In a series exploring the complicated relationships we, as women, hold with our hair throughout our lives, All the Pretty Birds introduces ‘Our Hair, Don’t Care’, an installment series of women we love sharing their personal beauty journeys.
Fashion director for Allure, co-founder of Building Black Bedstuy, and mom of 2, Rajni Jacques has extensive experience in the beauty and fashion industry. She’s worked for Glamour, Teen Vogue, Nylon, and a few other major publications. A Haitian-American who calls NYC home, you also might have seen her in Glossier’s Gen G campaign, as one of the faces along with her son Diego. She’s a busy parent, juggling a vibrant career along with making time for her own self-care.
Meet Rajni Jacques
This month, we got to chat with Rajni Jacques about her childhood, how she manages her hair as a mom, and why she loves wearing braids for Our Hair, Don’t Care.
ATPB: Our childhood can play a huge part in affirming our identity – do you have any distinct memories surrounding hair and hair rituals growing up?
Rajni Jacques: My whole childhood was about rituals. My mother had so many rituals having to do with hair and skin. My mother is Haitian, and I am Haitian. There is such a rich history of the country and the people. So when it comes to beauty there are many organic and simple rituals that I grew up with. For hair, it was all about the Sunday ‘At Home’ salon. This is where my mother would whip up eggs, smash avocados and olive oil to create a mask for my hair. She would section it out and make sure every strand was coated with her concoction — from root to tip. Then she would put a plastic bonnet on top of my head and leave me under the old school dryer for 45 minutes. Then another 30 minutes for ultimate penetration into the roots. Afterward would be a wash and detangle situation, roller set, and back under the dryer. The final step would be oiling the scalp with castor oil, then the hair would be braided. Wrap it up and then bedtime.
ATPB: At any point in your life, did you feel the pressure to abide by particular hair ideals? Can you specify a moment that stands out to you?
RJ: I was in 7th grade. My hair was natural. I never expressed wanting to have straight hair, nor did I care at the time about my hair like that. As long as it was taken care of and was growing, I was good. But adolescence changes you because your surroundings are being changed. Pop culture,friendships, and what you need to be “liked” all start to creep up. I was walking from class and had to cut through the cafeteria. I remember exactly what my hair looked like. It was hot combed straight, but this was about 4 days after. So the roots were starting to curl and get that kink. Anyway, I was walking and a group of girls (five to be exact) started to laugh. I didn’t think they were laughing at me until one of the girls said my name. Once she did I could hear more chuckling and bursts of laughter at my expense. It was because I had not gotten a perm and my naps were starting to show. I was not up to date. I was late. I was corny. All because of my hair. That was the first time I felt like I was not enough. My hair told my story. I couldn’t tell my story. That’s when it occurred to me that looks matter in this world, and how you present yourself could change a lot.
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@MEJURI ASKED ME SOME QUESTIONS, AND I REPLIED. 😉 DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN WHATEVER TERMS FEELS RIGHT TO YOU RIGHT NOW. TIRED, EXHAUSTED, ANGRY BUT STILL COMMITTED. UNCERTAIN, BUT OK ABOUT IT AS LONG AS I HAVE MY CORE PEOPLE. CONNECTED TO MYSELF. CONNECTED TO A MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE. ✊🏾 @BUILDINGBLACKBEDSTUY
ATPB: You have an extensive background in the fashion and beauty industry, who inspires you to change up your hair/look?
RJ: My inspiration does not really come from a person,it’s more of a mood. If I’m feeling hair down, hair in a bun, hair parted on the side. It’s all about what mood I’m in and how I can best express myself at that moment with my hair. But yes, I’ve seen some bomb hairstyles, mostly on girls walking down the street in my neighborhood. They are the people that give me inspo on the fly.
ATPB: Protective styling is so popular, are there any styles that you gravitate towards now?
RJ: I’ve always loved braids — any type of braids. It frees me up. It allows me to not think of my hair so much and focus on other things. Also, braids are just a fun way to create a new you for three or so months. Sitting in that chair for those 5 hours (or more) is worth it all.
ATPB: You’re a mother of two with a busy schedule, how has your hair and wash day routine changed to accommodate this?
RJ: OH man, sometimes it’s non-existent! Haha. Honestly, putting braids back in my hair helps tons. When it’s not in braids (and it’s natural, but I wear it straight) I wash every 2 to 3 weeks. And I do it on days where I know I will have the time and I won’t be rushed. I used to go to a salon, but now I’m pretty good at washing, blow-drying and straightening. My routine is honestly…. “When I have the time.” But it works within my world. I treat my hair right and nurture it, but I don’t let it have a hold on me like it used to.
ATPB: And do you have holy grail hair products you love?
RJ: Yes – I still do my mom’s routine when I get the chance. It always has my hair looking and feeling amazing right after I do it! Right now, I’m in a phase of trying new things. I get things sent to me so I’m always seeing what can work. But Dr. Miracle’s Spot Oil and Hair Growth creams do great for my hair. Kreyol Essence Castor Oil is amazing and Shea Moisture products are great for my 4b hair!
Want to see more? Follow Rajni Jacques on Instagram
Related All the Pretty Birds Beauty Posts:
- Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair
- Understanding & Decoding Hair Care Ingredients
- DIY Beauty Products & Remedies to Try at Home