PEOPLE caught up with the model to talk all-things haircare

By Colleen Kratofil
February 01, 2021 05:40 PM
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Winnie Harlow just added a major new modeling gig to her already impressive repertoire.

The 26-year-old model is the first-ever Global Ambassador of John Paul Mitchell Systems. "I wanted to partner with a haircare brand because hair is so important to me, and the health of hair especially is really important to me," Harlow tells PEOPLE.

Credit: Courtesy of Paul Mitchell

The new partnership also strikes a sentimental chord for Harlow, as her first memories involving hair were watching her mom at work in her salon. "I loved just watching her style other people's hair and watching them come in and leave with a big smile on their face from their hair transformation," she shares.

The brand's 2021 campaign is shot by famed photographer Micaiah Carter
and is centered around "celebrating the power of self-expression through hair, inspiring consumers to embrace their distinct beauty and explore their personal style."

Credit: Courtesy of Paul Mitchell

This sentiment is something Harlow channeled on set with Paul Mitchell and is constantly sharing with her 8.4 million Instagram followers. Whether she's modeling braids, waves or fierce pixie styles -— she does it with intention.

"I think it's important to show Black hair in all its glory because for so long Black girls weren't able to get specific hair styles," she says. "At one point in time, there weren't a lot of hairstylists that knew how to handle or style Black hair. It's really important to me to show that as a Black woman, I can have all the hairstyles that any other girl can have — it just takes someone with the education and knowledge of Black hair to execute it."

Credit: Courtesy of Paul Mitchell

Her go-to hairstylist is celeb-loved pro, César DeLeön Ramirêz, who not only styled Harlow in the Paul Mitchell campaign, but snagged a Brand Ambassadorship himself. For the photo shoot, he created voluminous curls, sleek straight styles and a cropped chop on Harlow.

"My hair journey has been broad and across the spectrum — with extensions, weaves, wigs and natural hair. Right now, I'm just enjoying protecting my natural hair," says Harlow. "That's why I enjoy wearing wigs, so that I can achieve all the looks that my career entails whilst protecting my natural hair."

Credit: Micaiah Carter

Her haircare routine includes taking her braids down, washing her hair, deep conditioning it with leave-in product and oils, and braiding it (she's been turning to single braids and faux locks), before putting on a wig. "My priority has now become taking care of my hair. I just wash my hair, get my hair styled and braided, and then leave it for a month at a time to just let it grow and be healthy."

She not only has her haircare perfected, but she's digging into skincare next. While she can't share much information yet, her own line is in the works and promises it will be "skincare for everyone."

Credit: Micaiah Carter

"It was really important to me to create something fresh and new, and not just put my name on something," she explains. "I wanted to be involved in everything across the board and behind the scenes — to sample everything and try everything and create something new with a team. I wanted to start from the ground up and build a business."

Harlow's already sharing her beauty know-how with her boyfriend, NBA player Kyle Kuzma, by helping him amp his grooming game. "I wanted to make sure he had a good skin and hair routine, so I packed him a bag full of products," she says when he hits the road during the season. "He's definitely told me that he's gotten a lot of compliments lately on how juicy and luscious his curls have been."

She also helps treat Kuzma's skin after all the traveling he does for games. "I like to give him facials when he comes home from off the road. Because all of that hard work that he puts in at games can takes a toll on his skin — especially when you're not getting a lot of sleep and you're working out really hard."

When it comes to their on-point couples style, they each rely on one another for advice. "We definitely love sharing our looks with one another before we wear them," Harlow says. "Sometimes he'll want to know if he should wear a specific pair of glasses with an outfit or which top to go with which pants. And sometimes I'll ask his opinion on a specific heel with a specific dress. We love each other's opinions. But we definitely have our own style, and we are really good at maintaining our own style."