Ashley Hart is a shining advertisement for the benefits a healthy lifestyle. If, after a few minutes in her presence, you don’t feel like running off to a yoga retreat and committing to twice daily meditation practice then maybe you weren’t paying attention. The model and yoga teacher, is also a very appropriate ambassador for Australian health and wellness company, Swisse, who have just launched five new products in their all-natural skincare line.
Ashley credits her mum, Rae, for setting her up for the holistic life she has pursued. Rae raised Ash and her sister Jess by herself (see the moving 60 Minutes interview here) and has always embraced an alternative lifestyle, schooling both girls in the Steiner method. Ash’s husband Buck (they eloped recently in LA) is also a meditation teacher and the two live a spiritual and health-focused lifestyle in LA – as documented by her colourful Instagram feed. In person, Ash is just as warm, funny and radiant as she comes across in her pictures. We sat down with the platinum-haired beauty when she was in Australia recently for the launch of the new Swisse Skincare Range. In our interview she spoke candidly about her journey through the challenges of modelling and shared her best secrets to achieving both an inner and outer glow.
“As a kid, I was a total tomboy.
I’ve always been really fit. I played soccer and basketball. I wasn’t even conscious of beauty then. Modeling created this awareness of external beauty and these things that supposedly really matter in the world. Now it inspires me, but in a really natural and healthy way. As human beings, not even just women, we all have these insecurities. From the smallest things like curls to the bigger things like our bodies.
I was always trying to be skinnier
I’m naturally a sporty and athletic body type. I started modelling when I was fifteen, it was the first thing I felt insecure about. I was accepted in the Australian market but when I first started working overseas - I went to Germany at seventeen or eighteen - it was like, ‘Get on the scales, you have to be this weight.’ At the time it was so hard and I got in my head about it all, but it’s been my journey to true health, beauty, and self love and fulfillment, and now [I have] this crazy amount of gratitude for any darkness that I went through. It’s set me on to my path of what I am passionate about.
I was really extreme.
I got into a Bikram yoga class in Germany and I was doing excessive exercise and I had an epiphany. When I was standing in the class and looking at my reflection, I was constantly judging myself. Bikram is so hardcore, in every aspect, but it depends what you’re ready to receive from it. I realized that I was having these thoughts about myself, in that moment I became aware. It was the first spark of my spirituality. I realized I am not the thought that was telling me ‘you’re fat’ or ‘you’re this.’ We don’t allow ourselves to have the space from thought. I think that was my first awakening of ‘oh my god, I am not my thoughts.!” That was a huge epiphany moment. I went on to teach Bikram yoga. I’ve done Ashtanga based Vinyasa flow teacher training.
Now meditation is my main thing.
My husband is a meditation teacher. I do two twenty minute sessions a day because I have felt the benefit. Our mind tells us that we are too busy to meditate but it’s kind of laughable because it’s a proven science where we are getting a deep level of rest and we’re coming from the sense of who we are, instead of acting out of reaction, tiredness, and stress. I get overwhelmed by things easily and I’ll over eat, or I’ll make that reaction to my husband. Meditation alone has made such massive shifts in my life.
I wake up and always do my meditation first.
I walk on an Ayurvedic mat for a few minutes; it has little stimulating spikes and wakes up the body. Then I [drink] some hot water, sometimes with lemon. Then I do a bit of breathing and a twenty minute meditation. If I have time I will do at least an hour of yoga. It’s too hard to travel with a yoga mat so [when I travel] I use those yoga gloves and feet things that have little grips on them. Yogietoes has them. I don’t run anymore, I used to do a lot of strenuous exercise and I’ve just realised what is best for my body. I go for walks and I am naturally active. I like snowboarding, surfboarding, just doing stuff I love.
With Swisse, I feel like I’ve been able to evolve with the brand.
It’s taught me a lot. It’s unusual to have such a big company that is so conscious. Everybody stops at 3pm everyday and meditates. It’s a beautiful company to work with. They have the abundance to do the big level research and travel and source things and work with different communities. It’s so expansive and exciting to be a part of. It brings purpose to my job. That means so much to me. Just spreading the word of consciousness and talking about what needs to happen and shift. At the most simple level I think we need to work on the self. To smile at somebody and stop judging. Start appreciating yourself, and loving yourself, and realising what you put into your body and onto your skin, and how you are going to move it, and how you are going to appreciate it.
I use the Swisse Micellar Makeup Remover a lot.
It’s nice to not have to remove makeup with alcohol and the cucumber in this formula is really soothing, so after feeling so prodded at, which I do a lot, it’s fantastic. I have been using Swisse Rose Hip Oil overnight as it’s so nourishing, and their new Cranberry Antioxidant Facial Oil is really nice, too. It’s a bit lighter so it's perfect to put on in the morning to protect my skin and also to give me a healthy glow. I’m loving the new Swisse Manuka Honey Detoxifying Facial Mask, it’s a great post flight rejuvenator. I also dry body brush, tongue scrape and oil-pull. My husband is huge on all of that. I’ve definitely gone to the extreme but it just comes down to simplicity and finding what works best for you.
For makeup I really love Luma Foundation
It’s beautiful, has SPF and is simple and natural. I just worked with Mecca and they’ve got so many amazing things. I love the Hourglass [Ambient Lighting] Palette. By Terry has a cream eyeliner and a highlighter pen on the end of a pencil, and it’s so beautiful. I love adding a glow and contouring, especially when I go out. I love using Luma bronzer and the By Terry mascara. I do nothing with my brows, besides training them. Less is more. I use brow gel. I wake up every morning and put moisturiser on my skin and brush up my brows and feel ready. My mum taught me to put the left over lip balm above your eyebrows – it’s a highlight but it also brushes up your brows.
My hair is really light right now!
I was going through a breaking fears moment where anything that I felt had an inkling of fear, then I’d make myself do it. So I made my hair really super blonde. It’s been really fun. Nature doesn’t like when you put a ton of peroxide in your hair; so I’m slowly darkening it. It’s been a process. Now I have to use the deepest conditioning products. Swisse has a really good Argan Oil which has worked wonders on my dry ends. I also love Swisse Hair Skin Nails products for an extra boost in my routine. I go to The Raven Spa in Los Angeles. I do yoga there and they do amazing Thai massage. I trained in Thai massage so it’s something that I really love. It’s the only place that I can find someone who is really authentic. I do go get facials, but overall I am really low maintenance. I don’t really use fake tan, but if I have to be extra tanned for a job, I’ll use the Saint Tropez Gradual Tanner instead of getting a spray tan. That one is really good.
At the moment I am on a ‘bulletproof’ diet.
I’m kind of obsessed with it. It’s high fats, so grass fed butter, MC2 oil, which is derived from coconut oil and really dense. You put that in your coffee, which is all-organic, and then you blend it up, so it’s quite heavy. I used to never be able to drink coffee without getting too anxious and jittery and then crash in the afternoon, but this gives you the coffee high without the anxiety. Cali Press at Bondi is making bulletproof coffees now. It’s literally like gun powder. The brain octane oil they put in it lubricates your brain. It was created by a scientist, so you can really trust that it’s doing good things for you. I make them at home, just one in the morning sustains me. So if I’m up at six, I won’t eat until about eleven. It’s kind of like my early lunch. And then I’m having dinner around five.
I don’t do sugar.
I know it doesn’t work for me. I get a smoggy mind and really foggy. When I don’t have it I’m super clear. The bulletproof has really educated me on high fats, so I’ve been having a lot of good fats. It’s so fun! I’ll eat avocado, coconut butter and almond butters by the jar. I’ll have this all with my coffee in the morning! I always thought these things were so naughty. It’s heaven. I would like to say I was vegetarian or vegan, but I have really gotten to a place of just eating what is available and if it comes from a nice place. After the contrast of being so caught up about diets, it’s like I can relax and take a breath. Because I am passionate about this and I have learned so much by experimenting with my own body.
My mum’s greatest tip is ‘try not be an apple when you are a pear”
because having both Jess and I, if they are going into a casting and they are looking for a banana and they are looking for a pear, they may not be looking for you. It’s been a beautiful thing that I stuck to. Jess started modelling when she was fourteen, super young, and although she traveled a lot at first I still watched her. I did my work experience, which I tried to get away with by going to castings with Jess. They caught on and were like ‘no you can’t just follow your sister around’ but then they offered me a contract after that week. But I never really thought I’d do it. Originally there was the appeal of money. Because we grew up with a single mum. I would watch Jess, and she would pay me ten dollars to make her a Milo in front of the TV and I was like, ‘I want to have that!’
My mum has worked her heart out to put us both through school and everything,
but only just now she’s taken long service leave to travel with us. She’s an Eurythmist; Jess and I both grew up going to Steiner schools and it’s part of the curriculum. It’s a movement, an art form to the sound of music. She teaches children. It’s a different way of opening up the sides of your brain. My mum is totally a hippie. But she also is like five different things as well. It’s really nice when she comes to visit me, she was in Mexico with me the week before, and then in Los Angeles! It’s really nice. I appreciate her now more than ever. You really realise how much they sacrifice for us.”
Story by Sigourney. With thanks to Swisse