How To Style Your Hair for NYE, According To the Olsens' Hairstylist

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Dakota Johnson and Ashley Olsen, styled by Mark Townsend

Star stylist Mark Townsend shares his tricks of the trade. Spoiler alert: It’s all about the bobby pins.

Stressed about your New Year’s Eve style? When it comes to hair, superstar stylist Mark Townsend has you covered. This year, he says, “It’s about chic accessories. Something like a black piece of suede, leather or velvet wrapped around a ponytail takes it to a whole other level. And there are amazing colored bobby pins — just pull the hair over in a deep side part and pin the opposite side. It’s a really incredible look for New Year’s.”

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A photo posted by Mark Townsend (@marktownsend1) on

But the hair guru to all three Olsen sisters, plus Dakota Johnson and Elizabeth Banks, is really into the half-up-half-down thing, which he says “isn’t going anywhere. A trend that’s not going away is hair being off the face but still down. It’s good for New Year’s because it really is a party going on back there,” he says. The “up” part he likes in a bun, which should be perfect for a bit of edge.

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For a Louis Vuitton party last month, he styled Johnson’s bob into a cool wavy texture, “and right before she walked out I just really messed it up.” While hers didn’t have visible pins, Townsend is most definitely a fan of making the bobby pins the focal point. “If you don’t go for one large hair accessory, gold bobby pins are my biggest obsession,” he says. Like almost all his obsessions, he adds, it started with an Olsen.


A photo posted by Mark Townsend (@marktownsend1) on

At the 2015 Met Ball, Ashley Olsen wanted a half-up high topknot. “She encouraged me to show off these great gold bobby pins I had just found, and it inspired me in more ways than she ever knew. In photos, the gold almost looks like gold flecks in her hair,” says Townsend. For that look, he criss-crossed a couple underneath the bun; on other occasions he’s stuck them halfway in around the perimeter. The hairpin snob gets his gold Japanese pins from and oversized limited-edition rose gold–plated YS Park pins from Reed Clarke (he’s using those on a client for New Year’s).


A photo posted by Mark Townsend (@marktownsend1) on

His pro trick? Coat bobby pins with dry shampoo, like Dove’s starchy formula ($6), before using them for better grip so they don’t slide out. And “don’t make them perfect — it’s so much more interesting that way,” says Townsend. As for the fabric-wrapped look — inspired by styles he’s done on Elizabeth Olsen, Johnson and Banks — he says black on blonde hair is super chic, but for New Year’s gold is festive on any hair color. “You could wrap or braid it in," he says. "It takes an extra five minutes and looks like you spent two hours on your hair.” And isn't that what we're really going for?

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A photo posted by Mark Townsend (@marktownsend1) on

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