Whether you are heading into the office on Monday morning or sitting down to an elegant rehearsal dinner as the bride-to-be, there are numerous updo hairstyles for medium length hair to match the occasion.
A fabulous updo starts with a great cut, and if you love experimenting with different looks, there is no better cut than medium-length hair. Consider just a few of benefits:
- Works with every face shape (i.e., round, oval, diamond, heart, square, rectangle)
- Ability to wear it half up and completely up
- Versatility in styling textures by not being weighed down by a lot of length
- Shorter drying time and less product required than with long hair
But it’s most stand-out attribute: The sheer number of styling options. Medium- to shoulder-length hair is epitomized by its versatility. And the secret to the easiest styling experience? Three words: second-day hair.
Easy Hairstyles Start With A Bit Of Prep Work: Second-Day Hair Tips
First off, what is “second-day hair”? That part is simple: It’s your hair the day after you have washed (and slept on) it.
Second-day hair, compared to freshly washed hair, is often touted as the gold standard to create elegant updos. This is because your hair’s natural oils have had time to balance out, making the hair more manageable to work with — that is, easier to sculpt and hold hairpins.1,2
With that said, there are a few tried-and-true tips to making second-day hair feel as fresh as just-washed hair and look just as good. Consider these tips, whether you are a diehard every-other-day hair washer or just starting to experiment with the concept.
Blow drying second-day hair probably won’t help (and it may hurt).
Blow drying wet hair can be a godsend when it comes to saving time and getting sleek, voluminous locks. While you may be tempted to blow your already dry hair into place, you could singe your strands with that excess heat.3
Only the sections of your hair that had a rough night need TLC.
Instead of blasting your hair and scalp with heat, use a flat iron or curling iron only on sections of your hair that truly need it. For example, to tame cowlicks that popped up overnight or bangs that crimped a bit weird against your pillow.
Dry shampoo is your new best friend.
Dry shampoo has saved countless women from bad hair days with its ability to banish greasy-looking roots, or worse, clumpy-looking hair. Dry shampoo is also a great idea if you are going to use a hot tool on unwashed hair, which is oilier than freshly washed hair.
But you can have too much of a good thing — too much dry shampoo can make it look like you floured the top of your head, or cause irritation to your scalp. Just don’t go overboard.4
Your hair can do with some morning rehydration just like your body and skin.
If you wake up to hair that is lifeless and limp, it may just need a bit of moisture. Applying a re-hydrating spray after dry shampoo can help moisturize your hair and give it volume. It’s also a great way to add moisture without adding oil, which you want to avoid when using hot tools.
That frizzy bedhead look may be avoidable.
Overnight frizz is usually caused by friction with your pillowcase. Those with natural hair that is wavy or curly tend to suffer from this the worst since waves and curls are usually drier than naturally straight locks. How can you help alleviate this problem? Treat yourself to a silk pillowcase to reduce the friction.5
Six Updo Hairstyles For Medium-Length Hair: From The Classic Chignon To The Faux Hawk
Think of second-day medium-length hair as the styling dream team. Malleability and versatility working as one. Perfect for anyone who is short on time but wants a look beyond basic.
Half An Updo: Easy Hairstyles For Wearing Your Hair Half Up And Half Down
Half-up, half-down hairstyles are some of the easiest looks to style yourself. They’re perfect for shoulder-length hair that may be too short to get all up or require too many hairpins to do so. Half-up ‘dos are also the perfect hairstyles for summer since they keep the hair off your face but allow for casual, beachy waves.
Half-Up Top Knot Bun
The top knot is classic but also very trendy. It simply involves tying up a mini high ponytail with the top third to half of your hair with a hair elastic, backcombing the ponytail, wrapping the ponytail into a loose bun, and pinning it into place. You can let your natural hair fall as it is, or choose to straighten or curl the hair that is left down.6
If you aren’t a fan of having all your hair pulled away from your face, you can leave a few strands out on either side to frame your face.
Who is this updo great for? Anyone with particularly thick hair who doesn’t like to feel the weight of all their hair piled up on their head.
Half-Up Rope Braid
This ‘do can also be done fairly quickly, and the payoff is tenfold. It involves sectioning the top left and right quarters of your hair and creating rope braids on each side that meet in the back of your head. Pull one braid through the other, and create a criss-cross with bobby pins to hold the two braids together and against the head.7
Alternatively, if you have a bit more time, you can create this look with fishtail or French braids as well.
Who is this updo great for? This look is perfect for anyone who may be dancing all night and is worried their updo might fall down. It’s classically beautiful but very wearable — which makes it perfect for brides and prom-goers.
Elegant Updos: Formal Hairstyle Options
Formal updos may have a bit of a reputation for being quite fussy and sometimes a little dated (think 1940s victory rolls). But a gorgeous, trendy, formal hairstyle can easily be created right in your own bathroom mirror (albeit with a little practice to perfect your technique).
Don’t let the fancy French name intimidate you — the chignon is basically just a loose, low bun. You can create an easy chignon in a matter of minutes. It starts with making sure your hair has a bit of body first — this can be achieved with a volumizing spray and backcombing at the roots.
Now, to create the actual chignon, gather your hair in a low, loose ponytail secured with a hair elastic. Split your ponytail at the base above the hair elastic to create a gap. Flip your ponytail up and pull it through this gap and tighten the ponytail. Tie the very end of your ponytail with another hair elastic, and tuck this end down into the gap as well. Use bobby pins to secure the chignon in place — and voila.8,9
Who is this updo great for? This look is about as timeless as you can get. If you want a fuss-free updo that highlights the silhouette of your face and shows off a stunning pair of earrings, this is the updo for you. To make this style even more romantic, try it with loose tendrils around the face.
This is another look that will take you minutes to create but looks very sophisticated. Tie your hair in a ponytail — the height is really dependent on the look you are going for and the length of your hair. Braid the length of your hair and secure with a hair elastic. Wrap the braid around the base of your ponytail and tuck the end under. Secure the braided bun with bobby pins.
Another take on this look is to French braid strands of hair on either side of your head and tie these back into a bun.10
You can play with your hair part as well with this look — go for a part right down the middle, a deep part off to one side, or no part at all. And just like with a chignon, you can experiment with strands of hair around the face for a more romantic take.
Who is this updo great for? This is an elegant look that you can get to really stay in place. If you are worried about the natural elements affecting your hair — say, at an outdoor anniversary party or graduation ceremony — this may be a perfect look for you.
Edgy Updos: Trendy Hairstyles To Have Fun With
Not every look has to be elegant, per se. Sometimes you just want to rock a look that’s more playful — and, dare it be said, just plain cool.
Messy Bun Faux Hawk
The name says it all — and it’s easy to create. Start with your hair wavy and preferably with a lot of volume and texture. If you didn’t wake up like this, use texturizing spray and gently tease your hair with a comb.
Next, you will be creating four loose, messy buns starting at the top of your head and cascading down to the back of your neck. Starting with the top bun, gather the first quarter of hair into a ponytail and tie it to create a loop of hair that stands about an inch and a half. Wrap the rest of the ponytail loosely about the base of the loop and secure it with bobby pins and hairspray. Continue this process with the next quarter of hair, and then the next, until you have four loose, messy buns that resemble a mohawk.11
Pretty cool, huh?
Who is this updo great for? Anyone who doesn’t take herself too seriously can sport this updo with gusto. It’s great for parties, family gatherings, or a night out with the girls.
If you feel confident rocking the faux hawk, the teased fishtail braid will be a walk in the park for you. It starts with teasing your hair — and then teasing it some more. Just be gentle during the teasing process otherwise you might damage and break your hair.
Before you start your braid just above your forehead, make sure you have built up a lot of height in front — resembling a pompadour. From here, you just loosely fishtail braid all that teased hair until you reach the base of your neck.12,13
This look really needs the fishtail, rather than the classic French braid, to pull it off. So, if you don’t know how to fishtail braid, just check out a hair tutorial online and practice on a friend.
Who is this updo great for? This updo is fabulous for anyone who loves a lot of volume and glamour. You can bouffant your hair and start the braid further back on your head for a more retro look as well.
Sleek And Easy Updos To Try At Home
Hopefully one (or all) of these easy hairstyles has inspired you to experiment with your shoulder-length hair. Just remember, even when you are short on time, you can create an updo that’s elegant, sleek, and trendy — and pulls your whole look together.