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Winnie Harlow’s Most Prized Christmas Tradition Includes Baking This Holiday Staple

In a season that’s jam-packed with shopping for gifts, holiday parties, and celebrations, one celebrity mogul has still found the time during the holidays to be a voice for representation. Winnie Harlow is a multi-hyphenate creating a new era of inclusion in the beauty industry and society by turning her personal experiences into inspiration. 

Harlow first gained recognition in 2014 as a trailblazing model with vitiligo, walking down runways and appearing in fashion ads. She’s since become a public spokesperson for representation and redefined beauty standards. In 2022, Harlow created her skincare brand, Cay Skin, after experiencing firsthand the need for more inclusivity in the industry. She was on location in the Bahamas for a shoot and didn’t apply sunscreen due to a fear of a white cast on her skin from SPF. This left her with a painful sunburn that required medical treatment. Out of this came an idea for her own beauty line, transforming her personal experience into a brand. “I just thought of why that problem happened rather than thinking about the problem itself,” Harlows says in an exclusive interview with Her Campus. “When I did think about why it happened, it showed me that there was a space in the beauty industry that needed to be filled.” 

Cay Skin offers daily suncare products, such as the Isle Nourishing Body Mist, and after-suncare products like the Deepwater Dew Body Serum. “For me at the baseline of it, it’s about inclusivity and representation and making sure that everyone has beautiful SPF to use no matter what skin tone, type, or condition you have,” Harlow says. 

If you need a last-minute Christmas gift for your bestie or loved one, Harlow suggests the Isle Glow Face Lotion. “It’s the first thing that I made from Cay Skin and it is my baby. It gives me so much hydration, protection from the sun, but also it gives me really beautiful glowy skin,” she says.

Skin care might not have been a career path Harlow thought she’d take, but it was a field that resonated with her due to that pivotal moment in the Bahamas. It’s an important lesson for many people entering the workforce: Careers manifest when you least expect it. Like any person making that transition into a new career field, it took work for Harlow, which she believes is what made the jump possible. “Dive in headfirst, but also do your research,” Harlow says. “Figure out all the things that you need to do and ask questions, talk to people that are in a field that you want to be in or are surrounding that field. You can never ask enough questions about anything that you’re interested in.” 

From modeling to advocacy to broadening her name as an entrepreneur, Harlow’s busy — especially during the holidays. “I don’t know how [I balance everything]. I’m still behind on my Christmas shopping,” she jokes. There’s one constant for Harlow amidst the holiday chaos: Her family. 

Harlow’s family is also behind some of her most prized holiday traditions. “I started making a pumpkin pie for the holidays. Pumpkin pie was a designated thing for my aunt to do. I decided to make one one year and everyone liked mine more,” Harlow says. “She passed the baton over to me, which was not what I was looking for because I don’t have the time to make a pumpkin pie all day, but it is something that I try to do, especially because the family does love it.” 

When Harlow isn’t spending time with her family, she’s out pursuing her passions, one of which is philanthropy. The holidays are a time for spreading cheer and to Harlow, that means uplifting voices and spreading kindness. Her latest collaboration with Coca-Cola — AI-generated holiday cards — aims to promote individuality and give a fresh perspective to the holiday season. Whether you’re in a different place in the world or celebrating unique traditions, these cards strive to capture that through personal designs. Much like Cay Skin, this collaboration came from Harlow wanting more representation. 

“When it came to being able to create these Christmas cards that were so personalized to every single person, that was a really cool thing for me because I feel like so many times when it comes to representation, we don’t even realize that we’re not seen,” Harlow says. “For example, me having vitiligo, I never saw anyone on any billboard or magazine or commercial that looked like me and it wasn’t until I was seen that other people started seeing themselves. I think sometimes you don’t even realize how unrepresented we are. When something like this comes along, it allows you to feel seen.” 

In all of her work, Harlow strives to remain true to herself and be a voice in the beauty and modeling community for representation — and you can, too. She says, “Go for it. People most resonate with personal experience, so tell your story, tell your truth.” 

Hannah Tolley is a contributing writer under the Entertainment and Culture vertical. She covers entertainment releases, fan theories, pop culture news, and more. Aside from Her Campus, Hannah was also a member of the Florida State University (FSU) Her Campus team. During her time with the chapter, she served as a staff writer for three semesters, where she wrote biweekly pieces across campus, culture, and personal verticals. She also was a content editor for two semesters, where she led a team of 6+ writers and oversaw and edited their articles. Hannah was also an editorial intern for Her Campus during her spring and summer term of her second year in college. As an intern, she worked alongside the full-time edit team to curate timely and evergreen pieces across life, culture, career, and style verticals. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from FSU in May 2023, with a Bachelor of Science in Media/Communication Studies with a minor in English. When she's not dissecting the latest pop culture events, you can find her reading a cheesy romance novel or establishing parasocial relationships with fictional TV characters. She loves to rewatch her favorite shows (Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, and Friends) or spend the day going down a rabbit hole of reality dating shows.