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In Bustle’s Beauty Detail, we dive into the beauty bags of our favorite talents for intel on the rituals that keep them glowing and the MVPs (most valuable products) they can’t live without. Here, Jonathan Van Ness tells Bustle about starting a haircare line, the one haircut they regret, and what to expect on the next season of Queer Eye.
A fresh haircut can do a lot of things — especially if you don’t like how it turns out. Of course, it can put you in a bad mood. But on a deeper level, it can reveal parts of who you are (or who you want to be). For Jonathan Van Ness, it was cutting their hair short at age 25 that made them realize a big part of their identity.
“There’s so much internalized homophobia and transphobia in the gay community — especially in the gay male community — that I was like, ‘Oh, maybe someone will like me better,’ or ‘I’ll be accepted more by these guys’ if I cut my hair off,” Van Ness tells me over Zoom. “I remember feeling so unlike myself the second it was short. I was like, ‘This is just not right.’ I [realized] no validation from other people will ever replace how much better I feel when my hair is long; [it] just feels like it’s who I am.”
The Queer Eye star feels their most authentic self with long hair. “My whole life I wanted long hair,” they said. “I was assigned male at birth. Living in my authenticity as a non-binary person, for me, a lot of that is in my hair. I feel my most authentic self when there’s some wind whipping through my hair and I’m about to do a tumbling pass.”
Calling hair “art in motion,” Van Ness says hairstyling can be an opportunity for you to be creative and artistic, becoming a form of self-expression — something they are a huge advocate for.
“We are so much more than our hair. [But] there is a clear connection between the way that we feel [and] when we look in the mirror and realize ‘This is me at my most authentic self,’” they say. “When there’s a more symbiotic relationship with how I’m carrying myself through life the way I envisioned myself — that feels really good.”
As a hairstylist and beloved grooming guru on Netflix’s hit show, Van Ness’ haircare line is a natural progression of their expertise. The eponymous line, JVN, consists of four collections: Nurture, Undamage, Embody, and Complete. “I really wanted to make a change in the beauty industry from within,” they said. “[I wanted to make a line] that was for everyone: no matter where you’re from, no matter what hair type you have, no matter what gender you are.”
Each product is silicone-free and the brand has pledged for packaging to be plastic-free by 2025. You’ll find clean and nourishing ingredients, such as jojoba oil and chia seed extract, but the star ingredient of the line is hemisqualane, a smaller and more refined version of squalane, which is known for its moisturizing properties and works for all hair types. “[Hemisqualane] reminds me of that lead singer in a group who brings out the best in everyone or that friend in your friend group that is like the glue,” they say. “Hemisqualane really makes every other ingredient work even harder.”