SI Swimsuit Legend and Cay Skin Founder Winnie Harlow Shares Her Beauty Philosophy and Regimen

The supermodel prioritizes treating her skin and body with care, and switching up her routine based on the season and her schedule.
Winnie Harlow was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla.
Winnie Harlow was photographed by Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. / Yu Tsai/Sports Illustrated

After being a modeling industry staple and icon for an entire decade, Winnie Harlow has really figured out her personal beauty and skincare philosophy. She’s learned that the best thing she can do is just listen to and stay in tune with her body and skin and treat it with all the tender love and care possible.

“My philosophy when it comes to skincare is protection and prevention. It’s one thing to be able to put on makeup, which is always fun to play with, but the base is the most important, so [that means] washing your face [and] taking off your makeup [is important],” the SI Swimsuit legend stated. “I am an avid believer in multiple steps in my skincare and feeding my skin what it needs. So if I need more hydration in my skin, if I need a little bit more exfoliation, whatever it is my skin tells me it needs, that’s what I’m going to give it.”

The 29-year-old first made waves in the industry 10 years ago, when she starred on the 2014 season of America’s Next Top Model. The Canada native, who was diagnosed with vitiligo at the age of 4, has been a true trailblazer in the modeling, fashion and beauty industries. She starred in the 2019 SI Swimsuit Issue, is a former Victoria‘s Secret Angel and is also the founder of suncare brand, Cay Skin.

Harlow explained that she likes to switch up her routine depending on the seasons and what her work schedule looks like. During some months, she’s got back-to-back trips planned or several modeling gigs in a row. Really listening to her body and what it needs is how she gets through it all, and she knows that skincare and lifestyle go hand-in-hand, for better or for worse.

“My skincare changes all the time depending on what season it is where I’m traveling to, if I’m getting enough sleep, if I’m drinking enough water,” she added while on set of the group photo shoot with Yu Tsai in Hollywood, Fla. earlier this year. “All those things contribute to how your skin is behaving or misbehaving. I like to douse my skin in more hydration—hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, more ingredients that are nutrient-based—in the colder, drier months. In the summertime, I love to use lightweight products [and] glowy skincare. When I’m traveling, I like to take more vitamins to make sure that my whole body has the nutrients it needs [so that] my hair shines and my skin shines. In this line of work, all those things take a toll. We wear makeup, we have our nails done, hair is blow dried and ironed and curled, all the things, so we need a lot of [extra] care. You want to always make sure that you’re paying attention and listening [to your skin] because prevention is the best cure.”

Shop Harlow’s Cay Skin brand in store at Sephora or online at cayskin.com.

View her 2024 legends photo shoot here.


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Ananya Panchal

ANANYA PANCHAL