How Jillian Hervey Became A Curly-Haired Icon

The singer takes us through her beauty routine

In the few short years since Jillian Hervey and Lucas Goodman linked up and formed Lion Babe, the duo has managed to infiltrate and impact the sonic scene in ways that more seasoned artists can only aspire to. With their authenticity and incredible presence, they've challenged the boundaries of soul and R&B music. Now, Hervey is setting out to change another industry: the realm of beauty. After collaborating with MAC earlier this year, the frontwoman is carving a space for curly-haired girls as the new face of Pantene.

"Part of what I want to do is make people feel comfortable in their own skin, empowered, and strong," she says. "With girls, hair is such a big factor in how we deem ourselves beautiful or not beautiful, so it’s nice to be able to properly talk about it, and to have real products and real solutions to finding ways for curly-haired girls to feel good. For a long time, there weren't a lot of examples of women who were doing that, and there weren't ways to talk about it."

Ahead, we catch up with Hervey to find out more about her mission, beauty routine, and Lion Babe's sonic evolution.

How has your relationship to curly hair evolved through the years?

I was born with curly hair, and I grew up in an environment without a lot of references to curly hair—I was around a lot of people that had long, straight hair. That was a little overwhelming. I was like, "My hair doesn’t do that, and I want it to because I want to fit in." As I’ve grown, it’s just evolved. I’ve embraced it even more, and I love to play it up, add more curls, and do my own thing. I want to really represent all the curly girls out there, and represent the natural movement, which has come back in full swing. It’s just going to progress and get more curly and more wild as I go.

What are some curly hair tricks that you’ve picked up throughout the years, and how do you maintain your curls?

The key is to make sure your hair is moisturized and that it’s strong and not dry. If you have moisturized hair for curls, that’s going to help you in the long run; the dryness will cause breakage. Frizz happens to everyone, but there are so many ways not to have frizz and to have healthy curls. I also try to not use too much heat, because that’s another thing that can overdo it. You don’t really need it, especially if you’re just trying to enhance your natural curl—the heat’s not going to do anything. It will probably either flatten it out or make it look shorter.

Do you normally use a diffuser, or do you just let it air dry?

I have used a diffuser before, but I do love to air dry. With a diffuser, you could use it on a low setting, but I want to make sure I don’t add as much heat because I like to play up everything, and that can be a lot on my hair. Whenever I’m just myself, I like to make sure I’m being as natural as I can.

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What is your everyday beauty routine? I usually wrap my hair at night or braid it to keep it away from everything so that when I don’t wake up with any crazy dents and all of the curls are together. I love to use Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo and Conditioner all the time because every girl needs a good shampoo and conditioner. From there, I’ll let it air dry. If the volume isn’t as big as I want it to be, I’ll either diffuse it or use a bit of a blow dry to heighten it right in the middle where the roots are. I don’t really brush out, tease, or back-comb it. For every day, I just keep my curls moisturized and might leave a leave-in conditioner or a detangler to keep it healthy.

What does your skin-care routine look like?It's also kind of similar. Because of shows, I’m always loading on lashes and doing crazy cat eyes, so on a regular basis, I try to keep my skin super healthy and don’t wear too much makeup. If I’m going to wear makeup, I’ll add some mascara or lip balm, and maybe a cheek tint. I’ve always used Proactiv—not the three-step program, but there’s one deep cleansing wash that I love, and I’ll use that. I don’t like to be super regimented on my skin because your skin can change as you’re growing and changing. If there are products that work, I’ll keep them in rotation. If it’s a cleanser or a toner, I’ll switch them out every couple months.

What are some hair and skin products you always keep on hand?The 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner from Pantene is a go-to. If I’m about to do a show or travel, it’s a quick fix. And if for any reason you don’t have shampoo, you have that and you can even sleep with it overnight, wake up, and your hair feels like you’ve gone to the salon.

What’s your pre-stage beauty routine? It varies on what the space is, where the venue is, and all of those things. I have a whole wild bag of hair, lashes, and sparkles that I’ll use to embellish. It’s a fun time and opportunity to play, and I love to do things that are artistic. For reference, one of my favorites is the model Veruschka [von Lehndorff]. She has unbelievable photos from back in the day, and she’d always be playing with these great hairpieces. I try to emulate those looks that I’ve seen where I’m like, "This is so surreal, this is such fantasy, let’s bring that to life." Anywhere from extensions, big clips that have textures attached to it, wigs, everything—just go for it.

Music has such a long history with beauty. What is the relationship with showmanship and beauty in your mind? Specifically with Lion Babe, what we try to do—whether conscious or unconscious—is elaborate on our core things: what are we trying to make, the space we’re in. Visually and sonically, we always try to be unified in a sense. Whether or not we were thinking about it at the time, it’s manifested into that. What you’re hearing might be something that’s psychedelic or a little hip-hop or a little funk or soul, and you see visually those references as well. And obviously, it’s a separate space—you’re an artist, you’re in a world. I like to have this other person, a different version of me, represent the music. Some people don’t get the opportunity to start with their music, so they can only start with their image. Or, someone sees something, and they’re like, "Oh, that looks cool, I’m gonna check out that song," or vice versa. It’s really hand in hand for us.

Do you consider your stage persona an alter ego, or is it more so a way to explore another part of your identity?My stage persona is someone who I would be every day if I could, but it’s just exhausting. It’s like an embellishment. People say you walk around with auras or have your higher self that shadows you. I bring those things out. All the insecurities I feel, which everyone can feel, can be thrown out the window when I'm onstage. For me specifically, I feel very free onstage; it’s the best time to be the most vulnerable, and I love that. It makes me feel really empowered.

You’re starting your Lion Babe tour. What are you looking forward to the most about being on the road?Everything, really. Touring is so exciting because you get to figure out your music. A lot of times, you don’t really know how a song works or what people are reacting to until you go out and play it. It’s always nice to do it in the present and arrive and see how it feels. That aspect of performance is super exciting. I grew up as a dancer; that’s the most consistent thing in my life, so that’s where most of my passions come from. If I had to tour for a year, I might. I’d love to do that. Sometimes if I’m in a dark studio for hours, I get frustrated, but being onstage is everything. And we have such a great team of people around us. We have amazing friends and it feels like a family. Being able to experience the U.S., and being able to travel around and have these moments where everyone’s working hard to make this thing happen feels great.

Are you guys working on new music at the moment? We’re actually finishing up some new music, so we’ll have new music coming out for the tour, which is exciting. We just came out with an album in February as well, but just like with anyone, as soon as it’s out, you’re on to the next thing. A lot of the stuff on the album is stuff we had been working on for a year, so it was nice to have that out and keep going and growing with everyone else.

Have you seen a huge evolution in yourself since you started creating music?100 percent. I think other people see the transformation more than I do. Sometimes you feel like you’re still struggling with this, or, "I’m still feeling this way about something." Then you look at the scope of things. Sometimes if I scroll through my Instagram, I’m like, "Whoa. This is in the last month that we did all this stuff?" You’re living in the moment and have so much to think about in the future that you don’t really think about what you were doing in the past. If I think back to when I first vocaled "Treat Me Like Fire" in Lucas’ sister’s bedroom, with her photo collage of her fourth-grade friends, I had never even sung in a booth. Now, I’ve sung at Madison Square Garden, and I’ve played at Coachella on the main stage. These are things I wasn’t thinking about at all when I started. It’s pretty amazing how far we’ve been able to grow. We feel like we were thrown into the deep end and have been swimming ever since.

What artists are you listening to lately?I’m obsessed with Anderson Paak’s new album; I keep listening to it in the car. The new Drake is great, and Kaytranada’s new album is really good. 

What advice do you have for girls who are growing up and trying to find themselves, especially with social media? I always try to think of my little sister; she just turned 16. When we were starting Lion Babe, I was thinking about her a lot. There’s a song called "Little Dreamer" that’s about her and younger people. The reason I’m able to do this is that I’ve always had a good relationship with my childhood self, and I’ve never really been able to let that go. I think it’s valuable to hold onto that: the roots of what you did and who you were when you were young, your earliest memories, and the feelings you loved more than anything. If you focus on those things, all the other things become outside chatter; they’re almost insignificant.

Once you also realize that there’s no one else like you and you embrace and own that, a lot of things start to happen. I’m not Oprah and I can’t say that I’m perfect; I’m still growing and figuring out myself. It’s about being kind to yourself, and knowing that self-love is important. And you have to work on that. It’s okay to go through things, so just calm down. Go through the journeys, and don’t think of negative things as negative things, think of them as lessons. Think of everything as a lesson—if it’s a bad person, or an experience that made you uncomfortable, or something you regret. You’re already supposed to be going a certain way, so they’re either shifting you in the right direction or the wrong one. It’s your choice. It’s just knowing that life's a journey and no one’s perfect. Everyone’s human, and once you remind yourself of that, challenges don’t seem as crazy and you can hopefully feel good about yourself.