How Kate Middleton's look has transformed since marrying William

How Kate has transformed her make-up look over the years: From bronzed ‘girl-next-door’ during her university days to an elegant and refined future Queen

  • The Princess of Wales’ look has transformed over the last decade as a Royal
  • Kate has ditched her more bronzed look, with dark rings of black kohl eyeliner
  • Instead the Queen-in-waiting has opted for a more dewy and glossy look

In the last two decades, the Princess of Wales has evolved her look from the bronzed ‘girl next door’ with dark rings of eyeliner to a natural future Queen.

When Kate Middleton, now 41, first met Prince William two decades ago, she would often step out with a generous amount of bronzer and dark, kohl black eyeliner on her undereye.

Rosy cheeks, matte foundation and glossy lips were a staple of her look, as was popular in the early 2000s, while her hair would often hang loose in choppy layers.

Now those days are gone, and the Princess has opted for a dewier look, choosing a smokey eye and a flick of liner on the top lid.

Beauty experts have applauded the move to a more refined appearance, with the golden hues making her appear more radiant than before.

Over the last decade the Princess of Wales has dramatically changed her appearance, ditching the matte foundation, dark undereye eyeliner, and glossy lips for a more natural, dewy look

The Princess of Wales all smiles as she waves at crowds in Birmingham on April 20

Make-up artist pro Laura Kay previously said the switch to a more natural, glossy look may be a result of Kate becoming more media-savvy after being in The Firm for more than a decade now.

Her newer look makes her appear more natural on camera and in turn has made her appear much younger simply by toning down her make-up.

University days: before 2010

While studying at St Andrews University in the early 2000s, Kate chose the classic ‘girl next door look’, according to the award-winning celebrity makeup artist Joy Adenuga. 

Her skin was glowing, and her eye makeup was extremely striking. 

She explained: ‘A barely there base, English rose blushed cheeks, with a burst of subtle black kohl liner and mascara were her staples. 

‘Her skin was sun kissed and lightly bronzed, and her natural glow shone. 

‘This had an incredibly youthful and free-spirited finish.’

While studying at St Andrew’s University Kate very much took on the ‘girl next door’ style, keeping up with the latest trends, including matte foundation, rosy cheeks and black kohl eyeliner. Pictured: Kate at a student fashion show in 2002)

She also experimented with different hairstyles, often different from her staple blow dry we are custom to seeing today, instead trying out curls, waves and braids. Pictured: Kate on the catwalk in 2002 

During her time at uni, she tried out different hairstyles from curls, to waves to braids.

Celebrity hairstylist Dionne Smith revealed that when she first made an appearance ‘her hair reflected everything that she encapsulated – a youthful, fun, modern woman’.

Kate kept up with the trends, with her hairstyles reflecting the way other youngsters’ hair looked all over the UK.

According to the founders of Mishel Makeup, Michelle Abels and Shelley Greenham, by the time the Princess graduated in 2005, she had further embraced a more dramatic style of makeup.

She had also begun blow drying her hair for a smoother look.

After graduation, the Queen-to-be embraced a more dramatic style of make-up, often using a brown eyeshadow 

It was at this point, Kate’s eyebrows started become darker, putting more of an emphasis on the curved shape 

Michelle Abels and Shelley Greenham of Mishel Makeup said as the Princess graduated and left St Andrews University in the spotlight as Prince William’s girlfriend, she began to emphasis her eyes more with dark shadow and liner. Pictured: Prince William and Kate in 2008

Dionne said: ‘It was epitomised by a full bouncy blow dry with side parting, choppy layers and side fringe. Not to mention the incredible shine.’

As she moved away from university life, her looks continued to evolve.

Shelley said:  ‘Concentrating on the eyes with a classic brown socket eyeshadow and dark liner around the eyes, just enough to show off her beautiful eyes without it looking heavy. 

‘Her eyebrows becoming a little darker at this stage, just the right amount of depth to show off their lovely shape.’

Leading up to the Royal Wedding: The early 2010s

Following the announcement of their engagement in 2010, Kate’s look had already started to look more refined.

Make-up artist Olivia Todd said Kate appeared more ‘polished’ in engagement photographs taken at St James Palace to mark the occasion, and the royal continued to perfect her appearance ahead of her wedding in 2011. 

Olivia revealed the images showcased the beginning of the Princess’ infamous ‘bouncy blow-dry’ styled hair.

When the Prince and Princess of Wales announced their engagement in 2010, experts said Kate already appeared more refined than her university days, with ‘more polished’ hair and a ‘softer smokier’ makeup look. Pictured: Engagement shoot in 2010

She explained: ‘In her engagement photos, her hair is far more polished, with the shine and shape you would only get from nourishing hair care – plus a really good blow dry.’

The days of heavier, more dramatic make up were a thing of the past, instead focusing on a smokier look, ‘being lined with a soft, heavier kohl pencil on the upper and lower lash line’, Oliva explained.

‘Her eyebrows are fuller and more natural looking; I imagine due to using a brow pencil that you can apply in upward motions to mimic the natural hairlines.’

Less bronzer was being used by the royal, using it simply to sculpt her cheekbones, with a nude, slightly glossy lip.

On the day of the royal wedding to Prince William on April 29, 2011, Kate’s look had been used to enhance her natural beauty, rather than mask it.

On her wedding day, the Princess opted to do her own make up, unusual for a bride. She wore a light foundation, a rosy blush and warm brown tones around her eyes. Pictured: Kate Middleton on her wedding day

Moisturised skin, with a light foundation and a rosy blush, with warm brown tones on the eyes and just a touch of mascara.

Unlike most brides, Kate opted to do her own make-up for the occasion after taking a few lessons before the wedding. 

Michelle said: ‘The effect was stunning. Her own natural make-up was a perfect for a bridal look, concentrating on the eyes and keeping things natural otherwise, with pinky brown blushers and lipsticks.’

Married life: A decade spent within the Firm  

As Kate became more involved in the Firm, she stepped away from more youthful looks and trends, in a bid to appear more mature to the world.

While her skin remained golden, more peachy tones were used on her cheeks, with a mat finish. 

In her first year within the royal family, she took on a more dramatic makeup look, opting for a ‘powerful beauty look’. 

She wore a much stronger, smoky eye to public events, with eye liner and mascara both becoming heavier, with dark brown and mauve eyeshadow making it appear more powerful. 

During her first years within the royal family, she still used black eyeliner but combined it with a more natural look. Pictured: In 2012 at the National Portrait Gallery  

During this period, her eyebrows were much thinner, in line with the trend of the early 2010s. Pictured: Kate visiting Naomi House Children’s Hospice in 2013

Kate caused a stir when she attended the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadets in 2016 with alarmingly prominent eyebrows

Joy said: ‘For me, this was a sign of her style maturing for her senior duties.’ 

As the years progressed, her makeup became more subtle as well as refined, becoming more elegant. 

Olivia explained: ‘Her skin is nourished and radiant from beautiful skincare and her cheekbones, eyes, brows are subtly enhanced with careful placement of makeup to achieve a natural, yet polished look.’ 

It was at this point that the Princess became known for her bouncy bow dry style. 

Dionne said: ‘In the years preceding the marriage, Kate continued to favour her big, bouncy blow dry signature style with slick waves and curls. 

‘It was all about the body, the shine, and a very “just stepped out of the salon” look.   

As the decade drew to an end, Kate decided to ditch her beloved undereye eyeliner in 2017, stepping further away from the blusher brush.

Even after becoming a mother, Kate continued to use her black eyeliner pen as part of her look

Throughout the early 2010s she continued to stick with rosy cheeks and dark eyeliner. In the summer of 2013 she experimented with a ‘bronde’ colour hair, before returning to her darker looks later in the year 

A Queen-in-waiting: The 2020s 

It was in 2020, as she approached a decade of being within the royal family, that the mother-of-three’s look became even more refined and regal, with experts suggesting she had taken inspiration from senior royals, such as the Queen and even Diana.

Joy explained: ‘Her skin is paler, her make-up has become matte, and the eyeliner and mascara have become much heavier. 

‘This can have an ageing affect at time, but Kate pulls it off as a future Queen. 

‘One thing Kate has carried through is her strong brow, which frames her face beautifully.’

The way she styled her hair also began to change, getting rid of the loose-youthful styling and opting for a more structured haircut or hair tied back from her face.

It was in 2020, as she approached a decade of being within the royal family, that the mother-of-three’s look became even more refined and regal, with experts suggesting she had taken inspiration from senior royals, such as the Queen and even Diana. Pictured: The Princess of Wales visiting the new Royal Liverpool University Hospital in January 

Ditching the more bronzed looks of her youth, she instead opted for a paler foundation, her make-up has become matte, and the eyeliner and mascara have become much heavier. Pictured: Kate in Windsor meeting the Early Years Advisory Group in January 2023

The way she styled her hair also began to change, getting rid of the loose-youthful styling and opting for a more structured haircut or hair tied back from her face. Pictured: The Princess of Wales at the Hampton Court earlier this year

Dionne explained: ‘Gone are the natural, flowing locks, and instead we see more structured and intricate up dos that replicate the older generation of the family. Her hair is incredibly polished, with not a strand out of place. 

‘To me, it seems like Kate’s hair is a reflection of her position within the family, it must be impeccable at all times in a public setting.’ 

Ondine Cowley, a Wedding Hair Specialist, previously said Kate has always looked like a princess, said: ‘She’s grown into a regal woman, and holds herself amazingly.  

‘These days, Kate’s hair doesn’t look contrived – her carefully chosen style and look show she knows who she is and what she wants.  

‘Kate looks magical and amazing at the moment, she is holding her own and knows what she wants.’   

The Princess’ look has begun to look more regal overtime, while her undereye liner still sometimes makes an appearance, it is smudged rather than an angled 

Ondine Cowley, a Wedding Hair Specialist, said Kate has always looked like a princess, said: ‘These days, Kate’s hair doesn’t look contrived – her carefully chosen style and look show she knows who she is and what she wants.’ Pictured: Kate arriving at a homeless charity in London in December 

Over the last few years she has continued to embrace a ‘softer and fresher look’ transforming her look and style 

Samantha Mercer, who runs make-up and hair company The Dollz, said FEMAIL that Kate has definitely embraced a ‘softer and fresher look’.

‘By changing a few things in her makeup routine she’s managed to transform herself,’ she said.

‘When she’s not being pampered by a make-up artist, she needs something quick and easy to do herself and with her perfect skin she really doesn’t need to be adding much coverage, just highlighting in the right places and a touch of pink blush.

‘I’m sure everyone will agree that she looks fantastic, and her new look is much more suited to her.’

Beauty experts agree that the fresh look has taken years off the Princess’ face.

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