What does it take to sell a skin-care brand at this moment of peak saturation? Is it a celebrity face or the aspirational girl-next-door type? Sleek packaging or tried-and-true ingredients? Campaign imagery with a dollop of sex appeal or a TikTok talking head?
You could say that Hailey Bieber is aiming for all of the above with her debut skin-care line, Rhode. As anyone within arm’s reach of an Instagram ad knows well, it’s boom time for celebrity brands, with a cohort of people who might have once sought out plum beauty contracts now deciding to create full-fledged product lines. On a recent afternoon inside a Brooklyn hotel suite, it’s easy to see why Bieber is her own best spokeswoman. The model, dressed in a wisp of a sand-colored dress by 16Arlington, is surreally aglow, her skin catching the light bouncing off the East River nine stories below. I am reminded of Rhode’s pre-launch homepage image, which shows the model cheekily posed with a glazed donut—internetspeak for that kind of glassine complexion.
“I think that within your journey of skin care, you gravitate toward what yummy thing you want to look like,” Bieber says of the current pop-culture reference points for idealized skin. “A lot of people talk about looking like a shiny dolphin or a mochi; looking like a glazed donut, I think it’s like a state of mind,” she clarifies. “I want to look biteable and just delicious. You know when you open a fresh bottle of Krispy Kreme?” She catches herself—fresh box—in an unintentional beauty-industry slip. “It’s just, like, gorgeous, perfect, untouched glaze. Not even a crack.” I nod, as Exhibit A smiles back at me in human form. “I just want to look like I’m just drenched before I go to sleep at night. That’s my vibe.”
The obsession with dewy skin has reached its cruising altitude. No longer do we equate primly powdered noses with good comportment. Just as people lug around gallon-size Nalgenes for better-than-optimal hydration, so it goes with serums and creams that quench from the outside in. Rhode plants its stake in this well-watered landscape, with three everyday products designed to offer a cocooning kind of moisture, from gym to plane to bathroom cabinet—which Bieber happens to share with her pop-star husband, Justin.
“I continuously reach for the Peptide Glazing Fluid,” Bieber says when asked about the household MVP. “Literally morning, noon, and night.” (At $29 a bottle, a generous slathering is easier to come by.) The featherweight gel-serum folds in skin-care standbys: hyaluronic acid and glycerin for a hydration boost, niacinamide to brighten, peptides that help smooth out fine lines, a dash of nourishing marula oil. “I don’t think it takes a ton to maintain healthy skin. I think it just takes dedication to keeping up with it,” Bieber says, adding that the fluid is her stealth beach secret. “The saltwater is so drying that sometimes just reapplying sunscreen is not moisturizing enough for me. I’ll do a layer of that underneath.”
The Barrier Restore Cream is another easy-going formula—a moisturizer for the people, its name a sign that derm lingo has reached the skin-savvy masses. This one brings together shea butter (rich in fatty acids), açai (for an antioxidant punch), and squalene (a calming lipid naturally produced in skin). Continuing that theme is the Peptide Lip Treatment, a pillowy, reflective formula that comes in three iterations: fragrance-free, salted caramel, and watermelon slice, for lip gloss nostalgics.