Hair styling
Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

If there’s one thing you can expect from this holiday season, it’s parties — and lots of them. A festive holiday hair look is a sure-fire way to make a statement at every shindig you plan to attend, whether it be a lavish company party or an ugly sweater soirée at your parents’. Not sure what look to lean into? We’ve asked the pros for their insight on the coolest hairstyles for this season.

The consensus: Chignons and braids are the looks of the season, along with a few nods to past decades. “My favorite styles for the holiday are ’60s, Bardot-inspired, half-up styles with tousled body and volume at the crown,” says Xavier Velasquez, hairstylist and ambassador for Virtue Labs.

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Sparkling hair accessories are expected to take over holiday hairstyles too. Look out for glittering hair ribbons, headbands, and even some hair gems. The options are both cheerful and endless — see for yourself. Onward to this year’s best holiday hairstyles, showcased by celebrities at various red carpet events.

1. Voluminous Half Ponytail

For a fun and full-volume holiday look, try a high half-ponytail like Keke Palmer’s. If you have longer hair, this look can create the illusion of a high ponytail without the heaviness of actually tying up all of your hair.

2. Wispy Topknot 

If you’re looking for a whimsical hairstyle for your winter festivities, a tousled top knot is the way to go. “For the perfect topknot, gather your hair at the crown [of your head] with an elastic, wrap the elastic around twice, then pull the remaining hair halfway through, creating a bun,” says Velasquez. Secure the look using hair pins.

3. Hair Bows

Hairstylist Mara Roszak says hair accessories are the trend of the season. She suggests sewing or glueing a little bobby pin to the back of a bow. Then, add the pin to your holiday updo. “Jennifer Behr also makes beautiful holiday hair bows for those that want one already made,” she says.

Here, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies actress Rachel Sennott showcases the trend with a silky blue bow at the base of her ponytail. It’s a simple accent that has major impact. (For a similar look to Sennott’s, try Free People’s Lady Bow in Navy.)

4. Bubble Ponytail

While the pony braid was the updo of choice amongst TikTokers during the warmer months, we think the bubble ponytail will reign supreme for the holidays. This style works best with thick, long hair. (But don’t worry if you have short hair. You can recreate the look with the help of extensions.)

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To style a bubble ponytail, Roszak says to blow-dry freshly-cleansed hair so that it’s smooth. Then, gather it into a ponytail using a brush. “Depending on the length of the hair, add in elastics every two to three inches and pull sections out to the sides to create the bubble look,” she says.

For an added holiday sparkle, try adding hair gems to the crown of your head, as Issa Rae did at a recent event.

5. Old Hollywood Waves

Nothing says glamour more than voluminous, old-Hollywood curls. To recreate this look, Roszak says to start with damp hair. Gently brush it out and apply an oil like her brand’s RÖZ Santa Lucia Styling Oil (we also love Verb’s Ghost Weightless Hair Oil for this). From there, she says to “blow-dry the hair with a round brush and set in pin curls around the face.”

Finish the look by applying a flexible-hold hairspray and gently brushing the hair with a soft-bristled brush. “For extra setting, use flat clips to help shape in an ‘S’ formation,” she says.

6. A Simple Headband

Working with limp, second-day hair? Sometimes a non-embellished hair accessory is enough to draw attention away from your less-than-fresh strands. Freshen up your look with a dry shampoo (like the Amika Perk Up Talc-Free Dry Shampoo, which adds volume while ridding your hair of excess oils) and push your hair back with a sparkly or satin headband.

We love the Lele Sadoughi Copper Ombre Lurex Bardot Headband for this look, which has the ’60s vibe our pros are loving for the holiday season.

7. Space Buns

Headed to an ugly sweater contest or a cookie-decorating party? Show up with fun space buns like Gabrielle Union’s. “Space buns are basically two high pigtails twisted into buns,” says hairstylist Devin Toth, who suggests wrapping them with fabric trimmings or adding a zig-zag part for an even more festive take on the look.

8. Y2K Spiky Knots

If you’re not tired of Y2K trends just yet (we certainly aren’t), try out the edgy hairstyle Doja Cat posted on her Instagram. It’ll keep your hair secure as you’re dancing the night away on New Year’s Eve.

Spiky buns may seem intimidating at first, but they just take a bit of practice. Follow this step-by-step to get the hairstyle.

9. Sleek and Straight

“Shiny, sleek finishes are going to be big this holiday season,” says Velasquez. To achieve the look, Velasquez says to apply a smoothing product like the Virtue Labs Frizz Block Smoothing Spray (we also love the JVN Blowout Styling Milk for this look) all-over, blow-dry, and hit your strands with a flat-iron. Add some extra shine with your favorite hair oil.

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10. Wispy Braid

A wispy, loose fishtail or French braid is a classic holiday party look. The key to getting it right: carefully stretching and pulling on the braid so it loosens. To make sure it never gets too loose and lasts through your entire holiday party, secure it with bobby pins and light hairspray.

11. ’60s Bouffant

Embrace the ’60s with a Brigitte Bardot-style bouffant hairdo. “The key to the bouffant is to really go for it,” says Toth, explaining that if you don’t achieve enough volume, you’ll end up with messy hair. Toth suggests a lot of backcombing and teasing at the roots and even more hairspray.

12. Blunt Ponytail

A blunt ponytail like this one on Quinta Brunson is hassle-free, requiring just one hair elastic and a lot of gel. To recreate the look, start with a side part then slick your hair back into a tight ponytail. Brunson’s hairstylist, Alexander Armand, left a small section of hair out of the ponytail to create faux bangs.

13. Classic Half-Up

“I’m loving center-parted, half-up hairstyles for this holiday season,” says Roszak, who recently created the style on actress Kaitlyn Dever. “You can make this style your own by deciding how much hair gets pulled back into the half-up.”

Roszak explains that you can create a tighter, more lifted look if the entire hairline is swept upward. For a softer, more effortless look, she suggests leaving more hair down.

14. Braided Chignon

Chignon hairstyles have been all over the red carpet this year. One of our favorite takes on the look is Marsai Martin’s at a recent Los Angeles event, which elegantly gathers her braids at the nape of her neck.

15. French Twist

Velasquez predicts the French twist will be popular among holiday-party goers this season. “To create the perfect French twist, get a foundation going at the roots using texturing spray and backcombing motion,” explains Velasquez. Then, pull and twist the hair and secure it with bobby pins.


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