As the resident hair expert on the Emmy-winning Netflix show "Queer Eye," Jonathan Van Ness doesn't just give the show's "heroes" a new 'do. He also regularly creates real and meaningful connections with them — and more often than not, their conversations leave us misty-eyed or in a fit of laughter (or some combination of both).
And his big heart and vibrant, bubbly personality are just as evident in person as they are on the screen. We joined Van Ness — who identifies as gender nonbinary and uses he/him pronouns, as well as they and she — at the recent Rakuten "Sleigh Your Shopping" Pop-Up to talk about his partnership with the commerce brand, go-to gifts and favorite holiday traditions, which you might be surprised to hear are very relaxed.
Between starring in "Queer Eye," hosting his podcast "Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness" (and starring in a series of the same name), performing stand-up comedy and authoring multiple books, Van Ness is pretty busy. But he's still found time to embrace his passion of learning new things, like taking up ice skating and gymnastics in the last few years. Skills he regularly showcases on his Instagram page. And with the New Year coming up and many people starting to think about their resolutions, he shared some sage advice for those who may want to take a page from his book and try a new hobby or hone their passions.
"I think that allowing yourself the freedom to try something new is so confidence-building, whether or not you're good at it or you can stay doing it for a long period of time," Van Ness said. "I think just having that thought of like 'oh, I want to try this' and then allowing yourself to, it takes a lot of courage to go meet people, go to a new place and put yourself out there. And so I just think that is so confidence-building. Even if that thing isn't permanent, the experience that you gain from it is. And you never know who you're gonna meet. In yoga, sometimes we would say going to yoga is the hardest part and then once you get there, it's super fun. It's kind of like that. It feels a lot more daunting to try something new than it actually is once you get there."
But Van Ness' holiday focus is much more on traditions than trying new things all the time.
"For me, the holidays are kind of about slowing down and connecting with your friends and family," Van Ness told Shop TODAY. "I feel like in the year it's so much hustle and bustle — even before the holiday hustle and bustle — that I'm one of those people that I do a light decorating, you know there's a tree, but I don't make it stressful. I just like to kind of relax with my husband, spend time with my animals and see my family. Also, my auntie always comes to visit us every holiday. I've been having a little Christmas tradition with her, which is really fun."
Shopping Diaries: Jonathan Van Ness
The celeb also gave us some great gifting ideas for anyone searching for the perfect thing for their loved ones this holiday season, from his favorite hair products to the items that he's giving his husband.
"The key to a good blow-dry, other than great products and great prep — because that is so much of it — is clean sections," Van Ness said. "A lot of time, we just get lost when your hair starts going over your face and you can't see what part needs to be dried more, so having a clean section so you can really see what's going on is helpful. And that's why I love the Olivia Garden brush, because it has this pointy thing in the bottom of the round brush that helps you create really clean parting so you can really control your blow-dry."
"I think as we go into winter, [the] instant recovery serum is really useful," Van Ness said. The formula includes nourishing ingredients like hemisqualane, niacinamide and charged lemon protein which are said to help repair damaged hair and restore strength and shine.
"You know how there's makeup primer?" he said. "Instant Recovery Serum is like a primer for your hairstyle. Whether you're air drying and doing nothing, whether you're gonna go blow it out, whether you're going to slick it back, whatever you're gonna do, [the] Instant Recovery Serum makes it so you can use less of whatever subsequent products you use, they go farther. It kind of balances your hair while giving it really nice nutrients to make it smoother and more manageable."
Van Ness said this scalp oil from the brand is "so major." "It's so powerfully anti-breakage and it really helps hair not break off so for people who have highlights, it's so good for color-treated hair. What I always like to say is Pre-Wash Scalp Oil is so good for anyone who has a scalp, because it's like our scalp is kind of all where it starts. So it really is so helpful."
"[The] Air Dry Cream is great for embracing natural texture during winter months ... when we are going to diffuse more, when we are going to heat style more, Air Dry Cream — even though it says air dry — is so good with the diffuser for curly people."
If you've been thinking about splurging on the viral Dyson Airwrap, Van Ness just might convince you to finally add it to your cart. "I love it," Van Ness said. "It's so convenient, it just doesn't damage the hair. The way that it heats the hair is really just safer."
Van Ness said his husband, Mark Peacock, is "really easy" to get gifts for, "because he loves everything I do for him, which that's really sweet." Along with Ugg slippers and a weekender bag, Van Ness said he's getting him "this great little yoga sweatpant by Alo."
"He's been getting more into art, and with his art and his sculptures so big, he's been doing yoga to help with his back and his body because he's just like making all these fierce sculptures. Artist husband, right? We love it. So I got him some yoga stuff."
While we highlighted a handful of his picks here, you can shop his full Holiday Self Care Edit on Rakuten while earning money back.