DeJ Loaf, Musician


"Growing up, I was always just into music. Some people played sports—I always gravitated to music. It was my escape as a kid. I came up in a household where they played all the jams. My parents used to listen to R&B, rap, everything...Jay-Z, Nas, Mary J. Blige, Sade. Toni Braxton is one of my favorites. Now that I'm older, I'm also listening to a lot of jazz. When my first mixtape came out, I was a sneakerhead, which is part of the reason it was titled Just Do It. Outside of Nike and sneakers though, that motto told me to stop procrastinating, follow my dreams, and just do it. Even with my upcoming album, Liberated, it’s still my motto. It’ll always be. But now, I’m having fun with my image. I first came on the scene with short hair, curls, and a bucket hat. Three years later, I got braids and it feels like I post a different hairstyle on my Snapchat every day. It can be tough to switch up your image, but it’s about growth for me.

Speaking of which, I used to be so scared to wear makeup. I never understood why girls wore it until I started wearing it. It enhances beauty a little bit–it’s fun. Glitter is one of my things. I like putting it under the eye; lately, I’ve been using the Urban Decay's Heavy Metal Glitter in Glam Rock and Midnight Cowboy. Being very vocal about what I want in a look is somethiing I'm learning. I love wings with eyeliner, but I’m not into smoky eyes or dark lips. I like a nude lip, I love shimmer, and a good highlight is important. And of course, so is a little lash. I don’t have a favorite brand, but I love mink eyelashes. The Kara ones I use are definitely more silky and luxe than others I’ve tried. But I try not to do that much. My natural lashes are already pretty cool. My Better Than Sex mascara is something I've been liking actually. And today, I picked up Fenty Beauty's Killawatt in Trophy Wife for a highlight. I’m into gold–yellow is my thing. I had yellow hair for Fashion Week, and also a Basquiat look that was kind of unplanned. My lips don’t have any dryness at the moment, but that’s because I’ve been using e.l.f.’s Lip Exfoliator. Lip scrubs are important for me because I smoke when I’m in California, but I still need to have my lips on point.

My favorite foundation is MAC Studio Fix in NC50, the one in the pump. That and their Pro Longwear Concealer in NC45 and NC50 is what I use when I’m getting a look done. I’ve been trying to practice, and I use only MAC products when I’m doing my own. I’m a beginner–I’ll eventually work up to other brands. [Laughs] For eyeshadow, I’m currently using the Karrueche x ColourPop She Palette. I like to go with the light colors—rosy pinks and natural tones are the furthest I'll go. I’m wearing Rihanna’s Gloss Bomb right now–it reminds me of the nude Lipglass I had when I collaborated with MAC. Hers is kind of pink and has a little shimmer, but when I put it on, it fits my natural lip color which is cool. When I go out tonight, I’m going to have to bring my lip gloss.

On nights out, I like to smell clean instead of a sweet or strong scent. Usually, it's L'Eau D'issey by Issey Miyake or Eternity by Calvin Klein, but CK One by Calvin Klein is one of my favorite scents. Oh, and I also love Aventus by Creed. You spray that Creed and you can really get the night going.

My hair’s a little...different, so I like to use Murray’s Pomade instead of ORS' Edge Control. [Laughs] I use that and it lays them down. And Cantu Shea Butter is pretty much all I use for haircare. I love the shampoo and conditioner because of how it feels. How often I wash my hair per week depends on how long I keep my hairstyles in, but I don’t like to leave in any kind of product. I don’t like things that feel hard on the hair—I like a soft finish. Braids–they're sporty, they're easy, you can put it up, you can do whatever. With them, you start off with one style and then it can become three or four later on. It’s always fun to play with them and I would love to have my hair like this everyday, but the time it takes to get done…that’s the downside. When I’m done with a style, I take it out and wash it using all my conditioning stuff. My mom does hair, so I know to do a hot oil treatment before I wash my hair once a month.

When I have a night off, I’ve probably got on pair of shades–no makeup. I relax when I can. I really do enjoy masks and candles. I like Dr. Teal’s Lavender Bubble Bath–it’s like an Epsom bath. When it's an ideal setup: I'm in a hotel, music is's perfect. Lavender is something I love to have in everything. But I also use sandalwood incense a lot. I just like it to feel like nature in my space–like, in my house I always have plants, flowers–it's good to get back to that feeling, you know?

I can’t tell anyone my spots in Atlanta. Everybody will start coming! But…I do go to live music places. There’s a place I love called Cafe 290, and the audience is all older people and it’s very low-key. People come and perform; it’s karaoke, it’s drinks, it’s food. I’m a wings girl, depending on where we go while I'm there. The best wings I’ve ever had are in Detroit, my hometown, from a place called Sweetwater Tavern. People don’t know that Detroit has some of the top wings! But while I'm out, my favorite drinks are dark. Depending on the night, I like Jameson and whiskey in general. And I like Hennessy, obviously."

—as told to ITG

Dej Loaf photographed by Tom Newton in New York on September 11, 2017.