An age-old dilemma creeps into our minds at some point during every getting ready process, no matter what event we’re primping for: “How should I wear my hair?!” Sometimes sultry bombshell waves aren’t appropriate for a daytime coffee date, but an undone ponytail can run the risk of looking a little too low-effort. Not to worry—we’re here to tell you that half-up, half-down hair is almost always an excellent middle ground.
Whether you’re searching for half-up, half-down wedding hair or half-up, half-down curly hair, we’ve got you covered with all the inspiration you need to achieve these looks and everything in between.
How do you do half-up, half-down hairstyles?
The most common way to don half-up hair is to split hair horizontally down the middle of the head and gather the top section into a ponytail. However, the sky's the limit for this look, so it’s up to you (or your stylist) to get as creative as you’d like with it! You can create half-up, half-down hair with buns, braids, scarves, top knots, and anything else that inspires you.
Is half-up, half-down hair professional?
We think so, but it ultimately comes down to what you’re comfortable wearing. If you don’t want to look too extravagant at, let’s say, a business conference, consider using barrettes to hair at the back of the head or keeping it as simple as possible with a wrapped low ponytail or three-strand braid.
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How do you put yourself in a half-up, half-down ponytail?
For the most classic version of half-up hair, prepping your tresses with volumizing products can make all the difference in giving your half ponytail a sexy, grown-up edge. Start by washing hair with a shampoo and conditioner system like Biolage Professional Volume Bloom Shampoo and Conditioner for long-lasting lift, bounce, and fullness.
If you plan on rocking your natural texture, you can go straight to styling. Prefer a sleek blow-out? Prime your hair with a volumizing heat protectant like Redken Big Blowout Heat Protecting Jelly Serum.
Once dry, section off the hair at your crown with a fine-tooth comb. Flip it over, so it hangs in front of your face. Then, lightly spray the sectioned-off hair with a texturizing spray like Matrix Vavoom Extra Full Freezing Spray, and backcomb your locks to create volume at your roots.
Once you’ve backcombed the entire section of hair, flip it back over and gently comb the top, so it looks smooth. Then, gather the backcombed section of hair and secure it with a hair elastic at the top of your head. Set your look with medium-hold hairspray. We recommend L’Oréal Professionnel Tecni.Art Infinium 4 High-Hold Hairspray, which locks in styles to provide shape and memory yet leaves hair feeling natural.
The Best 31 Half-Up, Half-Down Ideas to Try Now
Wrapped Bouffant Ponytail
This classic style is a go-to for anyone who loves half-up hairstyles. While the style is admittedly fairly casual (one of the reasons it makes such a great go-to style), it can absolutely be dressed up for your next big event, especially if you need inspiration for half-up, half-down wedding hair. One way to do it is by teasing your crown for extra volume and wrapping a 2-inch section of hair around your hair tie.
Sure it’s simple, but half-up hair with a simple braid can still make an impact. Using a firm-hold texturizing spray like Matrix Vavoom Freezing Spray Extra Hold is the secret to abandoning a hair tie and letting the ends of your braid fly free. Be sure to spritz on a generous amount as you build your braid, and then again to set the style.
If you’d like an upgrade from the simple half-up ponytail, consider swapping it out for a top knot. Simply gather the top half of your hair in a ponytail and fasten it with a hair elastic. Then, wrap your ponytail around itself until you form a bun and secure it with several bobby pins.
Mini Back Bun
This adorable hairdo is proof that you don’t need to have princess-length hair to reap the benefits of a half-up bun. Tease the crown of your hair, then twist it into a bun in the back of your head for an instant volume boost.
Stacked Bobby Pins
We used to go to great lengths to keep our bobby pins concealed, but this half-up hairdo transforms this ordinary hair staple into the main attraction. Pro tip: Spray the back of your pins with a dry shampoo like Redken Invisible Dry Shampoo to give them extra hold, so they don’t slip out of your hair.
Thanks to its propensity to frizz up, half-up, half-down curly hair can sometimes be tricky to execute. If you’re having a bad hair day, weave a silk scarf into a crown braid before pinning it. Not only will it keep the bulk of the frizz away from your face, but it’ll also be so cute and distracting that nobody will notice your flyaways.
Frizzy hair is often due to a lack of moisture, so it's best to incorporate a deep conditioning mask like Biolage Professional Ultra Hydra Source Deep Treatment Pack into your routine. The deeply hydrating moisture mask conditions, softens and restores very dry, thick, or coarse curly hair.
Mini French Twist
French twists are the epitome of elegance, and this mini half-up version is no different. To begin, part your hair to the right or left and clip off two small sections of hair on either side of the part. Then, gather one section of hair, position it in the middle of the back of your head and secure it with a bobby pin. Next, take the other section of hair, bring it to meet the pinned section in the middle, and twist the hair over itself before securing it with a bejeweled hair clip.
Side Waterfall Braid
Half-up, half-down hair doesn’t just have to be horizontal styles. Case in point: A waterfall braid that runs vertically down the hair's side. Besides its unmistakable elegance, it’s a great way to relieve some of the heaviness of hair around your face if you have long, thick tresses.
We love the look paired with easy, breezy beach waves to emphasize these mermaid-like strands. Before styling, apply a few spritzes of the Pureology Style + Protect Beach Waves Sugar Spray to get that ocean-kissed texture.
If you’ve been a bridesmaid before, you may have fallen victim to the painful reality of too-tight half-up, half-down wedding hair. Next time you want to rock a similar look, cut yourself some slack with a loose fishtail braid style. It’ll be a head-turning style and not a hairpin-induced headache.
Fishtail Crown Braid
Take your beach waves up a notch with half-up hair and a fishtail crown braid. Take small sections of hair from either side of your head and weave a fishtail braid that wraps around your head. Secure your fishtail with an elastic, and then pancake the bubbles of the braid to make it appear fuller.
Rabbit Ear Scrunchie
Adding an accessory is the easiest way to bring your style to the next level. The next time you style your favorite half-up ‘do swap out your hair elastic for an on-trend rabbit ear scrunchie.
Begin by parting your hair down the middle to the crown of your head. Working with one side at a time, apply a dab of Matrix Style Link Over Achiever 3-In-1 Cream Paste Wax to your edges and brush through. Then, gather your hair in the desired location of your bun and secure the pigtail with an elastic. Backcomb or fluff the pigtail before wrapping it into a bun shape and securing it with bobby pins. Repeat the same steps on the opposite side.
Gather the top half of your hair in a ponytail and secure it with a clear hair elastic. Work a dime-sized amount of texturizing paste throughout your ponytail and backcomb the ponytail to create maximum volume.
Add another clear elastic 2 inches from the base of your ponytail. Continue fastening clear hair elastics in the same way until you run out of hair. To create the bubble effect, gently use your fingers to tug on the hair in between each elastic. Set your look with a medium hold hair spray, and add in a few hair rings.
As showcased by this self-made bow, there is no limit to the creativity of half-up hair.
Gather two 2-inch sections near your temples, bring the hair to meet at the back of the head, and secure it with a clear elastic. Pull your hair through the elastic one more time, stopping half way so that your ponytail forms a loop. Split the looped section in two to create both sides of your bow.
Working with one side at a time, spread the right side of your bow to your desired shape and pin the hair to the back of your head. Repeat the same steps on the left side of the bow. Create a small hole just above your hair elastic and pull the remainder of the ponytail up through the center of the bow and through the hole.
Looped Through Rings
Contrary to how it looks, you don’t have to jump through hoops to recreate this half-up, half-down hair look. These accessories will pair perfectly with any hair texture or length, whether stacked throughout braids or looped into pin-straight strands.
Barrette Beach Waves
If you’re looking for half-up hair perfect for a day-to-night look, just add some major texture with beach waves and an understated barrette.
Pull the top half of your hair into a high half ponytail and secure it with a hair elastic. Then, use your fingers to separate your hair and create a hole above the elastic. Flip your ponytail up and over, pulling the ponytail through the hole you made. To complete your look, pull your ponytail taut.
Wet Look Curls
Saturate damp hair with a leave-in like Biolage Professional All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Spray and lightly scrunch your hair to get the look. The leave-in will give strands much-needed hydration while allowing for that coveted wet look that’s so popular now.
Half-Up with Full Fringe
Half-up styles are the perfect way to put your killer bangs on display. Ask your stylist to cut full, blunt bangs that just graze your eyebrows, and you’ll slay all the half-up styles your heart desires.
Grab two equally thick sections of hair on either side of your head and twist them together, pinning them across the back of your head in a crisscross pattern.
Bobby Pin Twist
Tease a 3-inch section of strands above the hairline to add volume, and secure it at the top of your head with bobby pins. Then, take 2-inch sections of hair from each side of your head and lightly twist each segment until you reach your ends. Bring both sections of hair together at the back of your head and secure the look with a few bobby pins.
We love the look of flowers in our hair, but using real flowers is tricky. If you love flowers in your hair but can’t be bothered to deal with the real thing, use your hair to create a gorgeous-floral inspired rosette design.
To begin, gather two 1-inch sections of hair from the nape of your neck. Bring the two sections over the rest of your hair to meet at the back of your head and secure a ponytail with a clear elastic. Using the hair from the ponytail, form a basic three-strand braid and fasten its end with a clear elastic. Beginning with the end of the ponytail, roll the braid towards your head, creating a rosette shape. Pin the edges of the rosette to the back of your head using several bobby pins.
Tied with a Scarf
Got a patterned silk scarf collecting dust? Tying it around a half-up split-texture braid can breathe new life into the accessory. It’s practically a zero-effort way to make your half-up hair seem twice as fancy.
Video credit: @annette_updo_artist
Half-Up with a Twist
Watch the quick tutorial above to see how to create a beautifully twisted half-up hair before locking it into place with Biolage Professional’s Complete Control Hairspray.
Gather a pair of 2-inch sections near your temples and form a two-strand twist with each section. Wrap one braid around the back of your head (up and over your crown), then fasten the braid to your head. Repeat the same steps with the opposite braid.
Mohawk Braid with Side Twists
This ‘do is business in the front, party in the back. Start by dividing the hair into three even sections. Twist the sections near the temples and pin them up at the sides of the head. Then, create a mohawk effect by braiding locks down the center of the head; tie the end of the braid with an elastic.
To begin, gather two 3-inch sections near your temples and bring the hair to meet at the back of the head. Create a loose loop with the left section of hair. Then, pull the right section of hair under the looped strand.
Twisted Half Updo
Sometimes all it takes to upgrade a messy, twisted knot is switching out your traditional hair elastic in favor of a minimalistic hair clip.
Wrap Around Rope Braid
Elevate short hair with a wrap-around braid that gradually tapers off as it reaches across the head. This is a quick style for anyone who needs a low-maintenance look in a rush. Set your hairdo with a shine spray, like Redken Shine Flash Hair Spray.
Triple Cornrows and Bun
Embrace your texture while keeping hair out of the face with this stunning half-up, half-down curly hair look.
Spritz Mizani’s 25 Miracle Milk throughout the hair to eliminate tangles. Then, part the hair horizontally from one ear, over the crown of your head, to the other ear. Braid or flat twist the front section of hair back in the direction of a high pony. Then, create medium flat twists with the remaining hair from the back of your head. Set under a hooded dryer, then release the flat twists from the back section and fluff them out. Then, pull the twisted front section into a ponytail and secure it with bobby pins. Release only the ends and fluff to build volume.
If you prefer to sweep all of your hair away from your neck but still want to enjoy the benefits of half-up hair, these stacked ponytails are your answer. Split your locks horizontally and create two ponytails, one above the other, to boost your volume instantly. The lower-placed pony will give the illusion that hair is cascading down your back—sans the sweat.
Curious about other products professionals rely on to create similar half-updos? Shop Hair.com to discover their salon-level picks.