There are iconic hairstyles, and then there is "The Rachel." Back in 1994, Jennifer Aniston's choppy, face-framing layers and piece-y blond highlights on Friends defined the generation. Fans spent the next two decades bringing in reference photos to their hairdressers — all thanks to two of Aniston's longtime confidants, hairstylist Chris McMillan and colorist Michael Canalé.
What might surprise you, however, is that the famous style took longer to perfect than Ross and Rachel's relationship on the show. "I met Jen during the pilot, and she had medium to dark brown hair," Canalé tells Refinery29. "We wanted to create the perfect canvas for her cut, so we added highlights from roots to ends to make it look like it was lightened by the sun. She was then sent to Chris and 'The Rachel' was born. The next day was when I decided to add those paper-thin highlights she's famous for. We gradually developed the color [during the series] and made it lighter and more golden each time."
The look reached peak popularity at the 3-year mark, when she was a "caramelized blonde with natural roots that blended out to her ends," describes Canalé. For more insider secrets from him — including the exact tricks he uses on Aniston, his favorite memories from Friends, and his new eponymous line — keep reading below.
The One Hair Color Aniston Still Requests To This Day
"Jennifer loves a sandy beige pop [of] blond around her face to bring out her eye color and enhance her skin tone. She likes the way I delicately place her highlights to just freshen up the color without starting from scratch month after month. This technique also allows me to change her hair color from darker to lighter or lighter to darker as needed."
Her Hidden Talent Is...
"That Jen can blow out her hair better than, or as well as, any hairdresser!"
How Jen Keeps Her Hair So Healthy
"We recently released an ingestible vitamin. The all-natural, vegan vitamin was formulated by a doctor and has blue-green algae. That's what I had Jennifer taking to stimulate her hair and keep it strong, and I was able to incorporate that ingredient into the product, Replenish."
Why You Can Expect "The Rachel" To Make A Comeback
"Due to some aggressive coloring techniques over these last couple of years, I've noticed stylists are now going back to collarbone length styles to cut off damaged ends. [The hair industry is] moving away from more stylized looks, such as a harsh center-parts, and embracing a more natural look like 'the Rachel.' It enhances your natural texture, and softens the face."
Canalé's new line of products — which includes shampoo, conditioner, and treatment foam — are available on QVC starting August 1 at 9 p.m. EST.