There is just something about Dakota Johnson's hair. Maybe it's the wispy, French-girl bangs that effortlessly frame her face. Or maybe it's the perfectly imperfect tousled waves that look like she literally rolled out of bed and landed right on a red carpet without skipping a beat. Whatever the trickery, if anyone knows the magic involved in the actor's magnetic mane it's her longtime hairstylist Mark Townsend (who also counts Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen and Gal Gadot as clients). Yes, from Johnson's bouncy ponytails to her messy French twists, this veteran hair pro has been the man behind the looks that sent us into beauty heaven.
And, despite the extensive A-list names that grace his chair, Townsend tells TZR his working relationship with Johnson is unlike any other. "The way I approach red carpet moments with my other clients is different than the way I do with Dakota," says Townsend, who's worked with the actor for more than six years. "We share such similar aesthetics and references. We're very influenced by the past and want to make [those looks] modern. Dakota is not the type to even say, 'What do you want to do with my hair tonight?' She almost just sits down and lets me play."
And play he does. Over the years, Townsend has helped make some truly memorable hair moments with The High Note star, most of which have starred her now-signature curtain bangs. In the name of nostalgia, the hair veteran took TZR on a walk down memory lane, listing some of his favorite looks with Johnson. (If you've been contemplating fringe for the new year, these moments ahead might be your tipping point.)
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Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: 2019 Toronto Film Festival, HFPA/Hollywood Reporter Party
"This is one of my all time favorite red carpet looks I’ve created," says Townsend. "The top knot worked so perfectly with her dress and while the look is 'effortless' it did take some effort to create."
Pro Tip: "To give the hair a piece-y look before putting it up, I sprayed Oribe Apres Beach Spray all over and then loosely gathered her hair at the crown and twisted it into a knot and secured with tons of bobby pins."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: 2019 Governors Awards
"I absolutely love this sexy, modern, beachy wave," says Townsend.
"To give the hair that beachy texture I sprayed Kevin Murphy Doo.Over Spray all over and scrunched the hair with my hands."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: 2019 Toronto Film Festival, Premiere Of The Friend
"I LOVE a French twist hairstyle," says Townsend. "They make me think of the chic icy blondes from old Hitchcock movies, like Grace Kelly with her perfectly coiffed twist and every single hair perfectly in place."
"For a younger, more modern take on the French twist I like to add tons of texture to the hair before twisting it up. This look works really well with volume at the crown of the head, so I sprayed Dove Volume and Fullness Dry Shampoo on her roots at the crown and back combed two-inch sections of hair. I then sprayed all the hair with dry shampoo for extra texture."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: El Royale Premiere, Sept. 2018
"I really loved the gorgeous Gucci gown Dakota had chosen for the premiere and I was so inspired by the layers of the dress, so Dakota and I thought a half-up hairstyle would work perfect," says Townsend. "This is a hairstyle we do a lot because it keeps the hair back and shoulders clean while still having the hair down. I really love the way this style works with Dakota’s fringe!"
"For texture and definition in the waves I took a small amount of Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion in my hands and rubbed together and then raked my fingers through the hair. Then I took the hair from the sides and gathered them in a loose ponytail in the back of the head and twisted the ponytail into a knot and secured with bobby pins. As always, I finished with Dove Micro Mist Extra Hold Hairspray to keep her fringe in place."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: The Peanut Butter Falcon Premiere Aug. 2019
"A hairstyle I turn to very often when working with Dakota is a ponytail," says Townsend. "We’ve done so many different ponytails over the years and she even wore a ponytail for her first time presenting at The Academy Awards. A high pony can be sporty, young, and fresh while a low pony can be super chic."
"I very liberally sprayed Dove Invisible Dry Shampoo throughout all of the hair for texture and then gathered the hair into a high ponytail at the crown of her head [...] Then I wrapped two-to-four-inch sections of the hair in the ponytail around the barrels of my R Session Pro Tools Tidal Waver. The barrels on this iron are different sizes so wrap the hair around the smaller barrel for tighter waves and wrap the hair around the larger barrel for looser waves. My secret is to combine both for uneven waves that don’t look too perfect."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: 2014 LACMA Art + Film Gala
"[For this event] Dakota was showing me inspiration and reference images, and we both loved some with a punk vibe," recalls Townsend. "This look is punk and structured, yet soft and romantic at the same time."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: The 87th Academy Awards, 2015
"This really proves that the right fringe is a hairstyle all on its own," says Townsend. "Dakota loved the idea of a ponytail with that gown and so did I. We must have done four versions of a ponytail that day, we looked at a high pony and then a low pony. I really did not want it to look sporty in any way, so a medium pony was the perfect way to go."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: 2016 LACMA Art + Film Gala
"I was overwhelmed with inspiration when I saw this Gucci dress; the flower, the bow, the pearl accent meant we could literally go in any direction for the hair," says Townsend. "It was her idea to do a ponytail and she wanted it a little higher than we usually do. I wrapped a piece of black velvet around the base of the ponytail to bring the whole look together."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: Toronto Film Festival Black Mass Premiere, 2015
"Dakota cut her hair into a bob for a movie and she was growing it out," says Townsend. "She didn’t think we could an updo because her hair was short but I told her we could. I took pieces of hair and twisted it and pinned it with a gold bobby pins. I did this over and over again, letting the pins show so they became like hair jewelry. The pins reflected the flashbulbs on the red carpet and have a magical effect."
Dakota Johnson's Best Hair Moments: Black Mass Boston Premiere, 2015
"There was a real Audrey Hepburn inspiration here," says Townsend. "I used at least a can of hairspray on her bangs to keep them in place, because it was so windy that day and the carpet was outdoors. This was the first time we did a side bang!"