We talked to the Queer Eye hairstylist about his must-haves for mental and physical well-being. (Hint: It involves yoga, vodka, and not being afraid to change your beauty look.)
Photo: CSA/Getty Images, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
It's been less than a year since the Queer Eye reboot premiered on Netflix and the world fell in love with the new Fab Five. In that time, hair and skin-care expert Jonathan Van Ness (who also has his own Emmy-nominated web series called Gay of Thrones, a podcast called Getting Curious, and a stand-up comedy tour, BTW) has firmly established himself as an all-around self-care guru to his 2.7 million Instagram followers.
Sure, he appreciates a good DIY face mask self-care moment. But he also advocates regularly for prioritizing overall health and well-being in whatever form that might be—yoga, a good cry, or putting on a pair of heels. ("I feel like I can save the world if I'm in a very strong heel," he tells Shape.)
As he balances an increasingly hectic schedule, the most important thing for his mental health is making exercise non-negotiable, Van Ness told us when we caught up with him at Smirnoff's No. 21 Vodka launch party. (Yes, Van Ness added brand partner to his growing list of jobs.).
"Part of it is being a hairdresser—I've always been very much the type who needs to work out in the morning before I can look at you and not want to cry or scream or freak out," he says. "I go out of my way to schedule my day so I can work out in the mornings." Sometimes that's hitting the weights, other times yoga, and other times it's a standing back tuck (If you follow Van Ness, you know he's seriously obsessed with both gymnastics and figure skating, and considers watching videos of both another form of self-care.)
I’m finding my balance to be checked, sometimes things hit me in some kind of way, what would normally roll off my back stings more at the moment. I’m like, why am I reading comments and really finding the negative ones and blocking every single person that liked it? Like she has been having some next level petty moments as of late. As I realize this I immediately start to be like ew gurl what’s wrong w you, when I’m like BITCH WAIT! You’re busier than ever, dealing w more pressure than ever, and it’s okay if you’re feeling brand new at life, it’s okay if you’re a bit reactive. Just noticing the part of myself that’s crying out for my own attention. So I’m just laughing at all my gorgeous personality and showing myself some kindness & compassion. If you’re having that day too, hope this helps, if not replace all that essay w something like, Slay your week henny! @jermcohen
"My yoga practice is so important. And it's not necessarily just yoga—getting up and moving and getting sweaty is really important to my well-being. It has to happen. I can't get my bullshit deflector up unless I work out."
But you need to know when to let yourself off the hook and prioritize sleep, too. "If I get a call time that's five or six in the morning when it would hurt myself to get up to work out beforehand…I think that sleeping is so important and knowing when to talk to your body and say, That is probably a little bit too much today, to get up and lift weights at four in the morning. Let me just do 20 minutes of a low-impact cardio to give myself an endorphin kick and not be in a bad mood. Usually, I do find more than 20 minutes, but that's my philosophy and how I try to balance it."
And when yoga doesn't do the trick, cocktails are sometimes necessary. "I do love Smirnoff for a gorgeous Jonathan Van Ness cocktail," he says. "Just think, one little dab will do you! They filter it 10 times so it's really clean. I don't like things that are too, too sweet, but I also don't like things that are too bite-y, alcohol-y. My go-to is—throw some cranberry in there! I don't want to taste it too much." (Related: 3 Guacamole Hacks from Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski You Need to Try)
Of course, we asked him about his self-care beauty must-have, too. (And it might surprise you.) "This is going to sound weird, but one of my biggest beauty tips is washing my hands a lot. Because I do go to the gym a lot, I'm always touching a lot of people, I'm always on planes, and I'm always touching my face—there's hair!—I have sanitary wet wipes with me always," he says. "It's important I’m keeping from getting sick, and also not getting zits and breakouts. I also have psoriasis [an autoimmune disease that can be triggered by stress], so cuts and scrapes for me will often turn into a skin flare-up, if I do scratch my face or something. Keeping my hands clean really helps."
And of course, because Van Ness *is* a hairstylist, he wants you to know that evolving your look is an important form of self-care, too. "I had hair down to my elbows, and it was 2015 or 2016 and I realized, Oh, my hair is wearing me. I wanted really long hair, but I couldn't even notice my face anymore. It was making sense, and then it wasn't. Let your lifestyle and your look speak to you, and if you're too rigidly attached to what your look was, that can be problematic. When you're trying to look like someone you're not or a way you used to and don't anymore, that’s when your hair is hurtin' you."