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Baby Hairs, Grown Up

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Chavi St. Hill and Farhiya Shire photographed by Tom Newton. Hair by Rachel Lee, and makeup by Mimi Quiquine. Styled by Tchesmeni Leonard.

Sometimes the best part of an updo isn’t the updo at all: it’s the baby hairs. The pièce de résistance of the hairline; the bridge between forehead and crown, between wisps and structure. As someone who has publicly announced the potential demise of her hairline, believe me when I say that no one is more grateful for baby hairs than yours truly.

While it’s true that everyone’s got them, they carry significant cultural and historical heft in the Black and Latinx communities. To understand their importance is to understand the diversity of hair within these groups—not from person to person, but on an individual scale from hairline to kitchen. Baby hairs are softer and thinner than the rest of the hair on our head—in a fraction of an inch you can go from straight to coily. This is a wild and exciting experience for sure, and it’s also an invitation to a different styling opportunity, which in turn requires a different set of tools (more on that in a minute).

None of this is to erase the current conversation about baby hairs and appropriation, which is a larger conversation and one I'm happy to have. But for the moment, I'd like to simply celebrate the breadth of styling directions they present. Be The Gloss assembled somewhat of a dream team to come up with a few ideas. Hairstylist Rachel Lee and makeup artist Mimi Quiquine behind the scenes, and models Chavi St. Hill and Farhiya Shire in front on the lens. The outcome? Oh, baby.

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Baby Bangs

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The question at hand: what’s an easy way to style baby hairs? “Look at your face, look at the way the hair naturally falls around it,” says Rachel. “Follow that.” She took a glob of Eco Styler Gel and patted it on Chavi’s edges and brushed them forward with a stiff-bristled toothbrush (Rachel: “I have a collection of vintage toothbrushes from Milan and Paris”). To set the look, she sprayed Pump It Up Styling Spritz on top. The rest was brushed back into a low bun.

As for Chavi’s face, Mimi cleaned it with a pad soaked with Bioderma, and toned it with Mario Badescu lavender water. Dr. Hauschka rose cream went on top, followed by MAC Face and Body Foundation buffed with a stippling brush. She patted a taupe from MAC in the crease of Chavi’s eyes and along her cheekbones to add some definition, and then smeared just a little of Chanel’s Multi-Use Glow Stick in the center of Chavi’s lids for a little bit of “light.” Translucent powder from Laura Mercier set the whole look, and Too Faced Lip Injection was swiped on as a final step.

Chavi wears a dress by Brock Collection (a similar top and bottom here), gloves by Wing + Weft, bracelets by Lady Grey, earrings by Rush Jewelry Design, and a ring by Rush Jewelry Design.

Baby Braids

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Farhiya got the same skincare treatment as Chavi, and after the rose cream was rubbed on, Laura Mercier’s Illuminating Primer quickly followed. Like with Chavi, Mimi buffed MAC’s Face and Body on Farhiya’s face, and she treated dark marks with a dab of Nars’ Radiant Creamy Concealer. As for her lids, MAC’s Pro Longwear in Quite Natural went on those, and lashes with coated in Chanel’s mascara in Brun. A tiny bit of Chanel’s Sheer Illuminating Fluid was Farhiya’s highlighter, and Pat McGrath’s Earth Angel, her lip gloss.

Of course the hair is the star here. Rachel section the front in a “V” shape to divide and conquer. The charms are from all over—Rachel loves a good vintage find—but you can find similar ones at your local craft store (try to hit up a few different ones so you get a good amount of variety). And then the rest was easy. Pulled back into a ponytail and teased just a little.

Farhiya wears a dress by Adeam, gloves by Wing + Weft, a brooch by Queenie Cao, and bracelets by Lady Grey.

Baby Waves

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“Start with a middle part that goes a few inches back,” explained Rachel. Then make sure everything lays down flat with a handy mix of Eco Styler Gel and Pump it Up spray, brushed and shaped with a stiff toothbrush. Rachel wrapped the rest of the hair into a low bun. In your case, you might want to hunt for that old box of Godiva chocolates hanging around your kitchen. Now you’ve got a place to wrap that gold wire it comes with: around your bun.

Mimi kept the foundation from Chavi’s last look, but accentuated the eyes a tad more. MAC’s Indianwood was blended on her eyelids, and then Coffee was drawn along her waterline. She swiped on MAC’s Bold & Bad mascara right after. And then the same illuminator from Chanel, only this time mixed with Virgin Isles cream color from MAC, served as cheek color (a dupe, here). Flesh 6 from Pat McGrath completed the look.

Chavi is wearing an Adeam dress, a ring by Rush Jewelry Design, and earrings by SVNR and Lady Grey.

Baby Crown

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The pouf is back! Only this time Rachel lowered it and worked in a side part. The same products from before were used on Farhiya’s baby hairs—Eco Styler Gel, Pump it Up, and a toothbrush—and they were sectioned to appear more “piece-y.” By the way, Rachel says that if you don’t have an extra toothbrush around, a cleaned mascara wand works just as well.

Mimi capped off this final look with an eyeliner hack. Instead of starting straight away with a sharp line, she applied MAC’s Smolder somewhat haphazardly along Farhiya’s top lash, and then shaped it into a winged line using a short, dense brush. “It’s way easier to control the line that way,” she said. And then a black liquid liner on top. Pat McGrath’s Flesh 6 on Farhiya’s lips marked the final step.

Farhiya wears a dress by Merlette and jewelry by Mondo Mondo.