Beyoncé's Hairstylist Only Used One Product For That Epic Vogue Cover

When Neal Farinah found out that he'd be working with Beyoncé for her latest September Vogue cover, he felt like he couldn't breathe.
"This is my 13th year with Beyoncé," Farinah, who's currently on the OTR II tour with her, says. "She has given me an abundance of opportunity, and this just feels like another piece of cake."
As they were formulating the direction of the shoot, he and the entire Beyoncé team turned in a slew of ideas, but she already had a theme she wanted to stick to: nature.
The resulting spread featured Beyoncé with minimal makeup, a giant flower crown, and her natural hair in braids, which not only won praise from the internet, but was hugely meaningful to the superstar. "I think it’s important for women and men to see and appreciate the beauty in their natural bodies," she says in her cover story. "That’s why I stripped away the wigs and hair extensions and used little makeup for this shoot." We asked Farinah about all that and more, ahead.
Advertisement
A Natural Woman
"She said she wanted to just be herself. She didn’t want to be overly made-up and done-up. She wanted to embrace femininity and just be free and set herself free. When I first talked to her, she said, 'I just want my natural curly hair and a braid and to not focus on beauty so that women of colour — of any colour — can be free.'
"Since she is a Black woman, a legend, an icon, I knew that it would mean so much. If you think about Beyoncé's life, every day you have someone on your face and hair. It was one of those moments where she was like, 'I want this to be so easy and free.'"
Tyler Mitchell/Vogue
Bey's Braids
"With the braids, it goes back to history. It was one of the easiest hairstyles for African-American women. What I liked about them, too, is that I knew this was a beautiful hairstyle, but I never realised how fashion-forward it was. It complements couture. It complements high fashion. It was just a regular braid, and it complemented every outfit."
"It was very empowering to me. There are so many myths about African-American women and their natural curly hair. And there’s so much stigma behind it. Beyoncé being who she is, I think it really was an empowering thing to say, 'Hey, you know what? It’s OK. It’s OK to wear your naturally curly hair.'"
Grooming Those Curls
"As one of her hairstylists, I never use much product because I want hair to be carefree. With the braiding, I just used a little bit of oil. [His own concoction.] That’s it — and rubber bands. Beyoncé has a really nice, full head of curly hair. It has a really beautiful softness. We semi-blowdried it and then braided it. She didn't want much done.
Advertisement
"A couple of times I've put up a post about her natural hair and, of course, it caused a reaction. People didn’t want to believe it! But when you have an amazing hairstylist, we can take care of your hair for you. [Farinah said he's been taking care of her hair with his own concoctions for years now.]"
Instagram
Flower Power
"The one thing that Beyoncé always has is a team that works together. We sit together and talk with her, and we create presentations. She approves what she likes, and someone came in with this flowers idea, and she said, 'OK, let's try it.'
"It’s a moment. It’s embracing nature and beauty in one. It was about being free and natural and, of course, flowers are natural. They were real flowers! And I'm not sure how many there were, but it smelled so amazing. I know there were some peonies in there and lilies. The person who did the arrangement did an amazing job, and actually it wasn't very heavy."
Tyler Mitchell/Vogue
Bey The Boss
"I have a great understanding with her as my boss and as my friend. She will come up and ask me, 'How we can bring these dreams to life?' She challenges you. We always try to come up with something so different. She always thinks on the next level. And I have to give it to her, because she will be the one who comes up with these ideas that are extraordinary."
Advertisement

More from Beauty

Watch

R29 Original Series

Watch Now
Fashion
A look at the subcultures around the world that color what we wear — and why.
Watch Now
Travel
Explore the world's most most vibrant cultural and culinary centers—in 60 seconds, of course.
Watch Now
Beauty
The craziest trends, most unique treatments, and strangest subcultures in the beauty world.
Watch Now
Lifestyle
Millennial survivor-woman Lucie Fink dives headfirst into social experiments, 5 days at a time.