Quick, Easy Updos You Can Achieve in Minutes

Short on time, but never on style.

Heart Evangelista wears Prada sunglasses, a white shirt, during a street style fashion photo session, on November 18, 2023 in Manila, Philippines.
(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

Whether your hair is short or long, you've likely been in a situation when you've needed to pull it back in a pinch. It might be because you've just arrived at the gym, because it's getting in your way at work, or because you're in a rush in the morning, sometimes it's simply impossible to carve out the time for an elaborate updo or a masterfully done blowout. Therefore, we should all keep a couple of quick, easy hairstyles in our back pockets that can be achieved in a minute or less.

I have a couple of styles that I swear by, but to expand my repertoire, I polled hairstylists and my fellow editors to discover what other simple, chic updos are out there. Below, our favorites, along with detailed instructions on how to do them.

The Messy Ponytail

Tamara Kalinic wears sunglasses, golden earrings, outside Dolce & Gabbana, during the Milan Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring/Summer 2024 on September 23, 2023 in Milan, Italy.

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

"When you’re short on time, a slick back hairstyle is often the easiest and a go-to for most," says celebrity hairstylist Dimitris GIanetos. "I like to add a little volume to a look to make it seem more exciting than it really is. A messy bun and/or ponytail is perfect— just add volume spray to your roots. I always grab Moroccanoil Dry Texture Spray and then lightly brush through, and secure with a hair tie. And if you have a few extra minutes, add some curls to the ends for a polished finish. My favorite curling iron, the GHD Soft Curl 1.25" Curling Iron, gives the perfect natural curl.  It’s super easy but still manages to look put-together."

The Volumized Bow Tie Ponytail

low ponytail with black ribbon

(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller)

"There is nothing more perfect than a hair up sporting a bow if you really want to simply update your hair style," says Bea Carmichael, Artistic Director of styling at vegan haircare brand Aveda. "Follow these three main steps to make sure your bow is perfectly placed and secured for your day or evening out. This style will give you the volumized ponytail making your hair look longer and feel thicker. This style can be created on hair types 1A to 3C on medium length hair."

Below, she lays out the steps one needs to take in order to achieve this cute, quick look.

1. "After shampooing and conditioning towel dry your hair, or if working on dry hair you can apply the Invati Advanced Thickening Foam directly to your hair and dry in.  For straight and wavy hair use a blow dryer and brush to smooth your hair while drying and then dry everything into the direction of where you would like to place your ponytail. On curly hair, use a diffuser to dry the product into your curls."

2. "Once the product is dried into your hair, apply a few drops of the Nutriplenish Multi-Use Hair Oil through your mid-lengths and ends to add a little shine.  Now take a section from ear to ear separating your hair into two sections (you should have a front section that incorporates your crown and a back section).  The tip of your front section should be slightly larger than your back section. "

3. "Let’s start with your front section, you can add a parting in or leave some hair around the face. Once you are happy with the parting, take the front section and put it in a ponytail at the top of your head below your crown in the back-center of your head and secure with a band.  You will now have your first section of your ponytail and your back section will still be left down at this point."

4. "Now, let’s incorporate your back section. First, separate your back section into two sections by taking a parting down the back-center of your head. You will now have a back-right section and a back-left section. Brush these sections up and around your front ponytail and secure the band in front of your first ponytail so you have two ponytails- one in front of the other. Tip: your back section should be in front of your first ponytail, this will give you the extra volume and make your ponytail look longer and fuller."

5. "You are now ready to tie the ribbon around both banded ponytails covering your bands, this will look as though you have a really thick, full ponytail. Once your bow is tight and secure, trim the ends of the bow, so they are even.  Finally, spray Air Control throughout your style to hold everything in place."

The Braid

oicy Muniz wears red shirt: Birgitte Herskind, pants Lois Jeans, bag Balenciaga, sunglasses Gigi Studios, jewelry Georg Jensen, shoes Bottega Veneta during Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring/Summer 2023 : Day Five on September 30, 2022 in Paris, France.

(Image credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images)

"Another simple look for last-minute styles is a braid down the back with some face-framing bangs pulled out for added dimension," Giannetos tells us. "Add Garnier Fructis Style Mega Full Thickening Lotion for extra volume.  You can experiment with different braid sizes and even take it out later in the day for a loose, wavy look. To achieve this style, apply some styling spray, braid the hair, and play around with the loose strands. It’s a messy yet romantic look perfect for any occasion and when you’re in a time crunch."

The Definite Part

Michelle Golke seen wearing gold earrings, black high neck wool knit midi dress, brown wool midi long jacket / coat, Guess black leather bag, Gucci black logo print pattern tights, black leather high boots, on November 04, 2023 in Berlin, Germany.

(Image credit: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images)

"This style is perfect for that strong statement androgynous parting," says Carmichael, "especially if you have longer hair that doesn’t stay in place, this style is for all hair types and mid to long hair."

To get the ultra-modern take on the half-up, half-down look, follow these steps: 

1. On damp hair add in the Botanical Repair Bond Building Styling Cream, then choose where your parting will be. For that 2024 Spring/Summer runway trend, place your parting on the side and keep it low by using the arch of your brow as a guide for positioning.  Tip: use a comb to make the parting clean and definite.  Now, dry your hair as you would normally but start by drying the parting in place first and then work on the rest of your hair trying not to disturb the parting you have created.

2. Once your hair is dry, take a section from the top of your head and place that one side of the parting behind your ear. Repeat this on the other side of your parting. You will now have created a front section and a back section separating your hair into two parts- the front section, which incorporates your parting, and the back section. Next, take the back section and create a ponytail just to clip it out of the way and clear of your nape area, secure with a band or clip.

3. Let’s now work on our front section and parting, using the Control Force Firm Hold Hairspray on hair types one, two, and three. Spray close to the head so the hair looks damp only do this around the parting and your scalp area, don’t spray down into the length of your hair.  On type four hair, use Nutriplenish Multi-Use Hair Oil instead of the Hairspray, using your comb start to slick everything down and comb the sides clean from the parting down. Then, start to take this front slicked section and tuck behind your ear on both sides. 

4. You are now going to join the sides together at the back of your neck with a band. Use a comb to keep everything slick and clean then secure the band at the nape. This will keep the sculpted defined look at the front emphasising your clean parting.

5. Now, you can let your back section down. This will cover the hair band at the nape so you can style your back section and define with a curling iron or you can simply leave your hair straight, wavy, curly, or coily. This completes your Definite Parting style keeping that sculpted look all day, no matter the weather.

The Messy Bun

American Model Vanessa Moody wears her hair in a low loose bun and wears a black Alexander Wang "Wang x Moody" black denim jacket after the Bottega Veneta show during the Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016/17 on February 27, 2016 in Milan, Italy.

(Image credit: Melodie Jeng/ Getty Images)

This look is one of my favorites because, for me, it's the fastest and the most comfortable. There are a few ways of achieving a messy bun, but my favorite way is this way: Put a hair tie around your wrist for easy access. Then, gather your hair up on top of your head. You can also wear your bun on the back of the head or at the nape of your neck—it all depends on your comfort level. Begin wrapping the hair tie around your hair as though to make a ponytail, but, at the end, instead of pulling your hair all the way through, pull it only halfway through the ponytail. E-Commerce Editor Julia Marzovilla explains, that this should "create a loop in your hand with a few inches of excess hair." Then, she says, "Using one of your hands, wrap the excess around the loop until a loose bun forms. Secure the bun with the ponytail holder."

To prevent my hair from looking too messy, I add a bit of leave-in to my hair before tying it up. I also always opt for a silk or satin scrunchie— it makes the style infinitely easier to remove later, and the silky fabric prevents breakage.

The Claw-Bun

Heart Evangelista wears sunglasses, a hair clamp / clip, earrings, a black off-shoulder / low-neck / corset top from COS, a golden bracelet from Cartier, during a street style fashion photo session, on November 27, 2023 in Manila, Philippines.

(Image credit: Edward Berthelot/Getty Images)

If you don't have time to tie your hair up with a scrunchie or if you simply prefer a looser lip, try opting for a claw clip. You can create buns, ponytails, and half-up styles with this versatile, easy-to-use tool that always looks chic, no matter what you're wearing. Opt for a neutral clip for an elevated, simple look, or a statement clip to spice up an otherwise plain outfit.

The Ultra-High Half-Ponytail

Half ponytail hairstyle with a sustainable scrunchie made out of old Hermes scarfs by James as a detail of german model Anna Hiltrop during a street style shooting at Centro on September 7, 2020 in Oberhausen, Germany.

(Image credit: Streetstyleshooters/Getty)

This is my everyday hairstyle. It's simple, easy to do, and always looks like it involved more time and effort than it did. Plus, it offers the best of both worlds, allowing you to show off your hair length while also tying it up and out of your face. To style it, use a tail comb to separate a top section of your hair from the hair on the bottom half. Then, gather the top section into a ponytail, all the while smoothing down bumps and flyaways. To finish off, use a hair gel to keep baby hairs and flyaways at bay.

The Half-Bun

Jessie Reyez attends the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (

(Image credit: Steve Granitz/WireImage)

If you prefer buns over ponytails (they can be better for alleviating tension on your scalp, especially if you have really long hair), but you still want to show of your hair length, consider a half bun. Simply separate a top section of your hair as though you were going to create a half ponytail, but instead of creating the pony, make a messy bun. It's a chic, off duty model-like style that works for any occasion and is easy to pull together in a pinch. For best results, use a thin hair tie the same color as your hair.

Meet the Experts

Bea Watson
Bea Carmichael

Bea Carmichael has worked as a hairstylist for over 20 years. Now, she works with Aveda as the brand's artistic director of styling.

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.

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