If you’d told me back in middle school that Kristin Cavallari from Laguna Beach would one day be something of an authority on clean living, I’d never have believed you. Fast forward fifteen years, though, and the reality star-turned-jewelry mogul has established her bona fides. Cavallari has lived with her family in rural Tennessee for several years now, and in that time, she’s released two cookbooks—True Roots and True Comfort—focused on meals made mindfully from whole ingredients. It feels fitting, then, that she’s finally expanded into clean skincare as well. On May 13, Cavallari launched Uncommon Beauty, a new branch of her fashion and lifestyle brand Uncommon James, with a core collection of five products made from natural, human-friendly ingredients.
Let’s face it: clean beauty is having a moment right now. But, while the category is experiencing a huge upsurge in attention, it can be hard for new products to stand out in a crowded marketplace. As it happens, though, Uncommon Beauty’s new line is like the blue jeans of non-toxic skincare. From the Daily Foaming Powder Cleanser—sold as a powder that you can mix to one’s preferred consistency—to the Daily Water Cream, the new brand’s hero products go with pretty much anything, from the most elaborate 10-step routine to a straightforward slap-on-some-moisturizer-and-run-out-the-door situation. (Don’t even get her started on the Pineapple Peptide Nectar, Cavallari’s favorite of the bunch.)
It turns out that the stripped-down, go-with-the-flow approach is pretty reflective of Cavallari’s overall attitude toward life. To put her perspective in straightforward terms, keeping things simple frees up more time to focus on what really matters—something I’ve learned to be true over the past year. Over Zoom, I chatted with Cavallari about clean beauty, country living, and her family’s backyard chicken coop.
How are you? I imagine it’s been a busy day.
It’s not too crazy. I mean, I'll take this over schlepping around New York or LA any day. I'm in Tennessee, 35 minutes outside the city, so I'm really in the country. I feel very lucky that there's been some normalcy, just because everything is so spread out here—it's not like L.A. where everyone's on top of each other.
Living in the country must have been a real godsend over the last year because you can leave your house and have a life that still feels full.
Oh, it’s so true. Even with my kids, I was telling them to go outside and ride their bikes or play basketball outside. I mean, people in New York couldn’t do that. I feel like the heroes through all this are the stay-at-home parents who have been homeschooling and having to be with their kids every day because that's the hardest job on the planet, being a stay-at-home mom and then having to be a teacher on top of that—my hat’s off to those moms. My kids have been in school since August, thank God, and I’m so—you know, I’m not a huge fan of people going around like, "#Blessed!" and all that, but I do feel blessed that I’m in the situation I’ve been in this past year. [LAUGHS]
What does your day look like right now? How has that changed since before the pandemic?
I have learned to chill out more. I think the biggest thing is just being present. For so long, I was so set on my goals, where now I’ve taken a backseat. I have goals, but I’m not so hung up on them, and I’m just letting life happen. I also realize that with three kids now who are eight, seven, and five, how quickly it goes, too. I just don't want to look back and say, "Why didn’t I talk to them? Why wasn’t I just playing on the floor?" Yeah, I’m tired, but get your shit together because those years are fleeting, you know?
More than the pandemic, I think going through a divorce and having my kids half of the time now is making me realize that that week that I have my kids, I want to be the best damn mom on the planet. I want them to feel so loved and so supported. I am playing with them, and I am hearing them. And everything is fleeting. If everyone's having a meltdown and I'm exhausted, I know that I'm losing them in a few days, so that gives me the strength to be able to power through and not lose my shit.
You’ve lived in the country for several years now, right? Do you think your daily life was already slower than it used to be when you lived in the city, or do you feel like your day-to-day slowed down this year?
I definitely feel like I've slowed down. As you said, I've been in the country for a few years now, but it was always a balance because being in the country was peaceful and was always my haven to come home to, but I was traveling a lot. You know, I was in L.A. and New York. I was at photoshoots. I was doing all of these things, where now I’ve had a couple of photoshoots in the last year but not nearly as many. I haven't been to New York since March of 2020—actually, right as the pandemic was hitting.
Even doing press like this, I don't know that I can ever go back to how it was pre-pandemic, you know? It’s so funny because initially, I was like, "There’s no way. I’ll never do Zoom." And now I love it. I have slippers on right now—I mean, there’s nothing better than that! I’ve gotten over the fact of having to feel like I have to just be in the office just to show face. I know what I’m doing, I know that I’m working, and I actually work better from home sometimes, and that's okay. Pre-pandemic, I was like, "Everyone has to be here from 9 to 5," and I’ve let go of all of that, and it’s nice.
It’s interesting how the way we relate to each other has changed. Like, I usually don’t wear much makeup, but I wear makeup when I go to Zoom meetings because it’s the only way of dressing up and showing respect.
Yeah, that’s a great point. In my everyday life, I don't wear makeup—I'll put mascara on and fill my brows and call it a day—but when I go into the office, I don’t feel like I can do that, because, to your point, it is a respect thing. I feel like I need to show everybody in my office that I’m putting in the effort just like everyone else is.
Do you have a morning routine? I imagine it’s different on days you’re working from home versus going into the city.
I'd say I’m a pretty no-fuss girl when it comes to just getting ready. If I'm just going to the farmers market and running around town with my kids, I don’t even wash my face in the morning. I just rinse with water, and then I use the Uncommon Beauty Pineapple Peptide Nectar ($62), followed by our daily water cream. Then I'll put some mascara on—I love Armani Beauty Eyes to Kill Lengthening Mascara ($29)—and I'll fill in my brows with an Hourglass brow pencil, and that’s really the extent of it.
My hair I usually style twice a week, and then I try to prolong that and not wash it as many days as possible. I love dry shampoo—I have Jet Lag by IGK. I love all of their products. I love their texturizing spray, and they have a dry shampoo paste that also works as a texturizing cream. Those are pretty much my staples.
I want to know more about the process of formulating Uncommon Beauty and what these products represent. I remember reading that you sent in many products you were already using to a lab and found out that the more expensive products weren't necessarily using the highest-quality ingredients.
Yeah, exactly. I was pretty shocked, to be honest, with what our lab came back and told us. What I’ve learned over the past year is that all of these filler products, like silicone and petroleum and all of these things that are added to skincare, actually age us. Like, our Pineapple Peptide Nectar. We call it a nectar instead of a serum because to achieve that traditional serum consistency, you have to add all these filler products. We didn’t want to do that. We felt like there was a need for a line that was clean according to our standards because there are different lists out there that qualify you to be "clean" or not, which was alarming to me. So we went with the strictest list on the market.
Why did you choose to include the products you did over others? Are you planning on expanding into other categories of skincare, like retinol alternatives?
Great question. I feel these five products are just the foundation, the core products. They’re what everybody needs in their daily routine. We are coming out with more products in January, and to me, those products are a little bit more fun and not necessarily part of the daily routine. I’m excited about the second drop because the combination of the two checks every box.
For a retinol alternative, that is something that I will test for at least six months instead of one to three months because those can make a huge difference, but they don't happen overnight. There are products in our second drop that I'm still testing. Selfishly, I’m creating products that I just want to use, so I want to make sure that it works too because I don't want to spend money on other skincare anymore.
Extending from beauty to the rest of your lifestyle, I imagine living in the country and getting into the habit of really inspecting what products you’re using has also influenced other aspects of your life. I know you’re also very focused on whole foods.
Yeah, the first area that I changed was food. Part of the reason I wanted to move out to the country was to have a chicken coop. That was a dream of mine. And now I do, and I love having fresh eggs. I try to stay as close to an ingredient’s natural state as possible, as organic as possible. I go to the farmers market every Saturday, and I load up for the week.
Skincare was the next area of my life that I was able to transition over to clean living. The one area that I haven't fully transitioned over is makeup and hair. I’m trying to get there. When you first start to discover clean products, it's an adjustment period because we're used to an eyeliner—for example—blending a certain way. When you get into the clean world, it's not always what you're used to because they can't add these filler products to get whatever result you're looking for. I think it takes a minute to wrap your head around it and get used to it, and so I’m in that phase right now with makeup and hair products. Unfortunately, sometimes chemicals just give you the results you need, but I know they're so bad for you. But I will get there because I believe in it, so I need to be doing it in every area.