10 Head Scarf Styles for Bad Hair Days and Beyond
Some days my hair feels gorgeous, clean and beautiful enough to star in a hair-care campaign (call me, Pantene). Other days, not so much. It’s dirty, frizzy or simply seems to have developed a new cowlick that I just can’t be bothered to deal with. Sometimes I’m hoping to protect my strands from wind or rain and other days I’m just bored and looking to try a new ’do. Whatever the case, a head scarf can help.
The head scarf is hardly a new trend, but it is a fun way to shake up your use of the cold-weather accessory (though we suggest sticking to silk or other thin fabrics rather than wrapping a cozy wool number around your scalp). The benefit of this particular hair accessory is how versatile it can be: There are tons of different looks you can achieve with just one scarf, ranging from super-simple to intricately detailed. Whatever look you’re going for, we’ve gathered together the best tips and tricks for achieving the head scarf style you want.
What Type of Scarf Should You Use?
Square Head ScarvesThese are the easiest to work with for the greatest variety of hairdos, but make sure you’ve selected a scarf that’s big enough for your chosen style. If you want it to cover all or most of your head, it should be at least 28 by 28 inches.
Rectangular Head Scarves
These can also be called oblong or long scarves, your choice! They’re not quite as multipurpose as their perfectly square cousins, but they do offer other benefits. In particular, you’ll probably want to use a rectangular style if you like the look of excess fabric hanging down, or if you’re interested in doing a full headwrap or turban.
Now onto the fun. Here are 10 ways to tie a scarf around your head, ranked from easiest to most difficult:
1. The Pony Tie
One of the absolute easiest ways to incorporate a scarf into your look is by simply tying it around a ponytail. This works with pretty much any size or shape, so long as you can secure it in a knot. If you’re really worried about the silk fabric slipping down your pony, loop your scarf through a hair elastic before tying it to give some extra staying power.
2. The Twisted Headband
If you’re using a square scarf, start by folding it in half diagonally, then begin to roll or fold the scarf starting at the widest side and working your way toward the pointed corners. If you’re using a rectangular scarf, just start folding along the long side. Tie the loose ends under your hair at the nape of your neck and voilà! You can also knot the scarf at the middle after rolling it up to help it stay folded and add a bit more volume up top.
3. The Bandanna
Hello, Lizzie McGuire called and she’s more than happy to share one of her signature styles with you, once again. If you’re really not feeling your hair or just want to cover up a third-day blowout that probably should’ve retired after being a two-day blowout, this is your easiest option. Simply fold a square scarf in half diagonally, then tie the two opposite ends under your hair and leave the third corner loose.
4. The Bandanna Cap
Very similar to the above, but rather than give off an early 2000s or summer camp vibe, the bandanna cap feels much more ’70s and really only requires one small tweak in execution. Instead of knotting your scarf below your hair, tie it on top of your strands and over the loose corner as well. Then tuck the excess fabric under the knot to neaten things up.
5. The Babushka
Favored by Eastern European grandmothers and fashion-obsessed rappers alike, the babushka covers most of your head, is incredibly easy to do and stays in place even if you’re running around all day. Start by folding a square scarf in half diagonally, then take the two opposing ends and knot them under your chin. And that’s it. Seriously. Now go forth and tend to your grandchildren or record another album (or, you know, whatever your version of an average day looks like).
6. The Grace Kelly
Also known as the Babushka 2.0, this is a style beloved by Old Hollywood starlets, particularly when they were driving through the South of France in chic convertibles. So yes, it’s also an excellent option for combating wind, rain or humidity. It requires a bit of a larger scarf than the babushka and just one additional step. Rather than simply tying the ends of your scarf under your chin, wrap them around your neck and over the back corner of your scarf before fastening into a knot.
7. The Updated Rosie the Riveter
We love how this reverse bandanna looks with a topknot, high pony or tight curls. If you’re working with a square scarf, fold it in half diagonally, then fold the bottom third up and the top third down to form a long trapezoid. Then, place the center of the scarf at the back of your head, wrap up and around and tie at the top of your forehead. If you’re using a rectangular scarf, use your best judgement before folding it lengthwise. It might be wide enough as is or with just one fold. It might also leave you with some extra fabric at the ends to tie a fun bow, tuck under or even leave hanging loose, if you prefer.
Watch this video from Cece’s Closet to see exactly how it’s done.
8. The Scarf Braid
There are multiple ways to incorporate a scarf into a braid and the easiest is simply to pull your hair back into a ponytail, tie one end to the elastic and then use it as one third of your braid, tying the other end off with a second elastic or by wrapping and knotting the scarf itself. But you can also weave your accessory through a more complicated ’do, like a French or fishtail braid.
To begin, fold your scarf in half (this is one of those times when an oblong version might work best). Pull together a section of hair as you would normally, however, before you divide it into three parts, pin the folded scarf under the section of hair. Treat each of the two sides of the scarf as a section of hair and continue to braid, adding hair to each section as you go. End with an elastic and loop the rest of the scarf around the bottom of the braid.
Want some additional help? Check out this YouTube tutorial by Cute Girl Hairstyles to see exactly how it’s done.
9. The Low Bun
Both a square or long scarf will work here, but a long scarf will give you more fabric to wrap around your bun, so if you have a lot of hair or want a voluminous bun, we suggest using a rectangular style. Start by folding the top quarter of the scarf down before placing it on top of your head. Make sure the two ends are equal in length, then secure them in a knot at the base of your neck, just like you would for a bandanna look. Cross each loose end up and around the bun and tie once more underneath the bun. Tuck in any loose ends or extra hanging fabric and there you have it.
Check out this video from Chinutay A. to see how it’s done. Note: She uses both a head scarf liner and oversize scrunchie to protect her hair and add extra volume. Skip to the two-minute mark to see just the scarf tutorial.
10. The Rosette Turban
You’re going to want an oblong scarf to achieve this look. Start by placing the center of the scarf at the back of your head and pulling the two ends up and around to your forehead. Tie the two ends into a double knot, ensuring that the entire back of your head is covered by the scarf. Twist one end of the scarf before wrapping it around the double knot and tucking the loose end under. Repeat with the second side. If you want extra volume, gather your hair into a bun at the top of your head and use that as the base around which you wrap the two twisted ends of your scarf.
Watch this video from Modelesque Nic, starting at the four-minute mark, to see how it’s done (then watch the rest for more ideas on how to get a full-coverage look).
Here are a few of our favorite scarves to play with:
Lulus ($12); Madewell ($13); Cece’s Closet ($25); Free People ($28); Elyse Maguire ($34); Aritzia ($38); Rebecca Minkoff ($41); J.Crew ($45); Ann Taylor ($60); Echo ($79); Kate Spade New York ($88); Salvatore Ferragamo ($380)