We all know that feeling—it's the week of Halloween and your friend texts you with a last-minute invite to a costume party. With no time to shop, it's up to you and your existing wardrobe to make Halloween magic. Luckily, all that you need to put a costume together is an iconic hairstyle that people will immediately recognize. Whether it's your own or a wig, the following costumes are all about the hair, meaning the addition of makeup or apparel will only take them to the next level. Ahead, see 20 Halloween hairstyles that can stand on their own as a costume.
Rosie The Riveter
One of the most universally recognized figures in America, Rosie the Riveter is an easy Halloween hairstyle. All you need for this hairstyle is a red bandana or scarf to tie around your head. Make sure to cinch it in a classic knot right at the center. Many choose to pull their hair up into a messy bun for this look, leaving a few strands loose at the front of the head. The final touch for this costume is Rosie’s signature bicep curl pose for photos.
Marilyn Monroe was known for her short blonde bombshell haircut and red lipstick. You can capture this look even if you have longer hair by securing your hair in a bun at the back of your head and curling the front pieces of your hair to emulate the icon. Make sure to flash a big movie star smile all night long, and don’t be afraid to pencil on her signature beauty mark.
Britney’s schoolgirl moment in the "...Baby One More Time" video is a Halloween hairstyle classic. You can achieve this look by parting your hair down the middle into pigtails and simply braiding both sides. Incorporate any pink ribbons or clips you may have at the tops and bottoms of each braid. This hairstyle can upgrade the classic schoolgirl white button-down shirt and skirt costume into a worthy throwback.
A Wednesday Addams costume can be finished in a snap, or should we say a snap snap? For this goth look, center-part your hair and create a tight braid on either side. You may want to use a styling cream when parting and braiding the hair to capture Wednesday’s iconic style.
This one's easy peasy—pull your hair into a top knot, then add headphones, sunglasses, and a tiara and you'll look like you just landed from Genovia.
A Who from Whoville
No matter which Who from How the Grinch Stole Christmas you try to emulate, you’re going to need hairspray. You may also want to consider braiding pipe cleaners into your hair for some of the more gravity-defying looks that graced Whoville.
'60s Style Icon
We've seen '60s-inspired hairstyles everywhere, including runways and the red carpet. To get in on the trend and channel some of the decade’s beauty icons like Brigitte Bardot and Diana Ross, go with a classic ‘60s bouffant this Halloween.
To create this high-volume look on Addison Rae, celebrity hairstylist Danielle Priano first prepped her hair with Unite's Volumizing Spray ($30), then followed with a blow-dry cream to add control. She then blow-dried using a natural bristle brush and set her curls with velcro rollers.
Once the hair cooled, she removed the rollers and backcombed each section. “Make sure to marry the sections as you backcomb,” Priano says. “Grab the previous section, add in the new section, and then backcomb until you get the achieved volume.” After brushing and teasing the bouffant, she flat-ironed a sleek section at the front before clipping it back and finishing the look with a headband.
Princess Leia’s side buns are beloved by Star Wars fans across the galaxy. Whether you choose to wear an all-white outfit to complement your Leia buns or not, this costume will be easily identified by your friends. Depending on the length of your hair, you can choose between the cinnamon bun-esque swirl mastered by Leia or simple side buns. Just make sure to position the buns right at your ears.
If you don’t have a pair of devil horns available, you can still evoke Maleficent vibes with just your hair. There are two ways to fashion your hair into horns: First, you can use flexible rod rollers to form the foundation of the horn and simply wrap your hair around them. The second option is to coil two little tiny buns on your head using the crown of your hair, making sure to pin them in place to preserve the peak of the horn.
Betty Boop’s tightly curled raven hair is a great option for anyone with short hair. You’ll need a center part and curls courtesy of either a curling iron or foam rollers. Red lipstick and a red dress are great additions, and many choose to draw on Betty’s exaggerated eyebrows.
While this look fits Ariel, there are plenty of other ideas you could pair it with. "You could rock this braid with tons of costumes!" says celebrity hairstylist Hayley Heckmann, noting that this glam mermaid braid would also be perfect for a princess or Catwoman look. In addition to adding length with extensions, Heckmann suggests playing up the hair accessories to fit the vibe of your costume.
For this lengthy style, pull your hair into a super-high ponytail and use a strong hold product like Unite's MaxControl Spray ($31) to keep your hair in place. To keep your mermaid braid smooth and shiny, apply a styling paste to your hands while you braid, and feel free to add hair extensions for an even lengthier look. Once the braid is secure, it's time to accessorize. "We used little rings with seashells and starfish to accessorize this mermaid braid," Heckmann says. However, you can also wear this look long after Halloween. Just skip the accessories and add ribbon or string around the braid.
Prepare to party like it's the prohibition era with this easy Halloween hairstyle. A flapper hairstyle is all about the headband. After loose curling your hair or pulling it back in a low, messy bun, style a jeweled headband across your forehead. This style can even be replicated with a necklace if you don’t have the right hair accessory.
"Material Girl" Madonna
The key to Madonna’s "Material Girl" era look is volume. Those who don't have naturally curly hair may want to curl or tease their strands before pinning them to one side. You may want to use a silk scarf tied as a headband to hold this hairstyle in place. Extra-large earrings will complete this '80s look.
This look is best accomplished by creating a crown braid or braiding multiple sections of your hair and then pinning the braids up. The strands of the braids will allow you to incorporate rubber snakes into your hair and will hold them in place. You may need to secure the snakes with bobby pins, and using metallic snakes will give you a more glamorous final product.
We've big fans of bubble braids, and there are endless ways to try and style the look. Whether you're going for Princesscore or just channeling Megan Thee Stallion this year, bubble braids can take any costume to the next level. For Halloween, however, you'll definitely want to go all out, adding volume and accessories to make a statement.
To recreate this look courtesy of celeb hairstylist Graham Nation, start with a high-volume product like Unite's Elevate Mousse ($30) and work it into your hair from the roots to the very ends. After you've secured your braid with hair ties, spray it with Texturiza Spray ($35) to add more volume and secure it again. Keep the look in place all night with a final mist of strong-hold hairspray.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
A high bun and a tiny tiara will transform you into undeniably recognizable Holly Golightly of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. If you don’t have enough hair for a sizable bun, consider picking up a hair donut to increase the volume. If you have a little black dress hanging in your closet, this could be a full Halloween costume in minutes.
If you don’t have naturally icy blonde hair, a quick wig purchase can easily transform you into the Queen of Arendelle. All you’ll need to do is create a side-swept braid, then gently tug at the width to create more volume. If possible, leave some strands loose to frame your face.
If you have dark hair, transforming into Billie Eilish for the evening will just take picking up a can of green hairspray. The musician’s famous lime green center part will take seconds to complete and will get you compliments all night. If you can’t temporarily color your hair, there are plenty of Billie Eilish-inspired wigs out there to help you capture the look.
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn look has been a Halloween favorite for years now, and for good reason: It's so easy to replicate. You’ll need to center part your hair and form two high pigtails, leaving some strands loose at the front to frame your face. You can then add temporary hair color to either side to achieve the two-tone pigtails Harley Quinn is known for, or like this creative take, just add some colored clip-in extensions to each side. The clip-in extension option is great for someone who has work the next day and doesn’t want to risk showing up as a character.
High-volume curls are always in style, but they’re particularly in vogue for Halloween since the look works for a variety of different costume ideas. Model Imaan Hammam’s hair was the star of her Slash costume, but larger-than-life ‘dos also work great for channeling pretty much any ‘80s rockstar.
To get the style at home, you have to create some serious volume and curl. Celeb hairstylist Takisha Sturdevant-Drew recommends diffusing your hair upside down and side-to-side to volumize and add texture. Then, using a half-inch curling wand, add a few curls where needed. Backcomb at the roots with the Tangle Teezer Ultimate Finisher ($18) and glide it through your hair for shine.