Carrying a title bestowed by Queen Elizabeth, wearing a grip of jewels as a headband, casually padding around a palace (you know, because you live there). There are plenty of things about being Kate Middleton that we will never know for ourselves. Thankfully, scoring her warm, rich hair colour isn’t one of them. Even though NDAs abound when it comes to pinpointing her exact routine, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge keeps things surprisingly simple in the hair department. The basic recipe for princess hair, according to pros? “A warm, brown base with very subtle highlights just one level lighter to give hair dimension,” says Stephanie Brown, master colourist at Eddie Arthur Salon in New York.
It almost sounds too easy — like so many looks that seem do-able, but requires multiple sittings and thousands of dollars to maintain. Sharon Dorram, master colourist at Sharon Dorram Color at Sally Hershberger Salon in New York, assures us otherwise. “Kate’s colour is very soft and subtle, and I’m happy to say an easy colour to obtain” she says. “The semi-permanent rinse creates the richness of the brown, with extremely subtle highlights that frame the face and lowlights throughout. A lot of people think that to go this 'natural' is very hard to achieve, but this is a very universal look.”
That doesn't mean our pros advise whipping out just any photo of Kate and marching into the first salon that pops up on Yelp: Finding a colourist who can tweak the formula to best match your skin tone is key. "[The colour is] so natural, much like children’s hair," Dorram notes. "It’s so effortless and looks true to form while really accentuating Kate’s eye colour.” To find your own version of so-natural-it-looks-virgin hair, your colourist must consider skin tone, Brown says. Those with olive-toned skin might start with neutral-toned highlights; Those with pink undertones can veer toward the ashier side of the spectrum; and those with warm-toned skin look best with golden highlights.
The tricky thing: These shades can appear differently in photographs, depending on the light in which they were captured, so it takes more than a cool inspo pic to make it all happen. (To be on the safer side, bring in several.) Plus, as Dorram points out, just because the look is simple to achieve, doesn’t mean it’s foolproof. “You can bring in all the pictures and chat through ideas with colourists, but until you actually see their work, it’s hard to know if they’ll be able to achieve this look without any brassiness,” she says. So study up on those Instagram feeds and ask for stylist recommendations from people who have similar dye jobs.
Once you’ve made the colour change, be prepared for one more delight: maintenance is next to nothing. If you go down a rabbit hole of Middleton hair pics on the internet (who among us hasn’t?), you’ll find images of her extremely chill highlights at varying stages of growth — all looking quite purposeful. That’s because the colour looks great grown out or newly refreshed. “Maintenance can be as little as a gloss or once a year — or as much as every three months, depending on how your hair oxidizes,” Brown says. “Once you get the colour you want, you don’t have to do highlights that often. The colour is so close to a natural colour, it grows out easily.”
Low-to-no maintenance hair colour? Turns out a working duchess shares at least one very important thing with the rest of us: Very little time for hair appointments.