Bells are ringing, shoppers are dropping wads of cash on gifts for friends and family, and the holiday hustle and bustle has you in its swirl. Is your hair up for the challenge? If your social calendar is packed with office celebrations, intimate friend gift exchanges, or elaborate dinner parties, you’ve probably got holiday hair on the brain.
“Don’t let the idea of holiday hair intimidate you,” says Brittany Dion, Artistic Director of Hairstyling for Aveda North America. “Holiday hair can be as simple as doing something out of the ‘norm’ for you.” If you tend to wear your hair up, try wearing it down or vice versa. “It doesn’t have to be anything extraordinary; just a different version of yourself will always feel more special.” Accessories can be key to jazzing up your go-to ponytails, buns, and braids, especially during the party-heavy holidays when being extra is a very good thing. “Throw in a little bling, barrettes, or pearl accent pins for extra pizzazz,” Dion says.
The key to holiday hair is to have fun with it. “I think of holiday hair as a present,” says celebrity hairstylist Gregory Russell. “I always loved wrapping gifts for my family, and it makes sense as a hairdresser—[holiday hairstyling] is like the bow on top of a present.”
Whether you’re dashing through the snow from the office to a holiday happy hour or planning a sparkling soiree at home, these styling trends from the experts will deck your look with festive fun without stressing you out.
’90s Top Knot
Throw it back to the trendiest decade of the year with this simple but sophisticated knotted updo. “The ’90s are having a strong influence on style,” says Dion of her inspiration. “What makes it unique is that the bang section is left out and waved for a romantic touch,” Dion says. “This can easily be paired with a sweater and jeans or a cocktail dress.”
To shape the style, make sure you have a can of hair spray at the ready; Dion’s pick is Aveda’s high-hold Control Force Firm Hold Hair Spray ($35). Once you’re done spritzing, Dion recommends using the can to smooth any flyaways. “Simply place the side of the can alongside the direction of the hair to smooth,” she says.
Glamorous, elegant, and a bit edgy, straight styles are a go-to this year for Xavier Velasquez, a celebrity hairstylist at Jenna Perry Hair Studio. “Shiny, sleek finishes are going to be big this season,” he says. “You’ll see chic bobs and shiny, smooth ponies everywhere you go.”
A soft, frizz-free finish is key to this modern look. Velasquez recommends Virtue’s Frizz Block Humidity Proof Smoothing Spray ($44) and Hydrating & Heat Protectant Healing Hair Oil ($44) for sheen and frizz protection. On damp hair, apply a few drops of the Healing Hair Oil, and then spray Frizz Block section by section from the mid-shaft to the ends of your hair. Blow-dry hair on medium to high heat with a large natural bristle brush for a smooth finish. “From there, you could leave it down for chic simplicity or create a sleek knot or bun,” he says. “Wear it to a cocktail party with a glam outfit. It will add sophistication to polish off your look.”
If you live in a chilly climate, this fluffy waterfall ponytail is a go-to for pairing with your winter gear. “This style is perfect for the holidays because it’s simple yet impactful,” says Renée Gadar, the Global Artistic Director of Texture at Aveda. “It can take you from informal work or day settings to more formal parties—and it won’t get in the way of hats, scarves, or earmuffs.”
For a similar sleek look, Gadar recommends sleeping in a firmly tied satin scarf at night to reduce frizz, and then applying Aveda’s Nutriplenish Styling Treatment Foam ($36) to dry hair, brushing it back down and designing your edges if desired.
Turn up the glamour with a Y2K-inspired updo. “This is one of my favorite party-girl hairstyles,” says celebrity stylist Justine Marjan. “I love that this curly updo has that face-framing fringe and lots of little pieces left out for fun, playful energy.” To create the look, Marjan prepped hair with a Ghd Classic Curl 1” Curling Iron ($199), curling from the ends upward for a plethora of curls at the base. Once the hair was curled, she gathered it up, back-brushed it for volume, and twisted it into a bun, letting any shorter layers fall free for that undone vibe before pinning the style to secure.
Flirty ’50s Curls
Channel your inner Marilyn Monroe or Sophia Loren with a fluffy curled style. “Nothing will be more impactful than a ’50s-inspired hairstyle with a modern twist,” says James Abu-Ulba, Davines Showcase Artist and Art Director of the Utopia Group, who recommends Davines’ This Is a Volume Boosting Mousse ($33) to set the stage for full, bouncy curls. Once you’ve finished hot rolling or curling your hair in your desired shape, fluff the curls with your fingers, and finish with Davines’ This Is a Medium Hairspray ($39) for a touchable hold that won’t feel stiff or crunchy.
Pump up your ponytail with this easy but glam bubble pony. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, and you don’t have to know how to ‘do’ hair to achieve this look,” says hairstylist Sarah Naslund. “It’s super fast and looks great on all textures.” It also doesn’t require hot tools and looks just as good at a holiday potluck with a chunky sweater and jeans as it does with something more formal.
To shape the pony, start with dry hair and a single ponytail. Continue to add small elastics every one to two inches, depending on how long your hair is and how “bubbly” you want each section to look; Naslund recommends “puffing” out each bubble before adding a new elastic. Leave the last inch or two of hair out and finish with a cloud of your favorite hair spray. The bubble pony works in all kinds of weather. “It’s a great option for warmer weather clothing and showing off holiday jewelry,” says Naslund. “It will help balance a formal look with a little edge.”
Don’t be afraid to experiment with bows and barrettes. “I love a bow. It’s so classic,” says Russell, sharing that NYC-based luxury hair accessories brand Lelet NY is his go-to for standout pieces, from metal styles to vintage-inspired ribbon bows. “I love a side-parted sleek blowout with a barrette by the brow—it’s very chic.”
For a “natural, romantic” texture, Russell recommends using Pureology’s Style + Protect Weightless Volume Mousse ($29) to enhance curls and waves and give motion to the hair. “With soft hair like that, a bow is cute.” If you’re looking for a more modern touch, Russell likes to cinch the style with a cuff or a wrap.
Oversize hairpins (also called French pins) are having a moment, and Kérastase’s Global Pro Color Club Expert, Shelley Gregory, loves using one to make a statement for the holidays and to provide extra hold for a French twist–inspired updo. “I’d wear this anywhere from a girls’ get-together to a holiday work party,” she says.
For a similar look, start with freshly blown-out hair or loosely curled hair spritzed with texture spray. “I like to use the Kérastase Serum Chroma Thermique Hair Serum ($42) to protect your hair’s color from the heat and reduce frizz, followed by the Kérastase V.I.P. Volume in Powder Texturizing Spray ($32),” recommends Gregory. Gather your hair in a loose updo or twist and secure it with the pin. “Depending on the thickness of your hair, you can choose a bigger or smaller hairpin.”
Take advantage of the weather and pull out your curling iron. “The cold weather is a great time to experiment with styling with heat tools since you don’t have to worry about the humidity killing your style, so I love to create a classic wave throughout the hair,” says Harry Josh, celebrity hairstylist. A wave is versatile enough to be dressed up or down and can be pulled up into a soft style if you get warm.
“Using the right tool is essential for creating a wave that lasts,” says Josh. “I love the Marcel attachment of the Harry Josh Pro Tools 3-in-1 Ceramic Curling Iron ($175), but if you’re not comfortable with the Marcel, the Spring attachment can create gorgeous curls too.” He recommends prepping with KMS ThermaShape Quick Blow Dry ($24) for party-worthy gloss and shine.