Taking the big chop doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice messy buns and slicked-back ponies.
If you’ve ever taken the big chop, you’re likely familiar with the unique struggles of short hair. A cropped cut looks great worn down, but it can be difficult to do pretty much anything else—there’s simply not a lot of hair to work with. But cutting hair above the shoulder doesn’t mean your days of updos are over. On the contrary, there are tons of options out there for those with bob-to-shoulder-length styles—it’s just a bit more strategic. Grab some bobby pins, a great brush, and scroll on for nine updos perfect for short hair.
Side Braid Bun
When a simple bun or ponytail feels too casual, try a romantic side-swept updo like this one. The face-framing layers and tousled crown keep things looking breezy, while the braid lends an air of sophistication.
Slicked Back Ponytail With Volume
We love a slicked-back look as much as the next beauty editor, and the easy style looks particularly great on shorter lengths. Instead of tying your ends back in a bun, add some volumizing spray and let your texture speak for itself. To get the perfect base, we like to slick hair back with a boar bristle brush—we’re fans of this Italian Resin Flat Brush from Oribe ($100)—and smooth it all out with a styling cream, like Dae’s Cactus Fruit 3-in-1 Styling Cream ($28).
Criss Cross Half-Up
Half-up options are great for shorter styles that might not be able to achieve a full-on updo. While a simple clip gets the job done, try pinning sections of hair diagonally to mimic the appearance of a braid without losing any length.
Low Bridal Bun
A low bun with face-framing pieces is as easy to achieve as it is classic. Gently tease hair around the crown of the head before gathering a ponytail at the nape of the neck. Secure with a hair tie and gently pull at a few strands around the crown to emulate that undone-yet-done, effortless look. Then pin back various sections of the ponytail to create your bun, taking extra care to fold any ends inwards to create a more seamless style. If the pinning proves to be too difficult, simply secure the bun with another tie and use a couple bobby pins to attach the bun just above and surrounding the tie itself—this will help obscure the hair ties from sight.
Elevate a piecey bun with a delicate accessory like a flower or an accent clip—we’re big fans of No. 3 Heirloom Clip from Machete ($35). The juxtaposition between the messy hair and elegant accessory pulls the look together and keeps it from looking too haphazard.
Regardless of hair length, a claw clip is the perfect grab-and-go hair accessory for a low-effort updo. Gather hair into a low ponytail at the nape of the neck and hold in the palm of your hand. Using a finger from the same hand, twist the hair around itself, starting at the base, until half the length of the unsecured ponytail is tightly coiled. Raise the twisted ponytail up against the back of your hair and secure with a claw clip. It’s that simple.
Low Knot Bun
An elegant knot bun works on any hair length, and can be done in a matter of minutes. Simply secure a low ponytail with an elastic and separate the hair into two sections, tying them into knots (as many as your length allows). Wrap the knotted sections into a bun, pin, and finish with a light-hold hairspray like Living Proof Style Lab Flex Hairspray ($32).
Futuristic Sleek Ponytail
Okay, so it’s not exactly beginner friendly but there’s no denying the appeal of this futuristic ponytail. Pair with sharp winged liner and a light contour to really snatch the face.
For those awkward in-between lengths, try pairing a fluffy half-braid with a low ponytail. Not only does the combination add some visual interest to an otherwise plain updo, but it’s also super easy to DIY—and all you need is a single scrunchie.
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