Hari Nef On Following (& Unfollowing) Beauty Rules: "It Shouldn't Be A Dictatorship"

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My phoner with Hari Nef almost felt like ASMR versus a typical interview. The 27-year-old model and actress is so intentional with her words and speaks with so much power that even her pauses feel meaningful. And as if I couldn't be anymore mesmerized by the selfie queen's voice, delving into Hari Nef's beauty routine was just as moving — because it mirrored that of me, my friends, and so many other people that I know.

"There's a quote from Liz Evangelista that I live by," she tells TZR. "I like glamour. Not afraid of it." So it explains why the 27-year-old's journey through the industry has surely been marked by nothing but glamour. As the first trans woman signed to IMG Models, Nef's 2015 debut into fashion was followed by magazine covers, fashion week buzz, and roles in movies like Assassination Nation. Now, it's her innate knowledge and long-standing relationship with scent that's landed her as the face of Gucci Bloom and the fragrance family's latest addition, Ambrosia Di Fiori.

So ahead, find out about how she fell in love with scent, why she's a makeup artist's dream, and the very special top-secret project she has coming very soon.

On Her Intimate Relationship With Fragrance

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"My love for fragrance emerged in my teen years," she tells TZR. "It was yet another tool that I could place at my disposal to communicate this blossoming — no pun intended — sense of self that was beginning. It offered up a taste of my personality and communicated it in a way that wasn't through clothes or through music or film or something I could declare verbally or show visibly. Scent communicates something about you viscerally."

And it's the visceral feeling that Gucci Beauty's latest fragrance gives her that makes her the perfect ambassador the brand's latest. When wearing Bloom Ambrosia di Fiori, a velvety blend of iris, rose, and jamsine, "I feel quietly strong," she says. "It's in a way that feels different than the louder, more declarative displays of strength for women. I feel like an empress, from another time. There’s something kind of regal and beautiful and ancient about it. I know that some of those fragrance notes date back to the anointing oils used in antiquity and I think it comes through in the scent palette."

On Her Love For Glam

"I think an intense eye, a purposeful eye, a colorful eye, a flamboyant eye, or an eye that departs in some way from the no-makeup-makeup look is intriguing," she says. "When it’s time to step out and time to be captured by those point-and-shoot photographers, I try to take that as an opportunity to serve something specific, and serve something fun."

She's easily a makeup artist's dream, allowing the experts to have their way from the moment they arrive. "When I sit in the makeup chair, and I’m lucky enough to have relationships with incredibly talented makeup artists like Sam Visser, Kali Kenendy, Jenna Kristina, and Adam Burrell, I simply sit there and I say, 'do whatever you want, What do you see? What do you feel?'” But that doesn't mean she's completely checked out from the creative process, the fashion history lover will provide a bit of inspiration of her own. "For the Met Gala this past year, the one that I wore that yellow dress, I was digging up references of British Vogue covers by Albert Watson and fell in love with the middle of the century look with the lashes and big hair, so I do sometimes offer some inspo," she says.

On Tapping Into Her Feminine Energy

While Nef calls it "cliché," tapping into her feminine energy has nothing to do with makeup or perfectly coifed hair. "I think taking care of the body before makeup, and staying disciplined and taking care of skincare is what's important," she says. "I exfoliate every part of my body and I moisturize my body after every shower. Channeling that energy is about keeping up the things people don’t see or keeping up the things that only certain people see."

She's adamant that no amount of mascara or hairspray can conceal a tainted aura. "There have been times when I’ve been all glammed up and people will ask me what’s going on because they can feel something is off," she says. "On the flipside, there have been other times where I don’t have a lick of makeup on and I’m in a messy bun, but I’m feeling good and someone tells me that I’m glowing. I think it's as much about the inside as it is about surface. What’s going on in your head and inside your body informs the way you are received."

On Breaking The Rules Of Beauty

To my surprise, Hari isn't completely opposed to the rules and standards of beauty. In fact, she embraces them to an extent. "I think I approach beauty the way I approach working as an actor or a writer or any kind of creative process," she says. "I want to learn all of the rules, even if they’re bad rules. I want to memorize the rulebook so then I can choose for myself which rules I want to break and how I’m going to break them. Throwing out the rule book entirely is a choice, but for me, I enjoy the tension of following some rules, and breaking others. I love the tension of having my hair done, but wearing minimal makeup, or having my makeup done, but minimal hair."

And the same goes for her views about fashion. "I'm not opposed to wearing a pair of jeans with a designer blouse to a cocktail party," she says. "I don’t think beauty should be a dictatorship. However, I am enticed and a little dazzled by the tension that emerges when certain rules are followed but others aren’t."

On The Major Project She Has Coming Soon

A clear savant of words, Nef, whose work has been published in Daze, Vice and Adult, has some upcoming literary work that she says will be well worth the wait. "I've been writing for the past three years now something that I'm trying to push forward in a big way, and there are things under wraps that I can't talk about. I wrote a lot before I got into acting and I got back into it a few years back. Something is coming, you all will be hearing from me."

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