Medium length hair is the perfect thing, right? Long enough to put up, but short enough to still have volume? Versatile, bouncy, shiny… But it can go terribly wrong, if you’re not prepared.
With the onslaught of celebrities sporting perky new bobs and those retro shows—Mad Men, anyone?—a medium length haircut could be increasingly tempting. Knowing what to do with it once you walk out of the salon is another story altogether, though. Here are some ideas for styling those medium-length locks if you’ve taken the plunge and gotten a cut.
The Haphazard Updo: If your hair’s on the long side of medium, say shoulder-length or at the collarbone, you can curl your hair with rollers or a curling iron, then run your fingers through the length to break apart the curls without sacrificing the texture. Grab random sections of hair about one to two inches wide and start twisting them back toward the back of the head. Secure each section with crisscrossed bobby pins and continue until all your hair is up. Feel free to leave out a few face-framing pieces to soften the effect. Another way to do it is to pin the front and sides only, leaving the bottom section of hair down.
The Headband Braid: Lauren Conrad’s made this one ubiquitous, and if you have bangs you’re growing out, you’ll love it more than a traditional headband because it’s easier to control those pesky ends that like to poke up. With a braided (or twisted, if you don’t trust your braiding skills) headband, you can easily braid and tuck those pieces underneath, then spray or gel them into place. Make a deep part, then section off a band of hair across the top of your head about 2-3 inches from the hairline. Put the remaining hair into a low ponytail to keep it out of the way. Take three small sections of hair—about 1/8″ to 1/4″ wide from where the part begins. Begin to French braid across the top of the head and down to the other ear. Secure the ends, release the ponytail, and pin the loose ends of the braid beneath the hair hanging down in the back.
A Messy Bun Without All the Hair: Tease the hair at the crown of the head once you’ve made your part in the front (either side or middle will be fine). Curl your hair, but don’t worry about getting it perfect; this is more for texture than perfect ringlets. Pull your hair into a low bun and secure it with a ponytail holder. Fold small sections of hair back toward the head and pin into place, adding bulk to the “bun” without ever having to wind a length of hair around the base of the ponytail, as you would in a traditional bun hairstyle with longer hair. A thin headband can dress up your look.
Half-Up With a Twist: Part your hair on the side. Tease the crown. Make a part from the top of the ear on the opposite side all the way up to the part. Clip that section out of the way. Pull the rest of the front and top sections back, then secure with a ponytail holder. Release the hair you sectioned off earlier, then pull it to the back and wrap the ends around the ponytail holder. You may have to twist it a bit to make it stay. Secure beneath the small ponytail with bobby pins.
French Twist, With a Twist: Part your hair on one side. Pull all of your hair into a low ponytail and begin twisting upward, directing the twist up toward the opposite ear (to the side without the part). Once you reach the point where you’d like the twist to end, tuck the ends under, as you would with a traditional French twist, and place bobby pins along the length of the twist.
If you decide you want to cut your hair, there will be some adjustment. Don’t worry that you won’t have any styling options, though. There are plenty of things you can do with medium-length hair.