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How to Create a Messy Updo for Long Hair

Learn how to create a messy long hair updo with this Howcast hair tutorial featuring celebrity hairstylist Jacqueline Bush.


My name is Jacqueline Bush, and I am an editorial and celebrity hairstylist. My clientele has included Faith Hill, Mark Ruffalo, Terrence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jane Krakowski. I want to be able to show you that hair isn't as intimidating or as hard as you think it is, and I want you to be able to have fun with it and do what your vision is with your hair. So, I'm going to show you how to get that infamous messy updo - the updo that we all want that really can take you just a couple of minutes if you know the right tricks to make it happen. Our model here already actually has a lot of natural wave texture. She has product in it. These are two things that are important when trying to do the messy updo. The reason I say that is because if your hair is too soft, it's going to slip out of a pin, it's going to slip out of whatever you try to put in it. It's just not going to hold what you do. So that's number one: you've got to get your texture rough enough that it will give grip to whatever you want to do with it. So Monica has fine, thick hair. What I did is I sprayed some dry shampoo at her roots and I actually gave her a heat protector, and I put a little body in her hair using a curling iron. So if your hair's super straight, I'd recommend you can take large sections, you can curl them with a curling iron, wait for it to cool, give it a little spray, just to get a little texture. As you can see, this is how you can tell that the hair has enough grip: I'm messing with it, and it's just kind of holding whatever I do. It's getting that natural volume. And the reason I can tell that is because fine hair naturally wants to fall flat, but when I put my hands through Monica's hair, I see that it actually naturally wants to take that volume now. Then what you can do is I always like to do a messy updo on the side, and the reason for that is I think it's always nice to see a little hair, it's a little softer if you see a little something around the face rather than completely back. So what we're going to do is just section the hair from the top to the back of the ear on each side so you have this front section on the right, you have this front section on the left, and you have your whole back section. So now that we have our three sections, so that you guys can see, I'm going to clip the front two sections out of the way, and we're just working with this back section. The next thing that we're going to do is we're just going to take - you can use the eyebrow as the marking point, and I just went up a little bit higher than that - you're just going to take that top section out as well. The key to the messy updo is you've got to have a lot of texture, and if the sections are so large, you're not really going to see that so much. So now we have this whole bottom section. We're going to take that, we're going to bite it into two, we're going to criss-cross it, then we're going to tease it because remember we want texture. We have it teased. Now what we're going to do is we're going to wrap it, and now I'm going to secure it. You're going to secure this at I like to call them the four corners. You know how to use a pin - just very easy. You can do so much. So now we have that bottom section pinned, as you can see, it was okay, I left these little guys. We can always pin them up later. And I took down the top section of her hair, this last section that we pulled up. Now with this you can look in a mirror and kind of eye where exactly that's happening, what you want to do with it: what do I want to do with it? How is it going to look best? When you're looking at the mirror at home, you might not be able to see that very well, so an easy trick to do would just be to take that, tease it from underneath, a little bit on top, I'm going to spray that. Remember if your texture's not rough enough, your updo will not stay. And now, what I'm just going to do is I'm just going to pin loosely. Now again, this is why I love the messy updo: because when you're at home, you're trying to get something done, it's hard to do this stuff on yourself, and when you work with more undone texture, it becomes easier because you're working with your texture. You don't have to see every single little piece fit perfectly. And so now you have some of this, these little guys hanging off. That's okay. A little bit is okay. I'm just going to pin it up a little bit. So now we have our front two sections. Perhaps I want - I think I want a little bit more curl. Curl a couple pieces just to give a little more movement, a little more texture, and you don't even have to do this unless your hair is really straight. Then I would advise giving it something. So now what I'm going to do, I'm just going to eye. I'm going to still leave out some of that, and just, bit by bit, I'm going to pull back and pin. I'm going to pull back and pin again. We want to take from the other side. As you see it's just piece by piece that I'm pinning. I always like to leave out the front until the end. Some people might look better with it all off their face, some might look better with a little bit around their face. And I just keep pinning section by section. As you can see, I gave it a little bit of a messy updo. Now if that's too messy, we can always smooth it out, pin it in. We could pull it a little tighter, but I like the looseness. And that's how you get a messy updo.

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