The best-ever hair looks from the Emmy Awards, from Old Hollywood waves to short pixie cuts

The Emmy Awards celebrate the finest television of the year, and the stars always bring out their best beauty looks

The best ever hair styles and looks from the Emmys over the years, including Jennifer Aniston, Blake Lively and Sarah Jessica Parker
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Emmy Awards, or Emmys, is one of the most prestigious award shows of the season. And while the Oscars celebrate American and international films, the Emmys focus on the best television of the past year.

While films typically dominate awards season, the TV renaissance over the past decade has seen plenty of the movie industry's biggest names make the transition to the small screen. And this means we've enjoyed plenty of memorable Emmys moments. 

Now, delving back into the archives, including a selection of the best red carpet looks of the 00s and some of the most memorable hair transformations, let's take a look at some of the most iconic hairstyles to ever grace the Emmys red carpet.

32 of the best ever hair looks at the Emmy Awards

Blake Lively's slicked-back ponytail, 2009

Blake Lively posing at the Emmy awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Gossip Girl star and eternal hair icon Blake Lively attended the 2009 Emmys with an impressive feat of styling going on when it came to her crowning glory. 

The actress and entrepreneur pulled back her famous blonde locks into a tight, sleek ponytail. Showcasing her finesse for some of the finest ponytail hairstyles, the pièce de résistance was the intricate plaiting on her ponytail, adding weight and structure as it cascaded down to her lower back. 

Rapunzel, for the 21st century.  

Scarlett Johansson's edgy bob, 2018

Scarlett Johansson at the 2018 Emmy awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The 2018 Emmys saw Scarlett Johansson - who had been trialling a brunette phase - return to her blonde roots.

Growing her hair back into a chin-length bob with the brown roots left artfully exposed, Scarlett gave a masterclass on how to experiment with shorter-length hairstyles

Her hair boasted lots of volume at the root, making for a softer, longer, and brighter look than the typical shorter crop - and it was effective in putting the focus on her makeup and earrings. We're bookmarking this for the next time we need some bob-spiration. 

Jennifer Aniston's tousled locks, 2002

Jennifer Aniston winning an Emmy in 2002

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Having been a staple on television for over a decade, there are countless examples of Jennifer Aniston's Emmys hairstyles to choose from - but for her 2002 appearance (which saw her take home the Lead Actress for Comedy), Jennifer showcased the laid-back, effortless glam for which she's become a figurehead. 

Amid a sea of elaborate buns and tight ponytails, the Friends star collected her award with her hair loose and relaxed, almost resembling air-dried beach waves. 

Could we imagine the star using sea salt spray in between commercial breaks to maintain those free-flowing locks? Perhaps. Or maybe she had just lapped up the perks of living in California ahead of the ceremony. 

It was also a darker look for Jennifer, who opted for a slight ombré effect, her honeyed wavy hair turning more caramel at the ends.

Gillian Anderson's chic semi-chignon, 1997

Gillian Anderson holding an Emmy award

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The X-Files star, Gillian Anderson, embodied sophisticated glamour at the 1997 awards. 

With her refined, understated dress, Gillian opted for a similar hairstyle, choosing a classic, relaxed semi-chignon. 

Classy without looking too complicated, timeless without chasing trends, it's the perfect example of less sometimes being more. 

Jessica Chastain's glossy look, 2024

Jessica Chastain at the Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When the big screen comes to the small screen, it's always a thrill. Jessica Chastain might have made her name as a bonafide box office icon, but she's no stranger to TV, having starred in limited series including George & Tammy, where she played country singer, Tammy Wynette. 

For the 2024 awards, the Oscar winner served a quintessential Old Hollywood look. Bone straight and without a single flyaway, the glossy look was right on trend for 2024. 

Joan Collins's fabulously oversized 80s barnet, 1986

Joan Collins at the 1986 Emmy Awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It's not old-fashioned, it's vintage, darling. 

Joan Collins is a timeless style icon who nearly stole the show from the new crop of television stars when she appeared on stage to hand out an award at the 2024 Emmy Awards People couldn't quite get over the icon's youthful appearance (she was 90, if you can believe it). 

But a few decades earlier, when Joan was reigning over the airwaves with Dynasty, she attended the Emmys with the most fabulously oversized 80s volume.

Debra Messing's side-swept fringe, 2009

Debra Messing on the Emmys red carpet in 2009

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An Emmy winner for her beloved turn in the sitcom Will & Grace, Debra Messing is a regular on the Emmys red carpet - and her hair is often the star of the show. 

Debra is known to experiment with her fiery locks, wowing with impressive curls at one event and surprising with a sleek, straight style at the next. 

For the 2009 Emmys, Debra might have delivered one of her most stunning ever hairstyles, sweeping her voluminous hair into a side chignon complete with a side-swept fringe.

Sarah Paulson's blunt bob, 2021

Sarah Paulson at the Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

At the 2021 Emmy Awards, American Horror Story alum Sarah Paulson merged a few different recognisable trends into her signature finish. 

Showcasing a chin-length blunt bob with chunky, 90s highlights, Sarah's bob also featured crisp, clean ends. 

It's high glam without looking too complicated. 

Zendaya's slicked back look, 2022

Zendaya posing with her 2022 Emmy award

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She might be young, but Zendaya was the epitome of Old Hollywood when she brought elegance to the 2022 Emmys. 

Taking home the award for her work in Euphoria that year, people might have been too distracted by her perfect styling to even notice her win. 

Zendaya pulled her hair back tightly, adding a sleek silk band as a nod to Old Hollywood screen sirens like Brigitte Bardot. 

Contrast with the slicked-back look, Zendaya added volume by letting her brushed-out curls fall to her shoulders - giving her a chance to perfectly frame her Bulgari jewels.

Nicole Kidman glamorous updo, 2017

Nicole Kidman with her two Emmy awards in 2017

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If there's one Hollywood star who can be described as a hair chameleon, it's Nicole Kidman. 

From her days as a fiery redhead to the icy blonde she's become known for, Nicole always serves a hairstyle to take inspiration from. For the 2017 Emmys - which saw her take home trophies for Big Little Lies - she kept it simple and sophisticated. 

The Aussie actress wore her blonde locks in a classic updo that featured two loose, face-framing tendrils. At the back, her hair was kept out of the way in a barely-there braid. 

Kate McKinnon's dramatic short hairstyle, 2017

Kate McKinnon holding her Emmy award in 2017

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Saturday Night Live alum Kate McKinnon stunned at the 2017 Emmys, proving to be a muse for anyone looking for short hairstyle inspiration. 

Kate's textured updo included creamy, ashy highlights for a perfect balance of different blondes. 

She added drama to her look with plenty of volume in the fringe, working to both make her hair a statement style and draw plenty of attention to her clean, fresh makeup look.

Sandra Oh's curly tresses, 2024

Sandra Oh on the 2024 Emmys red carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sparkling in purple, the Grey's Anatomy actress's raven-coloured tresses perfectly complemented her bold, bright outfit. 

Sandra seemed to be channelling the 70s from head to toe. With wide-legged flares and a satin shirt with a plunging neckline plus her loose, glam-rock curls Sandra looks like she could be on the dancefloor at Studio 54. 

Selena Gomez's old Hollywood glam style, 2024

Selena Gomez on the red carpet for the 2024 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Selena Gomez was a highlight of the 2024 Emmys red carpet, debuting a classic, Old Hollywood updo which featured a curled tendril fringe that delicately framed her face.

Selena's long-time hairstylist, Marissa Marino, took to Instagram after the ceremony and she gave fans a little insight into how to achieve the timeless look. Tagging some of the products involved in the process, it would appear a Tangle Teezer was essential in Selena's glamorous aesthetic. 

Issa Rae's slick braided updo, 2017

Issa Rae at the Emmys in 2017

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Insecure star Issa Rae marked her Emmys debut in 2017 - and what a splash she made with this slick, braided updo. 

The regal braided bun almost gives off a crown effect, making this a great hairstyle to emulate for a romantic occasion. 

Gillian Anderson's glamour-meets-grunge look, 1996

Gillian Anderson posing at the 1996 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While not a look many could pull off with such aplomb, there's no denying that Gillian Anderson's 1996 Emmys look showcased the benefit of taking a style swing. 

Gillian's messy, swept-up style was glamour-meets-grunge.

Sweeping her auburn locks up in big curls, it's a style which adds height - and helps to put the focus on the face. 

Lucy Liu's side-swept bangs, 1999

Lucy Liu at the 1999 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Lucy Liu has had a varied career - starring in rollicking box office hits like Charlie's Angels and mystery thrillers like TV's Elementary. And just as she likes variety in her film roles, she's known to surprise with her hairstyles. 

From flowing waves to chunky highlights, we've seen many a style from Lucy, but way back when, during her Ally McBeal days, she attended the 1999 Emmys sporting one of her most structured looks ever. 

The sleek updo and side-swept bangs were a highlight of the red carpet and a definite statement style. 

Kirsten Dunst wavy blonde tresses, 2018

Kirsten Dunst on the red carpet for the Emmys in 2018

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She might have been experimenting with the adage that blondes have more fun because Kirsten Dunst turned up the brightness when she attended the 2018 Emmys.

While she's always been a blonde, Kirsten appeared to have added extra highlights and a brighter, beachier colour. 

Off-set with the cool tones of her dress and pale blue eyes, it worked to serve a Grace Kelly-style icy blonde, opposed to a Playboy mansion-esque yellow blonde. 

Tracee Ellis Ross's fabulous natural hair, 2021

Tracee Ellis Ross on the Emmy red carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Free-flowing, natural curls from Tracee Ellis Ross were a definite highlight on the 2021 Emmys red carpet. 

Tracee might have subtly been paying tribute to her mother, the legendary Diana Ross, with her gorgeous, voluminous style. 

Showing that big and natural hair deserves a rightful spot at any glam event, Tracee looked supreme (not an intentional pun for Diana Ross and the Supremes...) and it's no surprise she has gone on to launch Pattern Beauty, hair care products for natural hair, designed for curly, coily & tight-textured hair.

Cher's infinitely long locks, 2000

Cher and makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin at the Emmys in 2000

(Image credit: Getty Images)

One of her many signature hits has Cher belting what she would do if she could turn back time, but when she turned up to the 2000 Emmys, she basically proved that she had, in fact, worked out the secrets of time travel. 

Dressed casually in her typical rock-chick vibes, Cher's silk-pressed, bone-straight hair flowed way down to her navel, evoking the days of her early 1960s aesthetic. 

Taraji P. Henson's long bob, 2015

Taraji P. Henson at the Emmys in 2015

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Taraji P. Henson embodied the ultimate boss in Empire, and at the 2015 Emmys, she was the boss of the red carpet. 

Her angled long-bob featured a seriously sharp cut, giving her ultimate movement and drama as she was posing up a storm.

Cyndi Lauper's yellow hair, 1995

Cyndi Lauper's 1995 Emmys outfit

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Granted, the gut reaction from first seeing 80s icon Cyndi Lauper's hair from the 1995 Emmys is that someone sabotaged a dye job.

However, taking into consideration Cyndi has always done things her own way, there's no denying it's an iconic look, albeit one that might not be for everybody.

Looking like a punk rock Betty Boop, Cyndi's wavey curls are a fiery palette of platinum blonde, yellows and oranges. 

Ginnifer Goodwin pixie cut, 2009

A closeup of Ginnifer Goodwin at the 2009 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Once Upon a Time star Ginnifer Goodwin offered a masterclass on how versatile a pixie cut can be. 

She turns the cropped cut into a refined aesthetic with a sleek finish and a deep side part. 

Where the He's Just Not That Into You actress really offers a new twist on a short style is with the subtle bump of volume at the crown, giving it something of a retro up-do effect.

Sheryl Lee Ralph rhinestone-clad 'do, 2022

Sheryl Lee Ralph kissing her Emmy award in 2022

(Image credit: Getty Images)

She was one of the original Dreamgirls, and Sheryl Lee Ralph's bejewelled Emmys hair was the stuff of dreams. 

The legendary star of stage and screen took home the award for her work in Abbott Elementary, but it was her hair that really stole the show. 

Dazzling the red carpet, Sheryl Lee Ralph paired a custom gown with a bedazzled waist-length braided ponytail and matching face gems.

Sarah Jessica Parker's natural waves, 1999

A closeup of Sarah Jessica Parker at the 1999 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sarah Jessica Parker has been a fixture on the Emmys red carpet for years, thanks to her portrayal of one of TV's most iconic heroines of all time, Carrie Bradshaw. 

For the 1999 Emmys, Sarah Jessica Parker brought a bit of Sex and the City's Carrie to the real world when she let her big, bouncy curls take centre stage. 

The bright blonde tresses with the subtle signs of a darker root add a layer of 90s edge to the look, and the free-flowing, unfussy curls give 'fresh-out-of-bed' fashion for a playful, confident aesthetic. 

Jane Fonda's block fringe, 2017

Jane Fonda's long ponytail at the 2017 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jane Fonda had been working in Hollywood just shy of sixty years when the 2017 Emmys came around - but she proved she could still own the red carpet. 

Doing away with the old-fashioned notion that older women can't have longer hair, Jane debuted a brand new look made up of a newly-cut fringe and a super long ponytail. 

The ponytail might not have been all hers, but who's going to split hairs about dramatic hairstyles? 

Of the style, her hairdresser, Jonathan Hanousek told PeopleStyle that he decided to style her hair in a ponytail after he saw the hot pink long-sleeve Brandon Maxwell gown she would be wearing on the red carpet. 

"The dress was so sleek and modern that we really needed to do something dramatic to complement it."

"I also wanted people to see Jane like they never have before."

Lisa Kudrow's slicked-back look, 1998

Lisa Kudrow posing at the 1998 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A bob is one of those hairstyles that's never out of style, so Lisa Kudrow deserves some extra praise for finding a way to make it feel fresh and stand out from the pack. 

In 1999, the Friends actress was the epitome of 1990s minimalist chic, opting for a simple black dress with a slicked-back bob. 

Pushed back and given a shiny effect, the bob looked effortless but still elegant. Lisa's honeycomb hair curling back and flicking out just below her ears to frame her face was an added touch of perfection. A great way to style a bob if you're looking for something low-maintenance but impactful. 

Halle Berry's short 'do, 2000

Halle Berry at the 2000 Emmy awards

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bond girl and Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry's short and spiky pixie cut is her trademark - even though we've seen plenty of other styles from her over the years, she's perhaps one of the pin-ups for short-inspired hair. 

And that's not surprising when considering how well she pulls it off, and makes it all look so easy. 

At the 2000 Emmys, her tousled pixie cut featured subtle touches of warm highlights nestled within her natural darker tresses. 

Kim Cattrall's caramel blonde hair, 2004

A closeup of Kim Cattrall on the Emmys red carpet

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kim Cattrall's 2004 Emmys hairstyle screamed Samantha Jones, her iconic character from Sex and the City. 

Sassy but stylish, the all-over caramel blonde was set off against a subtle root smudge and a choppy fringe. It's a perfect hairstyle for someone looking for less maintenance, let it fall into layers and run your fingers through it to add some texture and you look ready for a day at the office or a night out. 

Michelle Visage's fabulous grey streak, 2024

Michelle Visage posing with an Emmy award for RuPaul's Drag Race

(Image credit: Getty Images)

RuPaul's Drag Race judge and musical theatre actress Michelle Visage has always walked her own path, so it's no surprise she used the 2024 Emmys to showcase a quirkier style which we absolutely fell in love with. 

Not just owning her greys, but proudly making them the focal point, her grey streak was pushed back in a 1960s-esque beehive. 

We also love that she literally wrapped up this unique style with a bow - a silky ribbon nestled in the greys perfectly matched the rest of her raven-black hair.

Lily James's copper hair, 2022

Lily James on the red carpet for the 2022 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

In 2022, Lily James had spent most of the year as a beach blonde. She was playing the role of Pamela Anderson and she committed to the Baywatch star's trademark colour. 

So it was a great surprise when she debuted a warm, copper hair colour at the 2022 Emmys.

With her sleek hair parted down the middle and tucked behind her ears, it was styled into loose waves down her back. 

Her coppery metallic Versace dress effortlessly complemented the strawberry-red hue.

Jennifer Aniston's mini dreadlocks, 1999

Jennifer Aniston's 1999 Emmys red carpet look

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Jennifer Aniston's most famous hairstyle will always be The Rachel, the 90s bouncy blowout with plenty of choppy layers. 

However, this 1999 style at the Emmys might be one of her most surprising because of how different it was from anything we've come to expect of the star. 

With Brad Pitt on her arm, the Friends actress wore her locks in literal locks. With a selection of mini dreadlocks and short twists, Jennifer looked beachy and hippy-chic. 

Anya Taylor-Joy ethereal updo, 2021

A closeup of Anya Taylor-Joy's hair and makeup at the 2021 Emmys

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Anya Taylor-Joy's 2021 Emmys hairstyle was one of our favourite looks to date. 

With an elaborate, structured up-do which featured an entirely single-toned, peroxide blonde, the star of Netflix's The Queen's Gambit somehow looked both ethereal and classic. 

Not a single hair was out of place for the detailed look, and the sturdy, shapely style sat atop her head halfway between a crown and a classic chignon.

Jack Slater
Freelance writer

Jack Slater is not the Last Action Hero, but that's what comes up first when you Google him. Preferring a much more sedentary life, Jack gets his thrills by covering news, entertainment, celebrity, film and culture for woman&home, and other digital publications.

Having written for various print and online publications—ranging from national syndicates to niche magazines—Jack has written about nearly everything there is to write about, covering LGBTQ+ news, celebrity features, TV and film scoops, reviewing the latest theatre shows lighting up London’s West End and the most pressing of SEO based stories.