Texture Diaries is a space for Black people across industries to reflect on their journeys to self-love, and how accepting their hair, in all its glory, played a pivotal role in this process. Each week, they share their favorite hair rituals, products, and the biggest lessons they’ve learned when it comes to affirming their beauty and owning their unique hair texture.
Before the pandemic, you could find stylist and editor Alexander-Julian Gibbson all over the world, jet-setting from New Zealand and Nigeria to Colombia and France. But being grounded hasn’t stopped his creative flow. Recent work has included styling singer Lucky Daye for a Flaunt magazine spread, actor Ashton Sanders for Highsnobiety, and Laverne Cox for her Paper magazine cover. “Having freedom is one of my favorite parts about what I do,” Gibbson tells Vogue over FaceTime. “It feels good to wake up one day and try something new. There are no limitations.”
That free-spirited nature has also been a huge part of Gibbson’s hair journey, though it took some time for him to begin experimenting. “Growing up, my mother wasn’t trying to get me the nicest haircut; she was trying to get me the cheapest one,” he remembers of his childhood in Houston. “Being Nigerian as well, it wasn’t until later in life that I learned about the cultural significance of going to a Black barbershop in America. My mother was a single mother who would work long hours and I remember my second grade teacher, Mrs. Green, letting me stay after school with her and her daughter. They took me to get my first edge-up at the barber shop and my life forever changed.”
In high school, his style rotation included flattops, mohawks, twists, and dye jobs. “I was really inspired by retro styles from the ’80s and ’70s. I always loved fashion but I couldn’t really afford to buy nice clothes,” he says. His hair became the best way to express himself.
These days, he’s learning to welcome the grays. “I’ve always wanted grays,” he says. “My favorite X-Men growing up was Rogue. I just loved her white streaks.” But the stress of the past years has meant the arrival of grays at a “rapid pace,” not just on his head but also in his beard, which Gibbson says he wasn’t exactly prepared for. “I’m definitely embracing it more and more and loving it,” he says. “I just wasn’t ready for them to come in this way. I’m figuring out how I want them to look and how to style them.”
To revitalize his hair, Gibbson turns to SheaMoisture’s avocado moisturizer, along with Adwoa Beauty’s leave-in conditioner and shampoo. He also does a hair mask using Indian clay on his beard and hair. The OG Beard Soufflé from Soss keeps his beard hydrated. To combat razor bumps, he swears by laser hair removal as well as SkinCeuticals’ brightening serums to fade dark marks. He does his own trims and line-ups as well as trimming his own beard at home. “I stopped shaving it completely to avoid the razor bumps, but now I just love it so much beyond the medical reasonings. I don’t even know what I’d look like without a beard.”
Lately, Gibbson is feeling like it’s time to dye his hair a burnt orange color for summer. “Until then, I really just want to continue to embrace my Afro. Like a really nice, circular ’fro,” he says, noting Big Sean as an inspiration. “There was a point in time where society looked down on straight men taking care of their skin and hair. I feel like most of our introductions to self-care are through the desire to do it so that we can look good for women,” Gibbson notes. “Now I’ve learned the beauty of just doing it for myself. There’s no gender when it comes to taking care of yourself. Self-care is for everyone. Society’s projections don’t really bother me or faze me. I’m just here to be my best self.”