Hairdresser to the stars Richard Ward said doing the Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton's hair for her wedding was the most amazing day of his career, but he couldn't have done it without Sam. Who?
Well the British hairdresser, who has a salon after his own name, said he used to practice the royal's bridal hair-do on his personal assistant: a tattooed, red-haired woman named Sam.
'She'd be on the computer and we had a little porthole on our office door, so I'd put a towel over to block it out, because obviously it was top secret what I was doing, and I'd just practice and practice.
'It was ironic, I was actually practicing with a £10 ($NZ20) tiara that you'd buy on the high street anywhere,' he laughed.
Ward said he probably practiced 10 or 15 times on Sam, and had the hairstyle down to a fine art.
'You can't faff around on the morning of the royal wedding, the timings are to the last second,' he explained.
Ward first started seeing the Middleton family in his salon about eight years ago, but didn't recognise Kate or her royal future until she started to appear in the media.
'I remember looking over my shoulder and one of our junior stylists had been cutting her hair...I said, 'Is that Prince William's girlfriend, Kate Middleton?' And she said, 'Yeah, I've been cutting her hair.'
'I certainly made sure I knew who she was after that!'
The Duchess of Cambridge isn't the only celebrity Ward has styled. He's got a star-studded clientele that includes Liz Hurley, Kim Cattrall, Pippa Middleton, Dustin Hoffman, Bear Grylls, Ivana Trump and even Monika Lewinsky.
Ward said he met Grylls before he started doing television, and he's remained a loyal customer and a friend. Although the staff do have a laugh whenever he comes in:
'We've got two chefs that work in the salon because a lot of people like food while they're having their hair done or when they're spending a lot of time in the salon, and it's the same old joke when Bear comes in: they always come up to me and say, 'If he orders a sandwich should I fill it with spiders and witchetty grubs, is that all he eats?''
The 95-staff, 5000 square foot salon in Chelsea, London sees more than 1000 clients per week, many of them celebrities, Ward said.
But the hairdresser-to-the-stars started humbly, moving to London from a village when he was just 16-years-old to sweep floor and wash hair in a salon.
When he was 26 he opened his own business, and beavered away on it before being nominated for British hairdresser of the year. He started getting a few television jobs, before employing a PR company that he said opened a lot of doors.
Ward is currently in Australia promoting his new hair care range and show on the Television Shopping Network.
'What I'm known for is this beautiful, glossy, frizz-free gorgeous glamorous expensive hair - that's not just Kate's hair...that is the sort of finish if you came to our salon or used our products, everyone gets,' he said.
GET A MANE LIKE A MIDDLETON: WARD'S TOP TIPS
We asked Ward to tell his top four secrets to getting hair like Kate. This is what he said ...
1. 'Don't rough dry your hair too much. When you come out of the shower you can rough dry it or towel dry it, but just take 20 per cent of the moisture out. Most people fling a hairdryer at it, blow it all over the place rough drying it, and then try and put a brush on it and by that time it's gone all frizzy and nasty. So if you want glossy hair, that's the way to do it.'
2. 'But also, applying the products in the right way: less is more. If you're using a serum you need to be using little, tiny drops in your hands, rubbing your hands together and applying it evenly through the hair, 'cause that makes a difference.'
3. 'But the main thing, if you want to get that kind of finish, you need to use a decent hairbrush, you're never gonna get that finish with a paddle brush. You need to be using a round boar bristle brush. All these spikey metal brushes, in my opinion, they just rip through the hair. The round boar bristle brush helps seal the hair cuticles.'
4. 'And the other thing is: you must, must, must use a decent hairdryer with a nozzle on the end. A lot of people don't use a nozzle, but a nozzle will help to get that shine on your hair. I bet you're not doing any of those!'
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