How To Wear Water Waves, According To Meghan Markle’s Hairstylist

Celebrity hairstylist George Northwood reveals how he achieves the effortless celebrity look.

How To Wear Water Waves Like Meghan Markle
Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images

Meghan Markle is known for her sleek, polished, and effortless look. From low ponytails with a deep middle part to her signature pulled back updo with loose pieces framing the face, she wears every style elegantly. If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with the red carpet, then you’ve probably noticed the plethora of major celebrities rocking the new hair trend of the summer: water waves.

The hairstyle had a big moment at this year’s Met Gala, with celebrities such as Olivia Rodrigo, Blake Lively, and Alexa Chung debuting the look. And always ahead of the trend, Meghan Markle was also seen with water waves at the 2022 Invictus Games in April. If you’re wondering how to achieve this look, we hit up Meghan Markle’s hairstylist, George Northwood, whose clients also include Alexa Chung, Rachel Weisz, Alicia Vikander, and Julianne Moore, for all the tips and tricks on how to recreate the popular look in the salon and at home.

What Are Water Waves?

When you think of water waves, you probably imagine a mermaid that has emerged fresh out of the sea with glorious waves, lounging on a nearby rock. According to Northwood, the water wave style is just “like hair that has come out of water, set in a really lovely, perfect way.”

The hairstyle shouldn’t be confused with windswept, beachy, sea-salted waves. “Water waves are a lot more polished as you would either blow-dry hair first, or tong it and finish it with the hair nicely curled underneath, or you’d brush it through,” Northwood explains. “So instead of it looking more of a beachy, tousled wave, it’s more of a polished, set red carpet wave.”

How To Achieve The Water Wave Look

If your hair is dry or frizzy, the first step is to blow dry the hair to get it nice and smooth. “Curly hair tends to have quite a textured look to it, so you want to get it smooth because if you just tong on top, it would look quite dry,” says Northwood. “It would look matte in texture and you want it to look shiny in texture.” Northwood adds that if you’re blowdrying your hair, you need to make sure you are blowdrying the ends under so they look finished and rounded. Then you should use a big barrel tong to manipulate the hair in different directions.

The hairstylist uses his own hair care brand, Undone, to ensure that waves are smooth, set, and hold throughout the day. For hair that needs volume, Northwood uses the Volume Spray, £15, followed by the Moisturising Cream, £15, to help reduce frizz and hair breakage. “I would put the Volume Spray on the root, then the Moisturising Cream through the mid length, before smoothing it out with a hairdryer,” he explains. “Once I’ve got the smoothness with the cream and hairdryer, I use a barrel tongue to curl the hair.”

Alexa Chung’s water waves at this year’s Met Gala. Taylor Hill/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

To keep your waves intact like Meghan Markle’s, the stylist recommends his Wave Holding Spray, £15, to prevent your hair from dropping throughout the day. If your hair already has a natural curl or wave to it, then you shouldn’t need to use too much product.

Creating the style at home is similar to how it’s achieved in the salon, but there’s a neat trick to make it easier for yourself. “You’ll need to look away from a mirror and pull the hair round to the front, as it’s quite hard to get the back of your hair,” says Northwood. “Create a nice base with a good blowdryer to create body, then curl the ends under with a blowdryer and a round brush. Next, you need to tong the hair in a uniform fashion around the head.”

How To Style Water Waves According To Your Face Shape

What makes water waves such a beautiful and coveted hairstyle is that it looks great on everyone regardless of their face shape. “These wavy styles are so flattering and so elegant that it kind of works on everyone because there’s a softness to it,” Northwood adds. The stylist does recommend that if you’re opting for a water wave bob style like the one he created for Alexa Chung at the Met Gala, you should proceed with caution since it can make rounder faces look rounder. “If you keep the length long around the face, it works on everyone. I think that’s what makes it so popular.”