Jonathan Van Ness is often a bundle of energy. Anyone who’s watched him work his grooming magic on Netflix’s beloved Queer Eye—or enjoyed his solo morning-coffee dance parties on Instagram stories—has felt it leap off the screen. And his contagious exuberance may be one reason why he’s able to keep up with seemingly endless creative projects. The Emmy-nominated entertainer—who has 15-plus years of experience as a professional hairstylist—launched his namesake inclusive hair-care line JVN last year, his podcast-turned-Netflix-series Getting Curious (released in January) has him exploring topics from bugs to skyscrapers to gender nonconformity, and he’s about to go on tour to promote his third book, Love That Story (out on April 12). Oh, and he just brought his new live comedy show, Imaginary Living Room Olympian—a mix of stand-up, storytelling, and legit gymnastics (he’s a former high school cheerleader too)—to Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
He also recently announced a partnership with same-day shopping and delivery company Shipt. Jonathan Van Ness’s Spring So Clean Collection, featuring some of his favorite beauty and wellness products from Sephora, is available via Shipt through March 31. “Sometimes it’s really hard to get products in a pinch, especially if you’re traveling or you’re on a deadline for whatever work you’re doing,” Van Ness told SELF on the phone, on his way to catch a plane to NYC to perform his Radio City show. And since skin care is part of his self-care routine, he rests easier when his must-have products are nearby. “It’s not fun knowing that you don’t have the thing that you need to get ready in the morning.”
On the topic of getting your needs met, while Van Ness appears to have a natural effervescence, we suspect a solid night’s sleep might also be contributing to his generally sparkly disposition. “I’m definitely one of those people who needs my eight hours or I can’t even stand it,” he says. (Same.) And it’s this commitment to self-care (from practicing self-love to savoring in his favorite beauty products and beyond) that made us extra interested in taking a peek inside Van Ness’s night life. Here, he takes SELF through his wind-down routine, which involves overnight hair care, his go-to “gorgeous” grooming products, and plenty of pets.
British TV and stitching help me unwind at night.
My husband and I love to watch The Great British Baking Show before bed, but lately, we’ve been obsessed with Gardener’s World. It’s this really cute British show hosted by this man named Monte Don. He has this big-ass garden and you come along with him as he does his gardening every single day. There are a ton of seasons—it’s been on for, like, 50,000 years—and there have been multiple hosts. They also go to all these other people’s houses in Britain and you get to see what they do in their gardens. It’s these little vignettes and it’s so good. I’m also really into needlepointing at night. It’s so mindful and relaxing. And my grandma did it, and my mom does it, and I never thought I would’ve thought it was cool, but I’m obsessed. It was my early-pandemic obsession and I still do it.
I like thick, unwaxed floss because I feel like the waxed kind is too soft.
After my husband and I feed the menagerie of cats and dogs, which takes forever, and we watch whatever gorgeous TV we’re going to watch, I go upstairs and I always floss and brush my teeth. I like the old-school unwaxed floss, so you can really get in there and get that gunk out. Then I wash my little face with Tatcha The Rice Polish—you add a little bit of water and it turns into a foam and it’s very gently exfoliating. It doesn’t strip your skin of its natural moisture, but it definitely removes whatever makeup and sunscreen you had on from the day, which I love.
My skin-care steps depend on what my skin needs on a given day.
Sometimes I use fewer skin-care products and sometimes I use more—it depends on the day or time of year—but I love the Fenty Skin Fat Water toner. It’s gorgeous and it’s usually my base layer at night. And then, if my skin is feeling dry, I might do a gorgeous Biossance Squalane + Omega Repair Cream to layer over that, or maybe their brightening Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, which is next-level. I usually don’t shower before bed unless I was shooting something and have a lot of makeup on, or I worked out later in the day and want to take a full shower.
My shower products also change from day to day.
If I want to have bigger hair, I go with my Embody shampoo and conditioner. If I’ve been heat styling my hair a lot and I’m farther between haircuts and my strands are too fragile, I might do Undamage shampoo and conditioner. And you can also mix and match the products in all of the JVN lines. I’ll also use the Nurture shampoo when my hair is feeling a little bit dry and I want to add some moisture. I also love Necessaire The Body Wash. It’s gorgeous. And another thing that I like to do is put on my moisturizer—usually Necessaire The Body Lotion—in the shower. I turn the water off and I use my hands to get the excess water off my body, then I apply my body moisturizer while my skin is still damp because I find it absorbs it better.
Lately, I’ve been sleeping with my hair in pigtail braids.
I noticed that if I do one braid at the base of my neck, I’ll sometimes wake up with a kink in my neck. But if I do two braids parted down the middle, it doesn’t obstruct my sleeping position. I use my JVN Complete Instant Recovery Serum through my ends first and then when I wake up, I have these gorgeous heatless waves. I’ll also do a top bun with some Instant Recovery Serum and maybe some Air Dry Cream, and very loosely tie it on top of my head with a Slip silk scrunchie. When I wake up, I take it out and just smooth out the hair around my face. It’s another really easy way to style hair without heat.
When I can’t deal with a full beauty routine, I just do the basics.
I like to put on my skin-care products at least 30 or 45 minutes before I lie down—so they have time to sink in and I don’t go smash them into my pillowcase immediately. If I forgot, or I don’t have time, or I’m just really tired, I might just do toner, and then my two little low braids with the Instant Recovery serum. The mid-lengths and ends of your hair are a lot older than your new growth, so they’re drier because they’ve been washed more and they’ve maybe been heat-styled more. They’ve lived through more than your new hair has, so the serum gives those mid-lengths and ends the ingredients they need to be more supple and hold onto your style better. And even if you don’t really style your hair, it makes it shinier, more manageable, and more resistant to frizz—I’m obsessed with it.
I listen to a sleep podcast or do yoga if I get anxious in the middle of the night.
My anxiety typically doesn’t come up at night. Once it’s 9:30 p.m., my brain is desperate to turn off and I can barely stay awake. Sometimes I wake up with anxious thoughts at three in the morning, though, and I’ll listen to a Sleepy podcast to relax. My husband got me into it. The host’s name is Otis Gray and he has this really relaxing voice and he reads you bedtime stories. That usually knocks me back out. Guided meditations help a lot, too. You can also get on the ground and do a little restorative yoga moment—I do child’s pose, supine twists, and legs up the wall and hold each pose for three minutes or so and just breathe to calm my nervous system.
My side of the bed is messier than my husband’s.
I’m a much tossier sleeper than he is. He always accuses me of taking all the covers, but I don’t realize I’m doing it.
It’s the cats’ house and we’re just living in it.
We have four cats and they wake us up in the middle of the night all the time, especially Larry. If they’re all in bed with me, it’s so cute and I’m like, well, I can’t move. And so my husband and I will get stuck with our bodies in a Z shape, trying not to bother the cats. ‘Cause they’re so cute and perfect in every single way.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.