“I can’t be walking around with messy braids – I’m a braider – so I don’t.”

“I started braiding really young, probably 15 or 16. I was always doing my friend’s hair and friend’s makeup – I was always into it. And, I don’t know, I was always super curious into how braids were done. And it just started as something fun, and I just did it to my friends, and then everyone started seeing it and it kind of kept going. I really just loved it and it spiraled off of that. I just love inventing and seeing what I can come up with and what shape I can do and it’s just so rewarding seeing it after on someone’s head. Sometimes after my clients leave I still stare at them like a child that’s going off to college, like ‘man I’m so proud of that work.’

It’s really satisfying when you see the glow on a person’s face when they come off the chair and they just feel like a million bucks.

They’ll text me later and be like ‘oh my God I was having such a horrible day and you just made me feel sexy and great about myself again’ – that’s the best tip ever. I like to draw, so I use this really, really thin comb, and I cannot braid without that. I use this little, skinny metal rat-tail comb, and I just see that as a pencil. I literally will go strand by strand, and I’ll see one strand ruining my line, and I’ll go back and use my nails or something and take it out of there. I don’t have patience for a lot of stuff, but for that I’m really meticulous. And, I have this mannequin head in my house and I’ll just see a shape and be like ‘wow I think I can fit that into the head’ or ‘I can braid that’ and I’ll try to work it in. This is something that even now, 15 years later, I still have these new ideas and I can’t wait for the next client so I can try them if they let me freestyle.

As for my own personal style, to be honest, you know how it is in New York, you have no life and no time. So I see all of the pretty braids, and then when I start on myself, my arms get tired. I try to be as neat on myself as I am on the clients and then I see a loop on myself and I’m like “ugh” – again, it’s that OCD thing, and I can’t, I give up – I can’t be walking around with messy braids, I’m a braider, so I don’t bother with it on my own head. Usually I’m in the salon from like 11am to 11pm, so I go home, wake up, and do the same thing over again.

guingui2
Photo: Rachel Adler

My hair color right now is from Adore – they’re like $5, but they last such a long time. I did bleach it, so I had an ombre, balayage thing going on, but this is so easy. I had a blue-black, and a purple hue, but I’ve had this for about a year. I might change it to a red next time.

The nails help me out a lot when I braid – they really don’t interfere at all, they actually help and I use them to braid. These are my birthday nails with the glitter design, but normally I just do plain colors.

I actually came to New York to be a makeup artist, but on a typical day I use like, Carmex. But, today I have on more of a look. I went to this school called Makeup Designory and their mascara is amazing. It comes in a tube that you can squeeze, so if you’re a makeup artist you can squeeze it out on a palette and then apply with individual wands. Their makeup, honestly, their makeup is amazing. I feel like people know about the school, but no one knows about the makeup and it’s honestly amazing. Their foundations, everything. The lip gloss lasts for years, and on the lips it lasts a long time – they’re way too underrated. The Balm bronzer that I use is really good because it goes well with my skin color.

For brows, I use a lash primer from Lancome, it’s like those white primers that you’re supposed to put on, you know, the white side of the mascara. So, I just brush that in, and if you touch it it kind of dries it in place. But, you know if you use a colored brow product it kind of makes it too sloppy and then you get matte color, well this one is amazing because it dries clear and it just holds them in place. Because my brows are kind of thick and this really holds them all day. That I will definitely not leave the house without.

As an outsider looking at other people someone will definitely catch my eye if they have pretty dope style and their hair is different or they dared to do other stuff – and I think that’s how I’m inspired. When I started really braiding, like in 2000 when Alicia Keys was out and Ja Rule, everybody had braids back then – R. Kelly, everybody. You take everyone’s styles and kind of get inspired. Clothes and fashion and whatever, it’s definitely art.”

@Guin_Gui

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