Kiernan Shipka's Genius Braid Hack Wins The Updo Game

Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images.
It's no easy feat standing out in a crowd that includes Demi Moore, Freida Pinto, and Camilla Belle. But our eyes were firmly glued to the back of Kiernan Shipka's head at the recent opening of Salvatore Ferragamo's remodeled Beverly Hills flagship. Is it a braid or a twist? Are those knots? We had to find out, so we tapped Shipka's hairstylist Kylee Heath for the how-to.

Part '90s throwback (the back is a knotted faux-hawk, to be exact) and part Dutch plait, it's a modern take on the braided updo. The best part? Heath only braided the crown, and used a clever hack to create a knotted, twisted, and just-messy-enough base that gives the 'do some edge — and a certain level of ease. Ahead, Heath walks us through seven steps to mastering it at home.
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Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images.
Step 1
Before you get started, familiarize yourself with the back of this showstopper. If you look closely enough, you can see where the braid and knots join. Think of Shipka's ear as the center of a clock and go directly to 11 p.m.; it's where the top blond pieces and bottom brown sections meet. Understanding this will help you with placement later.
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Step 2
You can do this style on damp, just-washed hair or on a day-old blowout. The former is better for fine or oily strands, and the latter is best for curly, textured, or super-straight hair, Heath says. "That way, you'll have a little grit and texture [to work with]," she tells us. (Skip ahead to step 3 if you’re starting with dry hair.)

If you're starting on wet hair, grab a product that will provide some grip. You can use beach spray, mousse, thickening spray, or whatever is handy as long as it delivers hold; just make sure you comb it through for even distribution. Heath opted for Oscar Blandi's Jasmine Protein Mist on Shipka, which she applied from roots to ends.

Then, flip your head over and rough-dry your hair, moving quickly from section to section — and don't use a brush. Once your strands are about 80% dry, grab a round brush and give some lift to the front sections while you finish up.
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Step 3
When your hair is still warm from drying (heat a day-old blowout with a dryer for 10 seconds if you skipped shampooing), wrap the section on the crown around a large Velcro roller (or a soda can) and pin it into place for extra volume. Keep it in there until step 5.

Then, curl random sections using a one-inch curling iron, but don't touch the hair that's wrapped in the front. (You may feel like skipping this step, but don't. This gives texture you'll appreciate later.) Heath used this Sultra curling wand, or try Bedhead Curlipops.
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Step 4
Here comes the hack: Pin the front sections out of the way, so that the only hair that's hanging down is the bottom half. Starting right behind the Velcro roller, create a small ponytail and secure it with a clear elastic, like Blax Snag-Free Elastics.

"Then, make another ponytail underneath the first one, and then one under that, all the way down the head until all of your hair is pulled up," Heath says. Each ponytail should be even in size, depending on your hair's thickness; for Shipka, each was about one inch thick. "If you have thick hair, use two elastics per ponytail to be sure they stay tight," Heath says. "These ponytails are key."
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Step 5
Once you have the ponytails in place, spray each one with a light hairspray or texturizing spray (like Oribe's Dry Texturizing Spray) and tease it from base to ends. "Lightly comb the outside of each section, so you don't see the backcombing as much," Heath instructs.

To create the faux-hawk, wrap the length of the first pony around its base and pin it with a bobby pin sprayed with hairspray. Then, go pony by pony, twisting part of the length around the pony above it, and part around its own base. Twist, wrap, and knot in an irregular pattern to be sure the style doesn't look too perfect. The knots should be the same size throughout — so make sure you're dividing the hair evenly.

When you get to the bottom, tuck half of the ends into each side of the faux-hawk and pin. "After pinning it all into place, you can pull apart the little knots [to loosen them up]," Heath says.
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Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images.
Step 6
Now, let's work on the front. Remove the roller, finger-comb the hair, and craft a reverse French braid (also called a Dutch braid; you can master it with this video). "After I finished the braid, I pulled it apart a little, just to add more texture," Heath says. Secure with another clear elastic, lightly tease, and blast with more texture spray.

Then, simply wrap just like you did your other ponytails (Shipka's style has six in total), twisting a portion of the length around your first ponytail to join the top and bottom sections. (Remember our "11 p.m." reference? This is where you should end up.)
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Step 7
Heath misted Shipka's hair with Shu Uemura Sheer Lacquer Finishing Spray for shine and hold before sending her out on the red carpet. And you're done: a braided updo that's anything but basic.
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