Thirteen years of living out your life on reality TV is no easy feat. But Kyle Richards has picked up a few tricks along the way.
When I meet Kyle Richards, the legendary cast member of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I’m (quietly) shocked by how petite she is. Standing at five foot two inches tall, the actress-turned-reality-star greets me for our interview ahead of BravoCon in Las Vegas with her signature fast-talking cadence and down-to-earth charm. “One of the first things people say to me is, ‘I didn’t know you were so small!’” she later offers up. But Kyle, can you blame us?
My mistake in assuming her stature is a result of the powerful presence she commands on screen; a self-assuredness that’s made her something of a reality TV icon. “Honestly, there’s always someone coming for me,” she says matter-of-factly. So, over the course of 13 seasons, she’s crafted a lofty defence. “What brings me the most confidence is my hair. And you have to have a lot of confidence doing something like this and going into a lion’s den.”
Indeed, Kyle Richards’s hair has long been regarded as some of Bravo’s best. She famously had a salon installed into her home. She dedicated an entire chapter of her 2011 memoir to hair care. And for BravoCon 2023, she was tapped by haircare brand Nexxus, further reinforcing her luscious locks as an emblem of her staying power.
With season 13 currently airing (new episodes are available every Wednesday on Hayu), Richards is in the hot seat in real-time, with the viral news of her reported marital separation breaking just before the season premiered. She’s not new to facing private struggles in front of the world, and in fact, seems to see the silver lining. “Any time that I’ve had to stand up for myself, when people have been coming at me and saying things that weren’t true; attacking me or my family…that’s when I’ve felt my strongest,” she reflects. “[When I’m] just staying true to myself.”
At dinner later that night, this special quality shines. Engaged and friendly, Kyle Richards doesn’t shy away from getting personal with a table of eager editors. She jokes about famous rifts with her sisters and her former friend Lisa Vanderpump. Sipping a fancy mocktail, she opens up about her decision to quit drinking (a radical route in the Bravoverse). She gushes over her love for working out and rejects the reductive rumours surrounding her weight loss.
Sharing such intimate details with a group of strangers would make most of us uncomfortable, but Kyle — sitting with her hair in a perfect blowout — appears impressively at ease.
After all, being a Housewife is a case study of unbridled vulnerability. It requires you to open yourself up to the world — broadcasting messy breakups and brutal betrayals — while abiding by the unspoken standard of looking perfectly pulled together. In this realm, professional-level styling is not just a frivolous perk of the gig, it’s a flat-out necessity. “For me, it’s like my armour,” Richards says of her supremely shiny hair. (And I believe her!) Partaking in public feuds — and looking good doing it — sounds like an incredibly stressful gig. As the only current RHOBH cast member who’s been there since season 1, Kyle Richards can attest to the impact this has on your hair.
“When I first started the show, [doing] my hair was easy. Then I started styling it more and more, and that takes a toll on your hair,” she says. “It’s not what it was when I started the show. So finding a product like Nexxus — that really goes to work and helps reverse damage and protect [my hair] — makes me feel better, and [my hair] looks a lot better.”
Unlike her RHOBH co-stars who revel in avant-garde styling — think Dorit Kemsley’s pretzel-esque updo or Erika Jayne’s Christmas tree braid — Kyle Richards prefers to keep her hair looking natural (that is, by Housewives standards). “I like to always look and feel like myself…I don’t fall victim to [thinking] ‘Oh, I should keep up with them and their hairstyles,’” she says of her wig-wearing, barrette-bearing castmates.
Back in season 1, she fondly recalls, the cameraman would come into her closet and help her pick her outfit ahead of each confessional interview. “Now, it’s like this big thing; it’s probably changed because of Dorit and Erika’s whole over-the-top [style],” she notes, waving arms out wide. “Now, they’ll send you emails: ‘What’s your look going to be when we shoot on Tuesday?’ Like, I don’t know…anything! What do you mean? It’s so annoying that I have to think of this now.” But as the costuming gets campier, Richards’s pin-straight styles, voluminous curls and polished up-dos only add to her level-headed appeal.
“There have been times where we pull [my hair] up more and tease it to do a big thing, and it’s fun done for the day,” she admits. “But I can’t wait to get that out of my hair… I just want it to feel nice and soft and healthy.” To achieve this, she washes it every other day and sticks to products that she loves, pointing to Nexxus’ Unbreakable Care collection. “When my hair feels good and looks good, I feel good.”
With healthy hair comes a glossy glow and dramatic volume, and Kyle Richards seems to understand this power in the world of RHOBH. “I’m a Leo rising, [and hair is] part of how you present yourself. So, I feel like maybe I look like a lion; strong.” When I ask her how she might describe her hair in a quippy Housewives tagline, her answer is apt. “This is the mane event,” she says. That type of confidence stands tall.