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Cyndia Harvey: five beauty products that defined my life

From cocoa butter to Versace Blue Jeans, hair stylist Cyndia Harvey describes the products that shaped her

Beauty Biographies is a weekly column where we ask some of our favourite people to reflect on the beauty items that have influenced their lives and have a sentimental place in their heart. From their grandmother’s perfume to the eyeshadow they wore to their first dance, these are the products that have had a significant impact on them and that instantly transport them back to a particular time, place, or person.

Ever since she was little, Cyndia Harvey has literally been surrounded by hair. She grew up in her mother’s South London hair salon, where she would hang out and play every day after school. She later became part of a vibrant collective of London creatives; Cyndia’s impressive portfolio has included working as Sam McKnight’s first assistant for five years, doing the hair for Tyrone Lebon’s My Calvins Calvin Klein AW16 campaign, Frank Ocean’s Nikes music video, Naomi Campbell on the cover of AnOther Magazine and Adwoa Aboah for the cover of Dazed.

In 2016, Cyndia released a short film, This Hair of Mine, directed by Akinola Davies Jr. Inspired partly by the news of a South African high school banning “untidy afros,” This Hair of Mine is an exploration and celebration of “black women and black beauty and black hair.”

More recently, Cyndia could be found backstage at both New York and London Fashion Week, where she styled the hair for Matthew Adams Dolan and Supriya Lele’s SS19 shows, respectively. For the former she created hair that was crimped and fluffy, and the latter a “straight out of the shower, twist, roll, go” look, which she documented for Dazed Beauty. Fresh from the launch of a film she styled for Simone Rocha x Moncler, shot by photographer of the moment Tyler Mitchell, here Cyndia talks us through the beauty products that shaped her life growing up.

Cocoa Butter

“As soon as I came out the womb I was smeared from head to toe in cocoa butter. In fact, you’ll most likely find this in every West Indian household. It was so excessively used my entire body would have a mirror effect. Moisturiser is the elixir of life for the entire black diaspora. Nowadays I use Weleda Skin Food. I buy it in bulk. I moisturise daily, it's the most time consuming part of my morning routine, which I enjoy thoroughly.”

Get it here:

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Original Solid Formula

The Soapery Unrefined Cocoa Butter

Blue Magic

“Scalp grease, again you can find this in every West Indian household. It comes in blue and green. Every Sunday was ‘wash day’ – this is when I would take my braids out, wash my hair in a bucket, dry, then my mum would diligently grease my scalp, followed by some fancy cornrows to last for the week. Both of us would be completely frustrated with one another by the end of this day-long process. On the other hand, it was a kind of primal bonding time for her and I, grooming one’s kin.”

Get it here:

Blue Magic Conditioner Hair Dress

Blue Magic Bergamot Hair and Scalp Condition

Versace Blue Jeans Eau de Toilette

“This was the first fragrance I bought myself. It was all the rage when I was 14. All my friends wore this or Red Jeans. Of course we overused it like crazy. We moved around with a three feet thick impenetrable aura of Versace Red or Blue Jeans Eau De Toilette. Next was Hypnotic Poison, then Serge Lutens Fleurs D’Oranger. Nowadays I wear a dab of Pure Egyptian Oud.”

Get it here:

Versace Blue Jeans Eau de Toilette

Versace Red Jeans Eau de Toilette

Luster’s Pink Design Control Hair Gel

“This was my life from 13-18 years old. I started off with any old hair gel, mostly the really cheap ones you get in the corner shops that come in an array of colours. Then I discovered the black hair shops. I tried a few before settling on Pink. I would slick my hair back really tight everyday with this, I wouldn't even wash in between, and sometimes I would have a build up of a week’s worth of gel in my hair. It’s the only gel that didn't leave a veil of dandruff like flakes on my face. It’s a key product in my kit to this day.”

Get the look:

Luster's Pink Design Control Hair Gel

Acrylic French Tips

“I once pawned my dad’s gold rings to get money to fund this obsession. I had a problem.”

Get the look:

OPI Nail Lacquer in Alpine Snow

Essie Nail Colour Mademoiselle French Mani Nail Polish Duo Kit