A strange fever grips London when a huge American star is in town. They are usually here to flog something, there’s always a party, and that party, more often than not, is held at Chiltern Firehouse, André Balazs’ excruciatingly exclusive hotel and club.
When Hailey Bieber was here last week, you bet she checked every box. Inside her Wednesday night Firehouse bash, people were behaving wildly: drunk from the free bar, yes, but also on their maddening proximity to lesser seen A-Listers — her husband, Justin Bieber, being one.
I met the model in one of the hotel’s suites earlier that afternoon, before Lewis Hamilton and Sabrina Elba had arrived, and the outdoor restaurant was still choked by the city’s poshest ladies who lunch. She is running late, I am told, so I wait for her on a very smart sofa, in a room full of very smart white roses, LA-style.
Thirty minutes pass, and then the 26-year-old appears: perfect, by all industry standards, in a navy leather bustier, flowing silk trousers, a heavy hue of foundation and, the uncontested main event, the most enormous oval diamond engagement I’ve ever laid eyes on. She has had it since her pop-sensation partner proposed in 2018. Since then, life has been up and down for Bieber.
Today, she has skincare on her mind, though. It is the UK launch day for her beauty brand Rhode (called so after her middle name). “I went into this knowing how fatigued people are by celebrity brands, and by new beauty brands in general,” she says. “It kind of feels like there’s something new coming out all the time.” This is true, to the point of farce: first came Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, now even Pharrell is selling a £75 sun cream.
Bieber’s, which comes in gender-neutral grey pots (“skincare is for everyone,” she says, from experience: “I’m married, obviously, so share a lot of my skincare with my husband”), stands alone because “our philosophy is very different”. She gestures to a marble tray in front of us, where her three-product offering is lined up. It consists of a ‘glazing fluid’, which offers the sticky-looking, ‘doughnut-skin’ aesthetic TikTok loves, a smooth face cream, and a ‘peptide lip treatment’, like a lip gloss. “We want to do one of everything, really good and keep it tight, edited, minimal and chic,” she says.
Laughing at the silliness of introducing yet another A-list beauty brand, which she developed during lockdown and launched in the States last June, is the first time I notice Bieber’s biggest habit: backing everything she says with a dash of self-deprecation and acknowledgement of privilege. She does this because Mrs Bieber was previously Ms Baldwin, daughter of actor and director Stephen Baldwin, and niece of actor Alec Baldwin. Her name was thrown into the mix during the ‘nepo baby’ debate of last December, which she baited by wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan in January.
She loves a slogan-tee, it transpires. The UK launch of her company came with Instagram pictures of her sporting a tight, England crop top and white knickers. “That’s kind of fun — an ode to each territory, if you will,” she says. “We did the same for Canada.”
She speaks frankly about opening up. “I always have fragile moments. It’s an up and down cycle that comes and goes. Everybody experiences those emotions and I would rather be outward about it than try to hide anything, it’s more freeing that way,” she says. A level of frankness is, in fact, how she survives most personal issues. “Obviously, I live a very public life and I appreciate my privacy when I get it… but I have no problem sharing those things,” she says. “I’ve been very vocal about having ovarian cysts and perioral dermatitis. I was very open about having a stroke [which caused her hospitalisation in March 2022]. I can speak up and that can help people, because they’re struggling with something similar, or the same thing. It’s comforting to know you’re not alone in going through whatever that thing is.”
Bieber has stabilised her wobbling mental health with a strict routine (which, she quickly caveats, “works for me, but might not work for somebody else”). “Being routine and having rituals of self-care — it could be reading, it could be anything. For me, it’s exercising and taking care of my skin,” she says. Her favourite workouts are Pilates and boxing, because of her ballet past. “It just makes my mind feel better when I’m sticking to something. I do think it is good for your mental health,” she says.
And her diet? “I’m not into extreme diets. I just eat what feels good for my body,” she says. “But I have stayed pretty true to the blood type diet, which is just a way of eating for your blood type. I love food and I love to eat, so I never want to restrict myself from that.” She has a cooking YouTube channel (‘What’s in my kitchen’) as well as an interview series (‘Who’s in my bathroom?’).
Gwyneth Paltrow was a recent guest on the latter. “She’s so lovely, really funny, and just has really good taste,” Bieber begins musing about an obvious entrepreneurial heroine of hers — Paltrow’s lifestyle brand GOOP is valued at $250 million. But the two have their differences. The actress is a lot less careful in discussing Tough Mudder-intensity diets, last month claiming only to eat bone broth and vegetables. Bieber is less keen. “I’ve had the actual bone broth from her restaurant,” she says. “But I wouldn’t be okay with using that as a meal replacement. I just like to eat.”
It is not to say Bieber doesn’t have rules to live by, hers are just more related to skin. “It is definitely horrible for your skin to pick it — it can lead to scarring, and it can lead to infections. The other cardinal sin is sleeping with make-up on. Never have, never would.” Can she bear watching those pimple-popping videos on social media, then? “Oh, I love it!,” she fires back, to my surprise. “I find it so interesting. I can watch people doing surgery and love it — like, it does not gross me out at all.”
She tapped into her clinical side when cultivating her skincare company, and inventing something new for the beauty industry remains “a really big goal of mine”, she says. For now, though, Bieber has found some happiness opting for optimism. “I swear in a past life I was a doctor,” she says. “I still like to think that I am.”
Put to the test: Hailey’s highlights
Peptide glazing fluid
This is the most inventive of the bunch: a sticky serum, which clings to the skin for that glossy, dewy, doughnut-glazed effect. Ingredients include niacinamide and gel-like hyaluronic acids — and moisture is king. Bieber says: “One thing I do know 100 per cent is that hydration is always important.”
Barrier restore cream
Your classic moisturiser, and a smooth, rejuvenating one at that. A mix of peptides and shea butter make this an easy everyday product. “There are no bull**t ingredients,” says Bieber.
Peptide lip treatment
This lip gloss-cum-salve is perhaps overly sticky, but certainly offers a radiant, glow effect. It comes watermelon and salted caramel flavoured but these taste like vapes — the unscented variant comes best recommended.