Images/Diana W. King
She may be the daughter of one of the world’s most notorious makeup mavens (her dad is KISS front man Gene Simmons), but 24-year-old Sophie Simmons seldom relies on foundation nowadays.
“I love Korean face shaving,” she says. “It’s helped stop my face from breaking out and I rarely wear makeup anymore.” Besides going bare-faced and being brave enough to talk about one of those “hush-hush” beauty habits, Simmons is also doing a ton to promote the body-image movement through both through her hosting gig on Refinery 29’s Body Image School digital series and as the face of Adore Me’s “all women campaign,” which centers around showing how lingerie looks on women of all sizes. Next up: An EP set for later this year and a feature on Yellow Claw’s latest album LOSAMSTERDAM coming out on April 7. The model recently sat down with us to discuss all things body image and all the beauty tricks she’s tried.
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What it’s really like to grow up on reality TV: “The girls I went to school with were tall, model-esque and very beautiful; they were constantly leaving to go act or travel the world. Then there was me: kind of super awkward, a little overweight with a lisp and acne. I had all the awkward things you could possibly have as a teenager—except I was also on TV. [Simmons starred in Family Jewels, which aired for six years on A&E.] It was a lot to handle.”
How her mom helped promote a body-positive image: “My mom [model Shannon Tweed] is probably one of the first women to speak out about posing nude and how it was a feminist choice for her—it was her embracing her body. She really instilled in me the idea that we only have this one body and no matter what it looks like or how it may be changing, we should always be celebrating it. She was always giving me a positive message.”
“She auditioned for Playboy and they told her she was too thin—they told her she wasn’t curvy enough for them. Then, as she matured and got older, she got her ‘womanly’ body and was able to do it. She’s had it from all sides. It’s like you can’t win—you’re either too big or too small or too tall. It’s always something so specific. As a model, you’re not supposed to take it personally because they’re trying to find the right person for their brand and I get that. What the positive body-image movement is doing is showing brands that ALL women wear their clothing or use their makeup or carry their handbag, so why wouldn’t all women be in your advertising? There’s been progress, but there’s still that ‘token’ curvy girl. It shouldn’t be about the size.”
On the unconventional beauty secret she swears by: “About a year ago, I started Korean face shaving. It’s amazing. My skin has never been better. I don’t use moisturizer anymore; I don’t exfoliate anymore. It’s like a one-blade razor and you do it on dry skin. Instead of exfoliating with a product, the tool basically gently scrapes off whatever is laying on top of your skin—including all those baby hairs, so you have to be super careful around your eyebrows. I used to get really bad acne on my cheeks and forehead, and now I just do this once or twice a week and I don’t get breakouts anymore. The other day a woman at Drybar asked me what I was doing to my skin because it looked so great and I told her: ‘Just shave your face.’ It’s an urban myth that the hair comes back in thicker.”
Why her “damaged hair” works in her favor: “I try not to use heat on my hair just because it’s been dyed so many times and it’s so damaged. But because it’s damaged, it actually holds a curl really well. That’s a perk to having super terrible hair! I found LivingProof helps me a lot with the texture and gives it that nice, smooth feel. I also go to Giancarlo at Serge Normant in New York and he does this gloss called Brazilian Bond, which is a conditioning treatment of some sort and it’s the best. It just makes whatever color your hair is look more vibrant and shiny.”