32 updos for short hair from effortless messy buns to sleek braided looks

Be inspired by these 32 updos for short hair, from classy chignons to beautiful braids...

Jennifer Lopez, Meryl Streep and Olivia Wilde pictured with updos for short hair/ in a dusky pink template
(Image credit: Getty Images (L to R): Gregg DeGuire/WireImage | Taylor Hill/FilmMagic | Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

There are updos for short hair to suit everyone, but it's fair to say styling a short haircut leaves less wiggle room for versatility. The shorter you go, the harder your hair becomes to get into an updo, much less one that stays secure for an extended period. 

It's worth persevering though, as with a bit of styling know-how there is an easy look out there to suit every head of hair, including the shortest of short hairstyles for women, from pixie haircuts to shags and bob hairstyles. The trick with finding updo ideas for more closely-cropped hair is embracing your shorter lengths and thinking outside of the traditional hair up styles box. 

“Half-up, half-down hair is a perfect choice,” says Andrew John of Percy & Reed Salon. “Create a half-up, half-down style by sectioning hair from the top of each ear and twist it into a loose bun, and pin." Hershesons CEO Luke Hersheson is well-versed in creating updos for short hair on celebs such as Sienna Miller, and advises, “plaited braids on either side of a middle parting and pinned into a low bun is an alternative updo that has an edge to it.” Short hair doesn't have to limit you, there are plenty of options out there and we've rounded up 32 looks to inspire your creativity...

Updos for short hair: 32 looks we love

We've consulted the experts and scoured the most beautiful updos for short hair online to get you started. From Bantu knots to the messy bun, these are the best updos for short hair that work for every occasion. 

1. Messy updo for short hair

Keira Knightly pictured with a messy updo whilst attending the opening ceremony and the Atonement Premiere on day 1 of the 64th Annual Venice Film Festival on August 29, 2007 in Venice, Italy.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Chris Jackson)

Face shape: round or oval | Hair type: fine to medium

The beauty of this style is it's messiness, so there is no 'wrong' way to create it. Begin by pulling back your hair with your hands, then simply pin in place and ease out strands here and there for a chill, undone vibe.

2. Pinned up short hair 'do

Kate Middleton pictured with a low, pinned up bun on September 27, 2023 in Sittingbourne, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Max Mumby/Indigo)

Face shape: square, heart or oval | Hair type: fine to medium

Bobby pins at the ready for this style, it's slightly more formal and structured than your typical messy updo. If you're familiar with how to curl your hair with a curling iron, style it into fairly tight ringlets then separate it into top, middle and lower sections, folding them over and pinning them in place. 

3. Grips

Emma Watson pictured with hair grips at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2022 at Royal Albert Hall on March 13, 2022 in London, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jeff Spicer)

Face shape: any | Hair type: all

Not got enough length to put it up? Accessorize instead! This elegant style works for all hair lengths and textures but is especially perfect for short hair, especially if you find that your hair keeps getting in your eyes.  Match the colour of your pins to your outfit for extra style points.

4. Plaited bob

Elizabeth Banks pictured with a wavy updo as she attends the premiere of 'Poetry' held at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual International Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 2010 in Cannes, France.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Toni Anne Barson/WireImage)

Face shape: round or oval | Hair type: medium

Plaits always look special, but with a contemporary edge. This loosely plaited braid in a halo style down to the nape will incorporate short hair easily. If you find layers are escaping your plait, prep the hair with a grippy pomade or wax. 

5. Curly faux-hawk

A woman pictured with a curly faux hawk

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jupiterimages)

Face shape: heart or oval | Hair type: coily, textured

Curly and coily hair has the benefit of body and texture to play with. By pulling up and pinning back a short natural hairstyle you can create this fabulous faux mohawk. Try a little styling cream on a toothbrush to keep the side sections sleek. 

6.Teased updo

JLo pictured with a teased updo at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Face shape: square or oval | Hair type: fine to medium

Volume, volume, volume is the secret behind this elegant style. Create height at the crown of the head with texture spray and a little backcombing, then smooth over top layers and pin them back, pulling the front of the hair backward as you go. 

7. Half-up half-down

Helen Mirren with a half up half down hair look at the screening of "Mother And Son (Un Petit Frere)" during the 75th annual Cannes film festival at Palais des Festivals on May 27, 2022 in Cannes, France.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Marc Piasecki/FilmMagic)

Face shape: any, especially round | Hair type: medium to thick

This is a great short hairstyle for thick hair and a perfect alternative to full hair-up, especially if you have a blunt bob or shorter layers that just won't stay.  To recreate this sleek look, simply section out the top half of your hair, brush it back and secure it in either a mini ponytail or bun. 

8. Curly quiff

Tracee Ellis Ross pictured with an updo at the Fast Company Innovation Festival at Convene on September 20, 2023 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Eugene Gologursky)

Face shape: round or oval | Hair type: curly, coily

A quiffed, backcombed look is perfect if you're struggling to style your short hair! We'd also recommend adding a few braids to the sides if you have curly or coily hair. You may need the help of a professional—or certainly a skilled friend—to create these tightly braided rows. But once combined with the backcombed section at the front, they add intricacy and visual interest to this style. Protect your carefully created braids with the best silk hair wraps.

9. Messy textured twist

Diane Kruger with a messy bun as she poses during the 67th annual Golden Globe Awards nomination announcement held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 15, 2009 in Los Angeles , California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kevin Winter)

Face shape: any | Hair type: wavy to curly

Sometimes mess is best! That's certainly true of this updo, where wavy or curly hair is ruffled up (try a blast of the best dry shampoo for extra grit) and pinned into place leaving plenty of tendrils loose for undone appeal.

10. Fold and roll short updo style

Rachel McAdams pictured with a twisted hair look at the Los Angeles Premiere "Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows" at Regency Village Theatre on December 6, 2011 in Westwood, California

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)

Face shape: square or oval | Hair type: fine to medium

This appears like a long head of hair pinned into a complicated style, but it is actually very simple to recreate. Take small to medium sections, pin into the scalp then fold and tuck over each other to hide the pins. 

11. Twist-front natural 'do

Rihanna pictured with a curly updo as she rrives to meet French President Emmanuel Macron (not pictured) at the Elysee Palace on July 26, 2017 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Nicolas Kovarik/IP3)

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: curly, coily

If you have textured hair you can easily create an updo that allows your curls to take centre stage. You can either opt for a high bun or twist, that allows your curls to cascade over the top of your head, for added volume or alternatively, add some twists in the front section. For a special occasion, you can then add a few chic metallic accessories for a doubly sophisticated look.

12. French plaits

A woman with short french braids

(Image credit: Getty Images/Tim Robberts)

Face shape: any, particularly round | Hair type: medium to thick

This is fun, cute and relatively easy to create. Simply center part your hair (using a tail comb will create this razor-sharp parting) Then French plait in two sections, secure with elastics, et voila!

13. Half-up braided bun

Gabrielle Union wears her hair in braids and in a half-up half-down style whilst attending as Tiffany & Co. Celebrates the reopening of NYC Flagship store, The Landmark on April 27, 2023 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Dimitrios Kambouris)

Face shape: any, particularly round | Hair type: any

Intricate, fine braids secured in a half-up high bun looks contemporary and glamorous on short hair. Using a fine tail comb and some hair styling cream will keep the look neat and sleek. 

14. Bantu knots

A woman pictured with mini braided buns

(Image credit: Getty Images/Peathegee Inc)

Face shape: round or oval | Hair type: curly, coily, fine to thick

Bantu knots can work on bob length hair too—the trick is to space out the knots, twist the hair while damp, and secure with pins if needed. 

15. Halo braid

Scarlett Johansson with a halo braid at the the European premiere of Marvel Avengers Assemble at Vue West End on April 19, 2012 in London, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Face shape: square, heart, oval | Hair type: medium

A halo braid can work on both bobs and lobs. For longer bobs that might struggle to stay in place, prep the hair with a blow-dry primer then secure with pins as you work to stop hair falling out. 

16. Clipped side parting

Julianne Moore pictured with a side parting updo at the premiere of "Chloe" at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on March 15, 2010 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

Face shape: heart or round | Hair type: fine to medium

This clipped-back, side-fringe style is so glam it could pass as one of the best updos for short hair. Create a strong center part and stack clips down one side to keep hair off your face and make a statement. 

17. Wavy hair updo

Demi Moore with a wavy updo the 82nd Annual Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on March 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kevin Mazur/WireImage)

Face shape: any, particularly square | Hair type: fine to medium

If you have wavy hairstyle, this idea is perfect for showing off the fullness of your texture. Begin by pulling top sections back into a french braid, then twist and roll lower sections to create a chignon effect. As ever, hairspray and pins are your friends. 

18. Stacked buns on short hair

Nicole Kidman with a bun at the 67th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 17, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Kevin Winter)

Face shape: oval or heart | Hair type: medium

This quirky yet elegant style will impress at your next party. Separate the hair into two sections, pull into clear bands then twist into buns. The double bun effect means shorter sections are less likely to fall out as the night goes on, while a chic gold hair slide tops off the look. 

19. Twisted updo

Diane Kruger with a twisted updo at the 16th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 23, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick

This french braid into a messy bun style works best on a bob, rather than ultra-short hair. Begin your braid from one side, working down and across the back of the head, then twist into a glam chignon. 

20. Mini buns

Janelle Monáe with two buns whilst attending the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Face shape: round or heart | Hair type: fine to medium

Messy buns are a cool and modern style that make them one of the best updos for short hair if you can’t get your locks into two ponytails. Instead, grab small sections at the nape of the neck and use bobby pins to secure your buns for this cute updo.

21. Mini twisted buns

Vanessa Hudgens with twisted buns at the "Downtown Owl" Premiere during the 2023 Tribeca Festival at SVA Theatre on June 08, 2023 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Jamie McCarthy)

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: braided, twists

These cute buns are one of the funkiest updos for short hair if you have a short twist hairstyle. Leave a few twists out around the front and sides for flattering face-framing effect. 

22. Twisted ponytail

Zoe Saldana pictured with a twisted ponytail at the premiere of "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" at Dolby Theatre on April 19, 2017 in Hollywood, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)

Face shape: square or oval | Hair type: medium to thick

Amplify your casual ponytail hairstyle with some side twists. Use the best hair straighteners to create super sleek lengths, then simply tie your hair into a mini ponytail, split it into two and twist them together. For a half-up half-down look you can also just twist and pull back two smaller sections around the ears, and secure. 

23. Scarf bun

The back of a woman's head with a bun tied with a scarf

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jasmina Andonova)

Face shape: square or heart | Hair type: fine to medium

Accessories are always a great idea to enhance short hair. Here, the addition of a colorful scarf not only looks special it also bulks out your updo for more volume.

24. Bob with half plait

Emma Stone with a plaited bob as she attends 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2: Rise Of Electro' Rome Photocall at Grand Hotel St Regis on April 14, 2014 in Rome, Italy.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Elisabetta Villa)

Face shape: round, oval, or heart | Hair type: medium to thick

Another half up half down style that adds interest to a jaw-length bob. Pull one top section back into a French braid, tuck it behind your ear, and pin it in place, then use the best curling iron you can afford to create tousled waves through the lengths for a relaxed look.

25. Messy bun on lob

Margot Robbie with a messy updo at the "Barbie" European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 12, 2023 in London, England.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Samir Hussein/WireImage)

Face shape: any, particularly oval | Hair type: medium to thick

A lob is a perfect length for a messy updo with loose tendrils teased out. Begin with a bouncy blowout to achieve plenty of root lift, then pull your hair up onto the crown of your head, secure in a ponytail, backcomb and pin into a bun.

26. Claw clip bun

Woman wearing Prada sunglasses with a claw clip in her hair

(Image credit: Getty Images/Jeremy Moeller)

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to medium to thick

Yes, claw clips are back. For an easy failsafe updo, try pulling your hair back into a ponytail and securing it with a claw clip. It works equally well on lobs as it does on long hair. 

27. High curly updo

Tracee Ellis Roos pictured with a curly bun at the Art with a Cause on July 27, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Matt Winkelmeyer)

Face shape: any, particularly round | Hair type: curly, coily

A high impact, low effort natural hairstyle—this curly updo with loose tendrils looks effortlessly cool. Pull your hair up at the crown, secure it into a ponytail and twist into a bun, pulling out loose strands at the front. 

28. Sleek knotted updo

A woman pictured with a sleek, knotted bun

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Valentina Frugiuele)

Face shape: round, oval or heart | Hair type: fine to medium

Sleek and sophisticated, secure your strands in a low-knotted bun to recreate this shiny hair 'do. Begin with smoothly blow-dried hair and mist a bristle brush with hairspray when brushing it back into the pony for a smooth, flyaway-free look.

29. Half top knot

Olivia Wilde wears her bob in a half-up style as she attends Through Her Lens: The Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program Luncheon at Locanda Verde on October 17, 2017 in New York City

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Roy Rochlin/FilmMagic)

Face shape: square or oval | Hair type: medium to thick

A messy bun gets things done, and this messy half top knot is as easy to achieve as it is impactful for a daytime event. Use a bit of texture spray for grip and pull a piece of hair around the base of your half-bun to cover any pins or bands.

30. Tucked and twisted chignon

Eva Longoria pictured with a twist updo as she attends the Opening Night Premiere of 'Robin Hood' at the Palais des Festivals during the 63rd Annual International Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2010 in Cannes, France.

(Image credit: Getty Images/ Venturelli/WireImage)

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick

This classic and elegant style would be perfect for a party or special occasion. The trick to getting shorter lengths to stay in place is carefully twisting the hair and tucking the ends back into the twist, which creates the illusion of a chignon bun.

31. Face-framing bun

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is seen with a bun as she arriving to the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards at Brooklyn Museum on June 4, 2018 in New York City.

(Image credit: Getty Images/Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

Face shape: any | Hair type: any

If you have a fringe with your short crop or layers, you can opt for a bun with face-framing tendrils. This updo is so wearable and low-maintenance as it's supposed to look and feel a little "undone." It suits all face shapes and can be easily adapted to your hair type, the key is really in the face-framing sections. 

32. Voluminous glam bun