Jonathan Van Ness Is a Hair Care "Ingredient Queen"

Plus, his favorite products and styling advice.

Jonathan Van Ness

Jonathan Van Ness

It should come as no surprise, but I'm happy to confirm that Jonathan Van Ness (a.k.a. JVN) radiates the same infectious energy over Zoom as he does on screen. Funny and straightforward, the Queer Eye star has committed to making everyone look and feel like the best version of themselves. In fact, during our recent call, the celebrity hairstylist took the time to demonstrate how I could achieve my very best curls (which, btw, worked incredibly well).

At heart, JVN is that special type of stylist you can build a bond with, chatting about your life, what's new, and anything else on your mind while you sit in the chair. But the star is also so much more than that. The multi-hyphenate has written a book, landed an Emmy nomination with Gay of Thrones (a web show where he did guests' hair while recapping Game of Thrones), and remains a devoted advocate for the LGBTQ+ community to millions of followers. And now, the beloved TV personality is bringing that same authenticity and enthusiasm to a different venture: his new haircare line, JVN.

Van Ness's haircare journey began before fame. Early in his styling career, he developed a deep understanding of product ingredients and how they affected different hair types. Van Ness always knew he wanted to create a line, but he never thought he'd get the opportunity. Thankfully, life had bigger plans, and the line he always dreamed of has come to fruition.

Read on for more details on JVN's new line, his favorite products, and why he wants everyone to have a good relationship with their hair.

The One Thing He's Always Loved About Hair Care

"I've always had a huge passion for ingredients and products—specifically haircare and skincare—my whole life. Literally, since I was five. If my mom took me to the mall, I'd get lost because I would purposely leave and go to a Bath & Body Works store to read the back of bottles. I've always thought it was fun.

"I never thought [developing a hair care line] would be an opportunity that I would get to have personally. But, as a hairstylist, when I understood the ingredients in the products I was using, I could affect a more dramatic change on hair and achieve desired results with all the different hair textures.

"Once I came into this point in my career, it was like, 'oh my gosh, I could do this.' I took longer [to develop JVN] because of the ingredient quality, the inclusivity of the design and marketing for the brand, and the product versatility. Those were such important parts to me. It took me a long time to find a partner willing to do it the way I wanted to do it.

"Not that I'm not open to feedback, but I'm not willing to compromise on everyone feeling welcome, sustainability, and the environmental aspects of the company. And for that reason, Amyris was such an amazing choice."

The One Ingredient He Swears By

"I discovered squalane and later hemisqualane while working with Biossance. For certain formulations, I would put a little bit of the oil on my hands. And I was like, 'this stuff's amazing—can we put this in haircare?' Hemisqualane is such an effective ingredient to impart strength, shine, and moisture balance, which is what we're looking for in quality hair products.

"I've always been into ingredients. I'm an ingredient queen. I love that. So it was like, how can we use fatty alcohols? How can we use hemisqualane? How can we use beautiful oils to come together and make high-quality functioning ingredients and products?"

The One Thing He Wants Everyone to Know About Beauty

"The beauty standard has previously been that not everyone was welcome to celebrate their personal beauty or their unique beauty. And, if you were a certain type of person wanting to celebrate your beauty, it was seen as weird or not possible. Our society has been so transphobic, racist, fatphobic, and many other things that have excluded so many people from feeling like they're allowed to be beautiful.

"My opinion has been that everyone is beautiful and that we all have beauty. We all have a uniqueness that is worth celebrating and worth validating. We just haven't been taught how. So, I wanted to create a haircare line where everyone felt welcome to celebrate themselves, each other, and what makes them uniquely themselves. You don't have to change something about yourself to be beautiful—everybody already is. How can we accentuate that? That was also the big inspiration."

We all have uniqueness that is worth celebrating and worth validating. We just haven't been taught how.

The Number One Tip He Learned as a Hairdresser

"I realized through my career being a hairdresser that we neglect our scalps. We are asking our scalps so much. More people are wearing wigs. When we wear wigs, our scalp is cut off from oxygen and light, and it causes a lot of friction and pressure on the scalp. So, making sure we don't get buildup from sweating, products, or braids is essential.

"Our Complete Pre-Wash Scalp Oil ($28) has hemisqualane, which is in all of our stuff. It's what makes everything work so well. But, the pre-wash oil specifically also has turmeric and bisabolol—a moisturizing, neutralizing oil—and it's really hydrating to the scalp and the hair itself. The other thing it has is root extract for breakage and shedding, which helps encourage hair growth. In our clinical trials, it was shown to reduce hair breakage by 93%, which was major. So, making sure that we're doing things to nurture our scalp and give our scalp a little bit of love and attention for how much we're asking of it was so important."

The One Thing He Loves Most About The Line

"I love that we are 98% plastic-free. We use aluminum and glass. We do use plastic for our pump, and it's 95% post-consumer recycled plastic. But as a whole, our line is 98% plastic-free. And we're looking to be 100% plastic-free by 2025."

The One Hair Product He Can't Get Enough Of

"JVN's Complete Air-Dry Cream ($24), Nurture Deep Moisture Mask ($24), Complete Pre-Wash Scalp Oil ($28), and Complete Instant Recovery Serum ($28). It's a four-way tie. I alternate between them all the time."

The One Thing He Wanted to Create for Curly Hair

"I love the Embody products so much because they're the only Volumizing Shampoo ($18) and Conditioner ($18) I have ever used that doesn't dry your hair out. And, it doesn't make it a tangly mess.

"Being behind the chair for as long as I was, I felt like I had a huge portion of clients who had 3A hair (some 2's, but more 3's and 4's in terms of texture) that also had finer hair. And, when they would use volumizing shampoos and conditioners—because they wanted their hair more volume or voluminous—it would make their curls completely dried out and fried.

"So, I wanted to make a volumizing shampoo and conditioner that was good for curly, wavy hair. There's a lot of curly, kinky, wavy hair people who have curly or wavy hair, but not a lot of it. And they want more volume, but you can't go drying out that curly hair. It needs moisture too. So. I think Embody is like one of the most unique products in that whole collection."

My biggest hair priority for like myself and for everyone who I work with is I want them to be in a good relationship with their hair. I want them to be in a place of acceptance and celebration.

The One Beauty Item He Always Has In His Bag

"Sunscreen and air-dry cream."

The One Thing He Does Every Morning

"I am an extremely early riser, and I have an amazing team that helps me stay on schedule. And, I also wake up naturally (like, literally naturally) at around 5:30 in the morning. I can't sleep past 5:45 even when I try, even if I have the day off. I think it's because I love coffee so much. I just get so excited to go downstairs and make my coffee. And I think that helps me. I start three hours before most people.

The One Styling Product He Swears By

"The Air-Dry Cream ($24) is such a versatile product because even if you have 1A very straight hair, you can use it. But it's also amazing for waves, curls, and kinks. So, I think the wavier, curlier, and kinkier your hair goes, the more of the product you're going to want to use. It's very buildable.

"If your hair is straight or just a tiny wave, work in a more pea-sized amount. If we are talking about hair that's quite curly—we're getting into the 3's and the 4's–we're going to want to use more like a good half dollar amount.

"And, all of the products are buildable, so you can use the Instant Recovery Serum ($28) as you go. You can use more air-dry cream as you go. And if your hair is finer or you have less hair, a little goes a long way. If your hair is thicker, fuller, then you can use more."

The One Update in His Hair Routine

"As I've gotten older, I'm more into doing my hair natural: embracing my curls, rocking my natural texture. I think from being on camera for so long—blowing out, straightening, and ironing my hair so much—I started to have a lot of breakage around my face from too much heat styling. And then I was like, 'why are you heat styling so much?'

"I needed to learn how to style my hair curly and make it consistent, which I never was able to do until the last couple of years. And, honestly, it was part of the pandemic—I just had nothing else to do. So I was like, 'I want to start learning how to wear my hair more curly.' The only reason I didn't wear my hair air-dried or naturally curly on Queer Eye was because it would look different in every scene. I couldn't recreate the same curls until I really learned my curly hair. I could do it on clients... I just couldn't do it on myself. That just helped my hair. I am really into texture."

The One Ultimate Hair Goal

"My biggest hair priority for myself (and for everyone who I work with) is I want them to be in a good relationship with their hair. I want them to be in a place of acceptance and celebration and feel like they're in a good relationship with their hair."

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