Wondering how to wear your hair for prom? Half up prom hairstyles are the best of both worlds, giving you the flowing length of wearing your hair down with the formal polished look of an updo.
If you just can’t decide if you’d rather wear your hair up or down, settling on a modern half up style just might be the sweet spot. Get inspired with 15 examples and tips to consider below!
What Are Half Up Prom Hairstyles?
- Ditch stiff, starchy curls in favor of soft, looser ringlets or waves
- Focus on adding texture to the loose ends for a formal look
- Gather the top half or a little less to balance the style
- Make style security a top priority with pins and hairspray
When it’s time to dress up and show off your formal side this spring at prom, you want a hairstyle that suits the occasion with modern style and a balance of trendy and classic.
Half up prom hairstyles are always a safe bet because they’re easy to tweak to suit the current trends. But the “bones” of a half up, half down hairstyle are super classic – they never go out of style.
When you choose a half up prom style, you’ll truly get the best of both worlds. Half up styles have the benefits of wearing your hair down and loose plus the pros of a prom-ready updo.
Half up prom hairstyles are a great way to add extra volume to the top and sides of your head for a more balanced face shape. They make it easy to keep cool while you dance the night away with half your hair lifted off your neck and shoulders!
Half up hairstyles for prom also help reduce the “bulk” and thickness of the hair resting on your shoulders and chest to show off more of your gorgeous dress. It’s a win-win-win situation.
The 4 Keys for a Perfect Formal Half Up Hairstyle
That means you can safely leave the stiff, starchy curls of proms past, well, in the past. Instead, opt for looser ringlets or waves with a wider diameter for a softer, more modern look.
Focus on adding texture through the ends of your half up style, like soft waves or glamorous spiral curls. It’ll up the formal factor of your style and make it feel more complete.
When you’re browsing different half up prom hairstyles to try, remember that you can tweak the look by adjusting the amount of hair you include in the updo portion.
They’re called “half up” styles, but you might like the way a style looks using much less than the top half. Finally, you need to think about your hairstyle security for a special night like prom.
Bobby pins, U-shaped hair pins, and medium to firm hold hairsprays are pretty non-negotiable for most half up prom hairstyles. The last thing you want is a fallen hairstyle halfway through your favorite song!
Keep reading to see some of our favorite half up prom hairstyles that perfectly blend modern and classic looks.
15 Half Up Prom Hairstyles to Complete Your Look
If you’re looking for the perfect half up prom hairstyles to pair with your dress, you need to check out several looks to get a sense of what will look best.
Put your own twist on a half up style with any of these stunning options!
1. Half Up Draped Fishtail Braids
Fluffy fishtail braids are the focal point of this half up style with loose partial waves finishing the look. This style works best with hair on the thicker side so you’ll have enough strands to fill out the look.
Two fishtail braids connect below the volume-boosted crown with cascading bendy waves for the loose half. Try decorative hair picks, studded pins, or jeweled clips to dress up the meeting point in the back.
2. Half Up Twists With Waterfall Curls
Big, full ringlets are a classic prom hairstyle staple that works well with half up styles. Smoothing the top half back then tugging on small sections will texturize the top.
Small sections from each front side are twisted to join in the back, where the texture switches to cascading ringlets with a large diameter.
3. Boho Chic Half Up Braids
More relaxed half up prom hairstyles might be a good fit with your dress if you’re embracing boho chic or more casual vibes.
Combine multiple braid types – a loose fishtail, hanging 3-strand braids of various sizes, and loose twists – to pull off this layered, textured look. Finish the loose hair with big curls that end a few inches above the ends.
4. One-Shoulder Half Up Soft Curls
A quick way to give half up prom hairstyles a more modern twist is creating a one-shoulder style. You’ll drape hair back on each side (use a side or middle part for added interest from the front) to create the base.
Pull your hair over one shoulder, pinning underneath to secure the style in place. Curl the ends and tug a few face-framing tendrils loose to give it a breezy look.
5. Pinned-Back Faux Half Up Vintage Curls
If you want a little twist on a classic half up style, try the pinned-back style with loose, vintage curls. It’s not quite a “half updo,” but it has a similar look and really blends the benefits of wearing your hair down and up.
You’ll create a deep side part, securing the thinner side with a few bobby pins and hairspray. Go big with the volume on the loose side, adding root lift spray or volumizing powder for the most lift.
6. Spunky High Half Up With Face-Framing Tendrils
A high half updo is equal parts trendy and classic, with extra volume on top that’s amazing for round or square face shapes. Secure the top half (or less) in a high ponytail. Lightly tease the base of the ponytail for more volume.
Finish the ends with spiral curls, a few random tiny braids, and face-framing strands pulled out to curve around your cheeks.
7. Merged Half Up Braids and Waves
What do you get when two half up 3-strand braids merge together? A cute fishtail braid, apparently! It’s pretty and simple to style on your own if you don’t want to shell out for a stylist.
Braid two sections from the front sides of your hair at an angle toward the back. Use the ends of the braids to start a fishtail braid and weave down close to the ends before securing with a clear elastic.
Loose waves offer a great, beachy texture for the loose portion of the style!
8. Side-Swept Half Up With S-Waves
If you love half up prom hairstyles that are a touch dramatic, this is a good option to try. Big, S-shaped waves fill the loose portion with texture and alluring curves while the side-swept top half creates a flattering shape.
Hairspray and bobby pins are essential to make this a lasting look for prom night. You can use a little heat protectant and hairspray before you curl your hair to ensure your waves stay put!
9. Short Half Crown Braid
Rocking short half up prom hairstyles can be really cute with simple additions like a wrapped, half crown braid. The lilac color is gorgeous, but this style really lets the length and texture shine.
Best of all, this short look works with bangs, short bobs, asymmetrical short cuts, and shoulder-length cuts. Try it with jeweled pins for a more formal look!
10. Half Up Twists and Voluminous Curls
Chunky twists created with sections of hair taken from each front side are the bones of this pretty prom hairstyle. Twist each section toward the back, securing with bobby pins spritzed with a little hairspray.
The ends are curled in 1″ sections for the most texture and curve. You want big, bouncy curls, so don’t brush through or rough them up with your fingers too much. A pretty barrette or clip is great to finish it off!
11. Braided Half Up Flowers
Want the focal point of your style to be a little more whimsical and fun? Try braided flowers that are actually much simpler than they look.
After pulling the top section back and securing it, create 3 separate 3-strand braids next to each other below your crown. Pancake each braid, tugging each bit to flatten and fluff it out. Spiral-wrap the braids around their own bases to create flowers.
12. Invisibly Pinned Wavy Half Updo
Try creating an “illusion” with your prom hairstyle by using invisibly-tucked bobby pins to hold your hair in a loose, subtle half updo. You need loose waves or brushed curls for texture through the ends.
Drape and tuck small sections from the front somewhere behind your ears. Use bobby pins to secure each section, then drape a little more hair over the pins to cover them. This works with side and middle parts!
13. 3D Pin Curl Crown Half Updo
Bring classic pin curls into your prom style with this cute option! A side part gets divided into smaller sections angling toward the crown. Each one ends in a 3D pin curl, tugged apart for a little more volume on top.
This creates the look of a crown on top, especially when you accessorize with small jewel clips or pins for emphasis.
14. Classic Half Up Spiral Curls
You can’t go wrong with classic half up prom hairstyles like this! Simply sweep the top half of your hair back and secure below the crown. Add big, voluminous curls through the loose length for texture.
Amp this style up a bit by teasing the deeper layers of the top half before smoothing hair over it for a pristine look. You can also use a metallic clip or barrette in the back for another special touch.
15. Tousled Half Up Loose Curls
You might experiment with a few half up prom hairstyles and find that you just look better when you don’t use the full top half of your hair for the updo portion. If that’s the case, try this!
Teased hair on top (leaving out the sides) is brought back and secured in front of the crown. Gently tease the sides and back for more lift, adding loose curls through the length to finish the style.
Things to Consider
Wearing your hair half up for prom is almost always a good idea, but it works best when you keep the following tips and considerations in mind.
- Your dress style should suit it. Half up prom hairstyles are great for some necklines, but not others. Avoid wearing a half up style if your dress has a high or halter neckline, an asymmetrical neckline, or a boat neckline. Strapless and off-shoulder dresses are meant to show off your collarbones and cleavage, so half up styles can mess with the look. Half up styles look great with sweetheart, v-neck, keyhole, square, and scoop necklines.
- Your hairspray choice matters. Making sure your half up hairstyle stays put all night isn’t an easy feat. You’ll need a good hairspray that offers superior hold without making your hair feel sticky or stiff. Look for a medium hold or firm hold hairspray to keep your half updo in shape all night! Spritzing your bobby and hair pins with it will help them grip your strands better, too.
- Keep your hair’s tendencies in mind. No one knows your hair as well as you. Think about the usual tendencies and quirks of your mane to pick the best prom hairstyle. Will it hold a curl for several hours? Does it tend to get frizzy in hot and humid conditions? Does it feel heavy when you wear it up, even if it’s just the top half? Consider these questions before you settle on a style.
- Do a trial run first. The last thing you want is relying on a specific half up style only to discover on prom day that it’s not working out the way you’d planned. It’s smart to do a trial run – heck, several trial runs – with the styles you’re considering to see which ones best suit you and your dress style.
So, Are Half Up Prom Hairstyles the Best Choice?
Half up prom hairstyles are popular for a lot of reasons, but it can really be summed up simply: They look great on everyone and are so versatile.
From loose, boho styles to shapely, classic looks, there’s a lot you can do with the half up style base. Half up prom hairstyles are often the best choice if you’re struggling to choose between wearing your hair down or up!
The only times half up styles aren’t recommended for prom are when your dress is strapless, off-shoulder, or has a super high neckline. For these dress necklines, full updos are a better choice.
If your dress neckline is square, scoop, sweetheart, straight, keyhole, or v-neck, a half up style will be absolutely perfect.
Try to choose a texture for your loose hair that matches the formality of your dress and you’ll love the look for your special night!