The importance of having a solid beauty routine was ingrained in Rojin Torabi from childhood. By her early twenties she had two decades of beauty knowledge under her belt, so it’s little wonder friends were clamouring for her skincare advice. By then a busy working uni student, Roj created a podcast and Instagram account to ensure she could get said advice out there to as many friends as easily as possible. Thus, The Roject was born, and the beauty community quickly took notice. Earlier this year she left her corporate legal job behind, and is now busy merging being an in-demand influencer with consulting in the beauty legal space. Roj chatted with us about making the career decision to go out on her own, how she avoids procrastination, why you should pay attention to your skin every day, and which skincare product is her ‘favourite child’.

“Beauty has always been in my life. I come from an Iranian-Persian family. I was born in Iran, and then we left for New Zealand when I was five months’ old. Beauty is so ingrained in Iranian culture; it’s always a part of your life.

When I was three or four, Mum would take me to her hairdresser to get them to cut my hair as well. When one of her hairdressers wouldn’t do mine, rather than accept that she just changed hairdressers. Beauty for us is very ritualistic, so we were both so happy to be together at the new hairdresser.

The NZ equivalent if David Jones is called Farmers, and I have so many photos of me propped up in chairs at the beauty department in Farmers. Mum would sit me up next to her while she was getting her skincare and I would get a little bit of blush put on and feel on top of the world. My dad has always been so into beauty as well. From when I was little he was always saying “moisturise, brush your hair, braid it.” He is so into it. So I have grown up with both my parents being like around me all the time – they are my OG beauty influencers. They gave me my start with beauty, and then it grew from there.

I had always wanted to study law, but not necessarily to be a lawyer for the rest of my life. My mindset was that law is a knowledge source.

Ever since I was five or so, my mum would say “she’s going to end up being a lawyer”. My parents knew I’d want to do something that involved lots of questions and formulating responses.

I have always been like that and by the time I got to school and started debating, it all came together and I felt like I had found a natural connection to law. But my love for it was always about doing it for the knowledge, not to have a classic career as a lawyer. I wanted to take the experiences I had from it and bring that to other hobbies I like, such as business, beauty… I am open to seeing how it all ends up coming together.

Honestly, I never saw beauty as an industry I could work in. I wanted to, and thought maybe I could one day, but I definitely didn’t see it happening this quickly.

The way I fell into it was so unexpected – it was basically because my friends were always asking me skin questions. As I got busy doing a double degree and working full time with two jobs, I decided to start a podcast, not for the public but just for my friend group. Any questions they sent about their skin I would answer weekly, and that way when the same questions came up I could just say “guys, go listen to the acne episode”. Then the Instagram account started just to put out photos of the products I mentioned on the podcast.

So the basic idea of my account was just to share info with friends, and then people I didn’t know started following, my account got bigger and the podcast had more listeners, and people even started asking to be on the podcast! Then then when the first COVID lockdown happened it all really took off; that’s when I started creating skincare packs for sale and holding competitions. I eventually found myself ‘in’ beauty, but it had started from a very real place.

At the moment, both my legal work and my influencing work are relatively similar.

I left my corporate law job with Channel Nine at the start of the year, and am now consulting for beauty brands and working with PR companies who have beauty clients.

I don’t really know how I balance or manage doing the two types of work. I don’t think about it or plan it, like ‘how am I going to split the week?’ I merged it into one messy world, and it all kind of works. I guess I might have less stress in my life if I had more organisation, haha. But I find I get more done if I just do it. If I’m writing a list it means I am procrastinating! I’d finish an entire notebook with one list – it would never end.

Leaving Nine to work for myself was a challenge. I really had to rely on my adaptability and positive mind set, knowing I was leaving behind wonderful mentorship and the chance to collaborate with a great team.

I made the decision to leave about six months before I actually did, so I had time to work up to it. I was living it and preparing for it, so when the change actually happened, I felt completely done and ready. From my point of view, the change has been really good. It’s been challenging and has tested my resilience. It’s also tested my teamwork skills. Leaving the corporate world you lose a set team, but now I have a wider one. Ultimately, I am a part each of my clients’ teams and have to fit into each one. It’s exciting.

So much has changed in the beauty world in the last three or four years. People often say it’s become a saturated industry, but that’s relatively beneficial when you think about it because we have so much to choose from.

Now, you can have a different serum for every single hair follicle on your entire body, haha. It can make it hard to wade through what is worthwhile, though. For instance, some devices I find a little gimmicky, but some really do work. I like the LED mask from Omnilux. When you’re choosing a device, what’s really important is the science behind it.

When it comes to LED, you could just go and purchase a light from Bunnings and hold against your face, but there’s nothing to say that will work. The science says it has to be a certain wavelength and used for certain periods of time to produce results. I like that Omnilux doesn’t beat around the bush – they saw the results of the science that works and followed exactly those same numbers when they made their version, so I trust it. I’ve used it so much now for healing and on breakouts, and I personally feel like it’s really helped. You absolutely have to be consistent though. My boyfriend works from home and doesn’t have to be on camera, so he sometimes uses it six times a day! He’s been doing that for a few months, and has seen very good results.

I don’t think there’s any products in my routine that don’t change. I don’t even necessarily keep all the categories the same, either, but for sure it’s always different products.

Even with a category where I have a go-to or a favourite, like for vitamin C where it might be SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic Serum, I’ll still stop using that regularly to test a new one. Then I make a decision on whether or not to keep using the new one or go back to the favourite.

Over time, I’ve kind of gotten better on avoiding the ‘skin freak out’ thing that can happen when you use a new product. For the first three or four nights with something new, I sandwich. So as a base product I use something my skin is already comfy with, then apply the new product, then finish with a moisturiser my skin knows and likes. Then after those first few days I transition to letting the new product sit in my routine where it needs to. That works well for me.

I feel like the Olay Luminous Niacinamide Super Serum is a great all-rounder serum.

It’s slightly milky and has a tacky effect, which makes it a great base under makeup. When you apply it, it feels like you have used like a watery lotion, and I like the instant glow it gives.

I’m really enjoying the SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter moisturiser. They did clinicial trials for it and the results were incredible. I also love Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream. I’ve been lucky enough to have had earl access to the new Charlotte’s Magic Water Cream, which is a really good option for people who don’t want the richness of the original version. This new version is perfect for Australian summer, or for anyone who prefers a thinner moisturiser.

I don’t always use a moisturiser, though. Sometimes I’ll ditch moisturiser entirely before finishing my routine with SPF.

You know how some days you can apply a product and your skin absolutely drinks it, and other times it just sits there? With skincare, you absolutely have to play it by ear. When you wake up each day, see how your skin is. Don’t treat it like there’s some textbook of rules you have to follow, because then you’re just applying things you don’t need.

These days with so much information available on TikTok and Instagram, I think it can feel like you need to do every single step in the exact same order every day. That’s not how it works. Every day you should reassess what you need. Maybe one day you don’t need to use hyaluronic acid, but rather should use salicylic, because you’re slightly congested. You should definitely chop and change.

Care for your skin and give it what it’s after that day, not what the internet says it might be after. People who are into plants will get this: our skin is like a peace lily. It’s so dramatic! One day it gives you everything you could possibly ask for, and then the next it’s witholding. We’ve got to cater to this little peace lily and try to keep it as happy as can be.

I must say, there is one category I absolutely never get rid of and that remains in my routine permanently, and that’s masks. I am a sucker for a sheet mask.

I am a connoisseur of the sheet mask application technique. The key to it is to know what your mask is made of. My favourite types tend to be made of bio-cellulose, which is a material like a second skin. It’s not tissue like a lot of masks and it’s not not a slippery jelly like eye masks. It really clings to the face and sits there firmly. I like the Medik8 Ultimate Recovery Bio Cellulose Mask, the 111SKIN Anti Blemish Bio Cellulose Facial Mask, and 111 SKIN’s OG purple mask, the Y Theorem Bio Cellulose Facial Mask.

If it’s not a bio-cellulose one (and not every brand makes them), then you need to get a little more creative with using the tissue kind. They all come with little slits pre-cut into them, so you need to get in there with eyebrow scissors to make some of the slits larger, and also learn to fold the mask so it hugs your face more. I like to make cuts in the left and right of the chin slits, sort of in the corners, and then fold the mask in under the chin.

Another tip I’ve got is using a sheet mask holder, which is basically a silicone mask that sits on top of your sheet mask, and goes behind the ears to keep the sheet in place. I just find them on Amazon. In terms of tissue masks, the Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask is great.

If you want to pick up something affordable, the Olay Niacinamide And Collagen Sheet Mask makes you feel really juicy right after you apply it. If you’re after eye masks, James Cosmetics has nailed them. They have one for every eye concern you could have. My favourites are the 24K Gold & Collagen Crystal and the De-Puff version, which has retinol in it. The blue-green one, Restore, is good if you’re more concerned about looking tired. They all refresh and tighten, though!

Sheet masks are my favourite child, but I do still love other masks.

Clay masks are great for congestion. One I love a lot is the Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Cleansing Mask. I actually did one last night, as it’s my time of the month and my nose and chin are congested. It’s so reliable and gets the job done, plus it isn’t overly drying. People forget they have it on and leave them on too long, and that’s when you run into trouble. Remember to wash it off in the time the packaging says, and take it off gently using a warm cloth.

I think two products people underestimate the power of are sheet masks, and of using a good thick moisturiser. They’re worried it will be sticky or clog their pores, but it won’t. They want their skin to still be ‘breathing’, but that’s not how skin works!

When someone complains to me about their skin, I almost always say, “if you just apply a good thick moisturiser with lots of lovely massage, a lot of the concerns you’re raising right now wouldn’t be a problem”. People are also sleeping on what a difference using products like a sheet mask and a rich moisturiser makes to makeup application. There’ve been these big trends for influencers to use primers that made their skin sort of glittery, but most of us want our skin to be glowy. So we reach for… highlighter drops? I mean, ok, but what are you doing skincare-wise? So often the answer is nothing, and people are not prepping their skin at all for the makeup look they want. It’s such a missed opportunity.

My go-to makeup product is definitely something for the brows, usually a gel or, if I’ve had them laminated, just a brush. Brushing them upward really wakes up the face.

I live for a concealer. You can get specific ones for the under eye or for spots, but if you’re just getting one I think an under eye concealer is probably more versatile. The new one from IT Cosmetics, ByeBye Dark Spots Concealer, is really good. It’s like the original, but comes in a tube with a wand. You can easily use it on spots. It has almost a skin lubricant feel so it doesn’t cling to dry spots but it still actually conceals, and is quite hydrating.

It’s perfect to have in the car if you’re in a rush and need to look more awake. I also use Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra Wear Concealer – I like the wand it has. And I love a lip liner. I tend to go for a pinky-browny colour. Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk isn’t quite right on everyone, and it can go a bit orange on certain skin types. I like something slightly browner. So a brow product, concealer, lip liner and then some blush are my bare essentials.

If I am changing things up for a night out, I tend to keep the overall look more or less the same, but increase the intensity. I’ll put on some more blush and add mascara.

I tend to not wear eyeliner as I don’t think it suits me. Although now that I’ve said that, I’m wondering if maybe I use that as an excuse and really, I just can’t apply it! I’ve recently got quite into doing a diffused brown line, which has changed the game for me. I like the Rare Beauty Perfect Strokes Longwear Gel Eyeliners, so I put on one of those and then diffuse it with a thin eyeshadow brush. They’re very blendable.

I’ve tested it out with shadow, too, but these liners are forgiving so they work much the same way. Contour-wise, the internet got me very into the Make Up For Ever HD Skin All-In-One Face Palette (available from Sephora)I picked up the one I wanted in Dubai; in Australia we get the format with a blush, but this other one is all browns and nudes and light colours. There’s a cool-toned bronzer inside that I love. I hadn’t realised how much of a difference a cool bronzer can make. It totally changed how I do my face, I think because it helps you create a slightly more shadowy look than full on contour.

I have also used it for my ‘normal’ bronzing and contouring, though, and it still creates quite a nice look. I think it’s because my complexion at the moment suits something less warm than I maybe used to reach for. Some other bronzers I like are Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Bronzer, which comes in a huge pan and is easy to blend, and the Rare Beauty Warm Wishes Effortless Bronzer Stick also from Sephora

In terms of foundation, I can’t get over how much the drugstore brands have really stepped it up. There are a lot to pick from now. Depending on what I’m feeling, I can do thick or thin texture and coverage.

L’Oréal has reformulated True Match Liquid Foundation, and it now has six pigments when it used to have four. My shade is such a great match now. Maybelline has just launched a new base in Australia containing vitamin C, the Superstay 24H Skin Tint. It has a luminescent pearly look, and it sits on the skin so well.  I love that these are things we can get at the chemist!

For higher end options, the one by Haus Labs that everyone is obsessed with [Ed. note: not yet available in Australia] is very similar to the Maybelline tint, but maybe has a little more of a skin-like finish, whereas the Maybelline is more dewy. The NARS ones are great – they’re classics for a reason.  I always keep myself stocked up on the Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray.

I am such a big fan. I was on the Zoom with Charlotte when she launched it and have been through bottles of it since then. It was one of the first few things I had been involved in as an influencer, and I used it a few times and was like ‘wait, this is so good’. I was telling everyone, “do it, ship it!” Now it’s available at Mecca so every man and his dog can have it – no excuses.

Of course, like with skincare, you have to find what works for you.

I come across products all the time which other people obsessed with, but I buy it and it separates, or looks horrible on my particular skin. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a ‘one suits all’ purchase. And if you use the wrong makeup product, it can undo everything you did before, which is infuriating! It all washes off anyway, though, so it’s fun to experiment and find out what you really love for yourself.”

Interview and story by Zoe Briggs. Imagery from Instagram @theroject.

Roj has or has had paid partnerships with Omnilux and Olay.

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