She's the subject of serious envy, as much from her character Blair Waldorf's peers in Gossip Girl as from the millions of fans who tune in to watch her weekly parade of amazing fashion, fabulous life and just a touch of melodrama. Add to that her burgeoning career as a singer and her upcoming movie roles alongside Gwyneth Paltrow (in Country Strong) and Hugh Laurie (The Oranges).
Now Leighton Meester's got another reason to be on our jealousy radar: her awesome mane — and the deal it got her with shampoo brand Herbal Essences. Yes, we'll miss that girl in the ads who always seemed to be having such fun washing her hair, but Meester promises her stint as the head of the brand means we'll all get to share in her hair how-to.
"Everyone has bad hair days here and there," says the starlet. "But I think people might see me with these incredible hairstyles and be inspired to learn how to achieve them. I want to share with other young women different hair tips and tricks that are really fun."
Meester brought along her personal hair stylist (and Herbal Essences Ambassador) Charles Baker Strahan to create a range of looks with her now-brunette hair (while she was on leave from filming Gossip Girl, the actress showed her range with some blonde locks, but has now gone back to her signature colour), as well as pass on some trade secrets.
"I can go from a red carpet look to a music video vibe or a photo shoot like we did today with her because she's always changing up the look," says Baker Strahan, who created four looks for Meester. "It's an amazing chemistry."
Read on to find out how she gets her look, her inspiration and how she manages to look great every day — and to get all the tips on exactly how to get her shampoo-ad-quality looks.
Charles' top tip
"A way to achieve luscious hair is by using an Intensives Mask at least once a week to really protect and seal that hair to make sure it shines and performs beautifully for you. Intensive treatments are so important for the hair because we do so many different things to it."
Charles's top product
"The Dazzling Shine collection is definitely right up there at the top of my list. It's an amazing collection. I'm also kind of partial to the Beautiful Ends Split End Protection Cream which really gives me everything that I'm looking for when I'm styling hair. It seals the ends and makes sure they're well protected from all the heat used in session styling."
...her path to stardom
I can't second guess anything that's happened, because each aspect of my life while I was growing up, whether good or bad, easy or hard, has led to the present.
I am lucky to have a wonderful, solid family that gave me a lot of love. I give a lot of credit to inspirational films I saw when I was young, like Imitation of Life, Interview With the Vampire, Goodfellas, American Beauty, Dangerous Liaisons and East Of Eden. Also, being instructed time and time again to follow my gut and believe in myself has been a great help.
...photo shoots vs filming GOSSIP GIRL
It's very different, I mean doing a shoot is a lot more about the moments in the shoot, working to find and create the right shot, with great hair, great expression. The show's a little bit more spontaneous. Each take is different. I've never considered myself that good a model. I'm getting better at it, though, I really am, and it's a lot of fun. I'm having a good time and I don't know, I'm happy I'm proud.
...her favourite designers
My favourite designers include Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Calvin Klein, YSL, Chloé, Stella McCartney, Phillip Lim, Balmain, Alaia, Chanel, Emilio de la Morena, Balenciaga, Proenza Schouler, Jason Wu... the list goes on. In my eyes there are no rules in fashion, especially on the red carpet. I just like having fun, expressing myself and experimenting.
...styling her own hair
I'm always on the go, so constantly styling my hair myself. It's really important to achieve transition in my styles, so that I can move into another look. I usually start my day with at least a style. It doesn't have to be super perfect, it can be a little bit messy, tousled but not too over the top done — I don't like that look. I like hair when it's very natural looking but super shiny and nice. So I like it with a little bit of movement, body, curl. That way if you're going somewhere that night and you don't have a chance to go home, you can put it in a low bun or chignon or something, with just a few bobby pins and hairspray.
...her hair secret
One of the favourite hair tips that I learned from Charles — and I've learned a lot actually over the past couple of years — is this: He spritzes a little hairspray onto a blush brush of all things and puts it over just the edge of my hair, the top layer so that it's really smooth. It deals with any little frizzies that always come out, smoothing them right out. It's good and you can do it at home.
I think the most important thing to remember is to maintain a really good regime with your hair. You know you want to maintain soft luscious hair, so it's good to take good care of your hair every day. It will love you back.
I am pretty low maintenance, but always make sure to take my make-up off in the evening, plus I enjoy regular facials as they keep my skin glowing.
I wash my hair with Herbal Essences and use their intensive products regularly to keep my hair in great condition.
My mum [who gave birth to Meester while she was serving a jail sentence for drug trafficking], my grandpa and my brothers all inspire me.
Actors I love are Audrey Hepburn, Bette Davis, Kate Winslet, Diane Keaton, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn.
The musicians I love are Dolly Parton, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Cyndi Lauper.
Charles Baker Strahan reveals how he created looks for Leighton Meester
Shorter, bouncy, voluminous look
Come on, what girl doesn't want to have big beautiful hair? With Leighton we've tucked it under and given her a different look. Voluminous locks can make you feel so good — it accentuates your cheekbones and gives you a sense of glamour.
I used a little mousse before blow drying, using a large round brush and twisting the hair with the brush as I dried each section. Then, I alternated on small sections of hair with large velcro curlers and a curling iron to create those voluminous waves. I finished the look off with a spritz of hairspray, to gently set the volume. To create the pinned-up look, which is a fantastic way for girls with mid-length hair to instantly change their look without taking a trip to their stylist, I took sections of the lengths and pinned them up into the base of the hair at the neckline.
The texture we gave the hair in creating the volume helps keep the hair in place.
It's a relaxed, lived-in look that can go from a red carpet to just a T-shirt and jeans.
I rubbed a small bit of mousse through the lengths, then curled and wrapped one to two inch sections of hair around a large-barrel curling iron, starting at the part near the ear. After curling all the lengths, and brushing out with my fingers, I used some hairspray on the waves to give them a flexible hold.