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Image: Two women in conversation, both with their hair up.

Updos Are In. Here's How to Become a Pro at Them.

Maybe it was born out of our addiction to messy buns during lockdown or our need to play dress-up now that we are back on the streets, but for whatever reason, we are obsessed with updos.

As we head back to the office and out for drinks with friends, we are looking for fun-yet-refined looks to sport as we head back into the world. 

While they most definitely do look super stylish, an updo is also a great way to hide that second-day (maybe third-day) hair. We all know that the perfect beachy waves or glamorous curls look best freshly washed, but most updos actually benefit, and look better, with a little bit of grit and texture from a day or two post-wash. When in doubt, grab that trusty dry shampoo to revive those locks for another day of hard work.

If you are in the same boat as me, though, you wear your locks down low simply because you can't do a messy bun or a french braid if your life depended on it. Fret not, we are sharing the best updo trends from the easiest to expert level, as well as exactly how to start doing them at home.

While we cannot promise you’ll nail it on the first try, we are confident that you won’t need to book a salon appointment after you get the hang of it. 

Updos Trending for Fall 

Upgraded Messy Bun 

 

We can all probably admit that our messy buns have become a bit sad over the last 18 months, but don’t do away with the look just yet. Kim Kardashian proves that we can keep our messy buns and have our glam, too.

The glam messy bun, as we are now officially renaming it, creates a sexily disheveled vibe by lifting hair off of the nape of our necks and shoulders and framing the cheekbones, especially with the addition of loosely styled strip bangs. It has a little bit of 90s glamour while still retaining a bit of a laid-back attitude. 

Get the look
Start by backcombing your ponytail to help create a bigger, more secure bun. This step is essential if you tend to have slippery hair or if your hair is a bit greasy. A little teasing goes a long way to help create the illusion of more hair and it gives it enough grip to stay in place all night long.

Once secured in a ponytail, grab those trusted bobby pins. Push the feet of the bobby pin in through the edge of the bun and then jackknife the bobby pin back down, towards the center of the bun. You’ll want to secure the strands a bit tighter than you’ll want them with the final look. The secret to a perfect top knot is slightly tousled perfection. Twist and secure every little strand and once secure (and hit with hairspray) carefully pull out pieces to loosen the bun a bit with your fingers. 

Low bun

On the flip side of the hair street, we have the beloved low bun. I’ll admit, even I can kinda nail this one. Sweaty during a workout? Low bun. Running errands and hair flying in the wind? Low bun. Need a chic but easy updo for a night out? Low bun. It really is a jack of all trades when it comes to hair needs. 

Get the look

Start by using your hands to comb your hair back into a low ponytail. Add a little bit of hairspray for security and to help add some extra bounce. Then tease your ponytail with a brush or comb to add some volume and texture.

Carefully wrap your hair around the base of the ponytail. When you reach the near end of the strand, split it into two sections and give them a twist. Secure the ends with bobby pins into the bun. Finish by pulling some strands of hair around your face and neck. 

Low Updo with Braids 

To put an extra twist on your newly perfected low bun, add a braid. A simple braid helps take the style to an elevated-yet-romantic level and works for everything from everyday chic to wedding glam. 

Get the look

Start with a defined part. A middle part is fun and unexpected, but side parts are better for hair that has shorter layers throughout. If your hair is a bit dirty, massage your favorite dry shampoo into the roots. Then, spray a light layer of texturizing spray over your whole head to help your strands stick together and keep them from falling out of your braid.

Next, gather your hair to one side and place the middle against the nape of your neck, just behind your earlobe or even a bit lower. Secure any flyaways by twisting them across your neck and using a bobby pin to hold them in place. Once those are secure, you can work on the braid. 

Divide your ponytail into three sections and weave the strands in and out. Tie your braid off when you’ve got about two to four inches left. Grab your flat iron and give the ends a polished finish.

Short hair tip: Make sure to braid quite tightly. This will increase the number of rotations, which will help make the braid look longer and bulkier. 

When you are finished, beef up the braid by massaging it with your fingers. 

Side-swept 

This is one of my favorite hairdos for events. It can be as simple or as intricate as you want by adding braids or barrettes. It is also great to pull out this style the day after running around with voluminous curls. Pull your next-day curls into a low, messy side pony and skip the washing. 

Get the look

If starting fresh, and not with day two hair, start with your favorite texturizing spray and add a generous amount to the entirety of your locks. To get glamorous waves, grab a large-barreled curling iron and work your way through one-inch sections. To keep them bouncy, hold the iron for just a few seconds, otherwise you’ll run the risk of looking a bit Shirley Temple. 

Once you are happy with your locks, grab those bobby pins. Work through small sections of your hair and start pinning them to one side of your head, right behind your ear. Continue to pull sections from the opposite side and secure them in place. The tightness of the look is completely up to you. For a more Hollywood Glam vibe, keep a few chunks free in front of the secured area and re-curl to frame your face. As always, end with a strong hold hairspray. 

Sleek Ponytail 

How is this one not officially named “The Ariana?” She does a sleek ponytail unlike any other. She also has proven that this look works for all scenarios from Red Carpet to sweatpants. 

Get the look
For this one, you’ll want to start with clean hair. Because this look relies on a clean-finished appearance, you want to avoid too much product build-up. Use a brush to start to smooth strands into a ponytail right below the crown of your head. Slowly smooth the front and sides as you brush them into the ponytail. Apply a quarter-size amount of hair gel, which will provide hold but won’t make the strands look or feel crunchy. Finish with a light hairspray for extra hold and a bit of shine.

Secure the locks with a bungee ponytail. This hair tie has a hook on each end so that you can insert one of the hooks into the top center of the ponytail and wrap it around several times. Link the two hooks together when you’ve reached the tightness you desire. This type of tie is ideal when you want to keep things smooth and bump-free. To add a polished finish, take a small section of your hair from underneath and wrap it around the bungee to conceal its appearance. 

Sporty Space Buns 

This look is certainly a fun trend. How many other looks can go straight from the tennis court to the office? It’s super cute without looking too juvenile. 

Get the look

Start by splitting your hair into two equal sections with a clean middle part. Gather one of the sections of hair and secure it into a ponytail. The ideal placement is a bit towards the back of your head, especially to avoid a Princess Leia moment. Once one side is secure, mirror the same on the other side. 

Now to create the little buns. You’ll want to wrap the length of your hair around the base of your ponytail. Secure the bun by placing bobby pins around the entire surface area. Repeat on the other side. For a perfectly undone look, pull a few pieces out to loosen the bun and maybe pull a few strands down to frame your face. Finish with some hairspray and tuck any flyaways with bobby pins. 

Bantu Knots 

Bantu knots have been spotted on the Red Carpet and are the ultimate edgy street style do. Bantu knots originated from the Zulu people of southern Africa. The hairstyle is created by sectioning portions of hair, twisting it, and wrapping it in such a way that the hair stacks on itself to form a spiraled knot. 

Get the look

You’ll want to start by deciding how many knots you want to create. There is no right answer, as the style has been sported with just three down the middle of your head to a dozen scattered across it. 

Divide your hair into the number of sections you want, trying to make them as even as possible. Secure them loosely so you can tend to each one individually. Grab one section and carefully comb through and add a bit of hair oil to smooth the base. Using the “praying hands” technique, apply a smoothing product to the locks. 

Then separate the ponytail into two and begin to twist the strands. Alternatively, you could create a braid for a different curl pattern. After twisting the strands together, take the whole section and twist it in a knot clockwise. To secure the knot, use bobby pins or tuck it under the knot. Repeat with the rest of your sections and secure with a firm hold hair spray. 


Fishtail braids 

Who doesn’t love the look for fishtail braids? There is just something about them. The intricate weave still has a playful appearance that works for all ages. 

Get the look

Fishtail braids are perfect for second- or third-day hair. Seeing why we are loving updos? No washing. Day-old hair is easier to grip and style, especially in a delicate do like this. If you have natural curls or waves to your hair, great! Fishtail braids love a bit of a twist. If you don’t have them naturally, don’t worry, faking them is 100% acceptable. 

Once you’ve achieved a bit of wave, whether naturally or not, smooth your strands onto one side. This will allow the braid to drape over your shoulder in a lovely romantic bohemian way once completed. 

For a more relaxed do skip securing the ponytail at the base of your head, or if you want a more refined finished look grab a hair tie. Then, split your hair into two equal sections. Carefully grab and pull small pieces of hair over the center. Take a piece from the outside of one section and add it to the inside of the other section. Continue by taking a small piece from the outside of the other section and add it inside the opposite section. 

The smaller the pieces you grab from the outside, the tighter and more elaborate the finished braid will look. Keep crisscrossing the braid, following this pattern, down the length of the hair. To add some texture, brush the braid with a fine-toothed comb. 

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Jackie Lutze has been writing about cruelty-free beauty for years and loves finding the best vegan products to help readers build their ultimate beauty routine.