You Won't Believe How This Model Keeps Her Bleach-Blonde Hair Bright and Strong

Updated 08/30/18

Welcome to The Hair Enquiry, our deep dive into the hair rituals, routines and habits behind some of the most enviable hair to ever grace Instagram. We see it as our public duty to ask the questions others are too shy to, so we’ve set ourselves on a mission to probe our exceptionally haired subjects and uncover exactly what they do that makes their great hair so great, right down to the very last product. This week, NYC-based model Nejilka walks us through her journey to finding a unique hair identity, and shares the surprising hack for keeping her bleach-blonde hair bright and strong. 

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

You'll probably remember the days when designers would exclusively send armies of homogenous straight-haired models down their runways. Back then, it was all about a cookie-cutter beauty ideal, which undoubtedly played its part in society's ridiculous beauty standards we're still trying to shake off. Thankfully, however, we're finally seeing a shift. Look at pretty much any A/W 18 show and it's likely you'll spot a bevy of hair textures, styles, lengths and colours marching down the runway.

So rather than trying to fit in, for any model looking to book the biggest fashion week gigs, the goal is to stand out—to find the hairstyle that feels original and most authentic to you. No one knows this better than Nejilka, a model whose striking looks sees her booked for the biggest shows and the coolest campaigns. But it wasn't all plain sailing. Below, she talks us through how she found her own hair identity, as well as all her practical advice for keeping her bleach-blonde, kinky curls in top condition.

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

On Her Hair Journey Thus Far…

"I've had kinky, curly hair all my life. I didn't like my hair much in my younger days. I cried every time my mum used to try to brush my hair—I was like Mia from The Princess Diaries. In the summer, I wore my hair in cornrows so my mum didn't have to brush it. It was so kinky and curly; I had knots in the baby hairs on the back of my head. My mum started using keratin treatments on my hair to soften the curls so they were tamable.

"I know many girls with afro texture can relate; everyone wants what they can't have. We never really appreciate what we already have. We're all different and special, and we should embrace it. I started experimenting with my hair when I was about 15—there were so many things I wanted to do. I wanted to be like the Garnier ads. I used to spend endless hours weekly in my local Dominican salon. To straighten it, I would use rollers, blow-dry it and then flat-iron my hair in order for it to be smooth and sleek.

"I went through a Rihanna phase where my hair was a fauxhawk. That was my first big chop. Then one day my friend Gia dared me to buzz it all off, and I did. I dyed it blonde, pretty much following the Amber Rose trend, but I got sick of looking like her and every other girl. I wanted something that felt authentic, so I bleached my brows, and this is when my no-brows look began. It was inspired by Lara Stone for Mert and Marcus.

"A few weeks later, I started growing my hair and playing with the in-between phases, wearing extensions, dying it different colours and playing with different hairstyles. It was so much fun, especially seeing the texture change. When I started modelling, my hair was like Binx Walton's (at the height of her career), in terms of cut and colour. But after being compared once again, I wanted to have my own identity. So I bleached my hair blonde at home.

"My hair was always straightened for shoots, but my first international trip to Tokyo for Ginza was the first time my hair was diffused. It was this hairstylist who taught me about my natural hair and how to use the diffuser. I then carried on with it throughout my career, internationally and personally.

"There's nothing I would change about my hair now, although I'd love for it to be longer. I've learned over the years to love, accept and embrace it. It's been such a blessing in my career."

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

On How She Maintains Her Hair:

"It depends on where I am in the world, but sometimes I do my cut and colour myself due to the lack of time. I have a whole team in Toni & Guy (near Tottenham Court Road in London). Francesco does the colour, Cos does the cutting, and often an assistant or student will style my hair, but most of the time I just leave my hair wet and carry on with my day. They know how to work with my texture and always teach me more about my hair. In New York, I go to Sassoon Salon near Union Square. I go and visit my hairdresser, Erol, who has a team that bleaches my hair as well, and Erol trims and styles my hair. He always wants to do crazy cuts, which I'm all for, but I'm growing my hair at the moment, so no Erol Scissorhands for a while!"

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

On How She Keeps Up That Bleach-Blonde Shade…

"Everyone cringes when I tell them this, but my hair grows super quickly, so I literally bleach it every 10 to 12 days, depending on work. If I'm lucky, some clients love the roots and just bleach my brows. And if I don't work at all, I leave it alone. My scalp needs a break sometimes. My natural hair colour is brown/black. Don't get me wrong: This hair colour isn't for only work—it's how I want to look."

On How She Cares for Her Hair…

blonde kinky curly hair tips: ORS Moisture Restore Creamy Aloe Shampoo
ORS Moisture Restore Creamy Aloe Shampoo $3
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"I've been using ORS and Garnier all my life. One of the best shampoos I've used is ORS Moisture Restore Creamy Aloe Shampoo. It smells so good and leaves my hair soft rather than dry. I wish I could wash it every single day with this pollution—you can see how much my hair attracts the dirt and turns a kind of ashy colour—but due to bleaching, it's a little dry, so I wash it every three to five days. I use purple shampoo every now and then to brighten the colour."

blonde kinky curly hair tips: ORS Olive Oil Lotion
ORS Olive Oil Lotion $4
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"I'm still trying to find the right mix of conditioners, but at the moment, I'm using ORS Olive Oil Lotion. My hair thanks me every time. It's meant to repair from breakage, heat and all the damage. Then I condition my hair with ORS Olive Oil Replenishing Conditioner, which smells like oranges. Then I proceed to use Texture My Way Keep It Curly Ultra Defining Curl Pudding. It's really great for my frizzy hair."

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Texture My Way Keep It Curly Ultra Defining Curl Pudding
Texture My Way Keep It Curly Ultra Defining Curl Pudding $6
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"I do this old-school thing my mum taught me. I've been doing this since I was a kid. I love mayo on my fries and burgers, but also marinated in my hair! This is probably why my hair is still intact. It needs all the protein and fats in mayonnaise. It doesn't smell like mayo after if you properly wash it, but it does leave my hair looking lush, soft and shiny!"

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

On How She Styles Her Hair…

"Sometimes I air-dry my hair because in London it's perfect weather for my hair—humidity! Also I can go about my day instead of spending extra time on it. Most of the time I use a diffuser for about 15 to 25 minutes. My hair takes forever to dry. And when I'm on holiday, I sleep on it wet. I don't recommend this, as my mum says this is bad, but pillow hair is the best hair.

"To style it, I do various things. Mainly I leave it afro! I use a Tresemmé hair dryer with the diffuser attachment. Sometimes I slick my hair back or part it in the middle and tie the rest of my hair in a low ballerina bun using Eco gel. My favourite look is having the afro and then tying up the sides into a bun, kind of like a half-ponytail, half-down look.

"The only accessory you need is a hat! I wear berets and bucket hats. It's a big new discovery. I love adding berets for just a little French touch or even a bucket hat for a more streetwear kind of look. I do wish I could wear them more often, but in the summer heat it's unbearable."

blonde kinky curly hair tips: Nejilka
Nejilka

On Her Hair Idol…

"If I could have anyone's hair for the day, to be honest, it would have to be Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City Season 1. I really want my hair big, long and voluminous."

Follow Nejilka on Instagram at @nejilka.

Been eyeing up someone's great hair for a while now? Wish there was a way to find out every last thing they do to it? DM me @byrdiebeauty.uk and we'll do the digging for you.

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