Whether it’s her soft Californian waves or her trademark messy bun, Meghan Markle knows how to give good hair. This, of course, is due in no small part to close collaborator and leading hairstylist George Northwood whose involvement with the duchess has, up until recently, been kept a secret—despite multiple hints pointing to him as the man behind her now-iconic wedding reception chignon.
Confirming suspicions with an Instagram post on 31 March when the Duke and Duchess of Sussex officially relinquished their roles as working members of the royal family, Northwood—who has worked with everyone from Alexa Chung and Lily James to Alicia Vikander and Stella McCartney—was finally free to share his experience of working with the couple.
“It has been an enormous privilege and a lot of fun working with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the past two years,” he wrote. “I have enjoyed every minute collaborating with this amazing couple who not only champion small businesses, but have taught me so much about diversity, equality and the importance of good mental health.”
With the world in varying degrees of lockdown, a large part of 2020 has been spent relying on ourselves and our lockdown cellmates to help maintain some semblance of healthy hair, stealing snippets of salon time when it’s been safe to do so. But as the winter months set in (cue your obligatory dry-hair woes) and the festive season looms (Cinderella shall go to the socially distanced ball), we’re turning our attention to ensuring that our hair is looking and feeling the best it can.
So, who better to call upon for advice than the man behind Markle’s luscious locks? Here, hairstylist George Northwood shares his top tips and tricks to maintaining healthy-looking hair.
1. Don’t over-style it
“One of my signature styles is the undone wave, as seen on the Duchess of Sussex and many of my other clients. This makes hair look chic and naturally effortless without that overly straight or overly curly look. As the style looks natural, it will help to give the impression of healthier hair. It can also hide a multitude of sins, such as hair in need of a good trim, as you can get away with it looking a bit more unruly.”
2. Add volume to give the illusion of thicker hair
“A good volumising or texturising spray can form a great base for styling. After spritzing this on, adding soft waves with a tong will add movement and vitality. Whether your hair is in good condition or not, using volumising products before styling will give the illusion of a thicker, healthier head of hair.”
3. Swap straighteners for tongs
“Straighteners can cause a build-up of static in limp hair and take all the natural movement out of a style, whereas tongs can add volume and life. Dead-straight finishes can create a lifeless look.”
4. Go for regular trims (when it is safe to do so)
“Regular, quality haircuts will enhance the health of your hair as well as adding body and movement. If you maintain regular trims, your hair will always look fresh, well-groomed and at its finest.”
5. Treat yourself to a revitalising hair mask
A regular deep treatment will revive any dry, frazzled winter hair. A good hair mask, such as the Redken All Soft Deep Conditioning Mega Mask used on a weekly basis, will ensure that your hair gets some intense conditioning. It revives any dry or brittle textures and also enhances shine, which makes your hair look super strong and healthy.”
6. Air dry where possible
“After the first lockdown, I noticed a massive improvement in the condition of many of my clients’ hair. Part of it was due to the lack of heat and straighteners as people stepped away from heat styling and drying their hair as much as they used to. Air drying is so good for the health of your hair. As well as hair becoming healthier and stronger, it also means it is a lot less dry and frizzy.”
7. Add supplements to your diet
“I’m a big believer in supplements to support hair growth. I would recommend The Beauty Chef Collagen Inner Beauty Boost. It’s a drinkable bio-fermented probiotic. The combination of probiotics, grape-seed extract, zinc, vitamin C and a blend of potent berries work to strengthen both your hair and nails, too, so it’s a great all-rounder.”
8. Wear your hair up
“One of my signature looks is the messy bun. It works for lots of different occasions, and can be dressed up or down. It’s a great DIY look you can easily create at home. Day-old hair always gives the best results, so a thorough washing the night before you plan to style it—followed by a blast with a hot hairdryer the following morning—will give you a good base to work with.
“Use a primer such as Redken Pillow Proof Blow Dry Express Primer before blow-drying. Once the hair is dry, spritz on some Hair by Sam McKnight Cool Girl, Barely There Texture Mist and tong the hair to create some waves, especially around the face. Then, backcomb at the crown to give it some height. Use your hands to guide the hair into a ponytail and twist the hair around itself. Use bobby pins—pinned in between the head and the hairband—to secure the bun. Finish off by pulling out a few strands around the face to create a soft, flattering, undone look.”