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How-To: 6 Updos For Long Hair You Can Do At Home

woman with long braids in a bun

Having long hair is both a blessing and a curse.

On one hand, it’s gorgeous. You’re the envy of all your friends, and your photographs have never looked better. There’s no denying the femininity of your lengthy mane. Come special events, however, it’s challenging to find a hairstyle that works with your ’do. Many stylists charge extra for opulent updos for long hair, too.

Instead of spending your hard-earned dollars on a salon visit, why not tackle that updo at home? After all, no one knows better than you exactly what you’ll like. Arm yourself with a teasing comb, bobby pins, hair elastics, a brush, a bun cushion, and hairspray. We’re going in.

Once you’ve conquered your own mane, there isn’t much you can’t do.

Ballerina Bun

This isn’t the ballerina bun you remember wearing to dance recitals as a child. No, this version is all grown up and ready to hit the open bar at your college best friend’s wedding. This look will work best with straight, thick hair that’s on its second day—the more grit the hair has, the better.

To begin, smooth your hair into a ponytail and secure it at the high point of your head. Pull the ponytail through the center of your bun cushion and, flipping your head upside down, evenly distribute your hair. Begin to tuck it under the cushion, pinning your bun as you go.

To finish, smooth any flyaways and add a spritz of hairspray.

Mermaid Braid

If you own a set of clip-in extensions or have been thinking about purchasing them, we just gave you the excuse you needed. Contrary to popular belief, clip-in hair isn’t just good for adding length. In updos and ponytails, extensions will seriously amp up your hair’s thickness.

For this braid, you’ll want to begin with hair that’s on its second day or has been coated with texturizing spray. The more grip your hair has, the better your braid will hold. Create a deep side part, and begin the braiding style you’re most comfortable doing. French, Dutch, fishtail, and rope will all work.

Braid across your hairline and down along the side of your face, tying off the style with a no-show ponytail when you run out of hair. Try to leave several inches of loose ends. Pancake the braid until it’s very loose and princess-like, then add a few fresh flowers for good measure.

Milkmaid Braids

Here’s a style we love because it’s a serious workhorse. Whether you’re zipping up a full-length gown for a formal wedding or slipping into denim for brunch, milkmaid braids are always appropriate—and easy.

Start by creating a very straight center part from your hairline all the way down to your neck. Using a three-strand technique, braid both sides of the hair. When you reach the end of your lengths, secure both sides with no-show hair elastics. Pancake both braids until they’re loose and romantic-looking. If you’re interested in a few face-framing strands, this is your moment to pull them free.

One at a time, bring your braids up and across the top of your head like an imaginary crown. Pin them in place, loosening them where necessary. Lock the style in place with hairspray, and add decorative earrings for good measure.

Pin Curl-Inspired Waves

Everyone who’s ever seen a film from the golden age of Hollywood has probably also had the desire to wear pin curls. These impossibly glam ringlets are dramatic and sultry—the perfect style to master at home.

Essentially, the idea is this: Using a curling iron on clean, dry hair, you’ll pull one-inch square sections of hair from around the head and curl them in a uniform direction. After you release the iron, curl the ringlet back up on itself and clip it to your head to cool. Continue this look until you’ve totally run out of hair.

Release the curls one by one and, without touching them, give them a dose of hairspray. Finger comb through your waves, aiming for bombshell waves. We offer bonus points if you add a glittery hair accessory for extra flash.

Modern Ponytail

The golden rule of dressing stylishly: Always let one aspect of your outfit do the talking. If you’re headed out on a Friday in a number that’s made entirely of sequins, take the time to pull your hair back into a polished (but understated) style.

Begin with clean or second-day hair, sectioning it into manageable piece before spraying on a heat protectant. Taking your time, flat iron each segment to silky perfection and leave it to cool. Once you’re all finished, add a few spritzes of shine spray.

Finally, you’ll create a sharp center or side part and gather your mane into a very low ponytail. Leave out one piece of hair (this will become the section that disguises your hairband) and tie off the style. Then, wrap your loose strand around the hairband and pin it in place.

Voila! Hair that’s sleek, chic, and ready to go

Bouffant Ponytail

In case you hadn’t noticed, we’re big supporters of the semi-formal ponytail. It’s attractive, particularly on very long hair, and ensures you won’t have to touch up your style all night. We love a ‘50s-inspired take on the style, one that suits both poodle skirts and cocktail dresses.

Fire up your curling iron or wand, because you’re about to put it to good use. Curl the ends of your mane, aiming for the same direction all the way around the head. Then, backcomb your crown, adding extra hairspray until you’ve reached your desired height. (Stop short of having duck when you walk through doorways.) Smooth over the teased portion, creating a ponytail at the high point of your head.

Once your ponytail is in place, backcomb the base of the style and add hairspray when needed. You’re aiming for volume, but don’t worry about messing up your curls. Pick up the curling iron and touch up before you leave home. For a final touch, wrap one strand of hair around the base of the ponytail to hide your hair elastic.

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