Call it the Billboard Music Awards beauty paradox: one of the most covetable beauty looks from the event’s red carpet is also one that seems to have flown under the radar. From the front, Pretty Little Liars star Lucy Hale appeared to wear a tried-and-true classic: a slicked-back, center-parted ponytail. And with all the images of Lucy captured from the front, we were prepared to call the look — along with her flawless makeup — one of the best of the evening. But from behind, the polished hairstyle bucked all convention with a cool, reverse French braid running from crown to nape like vertebrae. And it’s leaving us with major “why didn’t we think of that?” hair envy. The low-key punk style was created by hairstylist Kristin Ess. And thankfully, the hair pro told us how to cop it for ourselves.
After smoothing pomade from roots to tips, Ess brushed the hair into a clean, center part. Next, she grabbed a section of hair at the back of the head, from the crown to the nape of neck, and clipped it away for later attention. After securing the rest of the hair in a low pony, Ess weaved a tight reverse-French braid (passing the pieces under rather than over each other) down the center of the head, tying it all off with a small, clear elastic. She secured the braid to the low ponytail with bobby pins and sprayed the hair to smooth flyaways. The accent braid is just enough to elevate a clean look into something unexpected, which is exactly why we can’t wait to simulate this prim-in-front, badass-in-back style for weddings, festivals, and any other event in which we want to let our hair down, while keeping it all tied up.