Nicole Richie’s No.1 Skin-Care Rule? Never Leave the House Without Lotion On

Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Courtesy of Relevant

You may remember Nicole Richie’s iconic Y2K beauty looks from her The Simple Life reality-TV era, but gone are the days of bleach-blonde highlighted extensions and over-the-top makeup for the actress. The House of Harlow 1960 founder much prefers a skin-care-first approach to makeup.

This is why she recently teamed up with her friend Nyakio Grieco, the founder of Relevant: Your Skin Seen to be the first-ever face of the brand’s cosmetics collection, which features all-natural, clean products. “I wear makeup when I’m working but not so much in my everyday life,” Richie says. “All of these lip products and cheek balms feel moisturizing and don’t clog my pores.”

Beyond her beauty routine, Richie loves to host friends, tend to her garden, and write rap songs. She shares what sparked her stage name, Nikki Fre$h, below.

What’s the No.1 skin-care rule that you follow? 
I only wash my face with cold water. I have a skin-care rule that I don’t follow, even though you didn’t ask for one. I’m not very good at wearing sunscreen. I know it’s bad and I’m ashamed. But I want to, I just forget all the time.

Plus: My mother is Southern and I was truly never allowed to leave the house without lotion on. I don’t think I’ve gone one day in my life leaving the house without being completely lathered up. And she was so serious about it, she also has beautiful skin. She told me that if I ever got into an accident, the first thing the paramedics would notice was that I had ashy elbows and knees and it would be an embarrassment. I have a friend who says she’s never used lotion in her life. When she said that, it felt like nails on a chalkboard. I couldn’t believe that she had never used lotion before. I felt like a chill up my body. And I don’t think that we can be friends anymore.

And then I know this is such a boring thing to say, but water really does help. I’ve learned a lot about my body from having an edible garden. I’ve watched cherry tomatoes shrivel from dehydration, and then you give them water and they’re bursting, bright red, and alive. And the same thing goes for mint, basil, or any herb you’re growing. I think the lesson is that we can learn so much from cherry tomatoes.

Has your sister, Sofia, shared any beauty secrets with you? 
Sofia introduced me to getting a lash lift and tint last year and I’m obsessed. I wake up in the morning and I look awake, alive, and I just absolutely love it. It makes such a big difference. She also taught me how to make my own toner, but I haven’t done it successfully, so I probably shouldn’t share what that entails.

You have some iconic Y2K beauty looks from your The Simple Life era. Are there any makeup looks you did then that you’d never do now? 

There’s a photo of Paris [Hilton] and me in matching denim looks, very similar to Justin [Timberlake] and Britney [Spears]. And she and I both used to do the twiggy drawing of the bottom lashes, those spider lashes. You take a little eyeliner and a very thin eyeliner brush and just draw in your bottom lashes. I don’t think that I’ll do it again now, but I really did love those lashes at the time. And it puts a smile on my face every time I see that photo.

I don’t think that you can talk about that era and not talk about my extensions. I was truly obsessed with having long, thick, straight hair. I hated my curly hair. I’m a die-hard Britney fan and loved Christina Aguilera and all those girls had extensions. I was also coloring my hair a lot. And over the course of, I mean, I haven’t had extensions for a long time, but I was coloring my hair a lot, to the point where it was actually falling out. I had to cut my hair into a pixie to let it grow back out. And during that process, I really fell in love with my natural hair. I think growing up in the ’80s, I always associated having curly hair as being a problem. It was not considered sophisticated and the language around my curly hair was like, “Let’s find a way to make it less curly.” So to repair my hair, I had to stop doing everything. At a certain point, I was just doing leave-in conditioner and a slick-back bun. During that process, I really started to like my curls again. I still do highlights and I love blow-drying it straight, of course, but when I look back on that time, it really felt like I was hiding my hair. I definitely will never have a full head of extensions again.

You and Paris recently celebrated your 20th anniversary of The Simple Life. What’s your advice for maintaining lifelong friendships?
Many of my friends have been in my life since I was 2 years old. The No. 1 rule is allowing space for those friendships and individuals to evolve while also holding your center and remembering what that person brings to your life and why you love them in the first place.

As a mom, what’s the No.1 rule you teach your teenagers to follow?
Something I observed growing up is that my parents were very polite, kind, and gracious to every single person who crossed their path. Whether it’s someone who’s helping us at the airport or just anyone who you are working with. I don’t know if I’ve even said it to my kids, but I’ve heard them say it to me. I think it’s less about what we teach them with our words and more about what we show them.

What’s your No. 1 dinner party rule? 
I love to host. I like shoes off and warm temperatures. Even if it’s cool, I turn on the heat just so people can take off their jackets and they’re not fussing with it so they can just be present and have fun. I want to be able to dance and I want to be able to laugh. And so to me, creating an environment where people can do that is important.

What’s your No.1 rule when canceling with friends? 
I love to cancel. I do it all the time, which is crazy. But my friends and I have been friends for a very long time, so they’re fine and they understand. And I’m happy with people canceling on me. I would love nothing more than to have an extra night on the couch with my dogs and cats watching ’90s erotic thrillers. What a dream.

What is your No.1 rule when giving advice? 
To wait to see if they ask for it. And to pause and ask yourself, Is it needed? Listening can be just as helpful.

In 2020 you debuted your first rap song and video “Parent Trap” as your alter ego, Nikki Fre$h. What’s your No.1 rule for writing a good rap song and how does one discover their own alter ego? 
Writing a good rap song is all about writing about what’s in your heart. So Eminem is mad at Kim [Kardashian]. I’m mad at everyone who throws away ugly fruits and vegetables and wastes food. So I found that same anger and passion, and I approached it with my music. My alter ego, Nikki Fre$h, was born in the garden. I love harvesting snap peas and listening to music that I love, and sometimes that music happens to be ’90s hip-hop. And so I decided to write some songs of my own and the journey of maintaining an edible garden. I needed a stage name and that’s how Nikki Fre$h came to be. It was very natural and spiritual.

Nicole Richie Never Leaves the House Without Lotion On