8 Half-Up, Half-Down Hairstyles That Will Save You So Much Time

All you need is a hair tie and a few minutes.

Gigi Hadid
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Half-up, half-down hairstyles are so easy to execute that they've become my tried-and-true go-to look when I'm short on time. I love that it never goes out of style and works with every hair length, but the celebrity-loved look—seen on everyone from Gigi Hadid to Issa Rae—is inherently versatile, too. Sometimes I wear it curled or straight, long or short, loose or in a protective style. The best part: It keeps my hair out of my face.

If you want to elevate your messy bun or ponytail, read on for eight celebrity-approved half-up hairstyles—and tips on how to execute them. They're perfect for any occasion, whether you're heading to the office, preparing for a party, or simply looking for a quick, easy updo.

The Best Half-Up, Half-Down Hairstyles

The Half-Up Half-Down Sky High Ponytail

collage of Zendaya and Halle Bailey side by side

Zendaya and Halle Bailey have been known to wear a high pony for red carpet events.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Celebrity hairstylist Dimitris Giannetos says his go-to is a "simple, sleek pony up top," which can be achieved with all hair types and curl patterns, as well as with protective styles. To get the look, Giannetos says, "Section your hair in a ponytail from temple to temple. Secure the style closer to the top of your head for a high, snatched pony look." Then, wrap a piece of your hair around your scrunchie.

For loose hair that's not in a protective style, Giannetos recommends prepping the hair with a styling cream to add some texture. "Follow up with a boar bristle brush to slick your hair back. After you have secured your ponytail, I would use a curling iron to create your favorite style of curls," he adds.

As a final touch, consider styling your edges à la Halle Bailey.

The Retro Half-Up Half-Down Teased Crown

collage of Meghan Markle and Jessica Chastain side by side

Grab a dry texturizer and a comb to create this high volume look.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pay homage to the '60s by adding volume to your half-up, half-down do. One way to achieve the look is to tease your hair at the crown (see: Meghan Markle) before pulling it back into a loose ponytail. Leave the style sleek, or frame your face with a few loose strands. Finish it off with a medium or strong-hold hair spray.

If your front pieces are too greasy to leave out, channel Jessica Chastain's look by slicking back the front half of your hair and then fastening it with a hair tie underneath the back section.

The Half-Up Half-Down With a Scrunchie

collage of Bella Hadid and Anna Hiltrop side by side

This model-approved, easy going look can be completed in 30 seconds.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Sometimes, a fun scrunchie is all you need to pull a look together. "If you are tight on time, you can quickly and easily throw the front of your hair into a ponytail," Giannetos says. "If you don't have time to brush through your hair, don't worry—having some texture to your hair gives it a messy but effortless look."

If time allows, I like to apply leave-in conditioner through my hair to smooth flyaways.

The Low Half-Up Half-Down Pony

collage of Sydney Sweeney and Jennifer Lopez with Ben Affleck

Use a gel and a boar bristle comb to create this sleek look.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For a formal occasion, Giannetos recommends playing with the placement of your hair tie. "Instead of a traditional high pony, I would place the hair band more towards the middle or back of your head. This elevates the look into a more elegant hairstyle," he explains.

To replicate Sydney Sweeney and Jennifer Lopez's looks above, prep your hair with a straightener and then smooth your favorite gel over the ponytail.

The Smooth Edge Half-Up Half-Down Ponytail

Normani at the Normani at the 2021 Soul Train Awards

This elegant look works on a red carpet or for a casual sports game.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

While a half-up half-down style that sits at the crown typically comes along with a curl for added body, you can pull off a straight, sleek look by pairing the 'do with sleek edges. Use the tip of a rat-tail comb to smooth edges with a gel or edge control.

Mist hair with a shine spray for good measure.

A Romantic Half-Up Half-Down Pony

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Tricia Helfer, side by side

Take a page out of Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Tricia Helfer's playbooks with this easy going ponytail.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Not all half-up, half-down looks involve pulling your hair back. For a softer look, Melessia Wade-Smith, Hair Artistry Education Manager at Zotos Professional, suggests pulling the top layer of your hair towards the back of the head and then curling the lengths for added bounce. First, she says to spray a texture spray all over your ends to add volume and brushable hold before parting your hair into four sections.

Then, curl the lengths and ends, working in two-inch sections. Use the tip of a comb to part your hair from ear to ear, and a bristle hairbrush to sweep this section into a ponytail. Secure with a hair elastic of your choice. To dress it up, wrap a small piece of hair around your elastic and secure it with bobby pins.

The Half-Up Half-Down With a Top Knot

Kerry Washington and Gigi Hadid, side by side

Keep a top not casual like Hadid or go more glam like Washington.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

This is a style that I love for running errands or when I'm short on time. Simply pull half of your hair up to the crown of your head and create a small top knot, leaving the rest of your hair falling down your back. It's a great way to both show off your length and pull your hair back at the last minute. I often find it even easier to accomplish than a half-ponytail.

The Half-Up Half-Down Pigtails

Issa Rae and Ariana Grande side by side

Elevate your pigtails by leaving half of the hair down.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Pigtails are an excellent style that can easily be converted into the half-up, half-down look. Giannetos recommends tying your half-pigtails up into space buns, noting that the style is popular among Gen Z. Part your hair down the middle and create large or small top knots out of two sections at the top. Giannetos reassures that the strands sticking out of your buns are no problem if you have layered hair: Spiky space buns, he says, are a huge 2024 hair trend.

Meet the Experts

Dimitris Giannetos headshot
Dimitris Giannetos

Dimitris has worked behind the scenes at fashion shows around the world including Paris, Milan and New York. He has worked with brands such as L’Oreal and has styled many notable celebrities including  Camila Cabello, Ciara, Megan Fox, Machine Gun Kelly, Cindy Crawford, Joey King, Alessandra Ambrossio, Meghan Trainor, Britney Spears, Amal Clooney, Rosalia, Maria Menounos, and many more.

Melessia Wade-Smith headshot
Melessia Wade-Smith

Melessia Wade-Smith is a Hair Artistry Education Manager at Zotos Professional and serves as Better Natured’s in-house Hair Expert.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, gabrielleulubay.medium.com. Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at @suburban.graffiti.art