Princess Diana’s hairdresser finally reveals the royal’s famous short hair secret

There are so many talented hairdressers in the world of showbiz, but one of our favourites has to be the wonderful Sam McKnight MBE

WATCH: Remembering Princess Diana

The hairstylist has worked with some seriously big names, creating the most stunning haircuts. Kate Moss and Lady Gaga are amongst his clients, and so is, of course, the late Diana, Princess of Wales.

 Hairdresser Samuel McKnight, founder of Hair by Sam McKnight, after he was made an MBE for services to the fashion and beauty industry© Pool
Sam was awarded an MBE for services to the fashion and beauty industry in 2023

We sat down with the legendary professional, whose product range, Hair by Sam McKnight, is hugely popular and incredible (trust us, we’ve tried it) and he told us everything you need to know about healthy hair and of course, Diana.

Sam McKnight hair products
Sam’s range, Hair by Sam McKnight is incredible

Sam’s products are loved by influencers, celebrities and beauty-mad shoppers, and the 69-year-old is passionate about his range. “Everyone could use a can of Cool Girl. It’s instant, easy to use and gives hair instant volume and texture, brushes out beautifully.”


Hair by Sam McKnight products
Sam’s brand has an extensive range of products

Thicker hair is something everyone wants, and Sam has the best tips. He muses: “It starts with great hair care. Use a cleanser and conditioner to give volume that starts from the hair wash. Keep hair feeling weightless, opt for styling products that won’t weigh hair down such as a volumizing foam, or root boost mist. A little backcombing at the crown is a great hair hack for hair that drops and goes flat throughout the day. Texture mists should be a staple for instant dry styling.”


Hair oiling is a huge trend right now. Sam is a fan of this treatment. He quips: “Hair oiling is a fantastic thing to do for your hair and scalp. Choose the right oil for you and take the time to give yourself a scalp massage as the increase in blood flow is great for your follicles and in turn, your hair.”

 We all know there are some things you really should avoid when looking after your mane, and Sam has a list that we will be following. He explains: “Nowadays, with incredible ingredients and products you can keep your hair in great shape, you just need to look at your hair and use what it needs. If you are heat styling, use heat protection, if you are spending time in the sun keep the moisture with treatments and nourishing balms. If you colour your hair, use hair care that will prolong the vibrancy of the colour and improve the condition.”

Princess Diana

Sam created some of Diana’s most show-stopping hairstyles over the years and he has some incredible memories. However, she initially didn’t have super sleek hair. “When I met her, it was the end of the 80’s, she had a perm as everyone did then. She was an absolute joy. She could always put everyone at ease.”


Diana Princess of Wales meets firemen during a visit to Manukau, near Auckland, New Zealand during the Royal Tour of New Zealand, April 19, 1983.© Getty
Diana’s hair was voluminous in her younger years

Working with Diana was something the stylist enjoyed immensely. “The first time I met Princess Diana, we didn’t know she was coming. Next thing I know, this tall leggy blonde comes bounding up the stairs and completely sets us at ease. At the end of the shoot, she asked me what I would do if I was given free rein with her hair. I said I would cut it short. Next thing I know we have a plastic clothes bag around her shoulders and it’s the haircut that became the talk of the nation.”


 Diana , Princess Of Wales, Having Her Picture Taken By Press Photographers As She Arrives To Attend Centrepoint's Christmas Campaign To Help Runaway Children From Becoming Homeless On The Streets At Bafta, Piccadilly,  London.  © Getty
Sam worked with Diana for seven years

He added: “I loved working with her. I was fortunate to have seven wonderful years working with her. I travelled with her to some eye-opening, humbling places. Visiting Mother Teresa in India and refugee camps on the Afghan border was really harrowing. I’d never experienced anything like that before or since.”


Princess Diana at th Fashion Awards at the Lincoln Center, New York, during a two-day visit to the city, January 1995. She is wearing a Catherine Walker gown and has her hair slicked back.© Getty
Sam loved Diana’s hair when it was slicked back

Diana had so many amazing looks, but one sticks in his mind as a personal favourite. “My favourite was a slicked back look, we did in a private shoot, and I have treasured pictures of us both from that day.”

Hair Chat

Speaking about who has the best hair on the red carpet right now, Sam is refreshingly complimentary. “So many people have incredible hair! But you need to remember many celebrities have a helping hand on those hair looks you covet from the red carpet. But I do love Sienna Miller’s eternal cool girl look.”


Sienna Miller attends the US Premiere of "Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1" © Getty
Sam loves Sienna Miller’s hair right now

Hair straighteners get a bad rep, but Sam explains it’s all about how you use them. “If you manage the temperature for your hair type, not everyone needs them on the hottest setting. Finer, looser waves can use a lower temperature. Always use heat protection and treat hair weekly with a strengthening and nourishing mask. Give your hair a break when you can, straightening in moderation is fine.  But excessive heat will dehydrate and leave hair dull.”

Heatless curls are approved by Sam. “I love that a whole new generation has discovered heatless styling through social media. TikTok has made available to millions of younger people hairstyling techniques and tricks that have been around for centuries. I haven’t seen anything new but it’s wonderful that more people have access to styling hair hacks. And I’m a big fan of Velcro rollers!”

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