Zayn Malik has previously ascribed his departure from One Direction to creative differences and wanting to explore his own musical ideas, but in a new interview he’s also revealed that the restrictions of life in the boyband extended to his physical appearance.

In a cover story for the new edition of Complex ahead of the release of his debut solo album, Mind of Mine, out on Friday (March 25th), the 23 year old said he wasn’t allowed to get tattoos or grow a beard while in 1D.

Zayn MalikZayn Malik filming the video for his new single in March 2016

“I wasn’t allowed to keep [my beard]. Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them,” Malik said. “That’s one of the things that is now quite cool. I get to keep my beard. I also wanted to dye my hair when I was in the band, but I wasn’t allowed to.”

Malik left 1D almost exactly a year ago, breaking the hearts of millions of teenage fans. Rumours of collaborations with Naughty Boy were followed with a period of silence, before he unveiled debut single ‘Pillowtalk’ at the end of 2015.

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Back in November, Zayn told The Fader about his creative frustrations towards the end of his time in 1D, claiming that he often felt shouted down and musically isolated, with his ideas constantly going ignored.

“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band… …if I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f***, so they could use that version. Whenever I would suggest something, it was like it didn’t fit us.”

In the new interview with Complex, he elaborated on those feelings. “[Authenticity] was something that was always underlying, and ended up as the main factor of me leaving in the end. It was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it. With the music that I’m doing now, I get to express myself, and that creative tension is gone… Now I get to talk about what I’m passionate about. It’s nice to have the chance to speak.”

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