Best Prom Updos

Teens can get glam for the big night by stealing these red carpet-worthy updos from Hollywood's hottest young stars. Here, hair pros share simple, step-by-step instructions for recreating each gorgeous prom hairstyle at home.

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Old Hollywood Waves


Taylor Swift's swept-back waves are "very classic, very 1930s glamour-girl-on-Hollywood-Boulevard," says Nicholas Penna Jr., head stylist and owner of Salon Capri in Newton, Massachusetts. "Plus, these waves will look great after you take them down. They're the perfect base for a second look at the after party."

How to do it: Use a curling iron to create Swift's spirals. For loose waves, choose a large-barrel iron. For tighter ringlets, use an iron with a smaller barrel. (Or, try using both sizes to create a combination of curls.) Then, sweep curled hair back into a loose bun. Secure with plenty of bobby pins, preferably in a matching color so they blend right in. If your teen wants to switch up her look later in the night, she can just remove the pins and tousle.

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Video: How to Create a Short Updo

Formal Event Hair: Short Updo

Look red-carpet ready with this sophisticated updo that works beautifully for short hair.

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The Ultra-Simple Twist


Michelle Trachtenberg's updo looks low-maintenance, but it's also totally sophisticated.

How to do it: Smooth volumizing mousse through hair while it's still wet, advises celebrity stylist Ron King of bô Salon in Austin, Texas. Let air-dry. Then, twist top layers around a medium-barrel curling iron. Pull one tendril down asymmetrically across face and curl with a small-barrel curling iron. Pull the rest of hair back into a pretty bun or chignon. Secure with plenty of bobby pins.

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The Messy Ponytail


Vanessa Hudgens' oh-so-undone updo makes the most of her natural texture. Her stylized sweep is incredibly achievable for girls with curly or wavy hair, says King.

How to do it: Start by adding texturizing cream to just-washed hair. Let air-dry. Then, sweep hair into a high ponytail, and hide the elastic hairband by wrapping a section of hair around it and securing with a bobby pin. Let face-framing layers drift out naturally, or pull a few out and wrap around fingers to define waves. Don't get too fussy adding curls with an iron; this style looks best a bit mussed, and for best results, finger-tousle hair for a natural, messier look. Bonus: This 'do will only improve on the dance floor.

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Video: How to Create a Messy Side Bun

How to Create a Messy Side Bun

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The Imperfect Bun


Emma Roberts' low bun is perfect for long-haired ladies.

How to do it: Leaving bangs loose, pull hair back into a low ponytail, advises celebrity stylist Carrie Butterworth of the Patrick Melville salon in New York. The second time you pull hair through the elastic, stop short when hair forms a loop halfway through band. Twist the loop around the base of the ponytail, securing with bobby pins as you go. Poof the resulting bun as needed with fingers. (Don't worry about flyaways; a few little pieces sticking out here and there will look good.) Finish the look with a cute jeweled headband like Roberts'.

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Video: Messy Modern Bun How-To

Format Event Hair: Messy Modern Bun

This messy, modern updo is perfect for wavy or curly hair.

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The Border Braid


Your teen will definitely need help to achieve Jessica Alba's look, but if you're a practiced french-braider, it's an achievable style. A pretty perimeter braid follows the border of Alba's hair until the nape is reached, and then the remainder is pulled into a low, soft chignon, according to celebrity stylist Paul Labrecque of the Paul Labrecque salon in New York City.

How to do it: Part hair in center. On one side, french-braid a small section of hair along the edge of the face, ending at the nape of the neck. Secure, and then repeat on the opposite side. Twist the two braids and the remaining hair on the back of the head together into a loose bun or chignon.

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Video: How to Create a Fishtail High Ponytail

Pretty Prom Hair: How To Make a Fishtail High Ponytail

Look great for prom or any formal occasion.

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Volume, Volume, Volume!


Hairspray is the secret weapon to getting Selena Gomez's lifted locks.

How to do it: Tease hair as you push it off the back of the head. To do this, run a fine-tooth comb through the last two inches of the hair closest to the scalp in short strokes, aiming at the root. Only tease dry hair (wet strands can intensify the tangle) and keep comb strokes uniform for best results. Use hairspray generously while combing—it'll create a stronger base and maximum volume. Once hair has enough extra oomph, loosely twirl and pin locks back, a few at a time, into a twist, from front-to-back. "A hairstyle like this can be very rocker-chic, so have your teen dress it up with a bit of attitude too," says Penna.

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Video: Master the Classic French Twist

Pretty Prom Hair: How To Make A Classic French Twist

Look great for prom or any formal occasion. Follow these simple steps to style your hair in a classic French twist.

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The Teased Chignon


A classic chignon like Natalie Portman's will last past the final songs of the evening.

How to do it: Prep hair with mousse, especially if it's fine. Tease at the crown, then comb back into a low ponytail, says Labrecque. Loop it around itself and secure with pins to create the soft chignon. Mist with a medium-hold finishing spray that will provide hold with soft texture.

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The Smooth Sweep


Follow Beyoncé's example to achieve a modern, sophisticated look.

How to do it: Make a side part. Swoop one half of hair loosely around and below the ear, pinning it back. Use a dab of gel to pull the other side back tighter, exposing the ear. Then, pull both sides back into a low ponytail or soft bun, says Laurent Dufourg, celebrity stylist and founder of Prive Salons in Los Angeles and New York. Use a soft-hold shine spray to keep flyaways under wraps.

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Prom Hair Style: The Zipper Braided Bun

Pretty Prom Hair: How to Make a Zipper Braid with a Big Bun

Look great for prom or any formal occasion. Follow these steps to make a zipper braid with a big bun hairstyle.

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Grown-Up Plaits


"This young, fun style on Sarah Michelle Gellar has a preppy, yet very fancy look—it'd be at home on the set of Gossip Girl," says Penna.

How to do it: To create this grown-up braid, start with a deep side part. On the side of the head with more hair, make a reverse french braid by crossing strands under rather than over while braiding. End the braid at the back of the head. Pull back remaining hair on the opposite side of the head and combine it with the end of the braid. Secure in a low ponytail. Tease or curl the ends for locks as full as Gellar's.

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Trailing Tendrils


Amanda Seyfried's soft, romantic look is a cinch to achieve.

How to do it: Leave a few face-framing strands loose, says Labrecque. Pull the rest of hair back into a bun, twist, or chignon, locking the style in with a holding spray.

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The Loose Bun


Teens looking to keep it classy at prom should go with Kristen Bell's 'do, says Penna.

How to do it: "The key to this glamorous, mature style is to pin most of the hair into a loose bun, while keeping a few natural waves free-flowing beside the face," says Penna. Start with a side part. Comb hair into a loose bun. Use a curling iron to define the gentle, face-framing waves. Apply a dab of styling wax to the ends of hair to get Bell's piece-y texture.

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The High French Twist


Keke Palmer's french twist is a chic, classic head-topper.

How to do it: Start with straight hair. (Girls with naturally wavy or curly hair will need to use a smoothing product and blow-dry hair straight.) Make an off-center part. Gather hair on both sides, and twist upward, pulling hair extra high to match Palmer's 'do. Secure with plenty of pins. "To change up this look, leave the top part of the twist undone, and texturize with styling pomade and your fingers—it's a great way to liven it up," says Penna.

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The Tousled Bun


Leighton Meester's funky 'do is perfect for girls who don't want a fussy, complicated look, says Penna. It works particularly well for teens with straight hair.

How to do it: Apply pomade to hair to get a piece-y, second-day-hair look. Gather hair into a gentle twist or bun while leaving out a few face-framing pieces. More tendrils coming loose? Let them fly.

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The Aphrodite Braid


Girls channeling their inner Grecian goddess can take a cue from Alexis Bledel's clean look, says Dufourg.

How to do it: Make an off-center part. On the side of head with more hair, create a french braid along the hairline. Stop at the nape of neck. Combine the braid and remaining hair and braid them together. Twist the braid into a bun.

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The Messy Updo


"Inspired by the legendary Brigitte Bardot, this look is the ultimate bed-head updo," says Labrecque.

How to do it: Dry hair with a styling foam to add texture and body. Randomly pin back locks, piece by piece, into a messy twist. For exaggerated body, follow Jessica Simpson's lead by leaving the crown a bit loose and full.

Copyright © 2010 Meredith Corporation.