Headbands top the list of polarizing hair accessories. They can either make you feel totally put together or conjure up memories from primary school you'd really rather forget. But the return of the headband is fully back in swing, thanks to the likes of celebrities and nearly every show at every fashion week. Not sure how to wear a headband without looking like a 5-year-old? We're here to help. We've rounded up 12 foolproof ways to wear a headband no matter what vibe you're feeling.
Meet the Expert
From sporty styles to red carpet-ready ribbons, keep scrolling for all the headband inspiration you'll ever need.
Classic and Straight
Padded headbands have definitely evolved from your middle school days (think chic instead of childish). The only aspect that's stayed the same is how to put it on—start at your hairline and push it back.
Up and Embellished
A statement headband like this embellished one deserves to, well, make a statement. Slick back your hair underneath to keep all eyes on your bold accessory. Floyd's Barbershop stylist Patrick Butler suggests keeping the hair up with a product such as Reuzel Fiber Pomade ($18). A high-quality product, he adds, "allows you to handle any look and texture you are trying to work with."
This type of headband-parting combo looks great with any hairstyle or length. Instead of pushing the headband back, part your hair down the middle and place the headband toward the back of your head.
Keep it easy with this classic, versatile headband style. Wrap the bandana or scarf around your head with your hair up or down, then tuck the ends of the scarf in the back of your head or bring them around to front à la Adwoa Aboah.
For a '90s throwback, copy Sarah Hyland's sporty style. This look is a super-simple way to disguise day-three hair. Pull it into a low, loose bun with a scrunchie and top it with a thick elastic headband.
Wrapped With Braids
A headband with a print, like the tropical pattern shown here, is a fun yet practical accessory for a day spent outside at a festival. To get this look, either tie your silk scarf yourself or find a version with an elastic strip along the bottom.
When styled with natural, air-dried waves, like Sydney Sweeney's, nothing about this pearl and rhinestone headband says prim and proper. "One of my favorite ways to prep hair is to create tousled waves with a dry texture spray like Matrix Total Results Miss Mess Dry Finishing Spray ($18)," says celebrity stylist Nick Stenson.
Wide Headband With Part
As Stenson notes, accessories like hats and headbands are great, but tend to be limiting "they also tend to limit guys when it comes to a manageable hair style." Fear not; Flat headbands don't have to look super sporty. For a slightly different way to wear the wide, flat headband, follow Jenna Dewan's style and secure your headband over your middle parting for a more modern look.
Up With a Double-Rope Headband
When one headband just isn't enough, copy this chic double rope style from Lupita Nyong'o. Choose a headband in a contrasting color to make it pop, or match it closely to your hair for a more subtle effect.
Loose Waves With Bow
For the ultimate Gossip Girl vibes, we love this sweet Blair-style bow paired with loose Serena-esque waves. The tousled texture of the hair perfectly balances the cuteness of the headband.
For shorter hairstyles, a skinny embellished headband, like Janelle Monae's, won't detract from your look or hide too much of your hair underneath.
Up With a Comb-Tooth Headband
Yep, the '00s favorite headband is back, and, of course, Bella Hadid makes it look chic. Make sure the rest of your hair is slick to keep the look polished.
Short and Slicked
Ruth Negga's short and slicked-back look requires just a dab of pomade and a brush back with a comb. Top it with an embellished headband and you can head out the door.
Long Waves With Wide Headband
The key here is to create a beachy look, then top it with a headband wide enough to hide your roots. For this look use a product that will hold the wave, like Paul Mitchell Foaming Pommade ($16), which Butler says "performs in any situation. Color treated hair? No problem. Using hot tools to style? No problem. Short hair that needs a distinct style? Check."
This elegant, piled-on-top-of-the-head updo gets a casual twist thanks to a headband topper. For this look, create loose waves throughout the hair before pulling it into a polytail and twisting the end into a bun. Secure with pins and pull out a few face-framing pieces before adding the headband to the entire look.