All About Lizzo's PEOPLE Cover Curls from Her Pro: 'Big Hair Can Be Worn in Any Room'

Hairstylist Shelby Swain shares the story behind Lizzo's gorgeous curls on the cover of PEOPLE's Women Changing the World Issue

Lizzo's hairstylist Shelby Swain had one thought as she scoped out the warehouse where her client's top-secret cover shoot for PEOPLE's Women Changing the World issue was about to go down: "This is about to be a badass shoot."

The hair pro, who has worked with the multi-hyphenate star exclusively for more than four years now, says that intuition wasn't wrong.

In the hours that followed, Lizzo, Swain, makeup artist Alexx Mayo, manicurist Eri Ishizu and stylist Jason Rembert and a host of PEOPLE people brought their agreed-upon vibe to life. And now, Swain is sharing the details behind the making of Lizzo's gorgeous curls.

Lizzo Rollout
Lizzo. Robin Harper

As the Grammy winner posed at a copy machine, by a water cooler and on top of her desk, Swain said of her hairstyle for the office setting, "I just wanted her to be herself in this new world, and for it to adapt to her [because] Lizzo is a huge star. She's everything, and she's just here. So, I wanted her hair to represent that."

For Lizzo's hair, Swain felt voluminous curls were the way to go.

"She always does this big, curly hair, and [for this shoot] I wanted them to be bouncy, like her bouncy personality."

Swain actually started the process the night before by washing and conditioning the star's hair (using Matrix Total Results A Curl Can Dream Shampoo and A Curl Can Dream Rich Mask), and prepping her extensions.

Shelby Swain, lizzo
courtesy Shelby Swain

At the shoot, it took a few hours to complete the look. The team worked their magic to music —Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim and more — Swain says.

The hairstylist applied Matrix Total Results A Curl Can Dream Moisturizing Cream as a base for styling, then once she'd created the perfect texture, Matrix Total Results Miss Mess Dry Finishing Spray to get gravity-defying volume.

Swain says that while it was important for Lizzo to feel confident, the style also spoke volumes about cultural mores as well.

"She is unapologetically Black. I think it's the most beautiful thing that we can be," Swain says, continuing, "I definitely could have kept [her hair] straight and sleek and polished. But big hair is acceptable now. It can be worn in any room. We don't have to tone [that] down, or our personalities down, anymore. No."

Lizzo Rollout
Lizzo covers PEOPLE. Robin Harper

When the cameras started rolling, Swain thought, "'Oh my gosh. People not going to be ready for this.'"

Swain adds, "I just love watching her in her element, it's the coolest thing to me."

The pro, who does hours of research before creating any major look with her boundary-breaking client, says it's extra-special working on a hairstyle that will be immortalized on the cover of a magazine.

"There's something about it that is so timeless, and I feel like because of how iconic it can be, you want to make sure that you put your absolute best in it," she says.

Collaborating with Lizzo comes naturally.

"The beauty of working with who I work with is she's going to always make something hers."

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