Each hour-long episode of HBO’s adaptation of Game of Thrones gives us a closer look at an inextricably tangled web of complicated alliances, of sex, lies, war, and deceit. Yet many of the show's tens of millions of very devoted fans still find the time to talk about Sansa Stark’s hair — and not just because her repertoire of braids is beyond compare. In fact, it turns out that one of the last surviving Stark children’s ever-changing ‘dos has much more significance than just looking good during battle scenes.
“There’s always a pattern,” Sophie Turner tells us of the hundreds of looks she’s worn over the past six years. “It’s never random.” The actress may not get much say in how her hair is styled on the show — and we, as viewers, may never know what to expect — but she says the producers’ choices always make sense to her.
“Sansa’s hair is constantly reflecting the people she’s learning from, or mimicking, or inspired by at the time,” Turner explains. “When she’s Cersei’s prisoner, and she’s kind of absorbing all her manipulative techniques, it’s reflected in her hairstyle, and when she’s finding the spirit of Margaery in herself, she wears her hair like Margaery.” It’s unsurprising, then, that Turner’s favorite look for her character isn’t inspired by a Lannister or a Tyrell. “I’ve always liked when Sansa’s hair was dyed black and pulled back in very tight, taut French braids,” she says. “It was her own look, and something that she’d created.”
No matter what the specifics of the hairstyle, or which devious noblewoman it’s modeled after, Sansa’s beauty routine is not without its maintenance. Turner, a natural blonde, tells us that she dyes her hair fairly often to maintain her character’s coppery red — as in, once or twice a week. “It’s semi-permanent, so it does fade out a lot,” she says. With frequent dyeing comes, well, frequent damage, so Turner says she relies on intensive hair treatments, like Wella's Oil Reflections Luminous Reboost Mask, to keep her hair in fighting shape.
The actress also says that the greatest thing she’s learned on set isn’t how to weather the longest of winters or skillfully elude any number of slimy men who want to marry her: It’s that heat protectant sprays are a must-have. “It’s so, so, so important, especially if you’re just having your hair kind of burnt every day, which is basically what straightening and curling is,” she says. Turner swears by the EIMI Thermal Image Heat Protection Spray from Wella, of which she’s just been made the first-ever official brand ambassador.
When the second-to-last season of Game of Thrones premieres on July 16, we’ll be paying even closer attention to Turner’s hairstyles than usual, just in case there’s a plot clue hidden somewhere in there. So that’s why Sansa Stark’s braids are so tight: They’re full of spoilers.