Lupita Nyong'o's Hairstylist Learned to Braid on a Mop

Lupita Nyong'o's Hairstylist Learned to Braid on a Mop

December 5, 2018

Long before he tended to a-listers such as Lupita Nyong’o, Amandla Stenberg, and Serena Williams, one of Vernon François’s earliest muses was … a mop.

“I used to unravel every single cord and spend hours braiding them back, one by one,” says the self-taught pro, who picked up the art at age 8.

Growing up in northern England in a Rastafarian household, François would practice braiding on his siblings as a Sunday ritual. At 14, he landed a salon job on London’s famed Oxford Street, and three years later, he began collecting awards for his work. The recognition helped earn him editorial gigs at top publications, and soon he started developing a reputation for a creative, inclusive, and resourceful approach. (He once used a steamer to help style Nyong’o’s hair; she posted the moment on Instagram with the hashtag #thisiscalledcreativity.)

RELATED: Lupita Nyong’o Petitioned Her High School to Let Her Wear Makeup

“His sensibility and approach to hair extend beyond the parameters of traditional beauty,” says Stenberg. “It’s steeped in history, mood, soul, texture, and color and is driven by a profound desire to showcase the beauty of explosive identity. Working with him is utter freedom to be yourself.”

MEGA, Shutterstock

Danai Gurira, Serena Williams, Lupita Nyong’o, and Amandla Stenberg are among François’s clients.

But finding the perfect tools to enhance his clients’ hair wasn’t always easy, so in late 2016, François turned his passion into a line of products for a myriad of textures. It features stylers and treatments categorized by hair types like straight, wavy, kinky, and coily. “I’m trying to wake people up to the idea that you are beautiful; no matter who you are or where you come from, you can have great hair.”

His Healthy-Hair Kit

The Oil


Every hair type can benefit from added moisture, which this leave-in treatment — a blend of jojoba, sweet almond, and argan oils — delivers overnight.

Vernon François Overnight~Repair Treatment Oils, $42;

The Mist


A spritz of this mist helps redefine waves and ringlets. The formula also protects color-treated hair from fading.

Vernon François Mist~Nourishing Water, $18;

The Hair Tie


Don’t snag or snap strands by yanking them through a tight band. Tie back your hair with a length of elastic cut to fit the width of your ponytail.

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