The rock-chic hairstyle is the coolest of hairstyles. There are many reasons why, but perhaps the main one is that it looks incredible without making you look like you're trying too hard. It's the hair equivalent of "Oh, this old thing." And perhaps the best part about it is that you don't have to know how to play guitar (air guitar, maybe) to pull it off; in fact, all you really need is a little inspo—and that's where we come in.
Turning to our favorite hair muses (read: It-girls, A-listers, and the like), we tapped hairstylists Lisa Jillian Marconi, Lee Stafford, Matt Swinney, and George Northwood to bring you 15 rock-chic hairstyles that are bound to leave you tress-obsessed. So whether you're looking to unleash your inner rebel or maybe you're just curious to try out a new 'do, these edgy yet stylish looks will tick all the boxes.
Ahead, click through our gallery for the best rock-chic hairstyles.
Forget headbands and scrunchies—for now, at least—safety pins are the preferred hair accessory for those looking to give off some serious rocker vibes. Just look to Yara Shahidi for proof. Her sleek updo gets some added texture and edge with braids and gold pins that really pop.
- Part hair down the center.
- Take a small section of hair on either side of your center part and create a braid. Secure with an elastic.
- Take one section of parted hair and begin Dutch-braiding from the hairline toward the back of your head. Repeat on the other side.
- Gather the three sections of hair into a low bun and secure with a hair tie and/or bobby pins.
- Carefully insert safety pins into your center braid beginning from the hairline and working your way back in an alternating criss-cross pattern.
Effortless and sexy, with a hint of grit, Emma Stone's wavy mane exudes glam rock greatness. If you've got fine strands, follow Ms. Stone's lead and opt for a volume-boosting cool-girl side flip. To get her tantalizing texture, Balmain's Texturizing Salt Spray ($44) is a sure bet. And ase4 glitter eye is sure to get you Ziggy Stardust's approval.
We almost didn't recognize Jennifer Hudson at first with her psychedelic rock makeover. We love the pop of electric pink color that echoes throughout her look. "To pull off this hairstyle, thick texture and medium to long hair are needed [since] extra hold and volume are required to stay in place," emphasizes Stafford, English hairdresser and the creator of his eponymous haircare line, also known as "the pink brand."
- On wet hair, take a palm-size amount of Lee Stafford Ddouble Blow Mousse ($4) and massage it into the roots before blow-drying with Rusk Professional 2000 Watt Blowdryer ($80).
- Tease the roots to achieve lots of volume and then flip your fringe over to the other side.
- On the swept backside of the look, cross your bobby pins to secure everything in place.
- Throw in some decorative braids and metallic hair jewelry for an eclectic style that will have you music festival-ready.
A great trick to ensure the hair stays swept back is to spray it with hairspray and run a blowdryer on a cool setting over it, comments Swinney.
Chunky, textured bangs are the star of this low-maintenance style. They keep with the rock-chic aesthetic by adding a bit of personality and texture to an otherwise simple updo. To recreate, gather hair back into a twist, ponytail, or bun before styling your fringe. Finish with a spritz of Sexyhair Spray & Play Big Volumizing Hairspray ($20) to set and hold.
It seems that everyone these days is pulling off the high, slicked-back ponytail. We're loving how this rendition features a tiny side braid detail. Marconi, the master hairstylist at Vidov West, notes that it's especially flattering on those with diamond and round face shapes. To get the look, she recommends using a clip-in ponytail extension and flat ironing to smooth and straighten hair. Products like Oribe Supershine Moisturizing Hair Cream ($52) will help to smooth flyaways and Davines This Is a Strong Hairspray ($36) will set it all in place.
Katie Holmes exudes confidence rocking this artful updo. "Hair is swept back off the face, showing all the facial features, which I just love," comments Stafford. Since knot-free hair is a must for this style, he suggests using his Smooth & Polish Paddle Brush ($4) when smoothing and brushing back each section. "To add a bit more style, quickly swipe the ends that are left out of the buns with a flat iron to give them strength to stay elevated,” adds Swinney, RUSK Global Creative Director and a four-time North American Hairstyle Award (NAHA) winner.
(Note: This product is currently sold out, but for something similar, we recommend Moroccanoil Ceramic Paddle Brush, $28).
Solange's airy afro is the hair aura we all need in our lives. It's simple, yet statement-making. We recommend using Soultanicals Knot Sauce Coil Detangler ($17) in your detangling efforts to keep strands moisturized. And in case you're looking for additional afro styles, there's plenty more where that came from.
Punk Rock I
Hey! Ho! Let's go! We coronate Sarah Paulson as a punk-rock princess with her wet-look hair and bobby pin designs. This style kind of feels like a mullet's contemporary—and more refined—counterpart. Its contrasting pinned back 'do and loose waves translate into "business" on one side and "party" on the other, respectively.
The key to certain rock-chic hairstyles lies in their movement, which you get from layering—invisible layering, to be exact. "We remove different links of the hair from the shaft. So you'll end up with lots of different lengths rather than a blunt bob," explains hairstylist Northwood, who has styled the tresses of Alexa Chung, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Rachel Weisz, and Alicia Vikander, among others. The effect of this "slicing the hair through" technique is a soft yet edgy shag, as seen here on Ciara. Style with Kristin Ess Dry Finish Working Texture Spray ($14) for added volume and texture.
When it comes to head-turning hair inspiration, Cara Delevingne never disappoints. For starters, just look at how she pairs loose waves with side braids to get Pixies perfection. It's a winning combo that fortunately for us, is easy to recreate.
Haven't you heard? Heavy metal rockstars have some of the most envy-worthy tresses. It's no wonder then that Laverne Cox felt inspired to channel their allure when pulling off this dazzling 'do.
A volumizing mousse like Lee Stafford Ddouble Blow Mousse ($4) and texturizing spray are the not-so-secret ingredients needed to land this modern half-up style. "It would work perfectly on medium mid-length hair, which would allow that lift at the root after teasing out in sections," says Stafford. "When styling, make sure to pull the sides tight and not overuse product,” advises Swinney. And while oval and heart-shaped faces will find this 'do flattering as is, Stafford adds that variations would work, too. Simply soften at the front and minimize root lift at the crown for round and square face shapes.
When applied correctly, mousses deliver root uplift and body, which is why Stafford recommends massaging the product into the roots for a good two minutes before blow-drying.
Queen of Rock
If music legend Tina Turner ever were to get a perm and a modern makeover, we're convinced that this would be it. There's just something about a volumized bob that screams—no, sings—rock-chic diva. Marconi says this style looks killer on oval- and heart-shaped faces, as well as curly, coarse, medium, and fine textures (2c, 3a, 3b, 3c curl types). And if you're looking to define curls even more, she recommends using a 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch curling iron (depending on curl pattern, of course).
You didn't think we could have a rock-chic hairstyle roundup without Georgia May Jagger, did you? Her long shag and curtain bangs radiate rock with their effortlessly cool vibe. To style, simply air-dry and go. And don't forget a shine spray like Tigi Bed Head Headrush ($11) for that chic, glossy finish.
Punk Rock II
Nothing says rock-chic like a modern mullet paired with a graphic liner. Marconi tells us this 'do works best for those with layered cuts and either wavy or straight hair textures. To get this style, "Work Davines This Is a Strong Hold Cream Hair Gel ($20) in to create structure and hold, and for a wet look finish," instructs Marconi. "Then, piece out hair with fingers to create a lived-in texture. Tuck [hair] behind ears for more drama and to achieve this punk runway look," she adds.