Arriving at the photography studio on one of Sydney’s hottest days on record—and a Saturday, no less—Pia Miller is the epitome of effortless beauty. With her long, naturally textured tresses, flawless golden skin and big brown eyes, the former model could easily have stepped in front of the lens sans make-up and we wouldn’t have blinked an eye. But then, you’d expect nothing less from the model-turned-actor, who kickstarted her career by winning the Dolly Model Search competition in 1998 (following in the footsteps of Miranda Kerr).
That big break led to her signing with a modelling agency and starting work almost immediately, still only 14 years old and in high school. A “drama kid” at heart, Miller eventually transitioned from campaign and catalogue work to commercials and, after landing her first speaking role, enrolled in voice and acting classes. Now starring on Home and Away and an ambassador for haircare brand Ghd, the talented multi-tasker and mum is busier than ever. Miller tells InStyle all about Summer Bay and shares her secrets to sexy hair…
You’ve been on Home & Away since 2015. What’s it like starring on the long-running soap?
“I had just come back from some time in Los Angeles and was [feeling] totally inspired. I just really wanted to land a role that I could sink my teeth into, and then it was honestly like magic—a week later I got an audition, and the week after that I was in Sydney filming!”
Tell us about your character, policewoman Katarina Chapman. Do you see some of yourself in her?
“It was pretty cool when I got the brief because she was a determined woman with strong family values, was uncompromising in [achieving] her goals, and was passionate about her work. I was like, ‘I can relate to this.’” You’re known for your lengthy style.
What’s your secret to a good hair day?
“I like to keep my hair as natural as possible, which is when it’s down, loose and has a natural wave through it. If I want it to be [more structured] I use the Ghd Platinum Styler to create a loose bend or curl—it gives it a bit more polish and [ensures] that the style will last the whole day.”
How would you describe your off-duty beauty look?
“Nothing! Less is more. I like giving my hair a good wash and letting it dry naturally, and giving my face a thorough cleanse and tone. I love being outdoors and I love the sun and ocean, so I do try and get as much vitamin D as possible—whilst still being sun-smart.”
What’s the number-one beauty tip you’ve picked up from the experts while working as an actress and model?
“Heat your eyelash curler using your hairdryer—it makes the bend on your eyelashes quite pronounced. I love my sleep and need a coffee to wake up in the morning, but for some reason curling my eyelashes makes me feel like the curtains have been lifted and I’m ready to face the day.”
What’s coming up next for you?
“To be honest, I’m really stoked to be where I am right now and in my line of work—I’m really enjoying it. I also have two sons, one is nearly 14, and I’m journeying through their lives and seeing their changes and growth.”
This style is best for second-day hair; if your strands are on the oily side, spritz dry shampoo, then follow with sea salt spray. After layering these prep products, “flip your hair over and form a ponytail just below the highest point of your head, and secure with a good-quality hair elastic”, recommends hairstylist and Ghd creative director Richard Kavanagh, who styled Pia’s looks for our shoot. Use a fine-tooth comb to tease the tail, section by section, for added texture. Twist the ponytail around the elastic, ensuring the ends are tucked in with bobby pins. Gently ease soft tendrils around the nape of your neck and along the hairline to frame your face, then finish with hairspray.
Oribe Gold Lust Dry Shampoo, $64; 1300 725 122. Lady Jayne Bobby Pins, $4 (for a pack of 50); ladyjayne.com.au
Rake a handful of volumising mousse through damp hair and blow-dry with a medium-sized boarbristle brush, which will smooth the hair cuticle. Wrap random sections of hair around the barrel of a heated curling tool, starting about three to four inches from the roots. Allowing the hair to twist naturally as you wrap will prevent the curls from turning into barrel curl waves, says Kavanagh. “Curl each section and hold it for around 10 seconds, then let it slide off [the barrel]. As you work around your head, the curls will cool.” Rub a pea-sized amount of styling paste between your hands before working it through the mid-lengths and ends to break up the curls for an undone finish.
Begin with freshly washed and towel-dried hair. “For thick or coarse strands, add a few drops of smoothing serum to the ends to control frizz, before blow-drying on a high speed and heat,” says Kavanagh. Using a heated curling tool, start from the front of your head and, working in small sections, wrap them around the tool, winding from the roots to the tips. Finish an inch or two from the ends, for “a more elongated, effortless result”, he suggests. Once all of the hair is curled and cooled, run a large paddle brush through lengths to create waves, then flip the hair over to one side. After creating your desired shape, finish with hairspray for hold. “For extra volume, sprinkle hair powder at the roots.”
Shu Uemura Art of Hair Hydro-Nourishing Double Serum Dry Hair, $58; 1300 651 991. Ghd Curve Classic Wave Wand, $230; ghdhair.com/au
Create lived-in texture by misting damp hair with sea salt spray from the roots to the ends. Flip hair over and spritz dry shampoo, before blast-drying on a low heat. Pull hair in at the nape of your neck and start a fishtail braid. “Split the hair into two even sections,” instructs Kavanagh. “Take a small piece of hair from one section, cross it over to the other and incorporate it. Then take another small piece from the second section, cross it over into the other side and incorporate it.” Repeat until you’re halfway down each section, then, holding tightly, split the two into three and create a braid by crossing the outside piece over into the centre until you reach the end. Loosen the braid for a relaxed.
Determine the most flattering position for your ponytail. Once you have decided on placement, use an oval cushion brush to smooth out any flaws, then secure hair with an elastic. Take a drop of hair oil, rub it between your palms, and apply to areas where there are soft flyaways. For more stubborn strands, Kavanagh suggests using a light-hold styling gel instead. Using a straightening iron, work through the ponytail in small sections, then, when it’s sleek and shiny, “take a small section of hair from the tail and wrap it around the elastic for a polished look. Spray the wrapped hair with hairspray and blast with your dryer on a warm setting instead of using pins. It’s much more comfortable,” explains Kavanagh.