Lustrous locks: Kate and the secrets of a glossy Chelsea blow-dry
The big question all Kate-watchers are asking is: what has the Duchess of Cambridge done to her hair — and, more importantly, how can we get the look ourselves
This week, visiting a London homeless shelter with Prince William, she wore a daringly figure-hugging Ralph Lauren sweater dress — but all eyes were on her luxuriant chestnut locks, cascading into big, shiny, bouncy curls worthy of a L’Oreal advert.
The polished style Kate favours, with its loose, subtle movement, even has its own nickname. It’s become known as the Chelsea Blow Dry because it’s the brainchild of Chelsea-based hairdresser Richard Ward, and is favoured by other glossy celebrities such as Elle Macpherson and Kelly Brook.
Glowing: Kate”s lustrous locks this week on a visit to a shelter for homeless young people in South London
But Kate’s well-tended locks have been transformed over the years from the pleasant mousey tresses she sported at university to a lustrous mane that is the envy of women the world over. So how has she done it
The Richard Ward team has tended the locks of not only Kate but the entire Middleton family, including Pippa and Carole, for years. Here, he tells us how you can recreate the look yourself.
The bad news is that unless you have shoulder-blade length hair to begin with, copying the Duchess will take patience.
Richard advises that it is likely to take someone with shoulder-length hair at least five or six months to grow theirs to Kate’s length — shorter layers should also be grown out because the hair needs to be at one length in order to cut in those expensive-looking layers.
‘Long layers are the key to this look,’ he says. ‘They give free-flowing hair lots of movement — if the layers are too short you don’t get that kind of fluidity throughout the cut. Aim for a side-swept, chin-length fringe and then ask your hairdresser to gently graduate longer layers down from there.’
Once you’ve achieved the ‘Kate’, it doesn’t need to be re-cut as often as other styles. ‘It’s proving popular with so many people because you don’t have to cut every six weeks as usual, you can actually get 12 weeks out of this cut,’ says Richard.
Who said gentlemen prefer blondes Kate”s glossy chestnut glow is the shade women want to emulate
‘Ideally you might want a trim every eight weeks — but a word of warning, anything longer than 12 weeks and it will have grown out so much that your hairdresser will have to re-style your hair each time, too.’
Gentlemen prefer blondes Not now it seems, as Kate’s glossy chestnut glow is the shade everyone wants to emulate.
In order to recreate a similar colour to Kate’s natural tone, Richard suggests an organic vegetable colour to give gloss and shine which will gradually fade over time. ‘At the salon we use L’Oreal Symbio and Fuente Organic colour.
These salon professional colours are ultra conditioning and give richness and intensity. The colour ebbs away naturally and you only need to have it re-done every few months,’ he says.
Richard suggests opting for a dark brunette shade with mahogany tones to emulate Kate’s shade. For fuller depth, Richard advises combining a colour gloss treatment with lowlights.
‘Ask your stylist for three different shades of lowlights, one lighter than your natural base colour, one about the same and one slightly darker to create a multi-tonal affect in the same hues. Dying just a few strands of hair in each shade, as opposed to large sections, achieves a more natural look.’
Richard Ward”s salon in London”s Chelsea
While at 29, the Duchess has youth on her side, Richard says that her signature shade is just as flattering on a more mature woman too, as the combination of semi-permanent colour and lowlights is clever way to hide the impending grey.
How does she get that healthy frizz-free sheen Keratin treatments have long been the secret of well-groomed women who spend serious money on their image. Although the Duchess has never confirmed she’s had one, this intensive treatment totally transforms unruly or frizzy hair.
The procedure has a few different brand names including the ‘permanent blow dry’, but all work on the same principle of restoring sleekness by infusing it with keratin — a natural protein found in the hair.
‘The attraction of Kate’s style is how healthy her hair looks,’ says Richard. ‘It’s also beautifully blow-dried and to recreate this at home would take lots of time. Many people whose hair takes a long time to dry would find a keratin treatment good because it can halve the time it takes to dry and increases the hair’s shine and smoothness.’
A salon-based keratin treatment costs upwards of 150 and takes about two-and-a-half hours depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
Richard Ward, pictured has been cutting the hair of all the Middleton family for many years
It begins with a wash using a special shampoo to open up the hair follicles. The hair is then rough-dried by a stylist and when completely dry, a keratin mixture is applied to the entire head with a small brush and combed through to ensure complete coverage.
About 30 minutes later, the stylist will begin blow-drying the mixture to make it bond with your hair.
When the hair is dried into your usual style with the hairdryer, it is divided into sections and a pair of ultra-hot miniature straighteners are used to seal the product into the hair shaft.
Hair must then be left for three days. It cannot be tied back, got wet or tucked behind your ears as this can ‘kink’ it. After washing at home, three days later, unmanageable hair is transformed into glossy tameable locks with no frizz. The treatment lasts for four months before it washes out.
‘Treatment masks are a good option to keep hair healthy, too,’ says Richard, who advises using an intensive conditioning product every other week.
‘Try a silk protein or overnight mask treatment — damaged hair, split ends or dry-looking hair won’t work for this look.’
Richard Ward makes an overnight treatment mask called Seasons Winter Hydrate Kit (22) which is applied to dry hair 15 minutes before you go to bed and hydrates hair while you sleep without leaving a residue on the pillow.
Another of Kate’s secrets is consistency — at every event she’s appeared at over the past few months her gleaming hair has looked identical. The Duchess has regular visits to the salon and a hair-care routine aimed at maintaining optimum condition.
Want to steal some of Kate’s shine Obviously the first place to start is a good quality shampoo and conditioner.
‘I recommend that my clients use Kerastase Satin Range or my own Richard Ward Couture Hair HydraSlim range,’ says Richard. ‘It uses technology which repairs damage in hair so, if you use it regularly, you’ll have healthy shiny hair. Damaged hair is frizzy while Kate’s signature look is smooth.’
Andhow often should we be washing our locks ‘Generally fine hair might need washing every day, while thicker hair like Kate’s should be washed every other day,’ says Richard.
‘This look is all about being polished and your hair will not shine and gleam on day three.’
Richard says the most crucial part of Kate’s glossy look is the finishing touch – the blow dry
The blow dry
Perhaps the most crucial part of Kate’s glossy look is the finishing touch — the blow dry. ‘The Chelsea Blow Dry is a free-flowing sophisticated way to wear long hair,’ says Richard.
And the good news is, while Kate makes an appointment with the professionals before a public appearance, you can recreate Kate’s mane at home. Richard guides us through the steps:
1. Make sure you leave yourself enough time, it should take about 45 minutes.
First, thoroughly cleanse and condition your hair. ‘Use the flats of your fingers not your fingertips or nails to massage in the product and encourage increased circulation to the scalp,’ says Richard.
Rinse your hair for two minutes to ensure any product residue is removed — hair will shine if rinsed really well. Lightly towel dry.
2. Now apply styling products. Use some blow dry oil or serum (a blob about the size of a five pence piece) and smooth from mid-length to the ends to give lovely sheen. Spritz a root boosting product evenly on the first two inches of hair only.
3. For the shiniest finish, hair shouldn’t be dripping, but 80 per cent wet when you start blowdrying — you’ll get the best results when you still have moisture in your hair.
‘The main mistake people make is waving a hair dryer at it to rough dry it,’ says Richard. ‘It becomes over-dried and hard to style.’
4. ‘Start blow-drying at the front if you’re doing it at home — that’s the bit others will see,’ he says.
It also means that this most visible part will be wet enough to get the best styling results. If you start at the back, by the time you reach the front, your hair may be dry and more difficult to manage.
5. Dry each section using a round brush, pointing downwards — use the nozzle of the dryer to concentrate heat on the section, but make sure you hold it at least five inches away from the hair.
Don’t wiggle the brush around too much — move the hairdryer and brush down the hair shaft at the same speed and smooth downward. Once each section is dry, roll it up in a medium sized Velcro roller (available from Boots or any salon) and pin to your head.
6. Keep the rollers in while you get dressed (ideally for half an hour) and remove just before you leave the house. Once you’ve taken the rollers out, turn your head upside down and run your fingers through your hair to separate out the curls.
To help keep your blow- dried tresses in shape, apply a tiny bit of serum to give shine and define layers, then a light mist of hairspray.
‘Whatever you do, don’t brush your hair!’ says Richard. ‘Simply toss your head the right way again and you’re good to go.’