Favorite Halloween Looks Trending Across The US

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Women across the country unanimously agree Halloween’s the one night a year where you can take on a whole new identity. It’s sort of like slipping into a pair of Cinderella’s slippers, until the clock strikes midnight—or if you’re really celebrating, sunrise— you get to be someone else entirely.

As children we all feel the magic of that. When I was a kid, I would start planning next year’s Halloween costume as early as November 1st.  I can’t say the appeal of a temporarily different self has faded with adulthood. One could argue adults actually need Halloween night more than kids do. When you’re a kid you get to play pretend all the time. When you’re an adult, you have to be yourself every day. Sure, we may have different versions of ourselves. I have yoga-me, business-me, hairdresser-me, couch-potato-day-off-me. But in all of these versions, there’s still a “me” attached. And because I don’t see day-off-me enough, I have little time to plan the one day a year I get to be someone else.

Thus these days, it seems Halloween comes around before we know it. And in our busy adult lives, most of us don’t have time to plan what we’re going to do or wear on the night of October 31st. It’s easy to say you’ll just stay home and pass out candy. It’s easy to say, ‘there’s always next year!’  That’s usually the case for me, except living in New York, there’s always a party and on the night of the festivities, I always want in.  Making the last minute decision to go out on Halloween forces you to forgo the hope for a uniquely, clever costume and instead, settle for anything that could pass as Halloween appropriate.  Two years ago, I wrapped myself in a full roll of tinfoil and went as a “left over.” Last year, I stopped in a drug store in Times Square on my walk from dinner to attend a last minute invite to the Gotham Hall Halloween Gala. The costume isle was desolate except for a pair of broken devil horns and a gigantic spider that hung from the ceiling a spooky decoration.  I headed straight to makeup and bought foundation three shades too light for me and black eye shadow, then pleaded with the cashier to sell me the spider. I packed the ivory foundation down to the collar of my shirt, sculpted huge black rings around my eyes, wound the spider’s long legs around my neck and called myself “poisoned.”

This year, as the city starts to fill with cotton cobwebs and jack-o-lanterns, I made the commitment to start thinking of a costume sooner than later. In the process of searching for inspiration, I became fascinated with how other women are around the country are celebrating in 2016. What are the common themes? What are our points of difference? Of course, with social networks and image sharing platforms, costume and party ideas spread like wildfire but to tap into the inspiration behind it, we had to do some digging.  We looked at how 4 major US cities are celebrating Halloween this year and the common thread we found wasn’t surprising. 95% of the costume is—you guessed it— all about the hair. 

New York, Scary Chic Halloween Trend

In New York, people do Halloween like they do everything: to the full extent. The city’s fashion usually has a layer of functionality, honored by some on Halloween (think flats and fleece jackets under costumes) while others take the opportunity to throw the practicality to the way side and go all-the-heck out.

Especially in places like Gotham Hall, where perfect hair and makeup is nearly a requirement. Last year—the year that I wore a CVS store display around my neck— my friends greeted me at the door dressed as Jellyfish and Zipper Face. Jellyfish wore an iridescent tutu that blinked with tiny micro lights and shimmering eye shadow. Her long, blonde hair piled high into a perfect bun, glittered in the street lights. If jellyfish had hierarchy, she would’ve been the queen.  Zipper Face had gotten both makeup and hair done professionally: a zipper glued vertically down the center of her otherwise perfect face, was half unzipped from the tip of her forehead stretching down her nose and out to where her laugh lines would be. It revealed a blood red nose, lips and chin. She was clad in a fitted black dress and high heels; he shiny black hair curled like a Kardashian. And yes, her fake bloody flesh was, well, terrifying, but her look was still undeniably chic.

That was the ruse of everyone at the gala. A marriage between hair and makeup juxtaposed against wardrobe created an eerie but beautiful balance. In  New York, there’s still an element of vanity, so women want to look to on trend and attractive. This beauty element is most easily incorporated by rocking a spot on glam hairstyle and killer makeup.

Other than playing it modish, New York offers many other ways to celebrate, from spooky ghost tours to bars, restaurant specials, festivals and parties. And the range of hairstyles are as versatile as the city. If you’re not a last minute planner like me, there is no storage of supplies! Shopping is as easy as stopping into regular beauty supply stores, like Ricky’s, which carries costumes, accessories, wigs and full body makeup. If you’re crafting your own chic costume with full-on makeup, opt for a slick polished hairstyle with big curls. If makeup is minimal, go for big hair and lots of texture. And of course, if you’re dressing up as a character, follow suit!  Remember to use a heat protecting spray like Style Link Heat Buffer


Chicago, The City of Characters Halloween Trend

For some cities hair is the main attraction, for others, it takes the backseat to make up and wardrobe.  And in cities like Chicago, hair is dictated by the character. “If we had to define it, the theme for our costumes would be characters.  Hair usually gets very specific because people are trying to recreate a specific character.” says Caryn Vanderbilt, Chicago hairdresser.  From iconic characters famous and infamous, with the Chicago clubs offering costume contests, “Chicago gets very serious,” she explains. “Bars and dance clubs in Chicago are known for their parties and costumes are always encouraged.  Chicago turns into famous characters for Halloween. We see everything from super heroes to celebrities to party goers from different decades: flapper girls and gangsters, 80s hairs and makeup, the Muppets, you name it!”

This year we have been gifted with an array of characters in TV and celebrities to choose from, I can only imagine the possibilities! Vanderbilt explains, “The more comical the costume the better.”

For stylists getting their clients ready for the big night, Vanderbilt says “staying versatile and quick to create is a necessity. And making the look last a night is key. Chicago is not a one stop shop; it’s about hitting as many venues in the same night as possible.” So if you’re going as a classic Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz or Eleven from Stranger Things, make sure the hair is spot on.  Depending on your hair being close enough the actual character, you might want to try a wig. Here’s how to get yours to stay on all night!

To prevent from slipping or your own hair from peeking through, try a wig wrap on your hair. 

How To Apply A Wig:

  • 1. Start in the front hairline, create a 1 “ section and pin the rest away for more control

  • 2. Pick up the section, wrap the end around your forefinger and curl downward. Slide the curl off of your finger and pin it flat to the head. Cross two bobby pins to make an X over the curl. Complete throughout the whole head.

  • 3. Apply a wig cap, if you have one, to create the smoothest surface for the wig to sit.


LA, The Hollywood Glamour Halloween Trend

Los Angeles has the history of late famous people, and endless tales of haunted hotel sightings. To get ready to celebrate, Christy Miller, LA hairdresser, says “easy, fuss-free wigs help busy mamas transform into witches, gypsies, and Wonder Woman.”  If you’re going to party, “A wig is also the easiest way to get crazy hair and there's zero commitment when you go for a costume like Harley Quinn, blue and pink ends are no big deal on a wig.”

According to Miller, Hollywood is also about the makeup, “The hair can be just a supporting character. Sleek styles like soft Hollywood Glam waves compliment killer makeup for ghosts and ghouls. Taking styles like Space Buns and adding glitter for an extraterrestrial romp around town is already happening.”  Miller usually opts to top crazy textured hair with a witch’s hat and wear all black.  It’s not a just-for- Halloween-wardrobe, she explains, “As a hairdresser, I already have all black in my closet.”  

Here’s an Old Hollywood Glamour look that never goes out of style: Vintage bob with winged eye liner and lace or a fur coat. 

How to Create a Hollywood Glam Faux Hair Bob

  • 1. Ideal hair to achieve this is long to medium with a moderate density. Pre-curl hair & put it half up. Use a fine tooth comb to backcomb all the hair below to create a cushion to pin the style.

  • 2. Pick up the entire back section, as though you’re going to put it in ponytail— roll the ends under and pin at the base. Repeat this on left and right sides.

  • 3. Release the top section. Separate curls and gently backcomb at the root area. If hair hangs too long in the back, roll the ends under and pin at the base. Make sure to use a strong hold hairspray like Matrix StyleLink Style Fixer to keep your ‘do in place all night.


Boston, The Chic Cats Halloween Trend

Historic Boston, home to Ghost and Gravestones Tours and some serious witch history in Salem, Halloween is not optional. The city is full of witches, ghosts and golem to comical characters and spoofs. There is quite an array of ways to celebrate. But for the large college population, it’s always via Halloween party. 

Some people get really into it, while others play it a bit more low key e.g. the “ears trend,” a popular pick among millennials who want to go out and enjoy the festivities but don’t have the expendable income for a pricey costume, or who would rather not get fully dressed up. You can come from work, slip on your ears, use an eye liner to pant your face and you’re ready!

Adding cat ears, bunny ears, mouse ears with a black outfit and great hair is always a favorite.  In order for this look to be a win, haircolor should be fresh and vibrant and hair must be styled! Go for smooth and sleek or curled and textured.

Well there you have it, whether scary or sexy, Halloween is all about the hair or all about the makeup for us girls!  I’ll remember this next time I reach for the tinfoil. 

Kiera Doyle is a hairdresser and writer living in New York City. She still hasn’t decided what she’ll be for Halloween this year.