These New Celeb Hair Trends Require NO Commitment

Pop quiz: What do Kim K.'s chic wig, Shay Mitchell's fake-out lob, and Hollywood's fastest growing piercing trend have in common? The answer is British hairstylist Christopher Appleton, a recent L.A. transplant and one of the hottest stylists to take the red carpet by storm this year. Since he arrived from London this past winter, his out-of-the-box techniques and anything-goes aesthetic have secured him a growing client list that includes Christina Aguilera, Ariana Grande, Katy Perry, and many more.

Lately, he's been making headlines by encouraging his clients to experiment with interesting hair adornments; craft-store accessories; and wigs, wigs, and more wigs (his obsession). Needless to say, we're huge fans — so we asked him to share his secrets with R29.

But first, a little background. Appleton’s hair story began like that of many in his field...just a little earlier. At about 5 years old, he started crafting looks on his mother; by 13, he was working in a London salon. "I started young, but it just felt so right," he says. "I remember my first day, thinking, This is what I’m gonna do. I remember watching the interaction with the client, how they would walk in and how they would leave — and the difference. That is one of the main things that attracted me to hair; you could transform someone."

His path to success was swift: Salon life led to working backstage during Fashion Weeks across Europe. In 2009, he got approached to be on what he calls "the America's Next Top Model of hair" in the U.K.: BBC's Young Hairdresser of the Year. He won — and editorial magazine work came calling, allowing him to work with the likes of Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, and Rita Ora. Then, he hopped across the pond — and brought his London-inspired edge to Southern California.

Ahead, Appleton walks us through some of his favorite looks, along with the products, tools, and tips he relies on to make hair magic.
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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Lay the right foundation.

For Appleton, a base with grit and hold is paramount for every look he creates — no matter the desired end result — but the product he relies on to get there might surprise you.

"It’s old-school, but I love Bed Head Queen for A Day," he says, noting that it delivers workable grip, texture, and volume no matter your hair type. "I saturate the hair on each and every head of hair — doesn’t matter if it's curly or straight, fine or thick." Follow Appleton's lead by heavily misting the roots and lengths section by section. "Don't put it in your ends — it moves towards the ends on its own," he explains.

"Then, I wrap-dry the hair all in different directions," he says. "It makes the hair gritty, volumized, and texturized at the root. Then, I can lift it up into a topknot, or I can blow it out into a sleek wave, but I know it’s not going anywhere."
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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Pierce your braid.

Appleton's been adorning his clients' hair with "hair earrings" for years. "The first time I ever did it, on Rita [Ora], was two years ago and I think we just used earrings," he says. Now he makes his own, thanks to a jeweler friend. They're not fancy; just simple metal hoops that spring open. Your best bet to score the look — at least until Appleton starts selling these bad boys (It's happening! And we'll keep you posted...) — is to pick up a cheap pack of hoops from a fast-fashion retailer, on Etsy, or at a hardware store. There are no rules.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Trick: Hit the craft store.

One of the first times Appleton worked with Kim Kardashian, she requested a simple, sleek pony. As is his way, he talked her into something a little more fun. "I thought, How could I upgrade this ponytail a little bit?" he says. "I don’t want to do something crazy, but I do want to add some detail. So I stopped at a craft store on the way to her house and thought it would be cool to add something down the ponytail, like a ribbon." The secret is keeping it refined: "It’s a fine line between being ‘Oh, that’s cool’ or too much; it’s about keeping it on the editorial, cool side, not looking like Christmas decorations."

There's one more secret to trying something like this at home: Anchor it with hat elastic. Yes, hat elastic. "It's basically an elastic that you can tie the hair with, and it keeps it really secure; it doesn’t go anywhere," he says. "Can you imagine if it had all unraveled?"
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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Break out the hot rollers.

Appleton achieves big, sexy volume on his clients by starting with an old-school hot-roller set. He preps the hair (see slide 1), then sets it using BaBylissPro Jumbo rollers. Roll the front sections backward, then alternate directions throughout the rest, allow them to fully cool, then unwind.

Here comes the most important part: "It's quite curly before I brush it out, but it has the foundation and memory, so it turns into a wave," Appleton says. "A lot of time, people who create curls are afraid to mess it up, but you have to brush 'em out." Finish by spritzing Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray at the roots.

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Photo: Getty Images.
Trick: Borrow your grandma's knitting needles.

"I always have knitting needles, which are great for pulling things through braids," Appleton says. "They're not sharp, obviously." He also stocks his kit with a variety of fun adornments he finds at the craft store. "I'm like a traveling haberdashery," he says. So next time you're at Michaels, don't forget to pick up knitting needles, along with ribbon, cord, pearls, metal rings, and crystals (all of which are currently in his kit).
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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Fake a chop.

Appleton often uses wigs, but reminds us that "it doesn't have to be a wig to be really interesting." For an event with Shay Mitchell earlier this month, he created a faux lob — which is easy to do on longer locks.

Here's how it went down: Appleton waved all of Mitchell's hair (see slide 4) and braided the length in the back, but left out the top sections. He added some clip-in extensions to fake length, but if you have layers, you can skip this step. For this look, he rolled the braid and pinned it against the nape of the neck.

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Photo: Getty Images.
Earlier this year, Appleton created a very similar look on Mitchell — but left the braid untucked.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Trick: Never let 'em see your elastic.

Out-of-the-box is fun, but there's a time and place for sleek and classic, like this look Appleton did on Ora. He just has one rule: You should never see an elastic or pin — unless you're supposed to.

"I use small pins, and if the hair is up, I probably use two — max," he says. Again, it's all about the hair prep. "For me, hair is like a fabric. When I prep the hair, I use product to make the hair pliable, so much that I could put the hair up into a topknot with one pin; the foundation is a key part of any hairstyle." Make sure the pins are hidden by tucking them deep into the hair, and wrap the elastics with thin strands of hair.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Trick: Add some mystery to your life.

Disclaimer: We admit that this one may not be relevant for most of you — but we had to address the uptick in celebrity wig devotees. Kim Kardashian is just one of many celebs who have faked us out thanks to Appleton's work.

Wigs in Hollywood are far from new, but talking about them is certainly a shift. "Rita Ora always did wigs; no one ever knew it because no one ever believed that it was a wig — so many people are like, 'Don’t use the W word!'” Appleton tells us, noting that Ora was a bit of a renegade in terms of talking about them, something more and more stars are doing. "But I think for Kim or Shay, who like to change up their hair, that’s kind of just what they do; they change it up, they create tension, and then they’re happy to say that it’s a wig, because if it's kept a secret, then [everyone knows] they can achieve it — everyone wants to try something new." Moral of the story: Wigs are here to stay — and aren't just for celebs.
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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Score an S-wave the easy way.

Appleton creates Old Hollywood waves in a variety of ways, depending on the client. The most reliable method is to use an iron to set the hair, though he notes that rollers will work, too — and they're far easier. "If you're not good with an iron, you can get this look with heated rollers," he says. Lay the groundwork he detailed on slide 1, then simply section the hair evenly and roll each section in the same direction all the way around the head. "That's the key," he says.

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Photo: Courtesy of @chrisappleton1.
Trick: Try a topknot in the front — and a party in the back.

We'll leave you with this: You can adorn any braid, no matter where it is, with hoops and rings. "I believe that the hair is part of the outfit," Appleton says. "With this look on Shay, I said, 'We can't do too much — it's got to all work together.'"

The perfect addition to her gold dress and intense eye makeup? "I did a detail on the back, a braid that almost looks like it extended up from her spine," he explains. "I like something that throws a little spice into it. Girls today want to do something different." And guess what? Mitchell loved it just as much as we did.
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