It looks like Meghan Markle has naturally very curly hair. So how does she get it so swingy and smooth, and why do we kinky heads feel the need to kill our curls flat? By Susannah Taylor
I have naturally very curly hair. People don’t believe me when I tell them that it looks like Nicole’s Kidman’s in Days of Thunder, because I blow dry it to within an inch of its life every week. If there are any frazzly bits around the front (the giveaway for us kinky lot) then I attack them with a pair of GHDs. Rain showers and wild parties with the prospect of being chucked in a pool are not my friend.
Behind the blow-dry, Megan Markle also has naturally curly hair, possibly an afro which has been relaxed. It’s hard to say for sure what it’s like in its natural state now because she, like me, has straightened it for the majority of her life, however when you see pictures of her as a child, it is very curly indeed. It also takes a curly head to know another, and I can see from the slight frazzles around her hairline that the rest of the hair is on a strict restraining order.
Obviously it is 100% Meghan’s and my prerogative to wear our hair straight. Just like someone with straight hair can choose to tong it if they wish. I have nothing against curly locks AT ALL (and I’m sure she doesn’t either), in fact I wholeheartedly adore them on other people, however mine is more a sheepish mass of frizz. So why do we annihilate the kinks? I think if I’m honest I feel more ‘polished’ with smooth hair, perhaps more in control of life and my work in general. I feel I’m a different person with smoother hair and I feel more put-together.
Blogger, journalist and afro haired Ateh Jewel runs a website called Jewel Tones Beauty which covers beauty for mixed race and black women. From her perspective, “It’s hard to be different,” she says, “People think my hair’s messy, like a bird’s nest. Most black people do straighten their hair because they want to fit in.” When I tell Ateh if I had afro hair I would wear it at full volume frizz, she says, “There is still a perception that afros represent poverty, to some people my curly hair means I’m poor and uneducated.” Much to my horror she goes on, “ I’ve had security guards follow me around shops before thinking I’m going to steal something. I’m 100% sure it would be different if I had a straight bob. I have one friend whose husband didn’t know she had curly hair for two years,” she says.
Which makes me wonder if Harry has ever seen Meghan’s hair curly. Contrary to what she thinks, he would probably love it - I wore my hair curly on a 5 day boat trip last year and my husband (and all his friends) told me they actually prefer it wild and free.
“What I would love,” says Ateh, "is for Meghan to come down the aisle with big curly hair. Now that would be a statement.”
How to get the Markle glossy mop…
Have a Keratin blowdry
Top hair stylist and expert in afro and curly hair Errol Douglas says that Meghan would definitely have a Keratin blowdry. If you are prone to wiry or frizzy hair that’s difficult to manage, or springs into a wire-wool type mass (like mine) at the mere sight of rain then I can tell you that personally this is the best beauty treatment I have ever had done. It cuts back frizz and makes hair more manageable without making it poker straight. The process involves a treatment that is applied to the hair and ironed in. You normally leave it on for a day or two before washing out. At Errol Douglas this process starts at £250 for medium length hair.
Top hairdresser and specialist in coarse and curly hair, Paul Edmonds says that you then need a sulphate-free shampoo to help the treatment last longer. From my own experience it will last about 3 months. One I love is the Bumble and Bumble Bb Curl (care) Sulphate Free shampoo, £24
If your hair is extremely curly or a very tight afro then you may need a permanent straightening process to smooth it out.
Get your product right
When smoothing curly hair it’s important to use the right product on the hair “That nourishes and adds internal hold whilst letting hair be malleable,” says Errol. One of his and my own favourites is Moroccanoil Treatment, £32.85 which seems to smooth and allow hair to swing rather than stay static once blowdried.
Meanwhile Paul Edmonds recommends Shu Uemura’s Shusu Shampoo and Masque, £50 which contains black cumin oil, and inhredient he says that binds to the hair follicle and smooths it out.
When it comes to frizzy hair, not just any hair brush will do. Personally I think nothing beats a Mason and Pearson hairbrush, £90 . I have had mine for about 10 years and it is still going strong.
I also love the Moroccanoil Ceramic Barrel Brush, £14.65 which I use to dry small sections of my hair all over my head before rolling the ends to add a Meghan type bounce.
My secret hair trick for the Royal Wave
One trick I learnt off top hair stylists is to use two brushes and blow dry a section smooth before winding the hair half the way up the head on the brush. Blast with a hairdryer for a few seconds and leave for a few minutes whilst you use the other brush to smooth and curl another section - the heat from the bristles will act a bit like a big tong and give a very soft, gentle Meghan wave.
Choose your hairdryer wisely
Curly hair can be quite brittle so it’s important to use a hairdryer that won’t burn or break the hair. Errol Douglas suggests the Dyson Supersonic hairdryer, £299.99 which I love too because it reduces static and has been engineered to protect hair from damage.
I would also highly recommend Parlux hairdryers which are loved by hairdressers worldwide. The Parlux 3800 Eco Ceramic Ionic Dryer, £84.95 uses ionic technology to help protect the hair whilst remaining powerful.
It’s important that curly/ frizzy hair gets a nourishing shampoo and conditioner to minimise brittleness and breakage when styling. Paul Edmonds recommends using a Tangle Teezer, £10.99 to comb conditioner through when washing without breaking the hair, “It slides through the hair without increasing tension,” he says. Some of my favourite products of all time for dry, frizzy hair are from the Kerastase Nutritive range . They really nourish the hair without weighing it down.
If in doubt get it blown out
Finally I’m under no illusion that Meghan Markle will be going for professional blowdries regularly (we already know where she goes for a facial ). However it’s absolutely imperative you find someone who is used to blow-drying curly hair. I have been for blowdries and come out (£50 later) thinking I could have done it better myself. My top blow-driers in London are Ivan Ferreira at Salon Sloane and Mel Pellegrini at John Frieda . Sassoon have some great salons nationwide who offer wonderful options of blow dries from their Blow&Style menu.
Follow Susannah Taylor on Instagram here