Creamy Concealer, Bronzing Powder, Pot Rouge Blush, Smokey Eye Mascara and several of her lip colors, softer for day and some of the reds and wine colors for night.
I’m all about making shortcuts. My new thing is to use a cream blush on my cheeks and then dab a bit on my lips. It adds color to your face without competing. For eyelashes, I like taking the wand and twirling it from root to tip to make them curl nicely.
What lessons have you learnt though modelling about beauty?
I don’t take myself too seriously. I credit that to my dad. You can’t survive in my household without having a sense of humor. My dad taught me to live life and to find humor in things. He jokes about everything and it’s contagious. Also, my mom always emphasized the importance of inner beauty and not focusing on how you look. She taught us to be hard workers—that was most important to her.
What do you always have in your handbag?
My iPhone because all of my pictures are saved on it. As glamorous as my life appears, I spend a lot of time alone, so pictures are my connection with my family and friends. And moisturizer because I travel a lot and my skin needs it, especially when I get off an airplane.
Your renowned for you curves, did this help or hinder you when you were trying to break into the modelling world?
When I was 15, I just walked into a modeling agency and I wasn’t afraid. I figured nothing to lose, no regrets. In the beginning of my career, slimmer, less curvy models were more popular and I got down on myself. I didn’t feel as confident or as beautiful, but it made me realize that it’s not about what people say to you or what people think, it’s about competing with yourself and being the best that you can be. I always try to stay positive and see potential opportunities.
Do you follow a strict exercise regime?
I work out three times a week and try to eat clean and healthy. It helps me have energy after long days and lots of traveling. I work out with David Kirsch at his gym, Madison Square Club – I walk out of his gym feeling amazing, even though I’m a sweaty mess.
Aside from diet, how do you care for your skin?
Growing up in Florida, my mom made a point to put sunscreen on us kids, so I picked up that routine early on. It’s truly essential. She also taught me to wash and tone my face every night. No matter what time of night I get home, I go straight to the sink to wash and tone. I’m like a robot. It’s ingrained in me.
I just started using the Bobbi Brown BB Cream and I like it because it’s a one-stop shop. It moisturizes, leaves behind a nice tint, while protecting your skin with SPF35.
Whom do you consider your role models? (apart from Bobbi)
Lauren Hutton. She has this wonderful inner beauty about her, and I love the way she carries herself. I also like that she keeps her look so natural and clean. Audrey Hepburn is another icon of mine. She was so glamorous, beautiful, and had a great sense of style.
Do you realize that you’re also a role model to many young girls? Do you feel pressured?
For girls there’s always pressure. There’s pressure to keep yourself feeling and looking good. For me, being in the public eye is definitely a lot, but I have to have the right outlook on it. If someone feels confident in their body, it should all work out.
It’s really motivating to know that I’m helping people look at their life in a healthy way, just by living my life by example.
Three words to best describe you?
Adventurous, fearless and kind.
Were you a girly girl, or a tomboy as a teenager?
I’m a little bit of a mix – a girlie girl and a tomboy. When I’m in a city, I’m girlie. But when I’m around a barn (horse farm), I turn into a tomboy.
The moment you realized you were a mega star?
My first American Vogue cover — so far. Vogue was incredible because I got to work with the best in the business — Tonne Goodman, Mario Testino. I was able to see why the greatest minds in the industry have gotten where they are. It was that moment when I sat back and learned.
Check out Kate’s Bobbi Brown beauty essentials in the gallery above.