How To: Simple Half-Up Half-Down Wedding Hair

The Info—Stylist: Nichole Kreps of Harper Paige Salon / Photography: Hart & Sol WestMichelle Govang / Venue: The Box SF /Flowers: Green Snapdragon Floral Design /Dress: Little Borrowed Dress / Jewelry: BrideBlu Vintage + Handmade Jewelry

Curling Straight Hair: Sharon has super straight hair that is very, very thick. Usually it won’t hold a curl. (Anyone else have this problem? Well, the solution is finally revealed.) The secret to giving her plenty of curl and volume here is twofold.

First, when Nichole created the initial waves, she wrapped the hair around the barrel of her curling iron, then slid it out (so that the curl maintained its shape) and pinned it to Sharon’s head before spraying it with Pantene Root Lifter Spray Gel. By giving the curl time to set, it will stay longer. Also, by adding texture with a product like a spray gel, it gives your hair extra lift and volume at the roots, and your hair is more likely to stay put than if you’re working with clean hair (which is more likely to come undone).

The other trick is to backcomb the heck out of your hair after you take the curls out. This will add volume that stays (because when you brush it smooth, you’re just smoothing out the top layer, allowing the teased volume underneath to keep it’s shape).

Polishing The Look: A lot of times when people create updo’s like this, the giveaway that you did it yourself is that your bobby pins show. Here Nichole solves that problem by first anchoring one side of the hair with two-criss-crossing bobby pins (for structural security) and then twist-wrapping the other side around that first side and tucking the last few bobby pins underneath the twist.

Curls Vs. Waves: Once she finished the general structure of Sharon’s look, Nichole went over the curls one more time with a curling iron to define the curls a bit more, but you could easily leave the waves as they are for a less formal backyard bohemian look.

Making It Stay: Nichole finished off Sharon’s look with Pantene Anti-Humidity Hairspray, which will prevent it from frizzing out later, and helps the curls keep their shape. If you’re worried about crunchy hair, remember to always hold your hairspray about eight inches away from your head. To make it even less crunch, you can brush out the hairspray a bit with your fingers when it’s dry. The curl will still hold, but it will look less shellacked.

Awesome and easy, right? Plus, huge thanks to Sharon (remember her wedding graduate post?) for being a total joy to play hair and makeup with for a day.

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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  • Christina

    Yay I think I requested this a few weeks ago thank you thank you!!!!!!!

    • meg

      You probably did. We took a lot of notes (no joke)!

  • Lauren

    Wow, Sharon and Nichole are both so stunning! I love the results, too. From one straight-haired (albeit thin-haired, too) lady to another, I feel you on the “curls are not a thing” lifestyle.

    • Yes, I have so many issues with curls! My hair just loves being straight. I am tempted to try this and see if it lasts. Normally, curls stay for about 10 seconds (okay, okay, more like 15 minutes) before falling out. This is similar to how a salon lady did my hair, and most of those curls stayed for 12 hours, which is a miracle in my hair land. I’ll have to try and find a friend with a curling iron.

      • I learned that for us stick-straight hair ladies, it’s all about adding texture first! One step that I think wasn’t photographed (things were a bit hectic :)) was that the very first step Nichole did was to dampen my hair a bit, add mousse to the roots, and blow dry. (She said the shortcut way of doing this step is just adding some dry shampoo.) That helps the curling iron to have something to grab onto. Curly-haired ladies get a free pass on that step, and will probably need way less texturizing spray too.

        • Dry shampoo is the greatest hair product that no one knows about. I also have straight, thin hair and it changed my life (not exaggerating) when I discovered it about a year and a half ago. My favorite drugstore brand is Suave, and my favorite fancy brand is Rock Star by TIGI.

          • Ambi

            And you know what is even better than dry shampoo? There are hair powders that are specifically designed for giving volume at the roots. Aveda makes a great one, but now many drugstore brands have them too. You just shake a little bit of the powder onto damp roots and blowdry, and it give so much more volume than any mouse or dry shampoo I’ve ever tried. Your hair will feel really strange while it is still wet, but stick with it – once it is dry, you’ll have serious volume that lasts for days.

            Also, I’ve learned through trial and error that my thin fine straight hair works better if I tease the shit out of it BEFORE i curl it, so that I don’t end up destroying the curls when I tease it. That’s just what works for me.

            Thank you APW and P&G for giving us such beautiful AND practical tutorials.

  • Karen

    This is really beautiful! When the hair and makeup posts started I thought to myself “Why would I do that to make myself look different than I do right now?”…then I saw this post. The curled hair frames the model’s face very well. This is a lovely way to still be yourself while doing just a little more that makes you feel special.

    I can now see the value in doing this. And it’s nice to do something extra on the day you commit to your partner in marriage. I see the preparation time as part of the process of preparing for giving myself to my partner, not just in looking nice for the pictures. I love APW! You help me challenge my thinking in very good ways.

    • meg

      Just for the record, we’re not at all trying to say that you HAVE to do one thing or another, or that one thing is better than another. But, for those of you who (like me) know you’re doing your own hair and makeup and want tips, well, I would have killed for this info :)

      • Karen

        I know you’re not. This is actually helpful information to have. Options are a good thing! I appreciate that APW helps us think of ourselves and the world in new and different ways. This is one way of doing that.

  • Sharon, you are gorgeous. Gawd.

    • *blush* Thank you, Meghan!

  • katieprue

    Aw, this is pretty much the hairstyle that I wanted for my high school junior prom ages ago, but, um… it didn’t exactly end up that way. I’m having flashbacks now. But, as a married lady who doesn’t own a curling iron or flat iron and has one ancient hair dryer tucked into a drawer somewhere… These posts are awesome! I am inspired to practice and make myself some sexy night out hair one day!

  • Alexandra

    That’s pretty much exactly the style I want, only my hair is naturally curly/wavy. The picture of “tease the sh*t out of it” is pretty much my morning bedhead. XD I’m just going to sit here and hope you eventually do a look for those of us who have curls, and then mash the two styles together.

    Looks gorgeous though!

    • meg

      Go back and mesh this with notes on my tutorial curls/ product from last week. I have your hair. So put the two together, and you’re golden!

      • Alexandra

        Oh yes, good point! Though I would have thought that all the braiding would involve trying to smooth out and straighten the curls.

    • Maddie

      Ditto to what Meg said! The key for getting the smooth curls like this is step one in Meg’s tutorial, which is to section out your hair, applying a frizz cream or smoothing serum and then round brush each section to smooth it out. It won’t *totally* straighten it, it’ll just make it smooth enough to wrap around the curling iron so that the natural curls and the curls you’re creating don’t fight with each other.

      Ha, I just realized that pretty much the whole staff has curly or wavy hair of varying thicknesses. :)

    • I also want to add that starting with day old dirty hair helps. Clean and or slightly damp hair doesn’t hold so well. A day or two dirty makes a world of difference, trust me.


  • KB

    This is EXACTLY the hair I want on my wedding day, thank you thank you THANK YOU! I love the tip about hiding the bobby-pins, I never realized that was what actually makes it look like you did your own hair. I’m going to have to practice the *&$% out of this for the next year.

  • Laura

    ahhh backcombs! love.

    btw, i used the makeup how-to tips from last week to attend a wedding over the weekend (using products i already owned – which sadly didn’t include primer). the only style changes i made were 1) use some bronzer before the blush (i always wear a hat outside so my face is naturally ghostly compared to my arms); 2) no fake lashes (not my thing, at least not when it isn’t my wedding). also, i only have this one sort of medium-sized eyeshadow brush, but it worked fine for all the steps.

    my makeup stayed sufficiently put all the way through the 2am sweaty dance party (and would have prob been even better with primer). the eyes turned out particularly awesome! really clean, bright, and sparkle-pop-y without that smoky-eye stripper look (which i’m proud to say i rocked in my teens and early 20s but didn’t seem right for a sophisticated wedding). the trick of applying black eye shadow *over* black eyeliner was totally key. brilliant!

    anyway, another great how-to post! keep ’em coming!

    • Yay Laura! This makes me so happy to hear! I would love to see a picture if you want to post over to me ‘Fox & Doll’ Facebook page or send into the crew here.


  • suzanna

    Melanie Griffith, ha! Working Girl, ha haaaaaaaa!

    Also: I love these posts in general. Thank you!

  • Ah. See, this is how I’d like my hair to look when I actually do it and don’t just pull it into a bun because it’s so stinking hot and I need it off my back/neck. I’m going to have to give this a go.

    And the tip about hiding the bobby pins is pure genius. That tip is going to come in handy all over the place.

    • meg

      I mis-read that as “This is how I want my hair to look when I don’t do it.” and I was like “ME TOO.”

      • I find it strange that I often get more compliments on my hair when I don’t do it than when I spend an hour on it in the morning. It’s conditioned me to sleep in rather than get up early enough to actually do my hair. :)

        • ha, I used to get the most compliments when I forgot to wash my hair and shoved a headband on to try and hide how greasy it was all day.

          • It almost always works out that the compliments come on days that I have greasy hair or bedhead. But hey, I figure it’s nice to get a confident boost when I don’t feel like I look my greatest.

  • Sharon you look amazing!!!! Beautiful beautiful! And my lord woman, I want your hair! So pretty.

    • Aww, Christy! Thank you! I’d trade my hair for your long legs any day! (Um, is that a weird thing to admit?)

      • haha – I guess not, if we’re considering swapping physical traits?! lol ;)

  • Parsley

    So, when you posted asking for what we wanted to see, I asked you to help me figure out what to put under the flowers in my hair – and both of these that you’ve done so far have that. An embarassment of riches! Many thanks! :-)

  • MDBethann

    I had something similar to this for my wedding-day hair. The main difference was that my side pieces were braided back. And then the side pieces create a great little pocket for the veil comb. And the hairspray my hairdresser used held everything until the dancing (it got hot and the curls fell out) and didn’t looked overly sprayed. I would do this all over again!

  • The second picture/instruction about the backcombing had me cracking up. I’m terrified to backcomb. Apparently I’m not alone!

    • Laura M

      backcombing is also oh so damaging to hair, that’s more terrifying to me than the look

      • One More Sara

        I think as long as you aren’t back-combing every single day, it probably doesn’t matter that much. Just like you probably shouldn’t use a flat/curling iron every day, you probably shouldn’t back comb every day either. I think back-combing is so much scarier for people because they don’t see it all the time. Like most things in life, moderation is key!!

  • Lovely!

    I mentioned it above but wanted to shout it out: Starting with day old dirty hair helps. Clean and or slightly damp hair doesn’t hold so well. A day or two dirty makes a world of difference, really. And a little dry shampoo at the root will help give fine hair a little more texture and teasing hold.


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