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Event Hair: Tips to Make Your Up-Do a Success

Best up-do hair tips

This was my last major up-do, thank goodness! Yes, that’s my wedding hair, circa May 2003. I obsessed (obsessed, really and truly obsessed) over looking for the perfect up-do. I remember spending hours (on a dial up internet connection) looking at on-line hair galleries. How much thought did I give to preparing for that up-do? Very little. But, in truth, the success of an up-do, and how long it lasts, depends a lot on how well you prepare for it.

A few things to know:
• If the up-do is for your wedding, you definitely should schedule a trial session with a stylist. If you’re doing it on your own, practice before your big day. Please.
• If you’re going to have a pro do the style for you, bringing in pictures of what you want will make the process much smoother.
• Have your hair color done within a week or so of the event, and if you have highlights make sure you have some around where your part will be for the up-do.

dirty hair for putting your hair up
1. Day Old Hair
Yes, it is true, freshly washed hair is usually too slippery to get enough “grip” to keep your hair up and make it last all night. Washing your hair the day before an event is a better idea, though if you are a person that must wash your hair each day, don’t fret! You’ll need to take a few extra steps to ensure that your hair has enough texture to hold a style, but it isn’t a lost cause.

To add in the texture you need, I like to turn to dry shampoo. For an up-do, my favorite is the Redken Powder Grip 03, which is almost a little sticky when applied to hair. Other options are basic texture sprays or a sea salt spray (here’s a simple DIY Salt Spray Recipe).

how to get your up-do to last

2. Mousse Makes All Things Possible
So, you know those girls that swear their hair won’t hold a curl? I used to be one of them. I no longer am, because thanks to Reagan, I now know that if I go crazy with mousse and create a hair foundation, that my hair will hold curl. It does matter which mousse I use (I do best with It&ly Hair Fashion and Aussie) for hold and making my hair not sticky. I usually use about the size of an egg, but if I really want hold, I’ve been known to use 2 or 3 eggs. Really, just know that with enough mousse, anyone’s hair can hold curl and this creates a great foundation for an up-do.

3. Heat Protectant!
Make sure you protect your hair from heat damage while applying products. My favorite way to do this is with a multi-tasking product like L’Oreal’s Total Repair 5 hair oil. It is lightweight and adds amazing shine, but also protects hair up to 450 degrees! Frying your hair while styling adds the added bonus of a fried keratin smell that definitely doesn’t need to be there. Yuck.

4. Place Your Part
Whenever you do wash your hair, the day before or the morning of, make sure you put your part in the right spot. If you want a center part for your updo, put it there! By drying your part in a different location, you do make it hard to move around later. Plan ahead.

the right pins for an updo

4. Use Bobby Pins Correctly
Most of us have no clue that we are using bobby pins wrong. Seriously. The little ridged side? That goes toward your scalp. Want them to really hold? Overlap them, so 2 pins criss cross. Seriously, your hair is going nowhere now. Also, the best bobby pins ever are the MetaGrip ones from Sally Beauty. They come in a couple of colors, in a big jar or a smaller packet. They’re more expensive, but once you start using them you will never go back, I promise!

5. What on earth is that hair pin?
Admit it, unless you are a hair dresser, you have no idea how that hair pin actually holds anything, especially since it just looks like a bobby pin that someone pulled apart. Again, head over to Reagan’s amazing hair blog to learn how to use a hair pin.

6. Spin Pins are the Bee’s Knees
These pins from Goody are well worth their weight in gold. Twist them in, and let them overlap a little to “lock” them in place. They do the work of many bobby pins, and I can have a bun in place with just 2 of these babies. They come in big and small, as well as multiple colors so they can blend in to your hair.

7. Curl Your Hair
Even if the look you are creating doesn’t need a curl, adding some curl to your hair will help add texture and volume to your hair. If you’re a girl whose hair doesn’t curl well (see #2), extra heat and letting your hair cool down while in the shape of the curl will help a lot. I’ve noticed that if my hair is curled with something over 390, then I’m good to go. Under that temp and I don’t have much chance of holding the curl. I also do better when curling if I immediately pin my hair up or put it in a velcro roller to cool down.

how to tease your hair for an updo
8. Tease to Create Volume and Body
Believe it or not, there is actually a “right” way to tease, and chances are you’ve been doing it wrong! Check out The Mother Huddle’s post on how to backcomb your hair correctly, and I swear it will revolutionize your (hair) life. I recommend the teasing brush above, it’s definitely my favorite tool for teasing and it was only a few bucks from Sally Beauty.

9. Use a Good Hairspray
Finally, make sure you use a good hair spray! Don’ just trust your up-do to one you’ve randomly pulled off of the drugstore shelves without testing first. My favorites are L’Oreal Elnett, Laid Brand No More Headaches (which has an adjustable nozzle so you can customize how much product you are using, genius!) and if you’re in a humid environment I’d go with Living Proof Hold Hairspray.

Product Provided for Review
the Italian voice via Compfight cc

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About Me

I’m a doctor, a mommy and a bit of a beauty addict. If you let me, I can take 2 hours to get ready in the morning. Really. I'm on a quest for faster beauty that works!

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  1. 3.29.13
    Christina said:

    Genius – thanks! When I had my hair done as a bridesmaid, what struck me was the amount of hairspray used. I think the girls with updos got sprays before each and every section was styled, and then clouds of sprays after. Thank god I opted for a blow-out that time.

  2. 4.17.13
    Julia said:

    I love mousse & dry shampoo! You mentioned some of my favorite daily products. I'll be putting my hair up this weekend. Thanks!