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At-Home Beauty Experiments With Jonathan Van Ness


As many cities and states have closed businesses to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus, many of our favorite places for self-care - salons, barbershops, skin care studios - are shuttered. But that doesn't mean your beauty or grooming routines need to fall by the wayside. In fact, now might be a good time to try something new. Here to give us some tips and tricks for staying fabulous while staying at home, we have none other than Jonathan Van Ness, "Queer Eye" cast member and grooming guru joining us from Austin, Texas. Jonathan, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

JONATHAN VAN NESS: Thanks so much for having me.

MARTIN: Well, first of all those, of us who follow you on social media saw that you decided to shave your beard during this period of self-isolation. What inspired you to do that? It's kind of a - I don't know - that beard's kind of a signature. What made you decide to do that?

VAN NESS: Yeah. I think, for so many people, it's like once you've been, you know, looking at yourself in the mirror, like, a little bit more than often, just like on other trips, like, to and from the bathroom, like, I don't know if you're model walking, like, just to pass the time or just, you know, doing something, but I do feel like you just spend more time contemplating life and the state of where, you know, all of us kind of are.

MARTIN: Do you think it's a good time to try a new look? I mean, I've seen some of the TV presenters are growing their beards, which I think is kind of amusing. People who are working at home, they're not shaving. So do you think maybe it's a good time to just try a new look?

VAN NESS: Yeah. It's really hard to do a new look if you're getting your hair cut every, you know, three or four weeks. In that respect, I think this is definitely a time to, like, let it grow, try something different and experiment with some new lengths.

MARTIN: I know that you're a fan of facial masks and treatments. Do you think you might have something in the pantry, for example, or in the fridge that might be good for a facial mask, if that would be a good thing to try? And while you're at it, what does a facial mask do? Like, why should you do that?

VAN NESS: Sure. Well, they really can achieve a lot of different things. And I also think obviously it's an important time to be, like, mindful of food waste and everything. But I think there are some things that we can do. if you have extra and, you know, you're not feeling wasteful about it is, like, agave nectar is a really good humectant and, you know, moisturizing and moisture attracting mask that you can do for your face and your hair. So if you just place a glass bottle of a agave nectar in warm water so it gets a little bit thinner, you can apply that directly to the face and then rinse it off with warm water and your favorite cleanser.

MARTIN: That's a good one. I've never heard of that. That's a good one.

VAN NESS: Yeah. Agave nectar is good. And, you know, if you can, like, not use the whole bottle, just use like a little bit. That's why it's good to kind of warm it before him by putting the glass bottle in warm water.

MARTIN: Let's move into the hair space here. If you can't make it to the barber but you don't want to look like Tom Hanks in "Cast Away" while you're stuck at home, what do you recommend? I mean, for a lot of people, you know, hey, you know, you know, hair is a big thing for a lot of people.


MARTIN: They just don't feel right if their hair isn't right. Do you have some thoughts about that?

VAN NESS: I think my first and biggest thought, it's like you don't want to make a mistake on your haircut that, like, you're going to spend all of quarantine plus some growing out, right? So I think it's like, don't bite off more than you can chew. For people with really short haircuts, it's like focus to the stuff that you can see if you're not a professional. Only do, like, the hair around your ears if you, like, happen to have like a small T-Edger or like clipper at home, just do that like, you know, right up to the top of your ear just to kind of clean that up. That makes a huge difference. Don't cut into, like, your fringe. Don't, you know, do your bangs, your fringe or whatever you call it at home.

And for people with like, you know, clipper barber short haircuts, don't cut into your hair line, only the hair that, like, falls outside your hairline so that you can make the mistakes minimal - unless you don't care and you just want a full-on GI Jane it for quarantine and you're really going to embrace that, I guess that's totally OK. But if that is not your speed, then bite off little bits and don't do so much 'cause really that's what you get in a world of hurt is where you, like, break out your clippers or you, you know, you break out your orange kitchen scissors and you're like, I can give you - give myself a haircut. And it's like, no, you can't. And, no, you shouldn't. I mean, you can, but you shouldn't.

So just calm down. And, you know, two or three months of extra growth is not going to hurt anybody. So just relax.

MARTIN: I think you're going to save a lot of people's equanimity here with this advice. I have the sense that you've really - you've done a real public service just - I have a feeling that some people are just on the verge of taking it a little too far. That's just all I'm going to say.

VAN NESS: Yeah. And one thing that I've spent some time thinking about and wondering, you know, how I can help that - it really just hurts. If this would have happened to me, like, four years ago prior to "Queer Eye," you know, and really like six years ago because, really, like, it was only a couple of years prior to "Queer Eye" that I really even thought about, like, what's a retirement? Like, do I have like a month or two of emergency funds, like, saved up? That was really only something that dawned on me when I, like, started - like when I became 30, you know.

And so if coronavirus and COVID would have happened to me in my mid to late 20s, it would have been just a completely different experience as a small business owner. And I have seen a lot on Instagram with hair colorists specifically, one thing that people can do is if you do have a colorist that covers your grays that you're consistent with, you can reach out to them and you can see if they are doing curbside drop-off for hair color. And what they'll do is they will put the exact formulation, the exact how-to step by step in a convenient little box with like your little gloves, your little bottle, like, everything that you need in - as convenient explained way as possible. And that also gives the hairdresser the money from a root touch up. You know, it gives you your roots.

I've seen a few people doing that on Instagram, which I think is a really inventive way that both client and hairdresser can at least recoup some of that income because so many small business owners will not qualify for the stimulus. And it's like, so many hairdressers and so many service industry people really have to be creative about how to make their way through this crisis.

MARTIN: I hear exactly what you're saying, and thank you so much for pointing that out. Getting back to the sort of the individual piece here, everybody's washing their hands a lot more. And I don't know about you, but just - my hands are just feeling, like, terrible.

VAN NESS: Yes. I got a great tip for this.

MARTIN: Yeah. Tell me about that. What can we do about that?

VAN NESS: Whatever your favorite moisturizer is, if you know like a really clean body cream moisturizer out there, honey, please let me know. But yeah, I'm just slathering my hands in that and then just bagging my hands in some socks, going to bed, wake up, rinse it off. And it really helps give the hydration back that this, like, constant handwashing is taking away. So whatever your favorite hand cream is, apply it, put on some socks, go to sleep, wake up. And it really feels so much better.

MARTIN: Oh, that's great. I'm going to try that today. Do you have any other general wellness tips to help us stay fabulous while staying at home?

VAN NESS: Yeah. I mean, I love feeling fabulous. I have been doing, like, a few little fashion shows with just like the clothes that I have in my closet, just like to cheer myself up a bit here and there. I also gave myself a blow dry the other day. But I do think that this is an - I mean, this is - it's awful. It's terrible. This is a crisis that we are going through for so many people because, you know, financially, people don't know how to make ends meet. But I think that this is really an inside job for getting through this. It's meditation. It's sitting with ourselves. It's like reading the books that we have at home, really trying to entertain ourselves and just relax. And so I think meditation mindfulness is really important for that. And whatever you can do to relax - I think relaxation is key to all of this.

MARTIN: That's Jonathan Van Ness, self-care expert and one of the stars of "Queer Eye" on Netflix. And we also want to mention he has a new children's book coming out this week. It's called "Peanut Goes For The Gold." Jonathan Van Ness, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us. We really appreciate it.

VAN NESS: Thanks so much for having me. I appreciate it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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