The celebrity hairstylist opens up about all things beauty, from the first time she did her own hair to the industry narratives she’d like to see rewritten
“Finding confidence has been a 10 year journey for me,” says Bed-Stuy-based model and designer Shereen Mohammad. The New York native—known on Instagram for her signature curly bob, minimal yet sultry style sensibilities and ‘40s-inspired garment design projects—has built an aspirational personal brand that’s attracted the attention of brands like Chanel, EDAS and Beepy Bella. Her secret? Keeping self-comparison and doubt to a minimum by striving to be the best version of herself every single day. “[The only person I] compete with is who I was yesterday,” she says. “I’ve also come to love my weaknesses, too.”
It wasn’t until she decided to embrace her most natural state that Mohammad reached a place of true freedom and confidence. “I remember there were times in college where I wouldn’t want to leave my dorm without a full face of makeup,” she recalls. She began developing an appreciation for facials, which really helped her to embrace her beauty in all forms. “I realized if I just take care of the skin underneath, there’s no need to hide,” she says. “You just glow differently.” She also found this inner joy and light through a period of being single in her twenties. “There were times where I felt like I wasn’t dateable or that there was something wrong with me. I was trying to be someone I wasn’t,” she says. “But just by letting go and being the person who I wanted to love made all the difference.”
But of course, she understands the connection between that outer glow with lots of inner work and self-love. “Working out, meditating and just learning to breathe has made a huge difference for my body,” she says. “It’s great because these things help you age gracefully, but more importantly, I just want to be healthy. I want to treat my mind and body with a lot of tender love and care.” Below, Mohammad shares her most crucial beauty practices for a healthy and happy mind, body and spirit (think daily runs, trips to the farmers market and bubble baths) and the resolutions she’s carrying into the new year.
Do you have any favorite self-care practices that you swear by?
I love making breakfast for myself. I love jogging to the farmers market in Fort Greene and getting some fresh berries and vegetables. I love making granola and waffles. I also love buying myself fresh flowers every week; it makes such a difference. At night, I like to listen to music, light candles and just breathe. Also I’ve learned the importance of meditating. It’s so important to feel like you’re floating and connecting with yourself. I also love bubble baths. That’s something that I enjoy. I also love dancing in the mirror. I can’t sing that well but I love doing that. I also love pedicures and facials.
Who had the biggest beauty influence on you growing up?
I remember growing up and watching America’s Next Top Model and being inspired and wanting to be a model, even though I was really shy. I also didn’t think I could do it because of my height, but I really wanted to. And then also I was inspired by the singer, Amel Larrieux. I still listen to her today. I just remember she had this album cover where she had two braids and I would always wear my hair like that, too. But in general, I didn’t feel like I saw myself anywhere. But I did love watching Bollywood movies a lot, too.
Who is inspiring you beauty-wise today?
I am obsessed with looking at old catalogs from the ‘40s. I also love Solange. I’m just obsessed with simplicity and sleek silhouettes.
Describe your earliest beauty memory.
My mom always styled my hair in pigtails and I remember wanting to leave my hair straight. I always also wanted really short hair, I loved the look of a bob. I was always into playing with dolls and styling them and doing their hair. I always loved glamming myself up. At 12, I remember my mom saying, `If you don’t want pigtails, then you have to do your own hair.” I couldn’t afford going to the fancy salons obviously but I would pay $15 to go to the Dominican salons to get my hair straightened. This was such a thing, especially when I got to highschool. I would go every weekend and it became my routine.
With makeup, I used to cake it on so much. I had really bad acne so I was just trying to cover my skin. I wasn’t comfortable with my bare face. I would just put a ton on as early as 14. I remember always doing things like matching my eyeliner to my shoes. It took me a while to embrace my natural face. I remember the first time I did in college, someone came up to me and asked me if I was sick. But now, it’s easier because people are more open to natural beauty.
What is your skin routine like now and what’s helped you heal your acne?
I started having breakouts around 15. I remember sometimes even skipping class because I was so embarrassed. My mom ended up taking me to a dermatologist where I got prescribed a cream that helped me manage it. I still deal with acne scars from it but it’s definitely nowhere near where it used to be. Now, I’ve started to get laser treatments regularly at Ever/Body for my scars. I did one session and immediately saw a difference.
At home, I exfoliate once a week and apply a mask as well when I’m deep conditioning my hair in the shower. I also love getting facials at Skin Spa. I’ve been doing this for the past 8 years and it’s really made all the difference. I feel like this has been essential to me. Just like how some people have gym memberships, I feel like this is my version of that. It feels good to not feel the need to wear makeup anymore.
What’s your hair routine like?
I love to play around with my texture. Sometimes I’ll use flexi rods to loosen the curls. But now, I’m honestly obsessed with bed hair. I love how playful my hair is. I’m patiently waiting for my hair to grow too, so that I can really experiment with it.
I do regular deep conditioning sessions. I love Ouidad products. To be honest, though, I don’t really do too much to my hair. I like to let her do her thing. But I of course use a cream to the ends of my hair so that it has a cute shape to it. I always sleep with a bonnet. I like to blow dry my roots sometimes, too. I like to add the styling cream while it’s semi damp with the flexi rods. But I haven’t done that in so long, I’ve just been letting it be free. I also love when my hair is up, too!
Although you don’t wear it regularly, what’s your approach to makeup like when you do wear it?
When I do wear it, it’s a very sheer amount. I like to add tinted moisturizer. I don’t wear a lot of concealer but I do love blush. I love Chanel’s and also Rose Inc’s Lip & Cheek Color in Azalea! I love applying the color as a tinted balm on my lips and a rosy glow on my cheeks all at once. I also like the compact mirror included so I can take it along with me throughout the day and reapply, if needed. I love also adding eyebrow gel. I stopped getting them done, I like keeping them full. But in general with makeup, I enjoy adding some pink tones in the summer and warmer, brick reds in the fall and winter. If I had to choose one or two things daily to wear it would be the tinted foundation and an eyebrow gel.
What are your favorite fragrances?
I actually don’t really wear too much perfume because it kind of makes me feel nauseous. But I do love the scent of Jasmine and I often wear Jasmine oil. I’ve also learned to love my own natural smell… I actually smell really good.
What is the biggest beauty risk you've ever taken?
Definitely chopping off my hair. I feel like I used to use long hair as a shield. It just made me feel beautiful. I remember just going to the salon for a trim and they ended up cutting a lot off. I had to learn how to style curly hair when it’s shorter.
Did you develop any new self-care habits during the pandemic?
I gained confidence when I started doing more art projects and created my own garments and started selling them. It motivated me and I loved the way that started to make me feel, so in a way that was a form of self-care.
What’s a beauty industry narrative that you’d like to see change?
It’s definitely changed, but I want people to continue embracing their natural faces and bodies.
What are your new year resolutions and goals?
I’m hoping this new year will bring more softness, forgiveness, light and direction. I would like to stop any form of self-doubt, negative self-talk, and self-abandonment. I’m most excited to create goals to live purposefully when it comes to the work I do. I want to love what I do for work, and stay committed to creating my path with an open heart.
Do you have any beauty/wellness new year resolutions?
I’d like to explore the impact of food and how it is intertwined with my wellbeing. I’m a foodie; weekend trips to the farmers market and home cooked meals are beginning to be my thing. I’d love to dive deeper into the types of food that can lower levels of stress and switch to diets that are rich in antioxidants and natural supplements. We are what we eat, and I’d like my appearance to reflect the food I intake.
How do you define beauty?
I've always seen beauty as a conduit for connection to others, but also with ourselves —who we want to be, how we wish to be and what we want to wash away. Beauty is the softness within self.
When do you feel most beautiful?
When I’m alone listening to music. Also when I’m naked and I’m doing yoga. When I’m journaling. When I cook.
If anyone's a self-care savant, it's model-designer Shereen Mohammad. From jogs and farmers market trips to nude yoga and bubble baths, she shares it all with Rose Inc, along with her sultry playlist to help you wind down after a long day.
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