Growing up in Florida, Dianna Cohen experienced many a hot and humid day. But while the rest of her friends and family would throw on bathing suits and hurl themselves straight in the refreshing pool without a second thought, young Cohen would hang back.
“I would find the nearest hose to wet my hair first, so that the fiber would be filled with clean water instead of chlorine water,” she says via video from her parents’ home in Lighthouse Point, a coastal town about an hour outside of Miami. “Because your hair, actually, if you fill it with the water first, the fiber swells up—which is why you should use a hair towel in your hair after you wash it, because your hair will be prone to breakage. It’s just way less abrasive on the fiber.”
Cohen’s passion for hair care actually started even earlier, when she was a tiny kid and would run into her parents’ bedroom to have her mom brush her hair before bed. “It is truly one of the most relaxing and cathartic feelings ever: having somebody either brush or comb your hair,” Cohen says. “At my bachelorette party, which was just the week or two before the pandemic in March, my friends were sitting around the table and asked, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘I literally want to hang out and brush everyone’s hair.’”
Hair, evidently, has long been her passion. But in early 2020, it became her job, too, when she launched Crown Affair: a clean hair care brand designed to help people create rituals around their locks—while at the same time demystifying that very concept.
“My entire vision for hair, and my personal connection to it, is entirely rooted in care and ritual,” reflects Cohen. “Just slowing down and caring for yourself, instead of working on fixing it or finding solutions—which is so much of what this category is about—is now ringing more true than ever.”
With a few high-quality products (including a towel designed to be gentle on wet strands; a comb designed for minimizing breakage; and a sulfate-free oil designed for dry ends), Crown Affair is making hair fun, and straight-forward, and beautiful. Cohen, who cut her teeth at buzzy startups including Away and Into the Gloss, got the idea for Crown Affair after creating a Google document that outlined her personal hair care regimen for her friends.
“It just became so clear how little guidance and education was in this category,” Cohen says. So she started making sample products on evenings and weekends, giving them to friends with care instructions based on their hair types. “Friends called and were like, ‘Dianna, how was I not brushing my hair before I got in the shower on wash day?’ Or, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that I should be treating my hair like it’s this beautiful fabric.’ People just kept coming back to me being like, ‘This is so exciting, you have such a different perspective.’ And that’s when I knew that I should probably stop building other people’s businesses and start building my own.”
Crown Affair launched in January, and then the world shut down in March. Cohen, who lives in New York, decided to quarantine with her parents in Florida—which meant operating her business from there, too. It has been an interesting shift.
“College and onwards, I’ve come back here and it’s always been a vacation or time off to rest. So now that I’ve been here longer than anticipated because of the pandemic, it’s been about creating space where I wake up and I’m like, ‘This is my workspace,’ or even winding down for the night,” she says. “I mean, all of us over the last year, if you’ve been lucky to work from home, you’ve had to create new rituals in your space because you’re in the same space so much. So it’s nice to have these physical and visual cues to guide you into different parts of your day.” For her that means having fresh flowers by her bed, and turning on her vitruvi Stone Diffuser in Terracotta at her desk—two things she normally does in New York that help her feel ownership of her parents’ space. That help it feel like home.
“I am such a sucker for Bergamot—that’s actually one of the main fragrance notes in our oil and our Crown Affair signature fragrance, so anything that can be Bergamot vibes is just such an energy that I love that really sets the mood of the space,” she says. “I also love Eucalyptus and the Move Diffuser. I was reading in my bedroom, then brought it into the bathroom, and then brought it back to my bedroom—and I just had the constant vibe going. It’s truly amazing being able to move it.”
She also prioritizes a few simple routines to ground her: taking 45 minutes every day to stretch, and using her Five Minute Journal morning and night to clear her head. And, it really goes without saying, hair care is a constant for her, too.
But for those of us perhaps just starting to dip a toe into hair care, perhaps not yet fluent in lock talk, where to begin? Cohen smiles.
“You start,” she says, “by accepting that taking care of your hair is a journey.”