Model, handbag designer and mami of two with boyfriend Matthew McConaughey, Camila Alves is adding another job to her repertoire: She’s the new host of the Bravo hairstylist competition Shear Genius, which premieres Feb. 3 at 10 p.m. The Brazilian beauty inherits hosting duties from Jaclyn Smith for the series’s third season, which also features new judge Jonathan Antin and contestant mentor Orlando Pita.
“It was a lot of work because I’ve never done this before and English is not my first language, but I pulled it off,” says Alves, who was keeping a little secret during the shoot last spring. “I’d just found out I was pregnant, and I was sick the whole time shooting,” reveals Alves, whose daughter Vida was born Jan. 3, joining 17-month-old Levi. “Everybody started asking, ‘Why is she drinking so much club soda on the set? Why are the clothes starting not to fit?’ I couldn’t tell anybody.”
Nevertheless, Alves had fun changing her hair in every episode to go with outfits ranging from a Marchesa gown to jeans and tee shirts. “I have a different look, a different hairstyle for every challenge. In the course of the show, I probably have 25 to 27 different looks. I’m going from short to long to bangs and that little bob with the wave like Charlize Theron has that’s so pretty and classy. They found a way to make it look like I had a haircut but I actually did not. It shows women they can change their look without doing anything dramatic to their hair.”
Off the set, Alves often lets her hair’s natural curl take over. McConaughey likes it “as natural as possible,” she says, noting that she uses Kerastase and Garnier Fructis products and frequently conditions with Moroccan Oil. “I wash my hair maybe once a week. It’s a myth that you have to wash your hair all the time. You need to let your hair produce its own oils and be healthy. I try not to use a lot of chemicals.”
Alves’s favorite red carpet look was a tightly curled upswept ‘do she wore to the AFI Awards in June, but often opts for a slicked back, hairsprayed ponytail if the weather is wet. She’s had her share of hair disasters, and discloses two, one perpetrated by her own scissors. Against her mother’s advice, she cut her wavy hair into a straight-with-bangs Chanel style, “And it was a disaster, horrible.” More recently, when she was pregnant with Levi but didn’t yet know it, Alves opted to chop it all off, aiming for a Rihanna style, “but it did not fit with me and I was very unhappy. I had to end up using extensions for about a year.”
No wonder she now vows to let her tresses grow, and cautions other women not to do anything to their hair that they’ll regret later. “If you want to change your color, go for it. But don't do anything crazy,” Alves advises. “Try to keep it basic and work with what you have. Because my hair is curly, I used to do all the straighteners, the Japanese this and the Brazilian that. And at the end of the day your hair ends up not having a texture, not having the body—no shine. You’re pretty much frying your hair. So understand the type of hair you have and do the best with what you have.”