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What is an Updo?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 21, 2024
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An updo is a hairstyle where the hair is pulled up off the shoulders and neck into a specific style and held in place with clips, barrettes or other hair accessories. Usually these hairstyles are used for special events, such as weddings, proms, or appearances at fancy shindigs. There are many who enjoy either creating these dos or getting to model one on special occasions.

While there are a few updo styles for those with short hair, most styles are better suited to women with medium to long length hair. Suitable styling to short hair can certainly be pretty for an event, or a partial updo might be achieved if hair in the front is long enough to pull back and pin.

There’s an infinite variation of potential updo styles, but several of them have emerged as near classics. One of these is the ponytail, where hair is simply pulled back or where the ponytail becomes the base for other updo forms. The french twist, for example begins with collecting the hair into a ponytail, twisting it, and then bringing the hair ends up to be tucked into the twisted hair. These can be tight or loose, and some varieties stick hair ends up at the back of the head. Variants of the twist are made easy with large butterfly clips, but a more finished look may be achieved with hairpins.

Other ponytail-based styles, especially for very long hair include a variety of buns that can be worn high on the head, mid head, or low at the neck. Instead of a ponytail, some buns incorporate elaborate braiding that can take hours to achieve. Simpler updos like the half updo might take only minutes. Pulling front hairs back in a braid, ponytail or small bun while still leaving much of the hair flowing long is sometimes called a half-do.

There’s much variation in how front hair is styles with any type of updo. Sometimes all hair is sleeked back, which can be difficult to achieve if hair is very curly. In other instances, some of the hair in front is curled and loosely frames the face. Those who have bangs might be suited to styles with face-framing hair.

As mentioned, it is possible to change style of an updo by incorporating additional hair. This can increase size of a bun or lend itself to elaborate braiding and pinning. Some hair stylists are exceptionally good at creating these styles, but they may be difficult to achieve alone. Many women do pay to have a stylist create a hairstyle for them when they want to attend a special event.

Another thing to consider is whether to add decorative elements. Combs, jewel studded pins, clips, and fresh or artificial flowers are choices. Women should consider if they will be wearing anything on the head, which could be the case at weddings. Hats may quickly ruin the prettiest do and might be a “don’t” with certain hairstyles. A good stylist can recommend best styles in these cases.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a BeautyAnswered contributor, Tricia...
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