Whether on screen or through her songs, Selena Gomez has always been an open book. We sat down with her for our February Badass Issue to chat everything from mental health to makeup, and she didn't hold back. Here, she talks past struggles with self-image, forgetting her passwords on purpose, and why she started her own cosmetics line, Rare Beauty, right after realizing she doesn't need makeup to feel her best.
What are some of your earliest memories with makeup?
At the age of 7 I was already working and in the hair and makeup chair. Even then I noticed certain trends and how I didn't match them. That made me question my own beauty, which is a huge part of why I created Rare Beauty. I wanted quality products that I feel confident and comfortable wearing. But more importantly, I wanted to change the narrative and knock down dated beauty norms.
What was the defining moment that drove you to create Rare Beauty?
I just felt like the beauty space started to get really crowded with a lot of unrealistic messages. I had a moment where I was like, 'I'm not a makeup guru or the most incredible makeup artist, but I want to get involved.' I couldn't have been luckier with my team because everyone knows our mission. We want to make quality products, but we want there to be heart behind it.
What has it been like transitioning to the business side of beauty?
It's been a learning process, but really wonderful because I have incredible people that have guided me through it. It feels really empowering to be able to have a say over everything that goes on in my company. I'm not afraid to ask the silly questions in order for me to learn more about it. I feel in control and I'm definitely proud of the work that we've done.
What have these past two years been like for you?
I became aware that my little world is complicated, but the picture is much bigger than the stuff I deal with. I have problems with depression and anxiety, and I found it difficult for me to be me. I didn't want to post anything on social media because I realized that I was in a situation where I was extremely blessed. What could I possibly post or say? Then I had the idea of inviting multiple people to be on my Instagram to tell their stories.
You're one of the most followed women on Instagram. How does social media play a role in your self-confidence?
At one point Instagram became my whole world, and it was really dangerous. In my early 20s, I felt like I wasn't pretty enough. There was a whole period in my life when I thought I needed makeup and never wanted to be seen without it. The older I got, the more I evolved and realized that I needed to take control of what I was feeling. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and feel confident to be who I am. Taking a break from social media was the best decision that I've ever made for my mental health. I created a system where I still don't have my passwords. And the unnecessary hate and comparisons went away once I put my phone down. I'll have moments where that weird feeling will come back, but now I have a much better relationship with myself.
There is an abundance of celebrity-founded beauty brands right now. Where do you hope Rare Beauty fits into this conversation?
I hope that it can be a brand that people trust without it being led severely by my name. When I see makeup artists having the [Rare Beauty] blush or the lip souffle on photo shoots I get so giddy! To see that happening is one of the coolest things. Hopefully this brand can be around for a really long time that people go back to — not because it's mine, but because of the product.
How do you set boundaries?
I'm a big believer in therapy, and I always feel so confident when I'm taking care of myself. If I'm not in the best headspace and my friends invite me out, I won't go. I've lost my sense of FOMO, which I'm proud of. Sometimes I push myself too much, and it catches up to me. But I try to balance out everything as best as I can. I like to be there for my friends and celebrate everyone. But I have to make sure that I'm OK, you know? Because if I'm not OK, I can't be OK for other people.
What does your ideal day look like?
I like to give myself an hour to wake up and have my coffee. [laughs] Then I go to boxing, which has completely changed my life and body. It clears my head and helps me let go of stuff. I like to wash my face with the Tatcha cleanser and then use the moisturizer. Sometimes I'll do a mask, like the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque or one for my hair from K18, which makes me feel like a grown woman. [laughs] I love a five-minute cold shower to reset my mind.
Also, I'm obsessed with soft things. I just went to the Ugg store for the first time and fell in love. I was on cloud nine buying sweats, socks, and blankets. To me, there's nothing better than wearing your favorite cozy outfit, sitting by a fireplace, and having a tea moment. I'm like an 80-year-old woman. [laughs]
What else are you most ambitious for?
Changing the narrative of mental health and creating a curriculum that hopefully can be implemented in schools or a system for resources that are easily available. [Mental Health 101 can be found on the Rare Beauty site.] I'm just so passionate about that, and I think I will continue to be for the rest of my life. Especially since the pandemic, there are so many people I know who craved help but had no idea how to get it. I have big aspirations for that field and really want to implement more education behind it.