As the cold weather approaches, our ability to put effort into our hair routines (and social lives) flies out the window. For some, the thought of perfecting a multi-step hairstyle on windy days seems like a pure waste of time (especially when cozy beanies exist).
This season, we refuse to let our love for all things hair fall to the sidelines. In fact, we’re setting out to do just the opposite by mastering a chic (and effortless) hairstyle: the topknot. Sure, topknots aren’t new, but after combing through the most inspo-worthy celebrity looks, we’re convinced it’s the hairstyle we’ll be experimenting with most this winter. Below, see 10 of the best topknot looks and how to create them, according to celebrity hairstylists.
To mimic a twisted topknot like Shahidi’s, celebrity hairstylist Vernon François suggests spritzing a leave-in conditioner on dry hair. “Part from one eyebrow arch to the crown of your head, then from ear to crown, then in-between the two,” he explains. This creates two sections: François recommends twisting (from the hairline upward to the ends) and then dabbing with Schwarzkopf Got2B Ultra Glued Styling Gel ($7). “Section hair at the front to frame the face,” he says. “Slick the rest up high, braid, twist into a bun, and then wind the two smaller braids around its base and pin in place.” To complete the look, twist the front section and smooth the hair's back and side with Vernon François Styling~Cream ($15).
“The placement of the knot is important, but how the knot looks isn’t,” says celebrity hairstylist Matt Fugate. “Make sure the knot is high up and creates lift in the profile. Then, bind with a tight bungee and [move] the hair around it to create the sort of imperfect, effortless French girl hair look.”
To get Michele’s knot, Giovanni Vaccaro, the creative director of Glamsquad, suggests sectioning out a horseshoe section at the hair's front. “Take the rest of the hair and pull into a tight and smooth high pony,” he says. “Twist the ponytail in the same direction from base to ends, wrapping into a circular motion around the base of the elastic.” Next, Vaccaro says to return to the horseshoe section, creating a clean middle part. Finally, wrap the ends around the bun to hide any pins.
For a loose, perfectly messy topknot, François begins by treating hair with a heat protectant, then blasts Kevin Murphy Bodybuilder Mousse ($41) into dry hair with a hairdryer. “Rake hair upward with your hands and fingers into a high ponytail, then twist and pin hair section by section loosely into a bun with U pins,” he says. “Tease out strands around the hairline and from the bun using the end of a carbon tail comb or your fingertips.” Finally, finish off the look with hair spray. François recommends Paul Mitchell Extra Body Finishing Spray ($19).
For an alternative topknot à la Mara, hairstylist Kristin Heitkotter suggests pulling hair into a high ponytail at the crown of the head. “Loop hair forward as if you’re going to create a half bun, and leave the ends hanging out,” she explains. Secure with bobby pins and embellish with a hair accessory. Don’t forget to set the look with a strong hair spray like L’Oréal Elnett Strong Hold ($15).
Fugate says an undone topknot like Thandie Newton's relies on two components: product preparation and knot placement. “For product prep, you have to load hair with a texturizing product like Kérastase Volume in Power ($37) to create this desirable, dry texture without a ton of shine,” he explains. “Anytime I’m going to do a topknot look, I load the hair up with this before pulling into the bun.”
“Hair extensions are great for adding volume and creating a smooth finish for this kind of topknot,” explains François. “Refresh hair and prepare it for styling with Vernon François Mist Nourishing Water ($16). Sweep hair up high and secure in place with a hairband, twist, and pin into a topknot.” He suggests gently pulling out face-framing strands and lightly coating them with Vernon François Lightweight Styling Serum ($32).
For a Hailee Steinfeld–inspired knot, Heitkotter recommends beginning with a very high ponytail at the top of your head. “While pulling the hair up, apply both Oribe Gel Sérum ($63) and Shu Uemura Essence Absolue ($69). This combination will give you the hold from a gel but the pliability of an oil,” she explains. Next, you’ll divide the ponytail into four sections, twisting each section into a small bun. “As you’re twisting the sections, apply the same gel/oil combo throughout the entire length of the hair and secure with bobby pins. To get this shape, twist and secure the three bottom buns first, and secure the top bun last,” says Heitkotter. “Finish the look with a flexible-hold hair spray like Sebastian Shine Define ($20)."
“Start by prepping with a heat protector. My favorite is Oribe Soft Laquer Heat Styling Spray ($36),” says Heitkotter. “Then flatiron the hair using the T3 Singlepass X ($199). Part hair down the middle and sweep into a high ponytail at the crown of the head.” Before securing, Heitkotter suggests scraping through the sides of the hair to create an undone texture. “Twist the pony from the base to mid-shaft, form a loop, and secure with pins, leaving the ends out. Finish by applying Ouai Finishing Crème ($24) to ends for added texture.”
To achieve J.Lo’s knot, Vaccaro recommends wetting hair at the roots and using a soft-bristle brush to blow-dry from roots to mid-shaft. “Use a quarter size of Oribe Gel Sérum ($63) to smooth your roots back while gathering hair into a pony,” he says. “When securing with an elastic, don’t pull the hair all the way through the last loop. Taking the tail of the loop, divide it into two even sections.” Next, Vaccaro says to tightly tie the tail around the loop, placing bobby pins to secure and arrange hair at the base. As a final step, take your fingers and brush out your hairline for “airy, organic baby hairs.”