Kim’s sleek strands, Megan’s wet-look hair, Jennifer’s bombshell curls. Just as much as celebrities dictate our makeup looks, their haircuts, colors, and styles are constantly being screenshotted, saved, and pinned as inspiration for future styling sessions, too. But we get it—some looks can be downright intimidating. (After all, not every one of us has a talented stylist on speed dial.) So, to break down these iconic styles and more, we decided to go straight to the sources who created them to learn the story behind the look, and, most importantly, how we can achieve it at home.
J.Lo’s Bouncy Curls at the 2020 Super Bowl Halftime Show
These va-va-voom curls may take a little time and effort, but the juice is well worth the squeeze. Celebrity hair stylist Chris Appleton is the talent behind the ‘do, dishing to W how he created the style: “I started this look off with wet hair and added an anti-frizz treatment to fight against the Miami heat. I then blow-dried the hair before I started with extensions and curling, just to give that sleek and silky look. I used a double-curl method when creating this look, using a smaller iron to create the curl and a larger iron to give it that bombshell look. While some may find this process tedious, using two different curling irons to make these big curls is a necessity.”
Cardi B’s ’90s Hair at Her 2021 American Music Awards Performance
The 2021 American Music Awards saw host Cardi B’s ode to ’90s hip hop with a half-up half-down style during her “Tomorrow 2” performance. The unmistakable look was created by celebrity hairstylist Mia Jackson, professionally known as Toyko Stylez. “We wanted to do something that was fun yet cool and still symbolic of Cardi,” says Jackson, who has created numerous looks for the rapper over the years. “Her outfit was very moto-inspired, so we wanted an unexpected hairstyle that still complemented the overall look.”
The funky, slightly edgy style was achieved using a custom wig that Jackson added 40-inch extensions to “so that Cardi could swing the hair and just have fun with it,” Jackson adds. If you’re attempting this look sans wig, Jackson says to first prep your hair with a moisture-rich shampoo and conditioner to make your blow-drying and straightening process easier. Then, to eliminate frizz and secure unruly edges, Jackson recommends the CURLS Protect Me Edge Styling Pomade. Pull the top section of hair up into a half-up ponytail to give a spiky effect, and twist some pieces into coils, securing them to the base.
Almost as iconic as the thigh-grazing length? The deep side-parted bangs. If you don’t have bangs (or your bangs aren’t long or full enough) Jackson recommends adding extension hair to avoid any gaps in this area.
Kim Kardashian’s Signature Sleek Look
While Kim’s foray into the celebrity scene had us gawking over her vivacious curls and middle part, her signature soft, sleek hair is equally as iconic. Appleton reveals the key to this look is combating frizz and getting a smoothed-down, sleek finish. To do this on Kim, Appleton first gives her mane a deep conditioning treatment with Olaplex No. 3 Hair Repair Perfector. “I also added Color Wow Dream Coat Supernatural Spray to help the hair look sleek,” Appleton says. “This style works amazingly with Kim’s textured hair.”
Khloe Kardashian’s Half-Up-Half-Down Hairstyle
There’s something effortless about a half-up-half-down hairdo, as evidenced by Khloe Kardashian, who rocks this style often. For Appleton, the stylist who created the look for Khloe, this also gives off a ’90s edge with bouncy volume and timeless waves. “For this look, my go-to product is the Color Wow Pop + Lock Frizz Control + Glossing Serum, which ensures there’s no frizz and that all baby hairs and flyaways stay in place,” says Appleton. When it comes to creating the waves, the hairstylist notes that he has tried many curling irons with this hairstyle and has found that the CHI Lava Ceramic 3/8”-3/4” Tapered Hairstyling Wand and the T3 Bodywaver offer the best volume.
To really amp up the volume, make like Appleton and invest in a hair piece. “With this look, I also used a hair piece, which gave Khloe’s hair huge volume,” he says. While hair pieces range in price point, Appleton says they’re a must if you want to achieve maximum fullness.
Megan Fox’s Wet-Look Strands at the 2021 VMAs
For celebrity hairstylist Andrew Fitzsimons, Megan Fox’s ultra-glossy hair was an obvious choice for the 2021 Video Music Awards. “When thinking about creating a hairstyle, I look at the artistic influences and features of the outfit to inform direction, and I want to emphasize the fashion moment as much as possible,” says Fitzsimons. “For Megan’s VMA’s look, her sheer Mugler gown was ultra sexy, so I knew the hair had to accentuate that. The wet, shiny, and hydrated mermaid waves were the most suitable look.”
For this style, Fitzsimons says to start off with clean and dry hair. “Wave the whole head using a triple-barrel waver, leaving out just the front. Then, curl the front sections of the hair with a one-inch iron angled away from the hair,” he says. After your waves are in place, it’s time to achieve that wet, shiny look (which, fun fact: Fitzsimons says is made without using any water at all). “Apply the Andrew Fitzsimons Fantasy Curls Nourishing Serum from mid-shaft to ends, leaving out the roots to keep the top from looking oily,” he says. “Finally, finish off the look with the Andrew Fitzsimons Prism Shine Invisible Shine Spray for the ultimate gloss that’ll last all night.”
While this look can be worn wherever, whenever, it’s especially functional for outdoor or summer events. “Because the hair is so well-hydrated with serums and oils, the humidity will be kept at bay,” says Fitzsimons.
Katy Perry’s Thick Ponytail for the 2015 Super Bowl Halftime Show
An iconic hairstyle for an iconic sports game, Katy Perry’s thick ponytail stole the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show (alongside her myriad costumes, of course). The hair designer to credit? Celebrity hairstylist Clyde Haygood. “I created the perkiest, bounciest ponytail for Katy Perry, which is exactly what she wanted for her performance with Lenny Kravitz,” says Haygood. To achieve the look, he first pulled her hair together with a human hair velcro ponytail that had an elastic drawstring interior (to evenly support the hair’s weight) and a locking toggle (to hold it together without using any pins). “It also had different lengths, which added extra bounce,” he notes. For extra security (necessary for her multiple hair flips during the performance) the ponytail was then sewn onto the multiple bands holding Katy’s own hair.
In addition to a high-quality ponytail extension (try this option from Luxy Hair), Haygood recommends using the PURA D’OR Argan Oil Heat Shield to lock in moisture, keep hair soft and smooth, and prevent hot tool damage if you plan on blowing your hair out beforehand.
Mariah Carey’s Honeyed Hair
As far as hair color is concerned, Mariah’s honeyed locks are brought into the stylist chair time and time again. Celebrity hair colorist Tracey Cunningham shares how the color came to fruition: “Mariah came to me looking for something new, but not completely different from her current hair color. She wanted a multidimensional color that would complement her skin tone and her eyes, and we landed on this look that includes highlights around the face and hairline. I love these colors and this technique because she can change her look just by styling her hair in a different way. If she pulls the hair in the front of her face up, for example, you’ll see more of the darker shades underneath the face-framing and hairline layers.”
Cunningham used the Redken Chromatics colors to achieve the base look paired with Redken Shades as a root gloss for added shine. “We also used Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo and Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner after coloring and before styling,” she says.
This is a great look for a natural-born blonde who wants to lighten up their look and highlight the face and hairline, says Cunningham. It’s also light and fresh for summer—in fact, Cunningham says that when the sun hits your hair, it’ll amplify the color’s dimension and shine. If you’re into this hue, ask your stylist for a mix of honey with some gold woven throughout.
Heidi Klum’s Organic Waves for Skims’s Icons Campaign
Is there anything more iconic than gathering four Victoria’s Secret angels for a Skims photoshoot? To match the carefree aesthetic of the shapewear brand’s campaign, celebrity hair stylist Wendy Iles, who has worked with Heidi throughout her career, landed on this effortless style. “Kim’s direction for the shoot was iconic supermodels and the beauty look reflected that inspiration,” says Iles. “Heidi is known for her bouncy, blonde hair with lots of shine and movement, so we agreed the hair should be classic Heidi, with an organic wave.”
“I describe this style as a blowout with movement, suiting most hair types with some length—it’s a great look for summer,” notes Iles. Iles stresses that there are two keys to achieving this style: lustrous, sumptuous hair texture; and free, natural movement. This means eliminating hairspray (Iles says it’s designed to freeze the hair’s memory, and once that memory is blocked, the hair movement will never be as spontaneous, making touch-ups impossible).
It also means prepping the hair well. “My go-to on set, and every day, is the Iles Formula Finishing Serum. I applied it to Heidi’s wet hair to protect it from heat tools and the humidity of the day. It also delivers a gorgeous luster, and the weightless memory stayed in her hair all day, even through wind machines and hot lights.” Iles then used a Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer and a large curling brush to blow dry Heidi’s hair. She also defined spontaneous sections with a large curling iron for a more lived-in look. “I continued to touch up and texturize her hair throughout the day with the Finishing Serum.” As for the bangs, Iles says she never uses a brush on Heidi’s fringe. “I direct the dryer straight down on the bangs and blow dry until the hair is almost dry. I allow it to finish drying naturally for a more relaxed and natural feel, because I think bangs can look too perfect when blow dried fully with a brush.”
This post was originally published on W Magazine
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