10 Quick and Easy Hairstyles for Updo Newbies

Add these lovely styles to your repertoire!
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Monica Gabriel Marshall
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Add these lovely styles to your repertoire!

This summer I challenged myself to thirty days of updos—quite a feat for a typically hair-down kind of girl such as myself. But I must say that I consider it a success. Not only has this summer been much more easy-breezy with a few updos in my repertoire, but my girlfriends and boyfriend gush when I take the time to do something special with my hair. I call that a win!

I have also discovered that there are a lot more of my fellow hair-down girls out there than I thought, and, like me, they have been scouring the Internet trying to find something easy to switch things up a bit.

So for those of you who want to try out some new hair-up looks, here are some pointers on my top ten favorites. Oh, and if you are thinking, “Yeah, sure, but who has the time??” let me assure you that if it takes longer than five minutes to pull off, it did not make my list of favorites.

01. Textured and Tousled Ponytail

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This one is actually my boyfriend’s favorite, but I like it a lot, too. I pinched this look from a Verily roundup we shared from Happily Grey. This relaxed look is incredibly easy and adds elegant funk to any style.

In my first try, I learned two important lessons. First, skip the shampoo—it works best when you have a little natural grease. My hair was too squeaky clean, and that meant a lot more work to achieve that messy vibe, which is usually my hair’s natural state, so . . . that was kind of silly. Second, careful with the teasing comb. Be sure to tease all around the top of your head so that you don’t develop any awkward bumps (as you can see). Oh, and next time I’m going messier! Jen Navaro lays out the instructions here.

02. Ponytail Fauxhawk

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This one is my hands down favorite. I had been eyeing the fauxhawk look for a while and was eager to try it, especially because it doesn’t require any buzzing off of hair. Simultaneously elegant and edgy, this fauxhawk look is perfect to pair with a dress or jeans. I can’t wait to break this one out with my black leather bomber jacket and a dress this fall.

As I mentioned in my original post, remember that your hair is a rubber-band graveyard—for this one, cut those bad boys out. Here is a super-simple video tutorial to follow along with (it’s the last video at the bottom of the page).

03. Chestnut Bun

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I typically have a hard time with slick-back buns; they always makes me feel like I am just about to wash my face. But this bun is oh-so-elegant and can truly be worn any time you want.

For this one, good bobby pins are a must, so invest in some Japanese steel pins that match your hair color. Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo demos the look on her wedding day, and she looks lovely.

04. Milkmaid Braids

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Honestly, this was probably the most daring look for me. Would I or would I not look like I stepped out of a production of Heidi? Obviously, not looking like I was wearing part of a costume was the goal.

Much to my relief, I did not look like I belonged in the Alps, and I’m eager to play around with this look again. Pitfalls to be aware of are (1) Hair length: It’s a lot easier to pull off with super-long braids. (2) Elastics: Find some that match your hair color because they show in the back. (3) Mess it up a little: I think adding a bit more texture to the front would give it more of a relaxed look, if that’s your thing. If you’ve always wondered if you can pull off the milkmaid, give it a try. I bet you can! Here is a step-by-step tutorial for this easy look.

05. ‘Looks Like I Spent a Long Time on My Hair’ Roll

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I love this low chignon, a perfect go-to for work, church, date night, and everything else in between. This was the first updo I tried, and it’s a good thing because there was no cursing or even much time-intensive fluffing involved. Seriously easy—just follow these step-by-step instructions, and be open to a little variation depending on your unique hair personality.

06. Topsytail Ponytail

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This ponytail has a distinctly funky yet elegant feel. I wore this with a casual summer sundress, but I could definitely see myself wearing this perky updo with a black cocktail dress sometime soon.

This look is rather rubber-band intensive (but still super-easy), and because the rubber bands show, I would try to find elastics that match your hair color. Here is the helpful visual step-by-step process that I used.

07. Dragon Buns

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This one was my wonderfully cheerful morning-person photographer Anne-Marie Cheely’s favorite. I made this one up myself . . . or so I thought. After a failed attempt at a more intricate updo, I had to get out the door to meet Anne-Marie and start my day. So I whipped this three-bun thingamajig together. Turns out, many other people have discovered the exact same look on their own, and one woman even included it as part of a thirty-day hairstyle challenge (what can I say, great minds think alike). So much for originality!

This one is pretty simple. I separated the top section of my hair into a high half-back, pulled it into a little bun, and popped a bobby pin in to secure it. Then I did the same thing with the remaining middle and bottom sections of hair. If I were to do this look again (and I plan to), I would use short bobby pins so that they don’t stick out the other side of the little buns. This is a great look to pull together when you are sick of the go-to messy bun.

08. Pull-Through Braid

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I was so proud of myself for this one. It took lots of rubber bands but was so worth it. This one made me feel like I had truly graduated from an updo newbie to an aficionado.

It’s easy and quick, but watch the video all the way through before you begin. It helps to have hair down to your butt for this one, but if you don’t, that’s OK—you can definitely make it work. Next time I try this one, I’ll make a point to be more aggressive with my messy pulling out so that it gets a bit more volume. Here is a helpful video I found on YouTube.

09. Relaxed Swept-Back Braid

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This one was a little more relaxed than I intended, but I loved it all the same. Departing from my typical side part and instead sweeping my hair boldly toward the back of my head was refreshing. I imagine this hairstyle would be lovely for a spot of gardening or wearing with a blazer, T-shirt, and jeans at work.

No tutorial on this one, so here’s what I did: I swept my hair in a half-back (using my hands) and teased underneath the half-back portion near the crown of my head. Then I French-braided my hair and tucked the end of the braid underneath using bobby pins. Voilà! Next time, I would create a tighter braid. Here’s a trick for holding this relaxed look without worrying about your swept-back hair coming undone: Moroccanoil Luminous Hairspray. It goes on dry—which is the trick to a touchable hold—and it smells fabulous.

10. Tuck-and-Roll Chignon

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This elegant updo is so easy to dress up and down, which in my opinion makes the best updo (you don’t want to look like you just stepped out of your prom dress at the office). This was another lifesaver when I attempted to do something too complex for my beginner-level skills. I followed the simple instructions here and was out the door in a jiffy.

I also discovered a fun variation of this updo at a bridal shower a few days later—my cousin was sporting it with a headband. You simply roll and tuck your hair around the bottom of an elastic headband. So cute!

Remember, all of my favorites here merely serve as inspiration. When you try out an updo or two, you will see how much the look changes depending on your hair color or texture and even your personality (I’m no perfectionist, as you might have guessed). You may not be rushing out the door to meet your cheery, morning-person photographer, but taking the time to arrange your hair up will be a treat for everyone you meet.