In our Sleeping With… series, we ask people from different career paths, backgrounds, and stages of life how they make sleep magic happen.
Dianna Cohen founded Crown Affair, a hair-care brand, in early 2020 after years working behind the scenes at beloved millennial startups like Away, Outdoor Voices, and Harry’s. Though Crown Affair is relatively new to the notoriously overcrowded beauty market, it’s already earned a respectable place on many top shelves—and not just because of its sleek branding and cool-girl aesthetic. Crown Affair walks the walk too: The product line, which ranges from hair brushes to towels to shampoo and conditioner, really works. (In fact, The Renewal Mask—which is currently sold out everywhere—and The Brush No. 002 won SELF Healthy Beauty Awards earlier this year.)
Cohen’s mission with Crown Affair is rooted in ritual and health, she says, so it’s only natural that her bedtime routine is leisurely, enriching, and detail-oriented all at once. “My husband is always like, ‘Your rituals have just become your life,’” Cohen tells SELF. “I’m like, ‘I know, that’s the point.’ This is not just an extracurricular.”
Speaking to a hair-care expert about her bedtime routine is inherently fascinating; there are a number of highly disputed hair-care practices when it comes to nighttime and sleep, and Cohen has thoughts on them all. On silk pillowcases? She likes them, but they’re not a nightly must-have. “For example, I would never travel without my hair towel,” she says, though she’d leave the pillowcase at home. On going to sleep with wet hair? “I wouldn’t recommend sleeping on wet hair. I actually love the curl that comes with it, but it’ll just break more,” she says.
Cohen uses her hour-long wellness wind-down as a means of resistance against the erratic startup culture in which she began her career. “I don’t want to ever go back to the days where I would get in the shower and come out with 37 Slack messages for something that wasn’t really that urgent,” she says. “Prioritization and essentialism are everything, and I think understanding that sleep should be a priority and taking care of yourself is a priority is really important.”
“I have a friend who is super successful,” she continues. “He’s like, ‘You know what my secret is? I only need five hours of sleep to operate.’ That’s amazing for him. He gets to have a whole day before other people, but I couldn’t do that.”
Here, Cohen gives SELF a step-by-step walk-through of what her journey to sleep looks like each night in her Miami apartment. Within the first minute of our conversation, she asks: “It’s going to be a wash day, right?” Yes, we decide, let’s make it a wash day (though Cohen will go on to provide non-wash day tips too). See her full hair-care routine and the rest of her inspirational self-care rituals below.
I usually have dinner around 7:30 p.m. if I’m lucky, and that’s when I start to switch into wind-down mode.
Around that time we turn on all of our Noguchi lamps. I love the way a dimmed paper light is in the apartment at night, versus an overhead light or something that you might use at other times. And I usually light a candle. I recently got one from the Edition Hotel here, and it smells amazing—because the Edition smells amazing—so I’ve been lighting it at night. Then, I’ll make tea. There’s an amazing tea from Good Company Tea that has a little bit of CBD in it. I love the packaging, and the experience of opening it up as well. I actually use the little pouches as jewelry holders once I finish all of the teas.
As I start to actually get ready for bed, I put my phone far away to charge it so it’s not in my space and I’m not getting notifications.
At that part of the day, it’s like, if you call me, I’ll pick it up, but I try to not. I will close down my computer, too, and I’ll play music on my Sonos. I’ve been really into this band, East Forest. They did this amazing album with recordings of Ram Dass that I’ve been listening to. It’s really relaxing.
Before I wash my hair, I always brush my hair with a dual-bristle brush, or a boar-nylon brush.
Because I really only wash my hair one or two times a week, brushing moves all of the debris, dirt, and the natural oils from my scalp down my strands. So by the time that I actually get into the shower to wash my hair, it’s a much more even clean. I brush my hair for two minutes. It’s one of my favorite sensations.