Waterfall braids, fancy ponytails and more: 5 prom hairstyle tutorials

Prom hair tutorial
Prom hair tutorial

You’ve got the dress, the shoes and maybe even a dream date planned for prom, but what are you going to do with your hair? Instead of booking an updo appointment at a local salon, consider taking the do-it-yourself route. After all, many of the most popular prom hairstyles are easy enough to master at home. From waterfall braids to fancy ponytails, read on for our foolproof directions (and Pintrest-worthy tutorials!) for five of the best prom hairstyles. (BTW, if you’re still looking for the dress, check out our prom style guide.)

Prom Hairstyle #1: Fancy Ponytail
The ponytail is a classic hairstyle that’s perfect for prom. By changing the part, adding some curl or positioning it high or low, you can make this sporty style look totally formal. While our take on the fancy ponytail looks like a loose braid, it’s actually created by criss-crossing and pinning sections of hair across a mini ponytail. It may sound complicated but it’s actually quite simple—making it an ideal DIY hairstyle for prom. For more detailed directions, see our complete fancy ponytail tutorial here and for additional tips on troubleshooting common ponytail problems watch this video.

Prom hair tutorial fancy ponytail
Hair and makeup by Margot Keith. Model: Zahra/Ford Models. Photography by Stephanie J. Algieri.

Prom Hairstyle #2: Waterfall Braid
The waterfall braid may just be the new top knot—it’s a versatile look that’s exploded on Pinterest and YouTube. We’re certain that this romantic hairstyle is going to be one of the most popular looks for prom. Just like a French braid, the waterfall braid adds strands of hair with every pass, but the fallen look comes courtesy of intentionally dropped pieces. Confused? Watch this tutorial to see how the waterfall braid is done:

While it works with any hair texture, for prom we suggest trying the waterfall braid on curled hair. You can curl your hair ahead of time (check out all our hair curling tips here) or amp up the volume by curling the dropped pieces once you’ve completed the braid. This waterfall braid tutorial from Once Wed shows just how stunning this style looks on curly hair—and also helps to further explain how it’s done. While it is possible to do a waterfall braid on yourself, grab a friend this weekend and test out the tutorial on each other. Practice really does make perfect.

Prom Hairstyle #3: Deep Side Part
The deep side part is definitely having a red carpet moment—it’s one of Kristen Stewart’s favourite styles and a number of stars, including Reese Witherspoon and Amanda Seyfried, wore the look at this year’s Oscars. Considering that prom is basically the Oscars of your high school years, take note from the red carpet and try loose waves.

A mix of Old Hollywood and modern style, the trick to keeping a deep side part under control is all in the twist: Instead of parting your hair and hoping for the best, this prom hair tutorial shows you how to secure it back with a modified braid. The full directions can be found here.

Prom hair tutorial deep side part
Hair and makeup by Margot Keith. Model: Angela/Ford Models. Photography by Stephanie J. Algieri.

Prom Hairstyle #4: The Updo
There’s an endless number of ways to style your hair in an updo for prom, but we think a low chignon is best. After all, that’s how Jennifer Lawrence styled her hair when she won her Oscar:

Jennifer Lawrence Oscars 2013 hair tutorial for prom

The chignon—which can refer to any gathered hairstyle that sits at the nape of your neck—is ideal do-it-yourself prom hair because, based on your skill level and the look you’re going for, it can be perfectly polished or left loose and playful. For more detailed directions, check out our complete tutorial here.

Prom hair tutorial chignon updo
Hair and makeup by Margot Keith. Model: Zahra/Ford Models. Photography by Stephanie J. Algieri.

Prom Hairstyle #5: Halo Braid
Braid enthusiasts, this one’s for you! The halo braid (otherwise known as a milkmaid braid or braided updo) takes practice but is beyond impressive once it’s mastered. From Erdem to Valentino to Emerson, halo braids keep showing up on the runways season after season, and the red carpet has followed: Keira Knightly, Scarlett Johansson, Ashley Olsen and Elle Fanning have all embraced halo braids. So when it comes to prom, this is a hairstyle that’s sure to turn heads.

If you’re confident in your French braiding skills this will be an easy prom hairstyle to master. But newbies, don’t fret! Our step-by-step guide takes all the confusion out of this complicated style. Check it out here.

Prom hair tutorial halo braid
Hair and makeup by Margot Keith. Model: Angela/Ford Models. Photography by Stephanie J. Algieri.

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