11 Non-Lame Updos To Copy Now

Photo: Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images.
The word updo just sounds so uptight. It calls to mind the kind of cotton-candy hair in a period film where everyone stares out the window longingly whilst doing needlework — or worse, that regrettable prom photo where you look extra awkward thanks to some crunchy beehive from the local beauty salon.
But when you truly want to feel grown and sexy, like a fancy broad who is out on the town with her S.O., or like a put-together maid of honor in your best friend’s wedding — well, beachy waves just aren’t going to cut it.
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Yes, updos are formal. They need to be, because sometimes, life is. Fortunately, there are cool styles out there that won’t age you 10 years or make you look like some sad beauty pageant contestant who lost because her talent was playing water glasses. Or worst of all, not like yourself. Here, the most interesting updos you'll love — and bonus, a lot of them are even easy to do!
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Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Ringed Fauxhawk

When you’re singer Janelle Monae and you’re wearing an ornate cape, you need a hairstyle that shows it off. Read: one that doesn’t cover it with your 84 inches of hair (real stat!), but also matches its intricacy.

“I started with two braids at the back of her head going towards the front,” says hairstylist Caprice Green (who is also behind the hair on HBO’s Ballers and BET’s Being Mary Jane). “We knew we were going to join them, but we didn't know if we were going to twist them to go left or right. I just played around until we landed with them draped like this — and we thought it looked elegant and pinned it together.”

Since “braided hair can look a little dull” Green sprayed the updo with a coat of Moroccanoil Glimmer Shine for a glossier finish (Plus, “Janelle loves the smell.”) and added two sizes of hooped hair jewelry to add flecks of gold to the braids, securing them with tiny pliers. “She had to take the rings out with the pliers by herself later and hated me — but they sure looked amazing in that picture!” laughs Green.
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Photo: JB Lacroix/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Low-Slung Bun

For gals with thick hair, updos can be a physically heavy, time-consuming nightmare. But Selena Gomez’s low-slung bun with loose tendrils actually looks like it might not have 1,000 bobby pins in it —huzzah!

Gomez’s hair doesn’t look overproduced here, it could even be second-day hair (it’s got some flyaways). Her hair was likely spritzed with a texture spray for added fullness and hold before it was slung into a low ponytail with center part. A bun was created just above the collar of Gomez’s Ulyana Sergeenko silk minidress by twisting the pony and then wrapping the ends so that they covered the elastic before being pinned in place. To copy her soft, wavy tendrils, give your loose strand a quick twirl with a curling wand.
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Photo: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images.
The Wrapped Pony

“The trick to a perfect ponytail is making sure that you’ve got no flyaways or unruly hair at the neckline,” says hairstylist Sascha Breuer. “If you simply use hairspray to fix that once it’s done, then it can look really lacquered and heavy. I didn’t want that for Jaime, that’s why I started her off with slightly wet hair, worked in Wella EIMI Perfect Setting Blow Dry Lotion, and blowdried it while brushing her hair down with a boar’s brush coated with hairspray to get the smooth shape started. I did the same thing I would have done for her hair down, sleek and straight.”

He secured this perfectly smooth pony at her crown and then got started on the biggest key to this look: working in some sewing elastic.

“On the fashion runways, we use sewing elastic all the time — you can create great tension with it and because it’s got that rubber coating, it doesn’t slip,” says Breuer. It’s also not hard on the hair. “To me, it’s the best alternative to bobby pins, which leave a dent; when you use something with a lot of grip, you squash the hair, but with sewing elastic, it is almost just snaking around it and is still holding.”

For King’s look, he used a sewing technique to incorporate five inches of elastic (which binds her ponytail close to her head) into her hair. He slid an oversized French pin — back first, pointing down — just above her ear, then fed the sewing elastic through the back of the pin, then pulled the pin forward, using it to sew the elastic through the hair, before removing the pin. “It sounds more complicated than it is,” says Breuer. (Check out his blog for some pics of him actually doing this; It’s definitely better seen than heard or read.)

He then repeated that step at the nape of her neck, binding the tail to that area as well for a truly sculptural look. “Because Jaime used to be a top model, she’s never scared of some more runway or editorial looks,” gushes Breuer. “Seeing her finished in her outfit, she just looks super-sleek and interesting — so strong.”
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Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Twisted Chignon

For the premiere of Vinyl, her new show about ‘70s rock and roll, actress Olivia Wilde channeled Bianca Jagger, who donned an edgy veil more than once in her Studio 54 days — but other than her veil (It’s Jennifer Behr by the way.), Olivia’s hair was quite modern.

“In the ‘70s, hair could look overly polished, we wanted a looser updo,” says hairstylist Joshua Ristaino. The style he chose was “relatively simple” and it actually can best with day-old or even two-day old, unwashed hair. “I did a rough blowdry just to get her hair up and away from the scalp,” he says. (If you’re copying this look solo, without the help of your stylist, he suggests tilting your hair upside down and blowing it out with a diffuser to amp up your volume.) He used a quarter-sized dollop of R+Co Aircraft Pomade Mousse to create and hold volume at the root. Then, he parted her hair to the side for more volume and to get a perfectly tense and smooth top with no flyaways, “I had Olivia tilt her head back as I used my hands (no brush) to make a ponytail right at the little ridge on her head.”

He then separated that ponytail into three or four little sections: “I just twisted them in like you would do a dreadlock, each in alternating directions, then twisted and pinned them together as one chignon,” says Ristaino. “I used only three or four pins — it’s more rock and roll to have hair that starts coming undone by the end of the night.”
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Photo: Courtesy of Matt Fugate.
The Short-Haired Updo

Growing out your pixie? You can still do an updo, says Matt Fugate, who gave actress Lena Dunham this double-braid look for the Sundance Film Festival after she asked him to make her short hair look long.

“I started by doing a really deep side part on the left side of her head, then starting the first braid, a cornrow, there at the very back part of her crown, going straight across,” says Fugate. “A basic cornrow is a simple three-strand braid, with everything weaving underneath the middle strand. I secured that and then started the second braid from the same spot I’d started my cornrow.”

This second braid was a traditional French one, that went around her hairline in the front and circled back around to the back of her head “in a really cool, swirly motion.” Both braids ended in the same spot, so Fugate wrapped one elastic around the ends of both tails, then used a Topsy Tail loop tool to weave those little pieces behind her braids, so that the loose ends were completely hidden.

Fugate sprayed it all down with some hairspray and went over it with the blowdryer on really low heat to hold it together for a long day. The result was a really feminine short style that Dunham said made her feel like a “Renaissance princess.”
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Photo: Walter McBride/WireImage/Getty Images.
Sleek & Teased Bun

Once Ashley Tisdale and her hairstylist, Lacy Redway, saw this chunky choker, they both knew the actress’s hair needed to be pulled back to let it shine. Redway started by giving Tisdale a blowout using Kérastase K Boucles d’Art Fixation Flexible mousse and a deep center part.

“I sprayed L'Oréal Elnett hairspray onto my brush and brushed her hair into a ponytail that I secured with a bungee elastic,” says Redway. She then worked some Carol's Daughter Tui Moisturizing Hair Oil over the ponytail to add some shine and began to secure a bun with bobby pins. “But instead of tucking the very end of her hair into the bun, I left that hanging out and sprayed it with Oribe Dry Texture spray and teased it with teasing comb for added texture.”
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Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Faux Bob

When hairstylist Jon Chapman saw Amber Heard’s delicate dress for the Golden Globes, he instantly thought her hair had to have a rock-and-roll Grace Kelly look.

“It has such an incredible neckline that I didn’t want anything to be messing with that,” he says. “The hair had to go up or it would be trapped in those flowers, but it had to go up in an interesting, modern way that had a rock-and-roll feel, because that’s very much Amber’s personality.” Before blowdrying Heard’s hair (to add some texture), Chapman prepped it with Davines Melu Thermal Protecting Spray and Volume Boosting Mousse.

He used a tail comb to create a low part and to separate Heard’s hair into four sections, one at each ear and two in the back. For three of those sections, he rolled her hair up and created a tight little bob shape, pinning it in place. For the slightly looser roll on the front left, he “created a nice wave with a 35 mm curling iron” and used the Davines This is A Dry Texturizer spray to give the hair some edge, so that it looked soft, “rather than too crisp.” The faux bob fake out was so good, it even fooled Amber’s dad. When he saw photos, he told her she looked great and asked her who gave her the haircut...
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Photo: Michael Stewart/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Braided Bun

“When you think of an updo, for the most part, you think of formal, neat, uptight — not with this bun,” says Zoë Kravitz’s hairstylist, Nikki Nelms. “It’s important to me that Zoë's hairstyles match her personality.”

The Mad Max star had some style from the start: “Zoë's hair is box braided — with extensions for extreme length — and the ends are purposely left unbraided, which gives her hair a more carefree vibe,” says Nelms. She simply twisted Kravitz’s braids into a “messy, high bun,” and secured it with bobby pins. “I embraced the flyaways that gave it a more lived in, less stiff look."
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Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images.
Balled-Up Braid

Our fave part the braided updo model Karlie Kloss rocked at the Pencils of Promise Gala? It took almost no time. “She always gets out of the shower as is like, ‘I have to be in the car in 15 minutes’ — thanks a lot, Karlie!’” says Fugate, with a laugh.

He had time to rough-dry her hair with a little blowdrying lotion to soften her hair before sectioning her hair in half and giving one half a looser French braid that started at the top of her hair line one side of her head and hugged the nape of her neck on the way down.

Braids like this tend to look especially gorgeous on dirty blondes, because you can really see the twists and turns. After the braiding was done, “I just kind of grabbed everything really messily in my hands and rolled it into a little ball and started [hair]spraying,” says Fugate. He let any loose tendrils that refused to be bound in his pins fall as they may.

“With that serious, black lace dress, a tighter style would have looked too severe on someone Karlie’s age,” says Fugate. “This looked cool and undone — very 22-year-old supermodel. Or, as Karlie put it, ‘a vampire going to a wedding.’”
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Photo: Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images.
A Super-High Topknot

A simple topknot is that kind of magic updo that’s as at home with leggings as it is with a cocktail dress. That’s why the style looked so hot when Chrissy Teigen wore at the Target Wonderland Event in New York City, and looked hot again when she ran some errands a week later.

To avoid bumps, tip your head upside down and gather the hair into a high, perfectly centered pony. Then, before making the knot itself, do like hairstylist Jen Atkin does and spritz some hairspray onto a toothbrush and brush down any wild baby hairs. Atkin also likes to make an actual knot with the hair, wrapping the hair around, then pulling the ends through this loop before securing it with French pins.
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Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images.
A Twisted Pony

Rooney Mara wears artsy hair like no one else — until you dupe this look from the MoMA Film Benefit. For this twisted-pony updo, hairstylist Adir Abergel used Pai-Shau hair oil and flat-ironed the hair so it would be shiny and sleek before he pulled into an ‘80s-cheerleader high ponytail.

He randomly twisted the hair, pinned it to her head, and used an elasticized gold thread to secure the ends. “Then, the secret with this is about leaving the ends out. That becomes another texture in the style.” Because the ends have been flat-ironed, they’re sleek, not wild and frayed.
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