Nell Diamond is the founder and CEO of Hill House Home and the first time I saw her hair I literally gasped. It leaves quite an impression; I’ll leave it at that. Read on to hear how she answered all my burning questions — and after that, for the hair-o-philes: read about Amelia’s hair, Erica’s hair, Shiona’s hair, Simone’s hair, Arabelle’s hair and Megan’s hair. I LOVE HAIR! Okay, without further ado, meet Nell and her crown of glory.
Tell me a hair-related memory…
I wrote my Senior Thesis in college about hair! All 109 pages of it. I was an English major, and I kept circling these descriptions of female hair in epic poems like “Paradise Lost” and “The Faerie Queen.” Female hair was always portrayed as this threatening, hypnotic, paradoxical life-force, and I saw it as a representation of how patriarchal society has always been petrified of unbridled feminine power.
If you look closely, references to the powerful, magical energy of unbound female hair are everywhere. The chaste, restrained, religious woman covers her hair, while the wild, crazy, sexual – and even murderous – woman lets it all hang out. Some of my favorite hairy women to investigate were Medusa, Ophelia, Milton’s Eve, Lilith, Rapunzel, Homer’s Mermaids and 1920s flappers. I have a very weird amount of knowledge about hair – and it really is full of secrets.
What’s your daily routine and how long does it take?
I love a night shower. I comb through the tangles in the shower and then again after getting out (you’d be surprised how many tangles I can get in 30 seconds), then I braid it wet in one or two long braids and fall asleep. When I wake up, it’s dry with a little wave and I’ll either re-do the braid or put it up in a pony. If I’m feeling festive I’ll leave it completely down. I’ve been very into ribbons lately so I’ll find a way to work one of those in most days.
How often do you wash your hair and when?
I used to wash it every day until – like seemingly everyone else – I read in some dark corner of the internet that I am killing my hair by doing so. Now I try to stretch to every other day or even every three days if I can.
What’s your hair approach in the shower?
I am a very religious, loyal devotee to the Garnier Fructis family. I’ve tried fancy conditioners and masks but nothing ever detangles as well as that delightful green bottle.
How often do you get it cut?
Probably three times a year I’ll cut around four-ish inches off. My hair grows at a very alarming rate, especially since having a baby. Usually every two years I catch my reflection and have a panic attack that I look like a crazy person and cut like, a full foot off, but then it usually grows back that full amount after a few months. I’m very lucky.
Do you dye, highlight, treat it?
I’ve never dyed it! I had bright red hair until I was around seven or eight, and since then it’s gotten darker. In the summer it can get really red in the sun. I definitely will use any excuse to purchase a glitter hairspray can from Ricky’s, which I then apply liberally, but that’s as close to dying as I’ve gotten.
I used to use those Hot-Oil treatment packets all the time when I was younger, but mostly because I love the routine of heating them up in the shower. Now, probably once every few months if my hair feels dry, I’ll use an entire bottle of conditioner and just leave it in while I take a bath, then shower it out.
Have you gone through a bunch of hair phases?
Every few years I cut it to above my chest, but it’s so thick that it can look like a lampshade when it gets too short. Growing up my brothers used to tell me I looked like a Springer Spaniel dog with my hair in front of my face and so now as an adult I can’t quite get that image out of my head. Somehow when it’s longer I feel it’s less triangular and hangs better.
When do you hate your hair?
When I have a really crazy tangle that even my wet brush can’t handle. For some reason it feels claustrophobic and I get really panicky that the tangle will just exist forever and I’ll never live without it again. It’s not my most rational worry.
When do you love it?
I love my hair the most when it’s in a high pony. I like my pony VERY high – right above the crown of my head. It’s my pop star hair. Usually when I get a really good pony I like to whip it around for effect while dancing. I’m a real hoot to be around.
What’s the most tragic hair-related decision you ever made?
Bangs. It was a dark, dark year but I made it through.
Have you ever cut your hair yourself?
In third grade I was forced to remove my very chic rainbow hair wrap in order to abide by my school’s uniform policy and it was extremely unjust and I felt like my creativity was being stifled, so I cut out the entire strand of my hair as a protest. In hindsight, I didn’t really think through who that protest was hurting.
Have you ever cried over it?
Oh, sure. I cry when I feel my bagel is not properly toasted so, yes, absolutely, my hair has been a cry trigger.
Hair is full of secrets. What’s one of yours?
I was an early adopter of the butterfly clip phase. Honestly, it was a great look and I’d like to bring it back if just one celebrity could do it first so I feel validated.
What does your hair dresser tell you to do that you ignore?
Layers! Very much not for me. My hair is heavy so it weighs down the curl, but when shorter pieces are cut I’m left basically looking like I’m wearing a curly hat on top of my long, straight hair. It’s very fundamentally not a good look.
What misconceptions do people have about your hair?
People think I’m fussy about my hair and assume I must have a crazy hair routine. Literally everything else about me is fussy except my hair.
Photos by Edith Young.