Shannon Burns can teach you to recreate your favorite fictional hairstyles

Star Trek: The Next Generation's Deanna Troi hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Star Trek: The Next Generation's Deanna Troi hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Have you ever seen a hairstyle in Star Wars or Game of Thrones and wondered how you could get the same look? Characters in TV shows, movies, and even video games often have stunning hair that would be fun to make a reality whether it’s for a cosplay you’re putting together or just for a way to have a bit of your favorite fandom with you in daily life. Luckily if you don’t know where to start you can find help not just online, but in a new book called Badass Braids.

Badass Braids was written by Shannon Burns, the creator of YouTube’s Silvousplaits channel. Silvousplaits started in 2013 and features video tutorials explaining how to replicate hairstyles from a range of fandoms. Burns, who is a big fan of properties like Lord of the Rings, first started trying to create hairstyles she saw on screen when in college. She realized while binge watching shows that she liked the styles and started practicing on herself. One winter break she took photos and decided to share them for fun on Reddit. She posted the images to the Game of Thrones subreddit and was surprised when it went viral. Soon people were asking her for tutorials and she started her YouTube channel that night.

Before her post went viral, Burns enjoyed doing braids and was self-taught when it came to hair. Once people started asking her for help though, she became way more interested in researching how to do it well and addressing questions like “how do we do it with good adherence to what the show runners did? How do we make it look authentic and screen accurate?”

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“I don’t have any formal hairstyling training at an academy or anything like that,” Burns told GeekFold. “It’s been a lot of research and practice and figuring out the best ways to replicate stuff on screen and then teach people how they can do it themselves.”

How long it takes Burns to recreate a look varies depending on the difficulty. If it’s straightforward, it can take about an hour of research, practicing once on a mannequin head, and, if it works, going right into making a video. If she gets stuck, she’ll step away and return to it later or try on and off for several days.

That recreation process starts with lots of images.

“If I see a style on a screen, this annoys my boyfriend to no end if we’re watching a show together, I’ll stop it and rewind it for several seconds. Rewind it again so I can see the style, get it in my head, take lots of screenshots from as many angles as they will show. Then in the past I would just practice on myself and try to keep doing things until I found something that looked like what was on the screen,” Burns said. “Nowadays, I have several mannequin heads with real hair on them so I practice that way and it’s a lot faster and easier for me to practice. Doing that for years, you start being able to recognize ‘oh I know exactly how that style was done.’ Then it gets down to the nitty gritty of how do I translate that to my hair.”

If just watching videos doesn’t appeal to you, then you might want to check out Burns’ book. Released in April, the book has 45 hairstyle tutorials. The majority of the tutorials are for women, but there are a few options for men throughout. The tutorials are separated by genre so you can find Usagi Tsukino of Sailor Moon and Aloy of Horizon Zero Dawn in the “Animated Adventures” chapter while Guardians of the Galaxy’s Gamora and Westworld’s Maeve Millay are under “Sci-Fi Heroines.”

Burns was contacted out of the blue by her editor with the opportunity to write the book.

Westworld's Maeve Millay hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Westworld's Maeve Millay hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

“They loved my channel and were looking to publish more things that had an appreciation for nerdy beauty essentially. I think people more and more are feeling more comfortable expressing their passion and combining that with more traditional beauty standards like doing hair and makeup,” Burns said. “It’s a way for people to be more personalized and connected so they were very excited about the idea of making a tutorial book along these lines.”

According to Burns, during the process of choosing which styles to include in the book it was important to her to include something for everyone.

“It was a big balance of trying to find styles people recognize and love as well as a diversity of hair lengths and hair types that could be featured,” she explained.

It was a long process as they looked at all the franchises they loved, narrowed it down, organized them thematically, and then within those themes tried to have diversity of length and types.

“Not everything in this book can be done on every head of hair I think. Somethings require really long hair, but things like the Pride and Prejudice style, there’s one from Black Sails and Westworld, that are specifically for textured shorter hair. It wouldn’t work as well with straight hair,” she said. “Then there are some other styles in there that I give tips and information on how to modify the styles to fit your specific hair type like if someone has bangs for instance or if you need curls and your hair is pretty straight what’s the best way to get curls for the style and things like that.”

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In the book, each tutorial starts with an explanation of where the look came from and who the character is along with a list of materials needed, time it will take, and skill level since some styles are more difficult than others. There are step-by-step instructions along with illustrations to help you with each hairstyle. Even though there are hair tips throughout the book and it opens with the helpful sections “Styling Tools & Tricks” and “Basic Braids,” Burns advised that for someone who has never braided before, reading about it in a book can be difficult.

“They definitely don’t need to have done lots of complicated braiding before. As long as they have a little bit of fundamentals on ever doing something with their hair, there’s stuff in there that is very easy and there’s stuff to practice towards and build up. There’s lots of different ability levels within the book that people can practice with and work up to,” she explained.

In addition to this information, you’ll also find some fun behind-the-scenes facts included with certain looks. That’s something Burns would like to expand on more in the future and the fact that she’s currently working on her PhD in social neuroscience may come in handy with that.

Sailor Moon's Usagi Tsukino hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Sailor Moon's Usagi Tsukino hairstyle. Photo credit: Race Point Publishing, an imprint of The Quarto Group

“I’m hoping [the book] will allow me to invest a little bit more in things that will make it easier to bring more content to the channel. Things like not just video tutorials, but more behind-the-scenes and historical information on hairstyling. There are little snippets I’ve included in the book with most styles that I’ve had people tell me they are really interested in, so I would love to do more historical hair research or more hair care and things like that that are more definitely relevant to people who are interested in styling their hair in interesting ways that they can’t necessarily find the research for,” she said. “Since I’m in a PhD and I have access to all these academic journals, I can go in and find the actual scientific studies done on what ingredients are good for your hair and things like that. It’s that sort of thing I’m hoping to build into my channel more in the future and so people should look out for that.”

Until then, you can pick up the book or check out Burns’ YouTube channel to try and add a subtle geeky hairstyle to your look. It’s certainly an interesting and fun way to incorporate a character into your style beyond apparel and accessories.

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