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20 Gorgeous Formal Half Updos You’ll Fall In Love With

When you have a formal occasion, half up hairstyles are a great option. Pinning some hair up allows you to keep some length around your face, but still have the structure of having an “updo”, therefore keeping the body and shape in place. If you are considering a half up style, here are 20 formal half up hairstyle ideas to inspire you.

#1 Cute and Crimped

Written by Carly Bowers

This half up look is a bit edgier since it involves both crimping and braiding.

Edgy Crimped Half Updo

Style by Connie Masullo, Unique Hair Design, Lincoln Park, NJ

Edgy Crimped Half Updo Back

Style by Connie Masullo, Unique Hair Design, Lincoln Park, NJ

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair. Use a crimper and crimp a few random sections of your hair (mostly on the sides) so they will show in your half updo.
  2. Use a backcombing brush to create volume at your hairline. Create a large pompadour style, then begin a French braid.
  3. Once the top section of your hair is braided, secure the end of the braid with a clear hair tie.
  4. Curl the rest of your hair using a small curling iron.
  5. Once all of your hair is curled, use your fingers or a rattail comb to pull apart the braid so it looks bigger and fuller. Be sure to hide your hair tie!
  6. Spray everything with a strong hold hairspray.

Recommended Products:

For an editorial look like this you will need a strong hold hairspray to keep your hair in place all night. Try El Net Hairspray by L’Oreal.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

If you have long hair that’s medium to thick, this is a great option for you. A heart shaped face is ideal for this style.

#2 Excellently Editorial

Written by Carly Bowers

This extra edgy look is fun for a night out on the town! It will dress up a casual outfit and show off your beautiful makeup or accessories.

Fun Edgy Half Updo

Style by Thresa Venables, Makeup by Kristian Bailey, Sheer Professionals, Wooster, OH

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair.
  2. Curl everything with a medium-sized curling iron.
  3. Once everything is curled, use your fingers or a brush to separate the curls so they look more natural.
  4. Use a backcombing brush and create volume on the top of your head.
  5. Gather the top half of your hair and smooth the sides. Use a bobby pin the secure the hair in the back/middle of the head.
  6. Spray everything with a strong hold finishing spray.

Recommended Products:

To get some serious body, use a backcombing brush instead of a comb. It’s gentler on your hair and will create a softer look. Try the Spornette Little Wonder Brush!

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is great if you have fine to medium hair that you are hoping to make appear thicker and fuller. A round face shape will be elongated by this style.

#3 The Braided Babe

Written by Carly Bowers

A few braids, a little body, and violá! You’ve got a trendy, modern take on a classic half up half down style.

Trendy Half Updo with Braids

Style by Onita Luisi, Chips Salon, Marlboro, NJ

Trendy Half Updo with Braids Back

Style by Onita Luisi, Chips Salon, Marlboro, NJ

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair. Separate the hair into five sections starting from one ear going to the other, each section about one to two inches wide.
  2. Braid the two sections above each ear and secure the ends of the braids with a clear hair tie.
  3. Back comb the top/middle section of hair.
  4. Gather the top half of your hair and create three knots. The easiest way to do this is to separate the top half of your hair into thirds and then knot them.
  5. Secure the end of the half pony with a hair tie.
  6. If you hair is naturally curly, then lucky you! You don’t need to do much to it. If not, use a small curling iron to curl what’s left out of the half pony.

Recommended Products:

After this look has been created, add some shine serum or spray to the ends of your hair for a little extra sheen! I love Bumble and Bumble’s Shine Spray.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

A round face shape will be complemented by this look. Thick hair that has natural wave is ideal for this style, although naturally straight to wavy hair will work too.

Tip:

If you have finer hair and are having trouble making the tiny braids stay, spray the sections of hair with hairspray before you braid them. It will give you hair a little bit of grit and make it less slippery.

#4 Half Braided Beauty

Written by Carly Bowers

A braid is a great way to make your otherwise ordinary half pony a bit more modern and trendy!

Modern Half Pony with Braid

Style by Danielle Albrecht, Makeup by Jenna Romeo, William Wesley Grand Salon & Spa, Davenport, IA

Modern Half Pony with Braid Back

Style by Danielle Albrecht, Makeup by Jenna Romeo, William Wesley Grand Salon & Spa, Davenport, IA

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair that’s parted to one side.
  2. Spray everything with a texture spray or a dry shampoo.
  3. Curl each section of your hair with a 1¼-inch curling iron.
  4. Create a waterfall or French braid with the hair that starts on one side of your head and goes down to your ear. Gather the end of the braid to meet the other side of your half pony in the back/middle of your head. Secure with bobby pins.
  5. Spray everything with a light hold finishing spray.

Recommended Products:

I love the Davines Medium Hold Hairspray as both a working and a finishing spray. Use it before and after you curl!

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

If you have a square face shape, this look will complement you. Fine to medium hair of any length will work for this look! It’s very versatile.

#5 Simply Stunning

Written by Carly Bowers

This style is simple, yet so classic and beautiful. Soft waves and a deep side part really bring attention to your gorgeous features!

Simple Classic Half Updo

Style by Kyle Brooks, Perry Anthony Salon, Wilmington, DE

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair that’s parted to one side.
  2. Spray everything with a working spray, then curl each section using a 1¼-inch curling iron.
  3. Gather one side of your hair and twist it back to meet the other side of your half pony in the back/middle of your head. Secure with a bobby pin.
  4. Spray everything with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Products:

Be sure to spray your hair with a heat protectant before you use any hot tools on it. Kevin Murphy makes a great one called Damage Manager. It smells wonderful and is super light so it won’t get sticky!

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is incredibly versatile and really any length or texture of hair will work! A square face shape will be flattered by this look.

#6 Fabulously Fringed

Written by Carly Bowers

If you have straight across bangs, a half pony is a fabulous way to show them off!

Half Updo with Fringe

Style by Sarah Courtney, Casal Aveda Institute, Youngstown, OH

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair that’s parted where desired. Style bangs as desired.
  2. Use a 1¼-inch curling iron to curl small sections of your hair.
  3. Once all hair is curled, gather the top section of your hair and secure it back using bobby pins. For a more intricate look, braid the sides or twist them.
  4. Spray everything with a light hold finishing spray and run your fingers through the curls to make them appear more natural looking.

Recommended Products:

If you want your hair to have a bit more body, spray some dry shampoo at your roots and use a backcombing brush to add volume at your roots before you create your half pony.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

A round face would be complemented by this look. Hair of any length that’s medium to thick will work well for this style.

Tip:

Ask your stylist to create straight across bangs with a bit of texture!

#7 Hidden Braid Half Pony

Written by Carly Bowers

Although not super visible, there is a little braid in this fun half up style!

Half Pony with Hidden Braid

Style by Holly Montecalvo, Casal Aveda Institute, Youngstown, OH

Half Pony with Hidden Braid Side

Style by Holly Montecalvo, Casal Aveda Institute, Youngstown, OH

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair that’s parted to one side. Style your bangs as desired.
  2. Create a braid that starts behind one ear and meets the other half of your half pony in the back of your head. Secure with a bobby pin.
  3. If desired, add some curls to the hair left out of the half pony.
  4. Spray everything with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Products:

Try using a bit of texture cream to define the ends of your hair. Brilliantine by Bumble and Bumble is perfect!

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

As you can see, this style looks amazing on shorter hair! It could definitely work on medium to long hair as well. Any texture will work, but medium to thick hair is ideal.

#8 Pompador Half Pony

Written by Carly Bowers

This half up hairstyle is so elegant and classic. It is perfect for a special night out!

Elegant Pompador Half Updo

Style by Nicole Shook, The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

Elegant Pompador Half Updo Back

Style by Nicole Shook, The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair. Spray dry shampoo at your roots.
  2. Use a backcombing brush to create volume at your roots.
  3. Smooth your hair back, then gather the top section in the back/middle of your head and secure using bobby pins. Be sure to twist it a bit so the bobby pins are hidden.
  4. Spray everything with a strong hold finishing spray.

Recommended Products:

Before you backcomb your hair, spray some dry shampoo at your roots. You could also use a bit of Backcomb in a Bottle by Big Sexy Hair.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is perfect if you have a small forehead and a round face. Short, medium or long hair that’s fine to medium texture with a bit of natural wave will work very well for this style.

#9 Double Braided Babe

Written by Carly Bowers

Two braids meet to create this double braided half up half down masterpiece!

Double Braid Half Updo

Style by Selah Frese, Makeup by Tekoa Ferro, Blaze Color Salon, Cedar Rapids, IA

Double Braid Half Updo Back

Style by Selah Frese, Makeup by Tekoa Ferro, Blaze Color Salon, Cedar Rapids, IA

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair that’s parted as desired.
  2. Use a flat iron or a blow dryer and round brush to smooth out your hair.
  3. Create a French braid on either side of your half up section.
  4. Once the two braids meet, combine them together. Secure the ends with a hair tie. If desired, crimp a few sections of the hair that aren’t in the half up section.
  5. Spray everything with a light holding spray.

Recommended Products:

A smoothing serum is a great option to add to a sleek style like this both before you dry, as well as after! I love Super Skinny Serum by Paul Mitchell.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is ideal if you have long hair that’s medium to thick in texture. An oval or heart shaped face will be complemented by this style.

#10 Big, Sexy and Sassy

Written by Carly Bowers

This half up style is big, sexy hair at its finest!

Big Sexy Half Updo

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

How To Style:

  1. Begin with dry hair.
  2. Spray a working spray and/or a dry shampoo at your roots. Use a backcombing brush to create a lot of body on all sections of your hair from roots to ends.
  3. Gather the top half of your hair and pull it back to create a half up half down style. Secure it with bobby pins.
  4. Spray everything with a light hold finishing spray.

Recommended Products:

This look requires a lot of “grit”, so a product like Backcomb in a Bottle by Big Sexy Hair would work well! If needed, combine that with a working hairspray.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Medium to long hair that’s thick is ideal for this look. A square face will be complemented by this style.

#11 Softly Pinned Half Updo

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Curls are pinned softly, with little definition, giving the hair a nice shape that still flows as if it were all down.

half updos

Style by Kathy Adams Salon, Buford, GA

half updo hairstyles

Style by Kathy Adams Salon, Buford, GA

How To Style:

  1. Start by curling your hair with a 1 ½ inch curling iron, adding spray wax for more texture.
  2. Use your fingers to softly scrunch up and pin sections of hair, pinning around your ear level.
  3. Insert the bobby pins up into the hair, pushing the hair up slightly as you pin to add more body.

Recommended Products:

When pinning your hair softly, it helps to have a little grip at the roots.  Use Big Sexy Hair Powder Play at your roots to help the bobby pins stay.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Softly pinned hair will work with any face shape and any hair type.  Since it is so natural looking, it’s an easy look to achieve.

#12 Wrapped Up

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Hair is wrapped across itself, back and forth, pinned in the back crown area of the hair.

half updo hairstyles

Style by Bella Capelli Sanctuario, Westlake, OH

half updo hairstyles 2

Style by Bella Capelli Sanctuario, Westlake, OH

How To Style:

  1. Use a flat iron or large curling iron to softly curl the ends of your hair.
  2. Starting at the crown, push up a small section of hair until it’s the size that you want and pin it in place.  Pin a few more pieces like this all through the crown to create a nice shape.
  3. As you move down the sides, wrap the hair on the left over to the right, and vice versa, pinning each side wrapped across the other side.  Take 2-3 sections for each side.

Recommended Products:

To help keep your curls smooth, use a pomade in each section before you pin it.  I like Schwarzkopf Got2b Defiant Shine Pomade

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This hairstyle will look best on round or oval faces.  It will be too harsh for square or long face shapes.  Medium to thick hair with layers will also work well with this look.

#13 Bouffant

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Hair is backcombed and pinned so that it has body and a nice full shape on top.

bouffant half updo hairstyle

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

bouffant half updo angle

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

How To Style:

Use a comb to backcomb the base of your hair at the crown.

  1. Once your hair is nice and backcombed, use the comb to smooth down the top section so it’s soft and smooth instead of looking ratted.
  2. Gather hair from each side just above the ears and pull it into a half ponytail.
  3. Secure with a clear elastic.

Recommended Products:

Backcombing can fall out easily without the right products.  Before you backcomb, use Big Sexy Hair Backcomb in a Bottle to help your backcomb stay.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

A bouffant is flattering on most face shapes, except for long.  It will work best on medium to fine hair with medium to long layers.

#14 Braided Sides

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Both the sides are braided from the part down to the ears, with the rest of the hair pinned half up.

braided half updo

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

braided half updo angle

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

How To Style:

  1. Section out the hair from your ears forward and clip it aside for later.
  2. Pull the back part of your hair into a half ponytail and secure with bobby pins or a clear elastic.
  3. Do a French braid down each side of your hair, starting on your part and ending by your ears.   Secure with bobby pins.

Recommended Products:

When doing braids, it’s important to control fly-aways and frizz.  Spray Short Sexy Hair Shatter Separate and Hold Spray into your hair before you braid to add more control.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Braided sides will look best on round, oval or heart shaped faces.  Avoid doing this hairstyle if you have bangs or really short layers.

#15 Cascading Curls

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Curls are pinned to the side in a shape that gives them a cascading effect.

braided half updo

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

braided half updo 2

Style by The Brown Aveda Institute, Mentor, OH

How To Style:

  1. Curl all of your hair with a 1” to 1 1/2” curling iron, or with the flat iron.
  2. Do one small braid on each side of your part that ends by your ears.
  3. Pin up the crown area of your hair into a nice shape, then proceed to pin up curls down one side.
  4. Finish with hairspray.

Recommended Products:

Shine spray will keep your curls looking polished.  I like TIGI Bed Head Headrush Shine Adrenaline.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Cascading curls will look great on oval, square or heart shaped faces.  Avoid this style if you have a round face, as it only adds more width to the sides.  This style will also work great for you if you have medium to thick hair and lots of layering.

#16 Slick Back The Sides

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

The hair is pinned tightly on the sides, while still keeping body in the back and on top.

slick back half updo

How To Style:

  1. Begin by curling all of your hair and backcombing it at the roots for more body.
  2. Pin the front section into a pompadour, then pin the hair down the Mohawk section so it has more body on the top and in the back.
  3. Finish by pinning back the sides tightly, hiding the pins underneath the curls in the back.

Recommended Products:

A firm hold hairspray will make all the difference with this hair style.  Use Retro Hair Hairspray to really get the sides slicked back.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Slicked back sides will look unflattering if you have harsh or strong features, as it will only accentuate them. This style is best on medium to fine hair with medium to short layers.

#17 Braid It Half Way

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

The top and sides of the hair are braided down the back, stopping before the nape to create a half up look.

half braided half updo

Style by Justine Watson, Casal Aveda Institute, Youngstown, OH

half braided half updo 2

Style by Justine Watson, Casal Aveda Institute, Youngstown, OH

How To Style:

  1. Do an inside out French braid starting on top and ending just below ear level.
  2. Use bobby pins to secure the end of the braid in place.
  3. Finish by curling the ends of your hair for a more formal look.

Recommended Products:

Keep the braid looking sleek and shiny, as well as the curls, with shine serum.  I love the Loreal Professionnel Ultime Reflexium Shine Perfecting Serum.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

Since the top is all back, this style will look good with a little volume on top on round and oval face shapes.  It will also work best on long hair with little to no layering.

#18 Twist Back One Side

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

One side is twisted back across the back of the head, while the opposite side is left down.

half updo twist

Style by Kathy Brown, Kenneth’s Studio for Hair, New Orleans, LA

half updo twist 2

Style by Kathy Brown, Kenneth’s Studio for Hair, New Orleans, LA

How To Style:

  1. Start by curling all of your hair and sweeping it over your right shoulder.
  2. On the left side, do two to three twists that start by your left ear and end just behind your right ear, going across the back of your head.
  3. Secure the twists with bobby pins and hide the pins with curls.

Recommended Products:

To make the side swept side voluminous and interesting, spray Redken Wax Blast 10 on the finished curls.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

A side swept style like this will be flattering on any face shape except round.  This is a great style for medium to short hair with layering.

#19 Fancy Braid

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Hair is curled and pinned loosely on top, with one side in a low, soft braid.

fishtail half updo hairstyle

Style by Melanie Crawford The Brown Aveda Institute, Rocky River, OH

How To Style:

  1. On curly hair, pin the top and sides up and away from your face.
  2. Sweep all of the hair that’s left out over one shoulder.
  3. Do a loose side braid, starting the braid at ear level.
  4. Once the braid is complete, use your fingers to loosen it even more.  Secure with a clear elastic.

Recommended Products:

It’s important to give this style texture, that’s what will set it apart.   Before you blow dry and curl, apply a styling mousse such as Pureology Colour Stylist Mousse Bodifier.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This fancy braid will look good on any face shape.  It is soft enough to be flattering on anyone, but if you want it to be even softer, leave some hair out around your face.  This will work best on medium thickness hair that is at least to the collar bones.

#20 Low In The Back

Written by Steph Brinkerhoff

Soft curls are very loosely pinned low in the back, one side wrapping over the other.

wavy half updo hairstyles

Style by Kathy Adams Salon, Buford, GA

wavy half updo hairstyles 2

Style by Kathy Adams Salon, Buford, GA

How To Style:

  1. Using a 1-inch curling iron, curl the ends of your hair softly.
  2. Take the hair on the left side, drape it loosely back and pin it at your nape.
  3. Take the hair on your right, drape it loosely back and pin it over top of the last section.
  4. Secure with bobby pins.

Recommended Products:

A flexible hold hairspray will help with this hairstyle.  It will give you movement but also control.  Try Matrix Vavoom Shape Maker Hairspray.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

A half up style pinned up low in the back will look good on any face shape, especially heart or square since it will soften up the cheek bones.  Long hair with little to no layering will work best.

As you can see, there are so many options when it comes to half up styles.  If one of these looks isn’t exactly what you have in mind, consider trying something creative on your own.  Either way, half up is always a safe route to go with your hair for your formal occasion.