"I always wanted to be a model. I’m from Lexington, and I got a full academic ride to the University of Kentucky—I did Merchandising, Apparel and Textiles, which was the closest to fashion I could get. I dropped out after a semester and gave up my full ride. Long story short, my mom was in an abusive relationship, so we ended up escaping. We moved to the mountains in Northern California, Mendecino County. It’s like two hours north of San Francisco. A small town with 2,000 people in it, very hippie. I didn’t get any new clothes all year. I think it was like the year I had to find myself, because I didn’t know anybody—I was just alone in this hippie town. I was 18, so it allowed me to explore myself and my spirituality. After a year, I was like, ‘Yeah, I can’t stay here my whole life,’ but at 19 the only place I felt like I could go to was Atlanta. I just couldn’t afford New York or LA. But it turns out Atlanta’s the best city if you’re a creative. It’s so easy to live there, it’s not expensive. It was really easy to get started. Instagram wasn’t what it is now, so it was easier to kind of break through and build that foundation. I would reach out to photographers, and be like, ‘Are you down to shoot for trade? I know I don’t have anything really to give you,’ because I didn’t have any followers [yet], but people are nice there, and they’ll support you. I was able to create a foundation of solid images and a network. It allowed me to have what I have now.
I had [my daughter] Syx on February 19, 2017. I had an easy pregnancy—I tell people I would be pregnant all the time if I could. I want like five kids. It’s something I’m really passionate about. You’re pregnant for nine months—almost a year—so you’ve got to come into it with an energy that it’s going be great, because otherwise… At the time, I was a manager at American Apparel in Atlanta. I got sick on my 21st birthday, and I threw up doughnuts and Gatorade at work. There were definitely times where it could’ve been like, ‘Ugh, I hate this!’
One of the pictures that we took at work went viral. I was in this bodysuit and disco pants in front of a fitting room door, and my hair was super short—I had this curly fro. My hair's much longer now. With long hair, you just have to set aside wash days, and make sure to have like three hours to get it all together. It’s a lot of work. I use Briogeo—they have a charcoal curly hair line, and I use their conditioner and their shampoo. It’s like a scalp exfoliant. I use a different conditioner for the body of my hair, and that’s also what I use to comb it out in the shower. I wash my hair more often than I need to because of shoots—really, I can go about a week without washing it. I don’t go to a hair salon because I’m always so scared—even when I cut it all off, I just had my friend put it into a ponytail and cut it, and then we straightened it and I had her cut it into the bob I wanted. I don’t want a stylist to be like, ‘We’re going to do this!’ I don’t wash the middle and the ends with the Briogeo, because instead I use a Shea Moisture conditioner. I had to get it down to a science! I comb through when it’s wet and still has conditioner in it, so it detangles easier. When I rinse the conditioner out, I comb it, and when I get out of the shower I use a curly hair towel that I got on Amazon. It’s plush and thick. Then I use the Briogeo curl cream, flip it over, diffuse it, and we’re done. Their curl line is amazing. [The curl cream] is light, it doesn’t make your curls crunchy, it smells really fresh and light, and it’s not stiff–my curls still bounce and swing, but it just gives a little definition. I have too much hair to be frizzy and stuff. I just need a little definition, and if I set it with a blow dryer that’s all I need for a few days. I literally just use a Conair blow dryer that came with a diffuser that I got at Target for like 30 bucks. I had to go through the whole teenage phase where I was just putting so much stuff in [my hair] and learning, but I finally I found this one routine that works. I just have to stick with it.
I wash my face with the Clarisonic Mia brush. I use a charcoal algae cleanser from Whole Foods, by Derma-E. Then I tone with Glossier Solution, and I use the True Botanicals Face Oil, which smells amazing. I do the Aztec Indian Clay Mask, and facial steam before with apple cider vinegar. It’s so good. It’s messy though, that’s the only thing. My friend has this company called Gentle, and she makes hand-made whipped shea butter. I got her to make us some lavender ones, so me and Syx both use it. It’s the best thing on the planet—I love it. I don’t wear fragrance. As a mom, I really had to streamline everything. At the end of the day when I get home, we take a bath together. I’ll shower first, and then I’ll run us a bubble bath. We use California Baby—it’s organic, but you can get it at Target. I’ll put lavender oil in it, just because lavender helps you sleep. I just stopped taking a prenatal vitamin, but I was taking a prenatal for a long time. Another thing that I’m always really into is moisturizing my neck. When I was little, my grandmother was like, ‘Your décolletage is the first to go…that’s gonna really show your age’—when I was like, five, she was saying this to me. [Laughs] So literally my entire life I have been moisturizing and toning my neck.
I use L’Oréal Telescopic Mascara—that’s my favorite mascara ever. I’m always like, ‘Oh, a new mascara, I’ll try it!’ But I always go back. I do the ELF clear eyebrow gel—it costs less than $2. So, mascara, brows, then a highlight. Colourpop Cream Highlighter in Wisp looks good in the winter because it’s a cooler shade. When I wear foundation, I use the Make Up For Ever HD Stick. I just put the stick in four little drops, and blend in. They make a really good shade that matches me. Sometimes, when I’m feeling feisty, I wear blush. I like Glossier Cloud Paint—it gives me a perfect blush. Storm looks good on my skin. For lips, I either use this local Atlanta chapstick called Mama, or Coconut Balm Dotcom. I get up and I do this routine, and then I assess in the mirror like, ‘Ooh, nailed it!’ You just feel like you’re going to have a good day no matter what."
—as told to ITG
Jaycina Almond photographed by Tom Newton on June 27, 2018.