When you picture Sophie Turner, you picture red hair.
The actress, born a blonde, famously dyed her locks the fiery shade at just 13 years old for the role of a lifetime: Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones. Her scarlet strands later became integral for her silver screen debut in another iconic franchise, X-Men, in which she plays telepathic heroine Jean Grey. Red helps Turner transform. Red signals the power and strength in her characters. Red, quite simply, looks damn good on her. In real life, however, blonde is what makes the actress feel “uninhibited and more comfortable.”
It’s the hue she’s sporting, freshly done, when we meet her at a loft in New York while she prepares to host a cocktail party for Wella, the haircare brand she’s been the face of since June 2017. It happens to be her 22nd birthday and she’s just come back from a private island getaway with her fiancée, Joe Jonas. Her friends in the city have organized another birthday surprise for her that night (“I’ve just been told to get in a car and go. Could be terrible, could be awesome,” she mused.) The cause for her first celebration of the evening is WellaPlex, a new in-salon treatment, and FusionPlex, an at-home line—both repair hair damaged from color processing (a struggle Turner knows well).
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In our sit-down, Turner told ELLE.com how she feels about all those hair/plot clues Game of Thrones fans obsess over, what’s in her beauty bag, and the way co-star and real-life BFF Maisie Williams inspires her own beauty looks.
You just got back from the Maldives!
Yes, I did. It was amazing. It was so beautiful.
What beauty products do you pack on a beach trip?
You never want to put heat on your hair while you’re out in the sun. So, I just use FusionPlex, it’s a shampoo, conditioner, and a mask. It maintains your hair so that it doesn’t get frizzy from the salt in the sea or the sun. And I wear I no makeup! You’re in the sun all day, you get a natural tan.
How would you describe your overall beauty routine?
It’s pretty simple. For my face I moisturize with Dermalogica and then just slap on concealer and mascara, and hope for the best. I use a lot of Dior makeup. With my hair, I like Wella EIMI Perfect Me, which I spray on when I use heat. I don’t like to use too many products in my everyday life because I’m constantly having my hair chopped and changed for filming. It’s nice to leave it loose.
I heard you dye your hair red every week for Game of Thrones. Is that true?
I used to! Now I wear a wig, because I love my blonde too much. I started wearing a wig in season seven because I had dyed my hair blonde and it wasn’t the best experience, so we couldn’t really dye my hair back red.
Did you wear a wig to play Jean Grey, too?
I started using [hairstylist and global ambassador for Wella Professionals] Sonya [Dove], and I started using WellaPlex, so then my hair was actually healthy enough to dye it back red for the new X-Men. Then, I just craved going back blonde, because Sonya did such a good job. So, I was just like Game of Thrones, you’re going to have to wig me!
When Game of Thrones has its series finale will you do a crazy makeover to commemorate the occasion? Like when Emma Watson chopped her hair off after Harry Potter.
I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it, actually. I’m really happy blonde. I think I might chop it off a bit more, maybe do a Brigitte Bardot 1960s kind of bob. Maybe I will like go crazy and dye it multicolors or something! Except for Jean Grey, I’ll have to go back to red at some point.
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How does red make you feel versus blonde?
Red, it’s a gorgeous color but I’ve always want to style it one way: classic, waves. I feel so comfortable being blonde and much more like a “cool girl.”
We are obsessed with your friendship with Maisie Williams. Do you guys exchange beauty tips or products?
We don’t really talk about beauty because we’re spending our days with our makeup off looking horrendous. But, I have so many hair products, so she does actually use a lot of my stuff. I let her have as many as she wants and she loves it. Maisie inspires me in different ways, though. She’s always been kind of creative and playful with her hairstyles. I remember when she was younger she made a bow out of her hair. It was the craziest thing. So, I’m always taking inspiration from her.
How would you compare how you and Maisie approach red carpet beauty?
It kind of changes with my hair color. When I was a redhead, I was always trying to go for like a classic Veronica Lake look with my hair and match it with the clothes. Maisie has always embraced the youth in her and been into bright colors and very experimental. Now that I’m back blonde I’m feeling a lot more experimental, but I can’t really pull off the “youth” thing very well because I definitely look about 10 years older than her.
Ever since you’ve said Sansa Stark’s hairstyles often reflect plot points, people go crazy analyzing your every strand. Do you ever see the reactions?
All the time! Oh my God. It’s so insane. Like, even the hairstylists and costume designers are like “wait, what?” because like the fans read into it so much. But, it’s amazing. That’s what we want, to ignite the fans’ curiosity. But, they pick up on the tiniest things. And Sansa’s hair does change. It’s always who she’s influenced by. She changes her hairstyle according to that.
In season seven Sansa wore her hair much looser and down instead of intricately braided and up. What do you think that is about?
For me, I felt that because season six had been so traumatizing, she felt very lost in herself and in her style. So, she just kind of like pulled two braids back and was very simple. The past couple of seasons, she’s been less inspired by anyone else and more creating her own style—which is something to say about her character.
After almost eight seasons on Game of Thrones, have you gotten amazing at braiding?
You would think! But, the [hairstylists] are the ones that do it. I wish I was good at it, but I’m not!
This interview has been edited and condensed.