Fun, Fierce, and Flirty Prom Hairstyles
by Hilary Braaksma
Ditch the overpriced, overprocessed prom hairstyles this year. We’ve rounded up some of the trendiest formal prom hair ideas with step-by-step tutorials and advice for pulling them off. If we can offer you only one prom hair tip, let it be this: Less is more. That goes for hairspray, teasing, and impossibly tight curls. The best hairstyles for prom should let your face and gown do the talking.
Messy Rope Braid Bun
Not only is this braided bun from Love Maegan laid back in the most gorgeous way possible, it’s pretty easy to recreate. This is one of the best prom hair ideas for adding softness to heavily beaded or sequined gowns.
Super Glam Double Pony
If you want to fake length this prom season, skip the extensions and go for this glamorous double pony. It’s an effortless way to make your hair look twice as long and twice as thick, and it’s gorgeous to boot. Get the full tutorial here.
Faux Short Hairstyle
Want a shorter look for prom? Put the scissors away. This faux short hairstyle is as easy as a loose three-strand braid and some pinning. Plus, this prom hair is stable enough to hold all night, no matter how much dancing you do.
Fan of the classics? This low, side chignon is one of our favorite prom hairstyles. It’s glamorous without being over the top and perfect for highlighting your face. We suggest pairing this style from Twist Me Pretty with red lipstick and some seriously sparkly earrings.
If you’re going Grecian with a maxi dress and major metallics, this is the perfect hairstyle. It’s sleek but intricate—the perfect way to pull off a lot of detail without looking tacky. This tutorial from Bebe XO is ideal for anyone who loves half up half down prom hairstyles.
Short Hair Updo
Short-haired ladies, updo hairstyles for prom are not out of reach! With some careful teasing, pinning, and hairspraying, you can get your short locks off of your shoulders in no time.
Flower Braid Half-Up Hairstyle
Picking between an updo and wearing your hair down can be a tough decision: You want something trendy, but there’s nothing as classic as long curls or waves. Half up half down prom hairstyles are the perfect mix. Get the full tutorial here.
If you’re going for something fun and whimsical (think chiffon or flowy sequins), this textured chignon with decorative pins one of the best hairstyles for prom. She Lets Her Hair Down‘s runway-inspired updo is sure to garner tons of compliments from walk-in to after-prom. Buy decorative bobby pins or make your own with this tutorial.
Zipper Braid with a Big Bun
The zipper braid is one of the quickest and easiest updo hairstyles for long hair; it’s just a French braid that starts at the nape of your neck and stops where your bun starts. If you’re having trouble keeping your hair out of the way, try hanging off the side of your bed.
Braided Faux Undercut
If you want something classically chic with an edge, this retro, side-swept hair with a braided faux undercut from Hair and Makeup by Steph is killer. A timeless style means no embarrassing photos for your mom to bust out when you’re in college, but the small braid gives this prom hair a modern touch that keeps you trendy now.
Braided Headband Tuck
There is literally no prom look in the world easier than this updo from Join the Mood — besides maybe doing nothing. The hardest part will be finding a faux-hair headband that matches your hair flawlessly. After that, just tuck in the ends, arrange prettily, and dance your heart out.
Modern Messy Bun
If your hair has a natural curl, this romantic prom look is perfect for you because it’s all about texture, texture, texture. When you’re dancing the night away, you don’t want to worry about maintaining frizz and flyaways, so embrace your natural texture with this messy bun!
The Freckled Fox may have intended this for a wedding — but what works for one special day can work for another, right? This look has major volume, tons of curl, and a gorgeous clean part — it’s one of the best prom hairstyles for long hair!
Here’s a secret, shorter-haired homies: You can rock the updo, too. This low, beachy chignon from The Small Things Blog is perfect for hair that falls just above shoulder length. A little bit of texturizer and teasing are all you need to get this amazing, voluminous prom hairstyle.
Braided Hippie Crown Hairstyle
If you want to look more boho than retro or glam, this braided crown hairstyle is a great option to complement any spring or summery gown. It also makes a decent alternative to finding the perfect hair accessory.
These soft, side-swept curls are perfect for strapless dresses or sweetheart necklines. What’s even better is that this prom hairstyle is simple to recreate for even the most amateur hairstylists when you follow this tutorial.
This updo works best with longer hair and is constructed from only two braids, meaning it’s one of those DIY hairstyles for prom that even a newbie can master. Be sure to pay close attention to Hair Romance‘s tips for stretching out the braid. It makes the hair look fuller — a must for fine hair!
You don’t need huge curls to pull off wavy hair. Wrapping loose curls over one shoulder is a perfect way to glam up any look and maximize your hair’s volume. Women with long, fine hair, take note: this style is a great option if you want to wear your hair down.
Messy French Twist
This gorgeous French twist from Irrelephant is the perfect prom hair. Tightly curled updos are relics of proms past. This hairstyle is chic, modern, and the perfect way to show off a pretty necklace, intricate straps, or a backless dress.
A Cup of Jo offers this as a wedding hair tutorial, but the simplicity and elegance mean it can do double-duty as a prom hairstyle. It’s easy enough to do in minutes, and a pretty hair clip adds a gorgeous, vintage vibe that will spark envy.
Headband Braid with Big Curls
If big beauty-queen hair is your thing, this is the perfect style. Of course, it’s a great for showing off long locks, but this curled look from My Shine Project can be adjusted for different lengths of hair. The secret to making this last all night? Flexible hairspray!
If the fishtail ponytail isn’t your style, you can always coil that braid into a chignon at the nape of your neck or just behind one ear. This look pairs beautifully with strapless or backless dresses. And, bonus, it’s much less likely to fall apart by the end of the night than curls or an updo with a lot of bobby pins.
Prom is not Coachella, we realize, but if your love of festival season can’t be broken, this glammed-up boho hairstyle from Barefoot Blonde is perfect. We suggest pairing this with something off-white, light pink, or lace!
Four-Strand Headband Braid
This is one of those effortless prom hairstyles that pairs perfectly with a long, flowy dress. The soft curls and playful braid are ideal for the boho beauties looking to turn heads. Follow the tutorial at Missy Sue to get this look.
If your style is more badass beauty than Disney princess, this is a seriously stylish look for prom. This braided mohawk from Confessions of a Hairstylist would look stunning with a black gown or cocktail-length dress.
Retro Pin Curls
Vintage is everywhere these days, so why not throwback your prom beauty look with these fun and easy pin curls? The best thing about going retro is individuality. You’re absolutely guaranteed to stand out in the crowd!
What could better suit a gorgeous, poofy ball-gown-style dress than a hairstyle fit for a princess? Waterfall braids have a fairy-tale appeal that will make you look as if you walked right out of a storybook. Follow the step-by-step tutorial here.
Curly Side Ponytail
Alexsis Mae got this lovely side ponytail inspiration from the queen of red carpet glam herself, Taylor Swift. We love this look because it’s effortless, flirty, and universally flattering. No matter what your face shape or cut of dress, this ‘do will work!
Hair extensions can either be one of the best prom hair ideas, or one of the worst. Let’s make them the best. Once you have extensions that match your hair color, follow these instructions to clip them in the right way.
Tips for Amazing Prom Hair
Proper research is essential for all major beauty looks. To get the best results, you have to consider your dress, your hair texture, and your ability as a stylist. Before selecting the style you want to wear at prom, check out these must-have tips from hairstylist Brianne Cummins.