How to Look Good in Photos, According to a VS Model

Rachel Hilbert interview

Thomas Concordia / Getty Images 

It’s a complete myth that Victoria’s Secret models just turn up on show day looking that good. Of course, they all have genetics on their side (they’re practically built for the catwalk), but just as athletes train for race day, models prep for show day. So we took five minutes to chat with 22-year-old model and New Yorker Rachel Hilbert, who fronts the Pink campaign and walked in the show last year, to see what tips and tricks we could apply to our daily lives. Models have hectic schedules, and Hilbert’s is no different, so we picked her brains on everything from sleep to mindfulness. Plus, she shared a crazy beauty trick and told us how to look good in photos (“golden hour” has a lot to do with it). We may not be VS models, but every little bit helps.

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BYRDIE UK: We’re sleep-obsessed here at Byrdie UK—do you have any tips for getting to sleep?

RACHEL HILBERT: Actually, yes, I do. I really like [to listen to] white noise. I have an app on my phone called White Noise. If I’m at a hotel or on a plane, I put my headphones on and listen to it, and I’m able to fall right to sleep. Also, a clean bed always does the trick.

BYRDIE UK: We know we should drink water all day—any tips?

RH: That’s one of my beauty tricks. I always have a 1.5-liter bottle of Fiji water with me wherever I go. My key to getting through it is always having it nearby—I even keep it next to my bed. I always choose water instead of any other drink.

BYRDIE UK: What hair or makeup tricks have you picked up since being in the industry?

RH: I try not to wash my hair every day because it strips [the] natural oils, which is what keeps it healthy. Instead, I try to wash every other day. I’ve also learned to enhance the natural texture of my hair by spritzing some sea-salt spray on it.

BYRDIE UK: What’s the weirdest (but most amazing) beauty secret you’ve ever been given?

RH: That’s a hard question because there are so many. One of the weirdest would be to use baby bum cream on your lips. [Ed. note: Try Sudocrem, $11]

BYRDIE UK: What does the first and last hour of a typical day look like for you?

RH: The first hour of my typical day involves coffee. Then I walk my puppy and get a workout in. The last hour of my day usually involves me lying on the couch, cuddled up and watching Netflix.

I think the industry is changing to be more diverse and different-size models are now on runways. I love seeing it—every human is a different shape and size.

BYRDIE UK: Do you have any mindfulness tricks you can share with our readers?

RH: Whenever I’m feeling anxious, I like to ride my bike near the water to clear my mind; I find it to be beneficial.

BYRDIE UK: Any tips for how to look great in a photo?

RH: Know your angles. Also, for a full-length picture, standing on your toes makes you look longer. For a selfie, it’s all about the lighting. Golden hour is the best, and it happens around 5 p.m. in the evening.

BYRDIE UK: You have an incredible figure, but do you have any body hang-ups?

RH: Of course I do. I have always been an athlete, so I tend to build muscle fast. That sometimes makes it hard for me, but I try to embrace it.

BYRDIE UK: What do you have to do to prep for a VS show?

RH: It is such hard work! I train once or twice a day every day, and I cut out alcohol, sugars, and white carbs. I also try to eat very clean during the process, which is tough because I am such a foodie.

BYRDIE UK: Also, hair removal before a show must be key and making sure your skin is in great condition—any tips?

RH: I try to keep my skin in good condition before a show. I tend to bruise easily and fast, so I have to be extra careful that I don’t run into things and fall right before a show. With regard to hair removal, I’m pretty lucky that I don’t have much body hair, so I just shave and moisturize.

BYRDIE UK: Would you like to see a better representation of different-size models on the catwalk?

RH: I think the industry is changing to be more diverse and different-size models are now on runways. I love seeing it—every human is a different shape and size.

Model Winnie Harlow walking the Victoria's Secret runway
Timothy A. Clary / Getty Images

BYRDIE UK: If you could only ever work out one part of your body for the rest of time, what would it be?

RH: It would probably be my abs. That’s the core of my body, and it keeps me stabilized.

BYRDIE UK: What are your favorite go-to workouts?

RH: My go-to workout is with my trainer or boxing. I also love heading to the sauna after.

BYRDIE UK: What do you do on a hangover to feel better?

RH: Ugh, I hate them! But I try to sleep a lot, and Pedialyte works. I have done an IV drip with vitamins, even when I’m not hungover.

Next up, it's time to start using tumeric for skin.

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