Half up half down hairstyles—20 ideas for every hair length

Elegant half up half down hairstyles work for any occasion—here's all the inspiration you need to recreate this classic look

Queen Latifah with a half up half down hairstyles on the red carpet
(Image credit: Getty images)

Half up half down hairstyles are truly the best of both worlds. If you love the elegance of an updo but want the fullness of having your hair down, half up half down hairstyles tick both boxes with ease. 

This easy hairstyle is versatile too. It's as suitable for party hairstyles as it is running errands on a Sunday afternoon and works on short hairstyles, bob hairstyles, long hairstyles, and everything in between. The look is even popular with the royal family, as the Duchess of Cambridge famously wore her veiled hair in a half up half down hairstyle for her wedding day in 2011.

Duchess of Cambridge wearing half up half down hairstyles on her wedding day in 2011

(Image credit: Getty images)

So what exactly defines half up half down hairstyles? Just as they sound, these chic ‘dos involve pinning away the front section or top layers of your hair in a hair up style and styling the rest around it. "The hair is pulled off the face so you can see the eyes, but the bottom of the hair is down and soft," explains GHD ambassador Zoë Irwin. "You get that fullness that lots of women want and that gives them a lot of confidence. You've also got that little bit of detail, perhaps with a clip at the back—something really simple." 

Half up half down hairstyles—20 looks we love

Another great aspect of half up half down hairstyles is that they can be adapted to suit all face shapes and multiple hair textures from straight and fine to curly hairstyles and box braids. Want extra oomph on a half up style for a special occasion? Speak to your hairdresser about which hair extensions are best for you as half up half down hairstyles work perfectly with good clip-ins or tape extensions.

Whether you choose to offset your look with a bejeweled clip or classic headband, or simply let the elegance of the hair speak for itself, we’ve rounded up 20 chic half up half down hairstyles on a variety of hair types for you to choose from. Happy pinning!

1. The loosely waved half up half down style

Face shape: any | Hair type: medium to thick


2. The half up natural top knot

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick, natural


3. The tousled twisted style on short hair

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to medium


4. The half up messy bun on short hair

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine


5. The twisted half up hair down hairstyle

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick


6. The embellished half up hairstyle

Face shape: all | Hair type: medium to thick


7. The half up wrap ponytail on long hair

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick


8. The twisted half up half down hairstyle

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


9. The '60s half up tonged hairstyle

Face shape: oval or longer | Hair type: fine


10. The half up scrunchie style on curls

Face shape: any | Hair type: medium to thick, curly


11. The half bun with French pin

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to medium


12. The half up barrette style

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick


13. The half up messy bun

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to medium


14. The half up twisted style

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine to thick


15. The half up style with claw clip

Face shape: all | Hair type: fine to thick


16. The clipped-up naturally coily curls

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick, curly


17. The curls with floral accessory

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick, curly


18. The curly half bun

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick


19. The half up pinned coily style

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick, coily


20. The half up partially braided wavy style

Face shape: any | Hair type: fine to thick


Styling tips for half up half down hairstyles

As well as deciding whether you want to offset your half-up hairstyle with an accessory, if you're styling DIY, you'll also need some trustworthy products to keep your look in place. Nobody wants to spend hours on a hairstyle only for it all to fall out within the first 15 minutes of arriving at an event.

A pintail comb is one of the most useful tools to have to hand when creating half up half down hairstyles, either on yourself or someone else, as it allows for far more precision when dividing the 'up' and 'down' sections of hair. 

You can also never have too many bobby pins—especially if you're working with shorter hair that may require more locking in to stay in place. On the locking in front, one of the best hair styling products for that job is your classic hairspray. 

Lastly, depending on your finish, you may also want to add some texture to the lengths of hair that haven't been swept up into your partial updo. Texturising spray is one of the easiest ways to achieve this. If your hair is super straight naturally you could also use either the best curling wand or even your best hair straighteners to create some loose waves.  

Our beauty editors recommend...

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ghd Tail Comb | RRP: $22/£8.50

A nimble and good value comb that's perfect for separating off sections and creating a crisp, clear parting. It's heat-resistant too, so will get along nicely with your best hair dryer.

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L'Oréal Elnett Strong Hold Hairspray | RRP: $12.99/£6.70

You really can't go wrong with classic Elnett hairspray, a non-sticky yet powerful classic for keeping half up half down hairstyles in place. 

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OUAI Texturizing Hair Spray | RRP: $26/£22.50

Reach for this when you want instant grit and texture on the down section of your half up half down hairstyles—you know you can rely on a product created by Chrissy Teigen's personal hairstylist!


woman&home thanks Zoë Irwin of GHD for her time and expertise.

Lucy is a UK-based beauty journalist who has written for the likes of Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, OK!, Women's Health and more, as well as contributing to woman&home. Her work covers everything from expert skin and haircare tips to the latest product launches and the show-stopping beauty looks spotted backstage at London Fashion Week.


During her career she's interviewed some seriously famous faces, from Little Mix to Drag Race royalty The Vivienne, as well as chatting to the industry's leading hairdressers, dermatologists and make-up artists. When she's not got beauty on the brain you'll probably find her in the company of dogs, reading, or being shamed by Netflix's "are you still watching?" message. You can follow her on Instagram at @lucyabbers.