How the founder of Playa is making effortless beach waves wearable year-round.
Written By JAYME CYK
VIOLET GREY profiles female beauty entrepreneurs who are considered industry game changers because of their individual approach to business. Each one entered the conversation in her own manner and maintained a steady, if not unparalleled, trajectory with her indomitable spirit. Here, we talk to Shelby Wild, the brains and founder behind clean haircare collection Playa.
Shelby Wild is the perfect mascot for her Venice, California–based haircare range, Playa, with her effortless style (think: a lot of jumpsuits and crisp white tennis shoes) and wavy blond locks. Her mane resembles the end result she was gunning for when launching her line almost three years ago. “I wanted the products to create a specific finish that my peers and I were looking for,” she says. “It’s this laid-back, effortless, beachy hair.”
Mission accomplished. Out of the gate, Wild revealed five products (shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, wave spray, and dry shampoo) that work together to deliver your best version of wavy hair—with the benefits of good-for-you ingredients like broccoli seed oil, Brazilian nut oil, and sugar beet. But before she launched Playa, Wild worked in fashion as a stylist, first at Vogue and then at Intermix in New York. “As my career grew, it became increasingly more corporate,” she explains. “I was rushing from my house in the morning with wet hair, then sitting at my desk and spending all day in conference rooms. My hair would look awful when it dried. I was putting together products piecemeal from different lines and discovering they weren’t complementing each other. They were actually more or less canceling each other out.”
Naturally, when she couldn’t find anything that would keep her strands intact, Wild decided to start from scratch and find a solution. She quit her job, moved to LA, took an herbalism course to get the lay of the land in terms of ingredients, and launched Playa in 2017. “I grew up on the water, and I needed to see sunshine for more than six months out of the year,” says Wild. “I wanted to reconnect with nature, and that came through in the hero ingredients we’ve used.”
But before she became an herbalist, Wild went down an unprecedented rabbit hole. “My process for finding ingredients started by reading health mom blogs, and that led me to study herbalism, which then led me to extensive online research,” she explains. Playa’s products range from 96 to 99 percent natural. “They are not 100 percent natural because we wanted them to perform in the same or similar way as traditional salon products,” she says. “I determined what clinical ingredients were safe and fact-checked everything on EWG to make sure each was between a 1 and a 2.” (Anything 3 and up is considered a moderate- to high-hazard ingredient.)
With that said, Wild will always keep a tight grip on the ingredients in her line. She has a growing team, but is still in start-up mode. Playa is set to launch three new products this year, and will be transitioning into alternative categories in 2020. No doubt we can expect to see natural components with Playa’s signature beachy vibe.
What is the atmosphere of your bedroom?
Everything is white. My first boss at Vogue had a private studio, and the floor was white, the tables were white, and the walls were white. She said it made her feel like she was in heaven. It was the only place where she could actually think and there was nothing around to distract her. I always thought she was a little bit nuts, but it stuck with me. Now I feel like my bedroom is one of the only places I can truly relax, so everything is white. I have nothing on the walls and I have white lamps.
I have a Tempur-Pedic mattress with 10 different layers of feather beds on top, and it’s the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on. I have white linen sheets from Parachute that I love.
I’m not a morning person. I go to bed probably at 12:30, and I wake up at 8 a.m. I’m more productive and creative at night. After the workday, I go home and have a glass of wine and think more high level about the business and the product and how we need to grow. During the day, it’s more frenetic and there’s a lot of movement, so it’s harder to think.
How many hours of sleep do you require?
I require eight hours of sleep. If I have any less than eight hours I can’t function.
Any bedside beauty essentials?
I’m pretty low-key and laid-back when it comes to beauty. I have about five products that I’ve used probably forever, but none is on my bedside. Before I go to bed, I use iS Clinical Warming Honey Cleanser and Dr. Barbara Sturm Cream. Then I brush my teeth; I just got Lebon toothpaste. That’s my nightly routine, which is super simple.
Do you drink coffee or tea, eat breakfast?
I’ve developed bizarre eating habits because of the stress of running a business. I’ve also developed a bad habit since Erewhon opened down the street from my house in Venice. I drink a large $9 black coffee with coconut milk every morning. I typically don’t eat breakfast or lunch. Then I eat around 4 p.m. and have a snack. I eat dinner at 7:30 p.m. It’s very weird. I just eat whenever I feel hungry.
I try to do yoga three days a week, but I do that at night. I do hot yoga at least once a week and traditional Vinyasa two days a week. I also like to go hiking on Sunday mornings. Now that the office is so close to my house, I ride my bike and take long walks, both of which help me unwind and relax.
What is your morning skincare regimen?
In the morning I use Warming Honey Cleanser from iS Clinical and then a face oil. Truthfully, I grab whatever is in the cabinet.
What makeup products do you use on a daily basis?
I apply Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, which I’ve used forever. It’s the only one that gives me the right coverage and tone regardless of whether I’m tan, and the fact that it has SPF makes me feel better. I use RMS “Un” Cover-Up in 22 and RMS Lip2Cheek in Demure as lip balm and blush. Also, I like Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara and Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Dew.
Our New Day Hair Mist has been a savior. I put my hair up in a bun at night and take it down in the morning, and I have really nice natural waves. Then I use the hair mist to take out any dents—I’m a very deep sleeper and I’m always moving around. That helps refresh my style. If my hair feels a little dry I’ll add some Playa Ritual Hair Oil, and if it needs more body I’ll add the Endless Summer Spray.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
I read The Wall Street Journal. I still have it delivered to my house. I haven’t wanted to give it up; I really like that ritual. Then I try not to look at my phone for at least 30 minutes (I aim for an hour, but that usually never happens). Then I do my morning bike ride or walk to get coffee.
I generally get to the office a little bit earlier than 10 a.m. I wake up at 8, I do my 30 minutes of reading, and then it takes about 30 minutes to acquire the coffee. Afterward my fiancé, Joey, and I will hang out and chill for a second at the office or the coffee place.