I’ve been in awe of Constance 'Connie' McDonald's long copper locks since the first time I saw her, six years ago at the Massey University library. When she wasn’t busy in the photography department, Connie mostly kept to herself on campus but her style spoke volumes - she was Lady Godiva in Bratz platform boots and self-made Princess Diana paraphernalia.
Hailing from Ōtepoti Dunedin, the photographer has never strayed from her natural red roots, which is both her signature style accessory and a subject she has explored consistently in her work.
Connie's glorious mane has only grown longer and shinier over the years, so I had to find out her secret to keeping her virgin hair so vibrant and healthy.
What is the secret to your incredible hair - is it high maintenance?
My hair day-to-day is very low maintenance: I wash it every two days, condition and brush it.
What do you do to take care of it, and keep it so long and healthy?
I have used silk pillowcases for the last few years, but the big kicker is that I just haven’t had a major cut in over 10 years.
Who ‘does’ your hair?
My friends and my mum give me trims, mostly just my fringe. I think a hairdresser would probably tell me 30 centimetres needs to go.
What products do you use to take care of it?
My favourite is my Mason Pearson Popular Brush. It cost a pretty penny, but it’s been invaluable. The combination of the boar bristles (to distribute natural oils) and the nylon (anti-static) is unparalleled. In my time I have tried out many brushes and none come close.
I also really like the Redwin Tea Tree Shampoo for a deep cleanse of my hair to remove any build-up of product.
As a conditioning mask before an event (where I will inevitably have my hair out), I like to use those post-dye conditioning balms - Garnier Olia is great, but I’ll use any post-dye conditioners that my cousins or friends have lying around in their bathroom cabinets.
How would you describe your relationship with your hair - today, and in the past?
I love having long hair and think I will have it long until I die. Sometimes I toy with the idea of switching things up, but then I think - just cut your fringe, that’ll scratch the itch!
Who are your long-haired idols?
There are many great heads of hair in the documentary The Source Family (2012). Of course, also, Lady Godiva. I need my nude-on-a-horse moment.
Your ginger hair is divine - has the colour always been natural?
I have never dyed my hair. I am really boring when it comes to my hair, I experiment more with my clothing, and treat my hair as an accessory.
How much do you think being a natural redhead has shaped you as a person?
I have the classic redhead issue of being easily sunburnt. One summer I stayed at a nudist community for a couple of weeks and I found keeping up with reapplication of sunscreen quite stressful.
What are your favourite ways to style your hair at the moment?
I’m really enjoying two plaits. I love the post-plait curl. I enjoy it most when someone else does my hair for me.
Who else do you think has great hair?
Leonard Cohen (RIP), Schapelle Corby, my brother Toby, Bobbie Gentry, Princess Di (RIP), Hope Sandoval, Grace Coddington, and Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia (RIP).
What’s the best and worst thing about having long hair?
The best - it’s warm in winter. The worst - it’s hot in summer.
Any final good hair tips?
Being a low-maintenance girl, I have learnt to love my air-dried hair. I learnt whether I needed to clip it or comb my fringe down after a shower so that it would dry to a style I liked. Find your shortcuts. Take your long-cuts only when you feel like it.