You've seen her hairstyles before. Known best as Solange, Janelle Monae, and Zoë Kravitz’s hairstylist, Nikki Nelms doesn't just create the high-fashion looks all over red-carpet events and editorials; she's behind the scenes at music videos, styling characters for movies and television, and routinely snipping and styling the hair of her celebrity clientele, as documented by her bustling Instagram page.
"I wouldn’t say that I’ve broken molds," Nelms tells TZR over email. "But I will say that I march to the beat of my own drum and, in doing that, I feel that it helped so many other stylists shift their thinking, to see that there's so much more to hair than beach waves and wand curls."
Ahead, Nelms breaks down how she started styling hair, her favorite celebrity moments, and her secret to styling a pixie cut as iconic as Kravitz's.
Nikki Nelms ... On Her Hairstyling Career
"My career started the moment my cousin Rhoda showed me how to do my very first hairstyle. It looked like it had been done by a professional and she wasn’t a hairstylist, so she helped to bridge the gap in my mind between what I thought was possible for me and what was actually possible for someone that wasn’t even a 'hairstylist.' It was a ponytail with beautiful cascading curls... I think I was in the third or fourth grade. She literally ignited my passion for hairstyling."
Nikki Nelms ... On Memorable Celebrity Hairstyles
"There are several, especially since I love them all — they are like my babies. From the hair in Kanye West’s 'Gold Digger' music video to Solange’s opening shot, beaded braids in her 'Don’t Touch My Hair' video, or Janelle Monáe's googly eye moment... they all are special to me. But I will say that I love when I get a request to help create a look from scratch for characters, like the looks for Jurnee Smollett's characters Black Canary in Birds of Prey and Leti in Lovecraft.
When working with any celebrity client I like to live in the moment. I don’t like to pre-plan too much. The moment will tell me what to do. It will feel right. Once I know their likes, dislikes, and have gotten insight on wardrobe, I pray and then the ideas just flow."
Nikki Nelms ... The Secrets To Styling A Pixie Cut Like Zoë Kravitz's
"I love a good pixie moment. My favorite tool for styling a pixie is my fingers. I love finger combing, it really creates a custom look for any client."
Nikki Nelms' Go-To Hairstyling & Hair Care Products
"I love Sebastian Professional Shaper Plus hairspray. It provides the range and flexibility I need to create and doesn’t leave a sticky residue on the hair.
Whenever I use lots of hairspray to create bold looks, keeping the hair smooth and moisturized used to be a big concern. Sebastian Professional Dark Oil really helps keep my clients’ hair feeling smooth, healthy, and shiny without weighing it down and or leaving it oily. It’s also perfect to tame flyaways without compromising volume."
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