Kate Middleton and the other royals who love a BBBD

Kate Middleton and the other royals who love a BBBD


Just how does the Princess of Wales keep her hair so long and natural? That’s easy writes Kate’s hairdresser RICHARD WARD – it’s the BBBD (the Big Bouncy Blow Dry). And all her Royal rivals know the secret, too…

  •  Big-hair glamour is a good alternative to a ‘do-up’ at formal events
  •  Rania, Letizia and Princess Mary use soft, loose curls for outdoor engagements

The big bouncy blowout is everywhere this spring – an iconic look that Catherine, The Princess of Wales has been effortlessly pulling off for years. 

It’s a glamorous and sophisticated hairstyle that has always suited her, and one that other senior royals are discovering can work well for them too.

The Princess has always been a long-hair devotee. A voluminous blow dry like this provides big hair glamour at evening events where an up-do might seem the obvious choice but Her Royal Highness wants to wear her long locks down.

Soft, loose curls are also handy for outdoor engagements because they hold up well against the weather if it takes a windy turn. If you’re being blown about a bit they will just look beachy and natural as they brush against your face, which can be very flattering.

Kate Middleton’s hair was a more classic, off-the-face look when, with William, she  visited The Indian Streatery in Birmingham to celebrate Birmingham’s rich Asian culture

Princess Sofia of Sweden, wearing her curls in a looser style, attending the World’s Children Prize for the Rights of the Child at Gripsholm Castle in Sweden in 2019

Queen Rania of Jordan’s hair is shorter and finer, making her curls easier to hold when she visited Cairo with her husband in January 2023

This style is proving especially popular with royal brunettes, which doesn’t surprise me. They know (well, their hairdressers certainly do) that the darker your hair is then the better it reflects the light, giving it a luxurious shine.

These women are the focus of endless attention, and need to look regal at all times. As soon as the photographer’s lights start popping, that shine adds an extra layer of drama to their gorgeously oversized curls.

Princess Sofia of Sweden is often pictured with her hair styled this way, although she wears hers longer at the front and the curls are held much looser than you see on other royals. Hers is a trendier, more catwalk-like version of this style.

Meanwhile, our own Princess of Wales goes for a more classic, off-the-face look in much the same vein as Queen Letizia, these women are both high-ranking royals, so will naturally lean towards something that appears that bit more formal.

Princess Mary of Denmark has a cut almost identical to Catherine’s, but she has been more adventurous with the colour. Hers has been dip-dyed and there’s a bit of a root smudge going there, which was on trend throughout winter and continues to remain so as we go into the new season.

Queen Rania of Jordan’s hair is shorter and finer, making her curls easier to hold because the weight of her hair won’t pull them down. She has touches of balayage (subtle changes in shade) which nicely reflect the light. The Duchess of Sussex keeps her hair mainly one length – most of these other royals have long layers cut in – making her curls appear more refined, with a touch of old-style Hollywood glamour. 

Queen Letizia of Spain’s hair is similar to Kates. She used this classic off-the-face look when attended the presentation of the ‘All Against Cancer’ Project, on the occasion of the celebration of World Cancer Day in Madrid in February 2023

Richard says that Princess Mary of Denmark’s hair is almost identical to Catherine’s but that she has been a bit more adventurous with her colour

Meghan Markle keeps her hair mainly one length unlike most of the other royals who have long layers cut in, making her hair more refined with a touch of old-style Hollywood glamour. Meghan was helping to open the new Mersey Gateway Bridge in June 2018

It’s wonderful to see so many royal women showcasing a hairstyle that very much speaks to old school glamour and glitz. Best of all though, is how attainable this look is for anyone with access to a few basic hair products and a large barrel curling tong.

Last year was all about the beach waves – relaxed curls that look effortlessly undone. This is a much more grown-up, sophisticated and deliberate-looking progression from that. It evokes an exciting modern take on a Farrah Fawcett, seventies vibe that is going to be an enduring theme in fashion and hair this year.

For this style, achieving movement is key. The best bouncy blow starts with hair that has long, graduated layers and is cut blunt at the ends. The mistake some hairdressers make is to add in too many layers – if those layers are too short it restricts flow and movement.

To get this look at home, first you need to blow dry your hair so it’s smooth and sleek. This sounds counterintuitive, I know, but think of your hair cuticles as being like tiles on a roof – you want them lying flat, completely free of frizz, to be able to create a gleaming, smooth head of curls.

So, apply either argan oil or a blow drying cream – I like Kérastase Elixir Ultime L’Original Hair Oil, £40 100ml – through the mid-lengths to the ends of your hair while it’s still wet. Less is more: rub the product between your hands, like you would a hand cream, before raking it through your hair, helping to make it shiny and glossy. 

Richard Ward (above) famously styled Kate Middleton’s hair for her 2011 wedding to Prince William. He perfected a demi-chignon – half-up, half-down – for her walk down the aisle 

Once your hair is completely dry, tip your head upside down and spray root lift (my Richard Ward Bodifying Spritz costs £8, improves lustre and gives you heat protection too) throughout, close to your scalp.

Now, clip your hair into four sections – big curls need big sections – and put your big barrel tong through each one, applying holding spray as you go.

Once your curls have cooled, rub a five pence piece size of hair oil through your hands and glide the product through the mid-length and ends to smooth any stray flyaway hair. And there you have it: a big, glamorous curly blowout that’s on trend and fit for royalty too.

 Richard Ward was talking to Rachel Halliwell

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