Jonathan Van Ness’ product line has everything you need for healthy hair
Covet the flowing locks of Queer Eye's grooming expert? This line is for you.
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Watching any episode of Netflix’s Queer Eye will introduce you to Jonathan Van Ness, the show’s vivacious, long-locked grooming expert. As you learn from the show, Van Ness is a hair stylist with a knack for accentuating the beauty of each show participant with his expertise. So it only makes sense that the non-binary writer, comedian, and entertainer created his own line of hair care products under the name JVN Hair.
What is JVN Hair?
Van Ness created the line with creativity and individuality in mind, telling Reviewed: “Hair should be fun and a vehicle for expression. I don’t want people to feel that they can’t or shouldn’t wear their hair a certain way because of their texture or their gender or their age. That was a major inspiration for me when creating this line—I want people to feel empowered by their hair.”
The line’s standout ingredient present in every product is “hemisqualane.” This fermented sugarcane extract claims to provide smooth, shiny results while also repairing and protecting the strands. JVN uses recyclable aluminium and glass bottles in an effort to avoid waste.
JVN Hair launched with 10 products, each categorized under four labels: Nurture, Embody, Undamage, and Complete. Nurture is designed for dry hair and consists of the Hydrating Shampoo, Hydrating Conditioner, and Deep Moisture Mask; Embody imparts volume to flat strands with a Daily Volumizing Shampoo and Daily Volumizing Conditioner; Undamage offers TLC to overworked hair via the Strengthening Shampoo and Strengthening Conditioner; and the products in Complete—Air Dry Cream, Instant Recovery Serum, and Pre-Wash Scalp Oil—can supplement the others, depending on your hair’s needs. Prices range from $18 for a shampoo or conditioner to $28 for the scalp oil or serum. The entire line is available on the JVN Hair website and at Sephora.
How did I test JVN Hair?
I was sent the entire JVN line to test and chose to use the Nurture shampoo, conditioner, and hair mask as my main products for the two times a week I wash my strands. My wavy-curly hair sits about 10 inches past my shoulders and I either let it air-dry or blow-dry it using the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer. I occasionally used the Complete products to treat and style my hair, too. To properly collect my thoughts, I tested the line for about three months, sometimes alternating my shampoo and conditioner with my usual Function of Beauty ones to compare and contrast the two brands.
Here’s my final verdict on each item I tried, from best to worst.
1. Nurture Deep Moisture Mask
What it claims: The hair mask uses squalane and hemisqualane to strengthen the hair, camellia seed oil to moisturize and add shine, and rice protein to also strengthen and add shine. The brand suggests applying the mask weekly in place of conditioner or “whenever your hair needs a little extra love” and leaving it on for three to five minutes before rinsing. It’s designed for all hair types, from straight to coily, and textures, from fine to thick.
What it’s like to use it: If I could recommend one product from the line, it’s this moisturizing mask. Because I only wash my hair twice a week, I skip conditioner most of the time in favor of a hair mask to get more moisture into my wash routine. My hairstylist condones this, saying that some hair types and textures can benefit from the creamier texture and extra moisture a mask can offer. I find this true for my normal-type, semi-damaged hair, and this mask fills the bill.
The consistency of this product is thinner than I expect of a hair mask—it’s easy to spread on my hands and run through my hair mid-length through the ends in the shower. I feel a difference in my hair’s softness as soon as I apply this, and while I rinse it out, my hair feels ultra-soft and silky. Once out of the shower, my hair keeps the smoothness and is easy to detangle using my Wet Brush alone—a “slip” that normal conditioners don’t give me. The squeeze-tube packaging of this product also makes it easy to use in-shower. Many masks come in jars that collect a pool of water every time they’re opened in the shower, but the tube eliminates that.
The hair mask, along with the shampoo and conditioner in the corresponding Nurture line, have the same fragrance, which the brand says has notes of lemon, black currant, white orchid, sandalwood, and vanilla. When I first used the line, I found it to be a light, unisex fragrance that wasn’t too sweet or cologne-esque. But after a few uses with the aroma lingering one to two days each time, the scent wore on me and I wished it had a sweeter or brighter aroma, like the sweet eucalyptus fragrance I adore from Function of Beauty.
Get the JVN Hair Nurture Deep Moisture Mask from Sephora for $24
2. Nurture Hydrating Shampoo
What it claims: This shampoo claims to gently cleanse the hair without stripping it of moisture, tame frizz, and smooth locks using squalane, hemisqualane, aloe leaf juice, and panthenol (a moisturizing agent). It’s also color-safe and can be used daily on any hair type or texture.
What it’s like to use it: If you’ve struggled to find a shampoo that leaves your hair feeling squeaky clean but not parched, look no further. I use a lot of shampoo and diligently massage my scalp and roots with it to prevent any residual greasiness during my post-shower styling routine. With the Hydrating Shampoo, I only need a few pumps to envelop the entirety of my hair, as it lathers well. The instructions don’t suggest a rinse and repeat, but I tried a second lather just to see what the results would be and found that it made my hair too squeaky clean—as in, I couldn’t run my hands through my hair at all because there was zero slickness. For that reason, I’d recommend skipping the rinse-and-repeat process, even if that’s part of your typical routine, and instead opting for a thorough one-and-done sudsy massage at the roots. Once I follow up with the conditioner or mask, my hair goes back to its smooth state but feels and looks ultra-clean thanks to this shampoo.
The slim pump bottle containing the shampoo (and conditioner) makes the experience of using each better. It eliminates the need to pick up the bottles, finesse a cap, or worry about getting water in the formula from the shower stream.
3. Nurture Hydrating Conditioner
What it claims: Like the hair mask, the Hydrating Conditioner contains squalane, hemisqualane, and camellia seed oil to protect, strengthen, and add shine to the hair. It also contains amino acids intended to moisturize the hair for silky results. The conditioner is color-safe and aims to tackle dryness, detangle, and smooth all hair types and textures.
What it’s like to use it: I tried the conditioner before the hair mask and noted that it had a creamier texture than I’d expect—it’s more viscous than a standard conditioner and pretty similar to the JVN mask. I normally need several pumps of conditioner to coat a ponytail amount of my long hair, but a few pumps goes a long way with this. While this boasts a similar texture and in-shower results to the hair mask in this line, the post-shower results didn’t quite match up. My hair came out of my towel very tangled, requiring leave-in treatment to brush through it. If I were re-purchasing the line, I would purchase the Deep Moisture Mask and skip the conditioner altogether, but this may suffice if you have finer, straighter, or oilier hair than I do that requires less moisturizing.
4. Complete Instant Recovery Leave-In Serum
What it claims: The leave-in serum comprises squalane and hemisqualane to strengthen the hair, niacinamide to repair keratin (protein in the hair) and enhance body and shine, and “charged-lemon protein” to protect the hair from heat and environmental aggressors. To use, you run a dollop of the serum through clean, damp hair before styling or allowing it to air-dry.
What it’s like to use it: Any product that can protect my hair from the heat in my styling tools while adding volume and shine is a keeper to me. JVN’s iteration on a styling treatment and heat protectant didn’t “wow” me, but I liked it enough to use more than once before blow-drying my strands. The shiny, soft results I see after using this are similar to those I get with other products I’ve used, like my go-to Living Proof Perfect Hair Day 5-in-1 Styling Treatment. However, I’d choose the Living Proof over this, as I see more volume and body with it and for $1 more, you receive an additional 0.6 ounces of formula and a squeeze bottle that’s easier to use. There’s nothing wrong with this product and it may be worth trying for its heat-protecting benefits alone if you’re already sold on using other complementary items in the JVN line.
Get the JVN Hair Complete Instant Recovery Leave-In Serum from Sephora for $28
5. Complete Hydrating Air Dry Cream
What it claims: In addition to the squalane and hemisqualane present in each product, the Air Dry Cream contains chia seed extract for “touchable hold” and moringa seed oil for soft, shiny strands. It claims to add definition to any hair type, whether curly, wavy, or straight “without crunchiness or a heavy feel.” Lastly, it offers protection against UV damage, though it’s unclear which ingredient confers that benefit.
What it’s like to use it: If left to its own devices, my hair dries curly in the front, but the back and underneath portions are weighted down and look like flattened curls and waves. Whether I add product into my hair or not, it air-dries looking puffier than I’d like with some frizz and flyaways from breakage. This cream, like many I’ve tried, didn’t make an impact on how my hair looked. I also tested it in the fall, when the Boston weather is cooler and drier than other times of the year when this product may have shined at combating frizz from humidity. I wouldn’t hesitate to continue using this, especially as it doesn’t detract from my air-dried hairstyle and adds some moisture and UV protection with its ingredients. But I wouldn’t run out to purchase this again.
6. Complete Pre-Wash Scalp & Hair Treatment Oil
What it claims: Along with squalane and hemisqualane, this hair oil contains basil root extract that claims to minimize breakage and bisabolol (an oil) that soothes the scalp. While combating dryness, the oil also claims to cleanse the scalp. JVN recommends parting unwashed hair into sections, massaging the oil into the hair lines, and allowing it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before shampooing like normal.
What it’s like to use it: I ranked this treatment oil last only because it’s the product I reached for the least, as it doesn’t replace anything currently in my routine. The instructions are simple, but I’d forget about the oil up until the moment I was stepping into the shower and unwilling to delay my nightly unwind routine. When I finally remembered with enough time to spare, I found the application process awkward. I parted my hair and applied droplets onto my scalp, massaging outward toward my roots, but then I had to figure out where to part my hair next in order to properly coat my scalp. I ended up putting the oil on my fingers and massaging my scalp as if I was shampooing it.
However, this product isn’t a total miss for me. After styling my hair, I like to apply oil—I use the Hask Argan Oil—to the ends of my hair to add shine and reduce the look of breakage. This product works fine for this off-label purpose. If my scalp was dry, I may have found a greater benefit in this oil, but as it is, this is an unnecessary step in my routine.
Should you try JVN Hair?
I’d happily purchase products, namely the Nurture line, from JVN Hair after using up the items I have. The Nurture Deep Moisture Mask has a stand-out formula for hydrating and creating tangle-free locks and its $24 is similar to other products I’ve used and enjoyed. The Nurture Hydrating Shampoo and Conditioner are solid anchors to a hair care routine and left my hair feeling clean, smooth, and manageable. The remaining styling products also suffice, though don’t add anything to my routine that my current products can’t achieve. I recommend starting out with a pair of shampoo and conditioner from the brand that best corresponds with your hair’s needs and adding potential products from there.
If you’re unsure which product combos might be best for you, try the short and easy hair quiz on the JVN site. Van Ness himself also offers some advice: “You need to keep two things in mind when developing your hair care routine: your hair needs and your lifestyle,” he says. “Can you identify an area of opportunity for your hair? More moisture? More volume? Treating damage? Select a shampoo and conditioner that will help address your concerns. As for stylers, be realistic about the time you’re willing to dedicate to your hair—are you going to give yourself blowout or is air-dry-and-go more your style? Hair care shouldn’t feel complicated or stressful.”
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.