Model Raenee Sydney on Ceramics, Skincare & the Joy of Gardening

In 2016, Raenee Sydney was shot by Tyrone Lebon for the global #mycalvins campaign, alongside the likes of Kate Moss, Bella Hadid, Zoë Kravitz, and Frank Ocean. The brand’s casting director contacted the then-undiscovered Australian on Instagram and shortly afterwards she was on a plane to LA. Now signed with Kult, she’s since appeared in many more shoots and attracted a strong social following for her eclectic personal style.

Sydney was born in Singapore but spent her childhood in Malaysia before moving to her namesake city, Sydney, as a teenager, where she now resides in an inner-city apartment with her boyfriend. We visited the model at her home to find out about her multi-layered skincare routine, love of ceramics, and favourite spots to eat around town.

On beauty

I’ve always loved makeup, but the reality is that I’m not very good at it and I’m lazy. I think that things should be simple and fuss-free. My mum and her friends are my inspirations for that ‘no-makeup’ look.

My favourite beauty looks are dewy and fresh. I don’t suit a heavily made-up face, so I like my look to be clean and simple. I also get lazy taking stuff off at night, so if I can skip this step I will.

Most of the time I leave the house without any makeup, except for a bit of blush and mascara. I generally start off with Mecca Max Brow Guru Control Gel or Glossier’s Boy Brow, followed by either Chanel Inimitable Mascara (waterproof) or Kevyn Aucoin The Volume Mascara (non-waterproof). I sometimes add a winged eye using a liquid liner from Kat Von D or K-Palette or will line my upper and lower waterline using a pencil liner. I tend to always finish off with a slight blush. I really like the Chanel Rouge Coco Lip Blush as it’s liquid and without shimmer. Or if I want some shimmer, Nars Orgasm Blush is very subtle and fresh.

On skincare

A happy inner is a happy outer! Changes in your skin say a lot about what’s going on inside of you. I had severe eczema growing up, which forced me to look after my skin from an early age.

I currently have five cleansers in my shower. Excessive, I know, but each of them play a different role. I mainly go between the Aliange Daily Devotion Cleanser and Dermalogica Caily Microfoliant. After my shower, I always moisturise from top to bottom. Cetaphil’s Daily Hydrating Lotion is perfect. It’s lightweight but extremely moisturising, so you can use it all year round. Egyptian Magic is magic on any of those dry areas that need extra love.

At night I love layering the Aliange Jellyfish & Peptide DNA Repair Serum or Aliange Purity Hydrating B3 Serum underneath Embryolisse Lait Creme Concentre followed with Elysee Age Defense-AP Eye Contour Gel, which I keep cool in the fridge.

I never leave the house without wearing sunscreen. Alpha-H does a great 50+ sunscreen that’s slightly tinted and moisturising (Alpha-H Protection Plus Daily SPF50+). Glossier also does a good SPF30 sunscreen (Glossier Invisible Shield) that’s lightweight and has a dewy application.

On hair

I’ve been blonde three times now over the last five years and am still surprised that my hair hasn’t fallen off! The Christophe Robin Shade Variation Care in Baby Blonde mask is so, so, so good, as it keeps your hair toned and conditioned. Olaplex Hair Perfector No.3 also works well. Instead of using it as a mask that you add pre-shower, I apply it after my shower as a leave-in treatment.

On fitness

I’ve gotten back into practicing pilates as a means of doing physio for a recently broken ankle. It’s my favourite form of exercise, which has forced me to get fit, but also help to clear my mind. My boyfriend built me a bike for my birthday two years ago, which I use to commute to work. It’s purple with pink grips, so I’ve named her Candy.

On her wellness routine

Just have fun with what you’re doing and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do everything! Life’s hard as it is; there’s no need to take things too seriously. I love having a beer on my balcony after work followed by a big bowl of pasta and some ice cream. Pana Organic’s Mint Choc Chip vegan ice cream is so good it’s messed up!

We recently planted a few vegetables on our balcony, which has been so rewarding. We’re currently growing rocket, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and a bunch of herbs. I love to cook and read up on recipes as a way of relaxing, and tending to our veggie patch is very soothing.

On ceramics

I did my first ceramic lesson roughly two years ago. I was so bad at it, I couldn’t make anything and got super frustrated, so I semi-hated it. After that, my boyfriend bought me lessons as a birthday gift and as I got better, it made me want to keep learning and practicing.

It’s been a really fun, creative outlet for me to express myself. Having two jobs, I felt like I wasn’t doing anything for myself, so having this ‘side project’ has been very fulfilling. There’s so much you can create and do! And there’s also so much room for growth.

My throwing skills have increased tenfold from just practicing weekly. A lot of things are self-taught as well, which is nice as it makes you both the teacher and student. I used to do a lot of hand-building; my first piece was a volcano-shaped incense chamber. I recently made another incense chamber in the shape of a Roman pillar, which is probably my favourite ceramic piece so far.

As my wheel throwing skills have improved, I’ve recently gotten into making tableware. So far I can only make jugs, cups and bowls, but hoping to introduce plates in the future (when I get better). I still can’t centre well, so I throw them wobbly as a way of hiding my inability to throw properly!

On food

Growing up, my mum forced me to sit in the kitchen and either watch or help her cook. I used to make excuses to leave as I found it so boring. Living out of home now has made me love cooking; I only wish that I paid attention all those years so I could recreate her meals. I love cooking either Italian or Japanese food at home. Pasta is so satisfying and easy to make. But so is a miso-baked eggplant and soba salad.

I love going to the suburbs to have meals you can’t otherwise get in the city. You have to venture out if you want authenticity. There’s a really delicious Nepalese restaurant in Randwick that does good veggie curries and momos (O! Momo). But if I’m in the city, I’ll generally opt for Asian food. I love foodcourts as they provide so much variety. The bibimbap from ICG or tofu Laksa from Happy Chef, both on Sussex Street, are my go-to’s.

On fashion

I’ve worked in retail most of my life, so my style is quite heavily influenced by the jobs I’ve had. Now that I work at Supply, I end up wearing a lot of t-shirts and sneakers and sort of dress tomboyish. I love wearing dresses, but some days it’s just impractical to wear especially if I’m riding my bike or going to pottery afterwork. I once wore a dress to work and I had so many comments about how different and ‘girly’ I looked.

I think that Japanese people have the best sense of style, so I love a lot of labels from there. I love CDG, Issey, and Junya, but they’re out of my price range, so I tend to wear a lot of second hand/vintage. I also wear a lot of my friends labels, like Worldwind, Pelvis, Holiday, and PAM. I consider myself very lucky to be surrounded by creative friends who make cool stuff!

Two years ago I worked at the PAM mega sale and there was this Bless jacket. It’s an upcycled jacket that has a quilted floral front and a Levi’s denim back. It’s the most prized item I own. That and my gold jewellery. I wear a lot of jewellery as it’s quite traditional to receive gold as presents, so a lot of these pieces have been given to me by my mum and grandparents. They hold a lot of sentimental value.

You can follow Raenee Sydney on Instagram. Photography by Alexis Aquino for Really Well.

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