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Half Up Half Down Prom Hairstyles

Which type are you? You’ve got great hair you want everyone to notice, but you also like it pulled back to get it out of your face. You like the way it looks when your hair is down, but you want to open up your face to look more approachable and fun loving. You just think it’s cute. There are an endless number of reasons you might want to sport half up half down prom hairstyles. Regardless of the reason, here are some fun styles you can use for inspiration!

Triple Headband Braid Half Updo with Bump and Long Curls

The title says it all.  Long luscious curls, a decent sized bump, three cool braids across the top… So cute!

Triple braided half up half down prom hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. When hair is almost completely dry, separate the top and sides from the hair in back.
  2. Create your braided headbands by separating the hair in front into three sections.  Start in the front with the hair just above your left ear.  Follow hairline across the front, all the way over to just past the opposite ear.  Complete 2nd and 3rd braids the same way making sure to line them up.  Secure the three braids behind your ear.
  3. Add backcombing to the top/crown area, then pin with bobby pins to hold it in place.
  4. Use a medium to large sized barrel curling iron to create your spiral curls.  Make sure you’re using a good working hairspray so you won’t need as much at the end with your final look.
  5. After they’re cooled, break apart curls if you need to.  Spritz the finished style with a firm hold hairspray.

Recommended products:  Nexxus Comb Thru Natural Hold Design and Finishing Mist is a perfect option for this style.

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, subtle square or round.  At least a medium density with some natural texture.

Tip:  Have a friend help with the braids or practice doing them if you’re inexperienced at all.  Getting the lines between them just right can be challenging as well as keeping the tension consistent if you aren’t sure of your skills or you’re in a rush.

Spicy Hot Spiral Curled Long Layered Half Updo

Color is everything here.  The deep rich red is so amazing with this style!  It looks healthy and luscious.  Layering helps with the volume and keeps the weight looking light.  Deep side swept bangs soften the look giving off a more romantic vibe, and the curls look touchable instead of crunchy.  Perfection!

Long curled half up half down hairstyle for prom

How To Style:

  1. Prep your hair with quality products to help with volume, protect your hair from heat and give you a smooth finish.
  2. Once hair is completely dried, use a medium sized barrel curling iron to create spiral curls all around the back of your head, from roots to ends.  The curls will look more defined and hold better if you start with a small section for each curl.
  3. Use a rattail comb to put in backcombing in the top, towards the back, then smooth over the top.
  4. Run a flat iron through bangs and sides to smooth them, then lift the sides and top to the crown and pin in place.
  5. Mist with a finishing spray to set the curls and keep them looking fabulous.

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, some round and square, long.  If you want the length to look this fabulous, you’ll need at least medium density hair with some natural texture.  If your hair is thinner, add extensions to keep hair from looking stringy.

Tip:  Have a professional give you a fabulous color (even if it’s just a clear shine treatment!) about a week before prom.  Fresh color makes hair look more vibrant and the week gives you time for any corrections if you need them.

Smooth and Wavy Long Layered Multi-Tone Dark Chocolate Half Updo

Long thick layered hair looks amazing with a slight curl/wave to it.  Pulling the front and sides back opens up your face and makes you look fierce, especially with the extreme volume on top.  Toss in the subtle highlighting for even more depth, and this style is perfect for any special occasion.

Long and wavy half up half down prom hairstyles

How To Style:

  1. Blow dry hair with a large round brush and wrap dried sections around large rollers.  (Use the extra large rollers on top.)
  2. Once all hair is set in rollers, mist it with working hairspray and let cool completely.
  3. Pull through waves with your fingers then add backcombing in the crown area to anchor pins and add more volume if you need it.
  4. Smooth front and sides towards the back, roll it over in a mini-french twist then pin it using bobby pins.  Keep hair in place with a little bit of firm hold hairspray.

Recommended products:  Working hairspray is a great tool.  Most professional lines have one available because it makes styling hair so much more manageable and keeps hair touchable.  Paul Mitchell’s version, Worked Up, is fabulous!

Best face shape and hair type: Oval, heart, subtle round, square or long.  Medium density hair with a little natural texture.

Tip:  Extra volume can be created with a couple of little tricks.  First, don’t forget your volumizing mousse before you blow dry.  Separate hair into manageable sections that aren’t wider than your brush.  While blow drying, pull hair forward in the opposite direction of its growth while maintaining tension with a large round brush to keep things smooth.  After each section is dry, smooth it around an extra large roller and clip it in place, mist it with a little hairspray, then leave to cool completely.  A few of these on top of your head should help give you massive volume!

Funky and Fun Layered Half Updo with Bangs and Highlights

To stand out from the crowd, do something a little different.  Instead of curls, flip the ends of your straight hair out a little bit. Leave piecey ends out of the pinned part and show off those highlights!  Side swept bangs keep it from looking too dated.

Long layered hairstyle in a half updo for prom

How To Style:

  1. Use a flat iron to make hair sleek.  Start close to the roots and before pulling off the ends, flip the flat iron out.  Make sure you’ve prepped your hair for this heat treatment with a heat protection spray or other product made for that purpose.
  2. Add backcombing in the top and crown area, then smooth hair towards the back part of the crown.  Pin pieces down in the center, then wrap little sections around like mini buns and let the ends stick out.
  3. Polish with a finishing spray.

Recommended products:  Warren-Tricomi Hot-Set Spray is great for not just heat protection, but hold and humidity protection too!

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, subtle round and square.  Fine to thick density, little to no natural texture.

Tip:  Braids are a fun way to really make your style stand out.  Instead of just smoothed back hair, try French braiding the sides or top to add a little more texture.

Smooth Classic Half Updo with Headband

This simple but elegant style is so easy, it’s a no brainer for those who are no fuss, no stress.  It’s clean and fresh.  Honey blonde is a great color, but the color isn’t as important as the condition of your hair.  Take good care of it in the months before prom to really get the most fabulous looking locks.

A classic prom half updo hairstyle with headband

How To Style:

  1. Apply heat protection and smoothing product while hair is damp, then blow hair dry completely finishing the process with a large round brush.
  2. Use your flat iron on the lowest setting necessary to smooth any unruly hair.
  3. Tuck hair behind your ears then add your headband.
  4. Spritz with a little light finishing hairspray that adds shine and you’re done!

Recommended products:  Use Paul Mitchell’s Super Clean Light Hairspray for soft body and shine.

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, some square, subtle round.  Fine to thick density with little to no natural texture will work best.

Tip:  When shampooing your hair, create suds in the roots and pull those suds through the ends without picking them up and rubbing them around your scalp.  After rinsing, apply conditioner starting with the ends.  Brush it as little as possible when hair is wet to avoid unnecessary breakage.

Curly Golden Princess Half Updo Without Bangs

Fabulous honey blonde hair looks tiara-worthy with random spiral curls with the front and top pinned halfway back.  It’s not too fussy and keeps your face open and sunny.  Cute!

Princess prom half up half down prom hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. Use hot rollers or a medium sized barrel curling iron to create spiral curls throughout the back of your hair.
  2. Insert backcombing into the top back area for pins to lock into for more support.
  3. Pull front and sides back and pin beneath the fall of hair that comes from your crown.
  4. Apply a light spritz of finishing spray and you’re done!

Recommended products:  Prep hair in the months before prom with a fabulous shampoo and conditioner like Agadir Argan Oil Daily Moisturizing Shampoo and Conditioner.

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, subtle round or square.  Fine to thick density with any natural texture.

Tip:  Use hot rollers set vertically in the back if you can.  It will free up your hands to apply your makeup or take care of other last minute details while they cool.

Rock Princess Spiral Curled Long Layered Half Updo

Fun highlights add a lot of dimension to this quick but fun style.  It’s formal enough without being too serious.  The curls are a little looser and starting to break apart so you don’t have to stress about looking “perfect.”  Adding the side swept bangs that almost cover one eye gives you a little extra dose of mystery.

Long spiral curled half updo for prom

How To Style:

  1. After you’ve thoroughly pumped up your hair with the blow dryer and volumizing products, use a curling iron to create loose spiral curls all around your head.  Skip bangs since you’ll end up straightening them out anyway.
  2. Give yourself a bump right behind your bangs with some backcombing then smooth over the top.  Bobby pin the smoothed back section by overlapping the pins in an X shape to lock them in place.
  3. Sweep a flat iron through your bangs to smooth them out.
  4. Spray the finished style with a light to medium hold hairspray.

Recommended products:  Lacking shine?  Try out Redken Glass 01 Smoothing Serum for shine without extra weight.  It’s fabulous!

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, some long, square, round.  Fine to thick density with at least a little natural texture or the products to really hold that curl in!

Tip:  For those who want even more punk in this style, add a hair accessory like colored feathers or metallic strands.

Rich Chocolate Brown Smooth Ribbon Curled Half Updo with Caramel Streaks

Gorgeous healthy smooth spiral curls are ribbon curled, but not flat and lifeless.  It’s classy and chic.

Ribbon curled half up half down prom hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. Blow out hair to smooth it using a large round brush.
  2. Add backcombing to the top and crown areas for the volume you want and smooth over the top so your finished style doesn’t look messy.
  3. Using a 1” barrel curling iron, clip all hair up except for a section at the bottom about 2” wide.  Take a square section of that row and smooth it out with a comb, then slide the curling iron to the end and roll vertically to create your spiral curl.  Don’t let hair stay in the exact same spot on the curling iron or you’ll end up with a line from the clamp.  If you start a little ways away from the end, you have room to shimmy that hair out a little bit while the iron is working.
  4. Repeat this step through the first row, then let down another row and repeat until all hair in the back has been curled.  For hair that comes from the top and sides, only curl up about half way.  Don’t brush or comb through the curls!  Leave them exactly as they are for that perfect ribbon look.
  5. Smooth top and sides back and pin individual curls at the back of the head, keeping the look soft and sweet.
  6. Flat iron or curl bangs then spray the finished style with a firm hold hairspray.

Recommended products:  Paul Mitchell’s Freeze and Shine Super Spray is a fantastic hairspray for this process.  I like to spray the hair a few seconds before curling that strand because the hold is awesome and the shine is amazing!

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, heart, round, square, long.  Fine to thick density, little natural texture.

Tip:  How you use a curling iron affects the outcome of the curl.  Starting at the top and smoothing to the ends versus applying the curling iron at the ends and rolling up, or using the clamp to hold hair in place versus wrapping hair around the outside of the barrel.  The size of each section of hair you curl makes a huge difference too.  Practice different techniques to get the style of curl you like best.

BONUS!  Freida Pinto’s Long Smooth Classic Pulled Back Half Updo

This style is so clean and simple that it’s never out of style!  It’s an easy alternative if you’re a no-nonsense kind of girl, if you run out of time or just like to keep things simple.

Freida Pinto's long half updo hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. Blow dry hair with a large round brush after applying a smoothing heat protection spray or serum.
  2. Insert backcombing into the top and crown areas then smooth over the top.
  3. Bring front and sides back softly and pin with bobby pins right at the back of the top.
  4. Light hold hairspray is all you should really need for this one.  Keep it touchable!

Recommended products:  Super Skinny Serum from Paul Mitchell is so fabulous, you’ll wonder why you never used it before.  It leaves hair feeling so silky and smooth, adds shine and gives you more time between having to brush long locks since it tangles a lot less.

Best face shape and hair type:  Oval, subtle heart, round, square.  Fine to thick density, any natural texture.

Tip:  The best thing you can do for a style like this is really take care of your hair.  Try a hair masque once a week for a couple of weeks before prom then make sure you have a fresh trim to keep it looking flawless.

To make the decision process easier, give yourself a “mood board” or other collage where you can put all the prom elements together to get a better idea of how it will all look together.  That should help you figure out what design or style will look best and make your night perfect!