Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 31 March 2020

'Meghan, give me a call!': Celebrity hairdresser Michael Canale wants to get his hands on the Duchess of Sussex's locks

The hairstylist to the stars, who famously co-created Jennifer Aniston's 'Rachel' look, shares his top tips on cut, colour and (not) following trends

Canale says Aniston prefers a natural look when it comes to colouring. Courtesy Michael Canale
Canale says Aniston prefers a natural look when it comes to colouring. Courtesy Michael Canale

There’s the mullet. The bob. The lob. The pixie. Myriad hairstyles so recognisable they can be summed up in just a single word. But few could be captured in just one first name until 1994 introduced the world to the “Rachel”. The generously layered, shoulder-skimming cut worn by ­Jennifer Aniston during the earlier seasons of hit sitcom Friends spawned countless copycats over the following years, as customers clutched a photo of Rachel Green’s sun-kissed mane in their palms and marched over to their salons.

Though Aniston later dubbed the shaggy do “the ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen”, hairdresser-to-the-stars Michael Canale says he’s still “really proud” of the era-defining look. “Who would have known all those years ago – a little more than 20 to be exact – that her cut and colour would still be copied and photographed around the world,” says the colourist, who co-created the Rachel along with stylist Chris McMillan.

The friends, pictured left to right, Matthew Perry as Chandler Bing, Jennifer Aniston as Rachel Green, David Schwimmer as Ross Geller, Courteney Cox as Monica Geller, Matt Le Blanc as Joey Tribbiani, Lisa Kudrow as Phoebe Buffay. Courtesy NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images
Aniston, second from left, sported The Rachel in the earlier seasons of 'Friends'. Courtesy NBC/NBCU

Canale, who lives in Los Angeles, also counts Kate Hudson, Shakira and Penelope Cruz among his clients, and has continued to work with Aniston ever since, seeing the actress every five weeks for touch-ups. “I pull the colour from root to end to create a gradation of dark to light, and always keep the hairline freshly done – that really is my signature and it still feels like it’s fresh and original,” he says of his ­approach to the star’s ­signature glossy bronde tresses. “It also feels and looks ageless to me. She’s deviated very little from it [since the 1990s], a little longer sometimes, a little shorter, but the colouring and cut have stayed very true to that original style.”

Those who want to echo Aniston’s trademark colour should ask their stylist for feather-thin highlights that frame the face, with a little colour exaggerated in the tips, he advises.

Just how do you keep hair healthy?

Canale, who works across eight salons in the US with his namesake base in Beverly Hills, launched an eponymous haircare line in 2017, and credits high-quality products as being crucial to maintaining healthy locks, despite frequent colouring and heat-styling. "Your hair colour and cut are an investment, so it really puzzles me why some people walk out of the salon and then use mass-produced off-the-shelf products that dull, dry and strip hair at the first wash," he says.

Michael Canale's haircare line was created to give customers a mild option that focuses on maintaining hair health. Courtesy Michael Canale
Michael Canale's haircare line was created to give customers a mild option that focuses on maintaining hair health. Courtesy Michael Canale

The line, which can be found online at canaleproducts.com and Amazon and took Canale about five years to create and was designed to offer a gentle alternative to harsher formulas, with one product inspired directly by Aniston – a golden gloss designed to make hair shinier and colour more vibrant for up to 20 washes. "I think what’s cool about creating a line like this is that it was done from a foundation of my literally working for decades on hair – I knew that something was missing," Canale says. The line also contains a shampoo, conditioners, glosses in other hues and supplementary vitamins to help strands stay thick and strong.

For those hoping to grow out their locks, but struggling to get their ends past their shoulders, Canale recommends regular trims, no matter how unwilling you are to lose any length. “It sounds counter-­intuitive, but a haircut every six to eight weeks will keep your hair healthiest,” he advises. “Any longer than that, and your hair starts looking particularly rough and uneven at the ends.”

How do you keep colour looking fresh?

While it might be harder to visit the famous hairdresser’s US salons for those of us living in the UAE, the colourist believes at-home maintenance can go a long way in preserving the hair’s colour and health. And if you want to stay on his good side, don’t dare touch a box dye. “Even if you can’t make a visit to your stylist every six weeks, stay away from at-home colouring products,” he warns. “They can be really damaging, which will ultimately ruin the overall condition and root of your hair.” To avoid having to turn to DIY methods, Canale advises only embracing natural-looking colour, which will grow out less obviously, if you can’t make regular salon visits.

Celebrity colourist Michael Canale has been working with Jennifer Aniston for more than 20 years. Courtesy Michael Canale
Celebrity colourist Michael Canale has been working with Jennifer Aniston for more than 20 years. Courtesy Michael Canale

For those who can’t bear to ditch the bleach or put down the straighteners, or struggle with frizz in the UAE’s humid summers, the colourist believes that a good conditioner can fix a multitude of issues. “Condition, condition and condition again,” he urges, adding that hair shouldn’t be washed more than three times a week. “Brazilian blowouts and keratin treatments can also help, as can overnight masks. Finally, dry shampoos are fantastic – they can keep your hair more manageable and less susceptible to humidity.”

It’s not just about the products you use, however, with Canale’s mantra being what you put in your body is just as important. “Your hair is an extension of how well you take care of your body – and if you don’t take care of your body, your hair will show it. It will break more easily, look dull and grow more slowly.” Taking vitamin supplements, drinking plenty of water and sleeping well are key lifestyle habits to follow, he says, as well as avoiding too much sun and harsh chemicals.

Should you follow hair trends?

As for whether you should follow trends, for a man who has set the pace in hairdressing with 30 years’ experience, Canale is reticent to urge women to frequently change up their look. “Most celebrities have a legion of stylists and hairdressers to make it all look perfect. Conversely, when you’re a mother-of-three with a full-time job, you’re likely not going to have your own stylist two steps behind you,” he says when asked what haircuts might come to define 2020. “Trends are sometimes hard to keep up with from a maintenance perspective, so my preference is to stick with a classic look. Just take a look at Jennifer – she doesn’t do trends really ever. We might go a little darker in between movies or shoots, but we always go back to classic pretty quickly. Classic works, and trends last like 12 minutes.”

When it comes to the looks he thinks we’ll see an end of this year, Canale has had his fill of “overdone, overbleached and noticeable deep roots. No haircut will look good with damaged hair or bad colour,” he says. “I love working with what you’ve been given – and then I make it better, richer.”

Actress Kate Hudson is another of Michael Canale's regular clients. EPA
Actress Kate Hudson is another of Michael Canale's regular clients. EPA

But whose locks would he like to get his hands on next, having already worked with the cream of Hollywood’s crop? “There are so many,” he exclaims, citing supermodel Gisele Bundchen’s “super-natural look” and Jennifer Garner’s effortless brunette tresses. “I also think Meghan Markle has such a beautiful and dark underlying hair tone, with great waves and shine,” Canale says. “I would love to play with burgundies and violet tones to change things up. Since she’s a duchess, she probably won’t do that, but it would be amazing to try. Meghan, give me a ring!”

With Meghan and Harry now based in North America, perhaps we might see a warmer-haired duchess in the very near future.

Updated: February 16, 2020 04:22 PM

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