How To: Easy Braided Updo

The Info—Stylist: Yesenia Guinea of Ketér Salon in Berkeley / Photography: Hart & Sol WestMichelle Govang / Venue: The Box SF / Flowers: Green Snapdragon Floral Design / Dress: Little Borrowed Dress / Jewelry: BrideBlu Vintage + Handmade Jewelry

Now, before you look at this updo and think that it’s way too complicated to pull off, let me just stop you right there. Because this might actually be the easiest, quickest hairstyle of the whole bunch. (Yes. Seriously. Thanks P&G!) I think sometimes the reason that we get scared to do our own hair and makeup (or let’s be honest, people try and convince us that we should be scared to try and do it ourselves) is because weddings have a limited amount of prep time built in, and we’re afraid that if we try to do something ourselves, we won’t realize we’ve screwed it up until it’s too late and we’re supposed to be at the ceremony in ten minutes.

Which is what makes this look so great. It’s all about braids, and they’re not even complicated braids at that. So, unlike other hairstyles that require curling or straightening and a lot of patience for the payoff (which, admittedly, I don’t always have), you pretty much get instant gratification here. And the best part? There is no chance of omg-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into whatsoever. It took Yesenia less than ten minutes to do Emily’s hair (for us mere mortals this probably means closer to twenty), which means that if you mess up the first time, you can just take it out and start all over again. Right? I know.

Even though this style is super easy, there are still a few tips for making it work to your best advantage:

Prep: This is actually a universal tip, but any time you are going to be doing an updo (even if it’s going to be a little loose or curly) you want to prep your hair by applying product (for Emily we used Herbal Essences Touchably Smooth Smoothing Mousse to add some volume) and then blow-drying it out with a round or flat brush. This smooths out the hair (especially at the top of your head where it counts) and makes it easier to work with.

Braiding: This is a simple if obvious tip, but make sure you have help for this one. (I mean, you knew that, right?) Unless you were that girl at summer camp who was somehow a wizard at crossing three strands over each other and making magic, French braiding the back of your own hair is going to make you want to cry.

Finishing The Look: A lot of what makes a DIY hairstyle look like a pro did it, is in the finishing details. In order to make this style look like one cohesive updo instead of three random braids, make sure to tuck away any loose ends so that they are incorporated into the rest of the hair and then hide your bobby pins by sticking them into the hair, not over it (and then do a little creative bobby-pin hiding with the hair around it). Side note: bobby pins (because of their shape) tend to reflect light weirdly, so even if you can only kind of see them from afar with your naked eye, there is a chance that a camera will pick them up anyway, so try to cover them up as much as you can.

Also, since let’s face it, most of us aren’t actual hairstylists, the looks we’ve chosen are meant to be executed with a little looseness to them. So when you’re finishing out the bun, don’t be afraid to mess it up a bit and pull out some strands to give the bun more interest. This way you won’t be worried about every small piece being perfectly in place and the finished look will have an air of I wasn’t trying that hard, this just looks awesome by accident. Which I’m pretty sure is tattooed somewhere on Jennifer Aniston’s body.

And that’s it! If you know how to braid, you know how to do this hairstyle. And if you don’t know how to braid? Well, maybe it’s time to rekindle your friendship with that girl from summer camp.

Have questions about how to modify this hairstyle, or which products would be best for your hair? We’ll do our best to answer them in the comments, but you can always direct your questions at @PGBeauty for their expert advice (or if you’re not on Twitter, post your questions on their Facebook page for more info).

Download a PDF of the shopping list for this look here.

**This post was sponsored by P&G Beauty. Thanks P&G for helping make the APW mission possible!**

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  • This hairstyle is SUPER EASY! I’ve actually worn my hair like this a few times since the shoot. The braids were a bit looser, and I left my hair curly instead of blowing it out for a polished look, and sometimes I switched the positions of the braids or added more braids. But every time, it looked awesome and I got tons of compliments on it!

    Also, what’s a fruit ninja? ;)

    • Maddie

      Fruit Ninja is a wonderful waste of time that’s more fun than Snood and less frustrating than Angry Birds.

      • Meg

        I have to disagree… Snood is awesome. But I did go to Guilford College, where Dave Dobson teaches (inventor of Snood).

        • Diane

          Snood was the ultimate time-suck in college. I think my freshman roommate failed psych 101 largely thanks to it (well, that and a weird penchant for ironing her blue jeans before being willing to leave our dorm room for class — crazy New Yorkers!). So Snood wins in my world.

  • Suzanna

    omg GORGEOUS!

  • Lovely! Braids are my favorite. (I confess I might be one of those girls who is a wizard at french-braiding around the back of her own head.) I love that this is so simple but easy to dress up!

    • I’ve never gone around the back of my head before, just straight down, but I was about 12 when I realized my mom was probably never going to figure out how to french braid my hair so I figured it out myself. Oddly, I do a better job on myself than on others, I need the feedback from my scalp to know how hard I’m pulling. I didn’t realize it was supposed to be that hard so I just did it. I think that’s one thing I miss about youth, not realizing things are supposed to be hard and so just doing them.

      • Chelsea

        I do my own head to, straight back, upside down and from side to side, you just decide you’re going to do it, do it several times, and then you know how to do it. The hardest part is building up the muscles,

        Interestingly when I “French” braid my own hair I do an inverted or “Dutch” braid, but when I braid someone else’s hair, it comes out the right (French) way.

        • My hair is as long as my arms are right now so it is a stretch to get all the way to the end and my shoulders get tired, but it’s doable. Guess I need to hit the weights some more.

        • Alexandra

          Probably because you’re actually braiding it backwards and just don’t notice. It’s coming out like you’re braiding it in a mirror, because it’s the back of your head. My mom and aunt have the same problem. (Though one of them gets it backwards on other people, and the other gets it backwards on herself.)

  • What do you know, I was planning on doing a braided up-do today already!

    I love my long hair, but I also love not having a waterfall down the back of my neck in this heat, so up-dos are always appreciated.

  • Fermi

    can we find out what color lipstick yesenia is wearing?

  • Kestrel

    Tip for people with lighter colored hair – take bigger chunks when you french braid and your hair won’t look greasy or oddly piece-y. People with dark hair tend to have a bit more leeway with size of chunks.

    • Why is that?

      • Kestrel

        Not quite sure – just something I’ve observed over the years and something I read in one of those hair books. I’ve got dirty dishwater blonde and my sister has a really nice deepish brown. I can do really, really intricate stuff with her hair but if you start putting in too small of chunks with my hair, it starts to look greasy. It may be because of the increased contrast in my hair (sun really easily highlights my hair).

  • Here’s a question though – are all bobby pins created equally or are there some that would be better for large amounts of fine straight hair than others? I don’t fully trust the bobby pins I have and I’m wondering if it’s because they aren’t exactly trustworthy. (It could also be because I’m trying to put too much hair inside the little suckers. I’m working on that.)

  • Amber

    Yay for a cool hair do, and YAY for Fruit Ninja! Love that game. :-)

  • V

    Ha! I love Emily’s face for the blowdrying. That was so totally my face when getting hair done for my wedding.

  • Sarah

    Love the hairstyles being shown here…. but maybe you could show us some creative ideas for the ladies with short hair?

    • Maddie

      Next week we’re doing a hairstyle for ladies with chin-length hair!

  • Plain Jane

    I have insanely thick wavy hair that refuses to co-operate with most up do’s, what products would you recomend that could help me control my hair enough to muster this do?

  • Julia

    I did this today for my cousin’s wedding and it worked great! Thanks APW!

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