I had to do it for Prince.
It is a truth universally acknowledged: When you cut off your hair into a shorter style, you wave goodbye to hairstyles worn high up on your head.
Sure, you could still wear topknots and high ponytails... if you want to plaster the back of your head with bobby pins to keep the shortest parts of your hair up, up and away. That isn’t comfortable, though, nor is it especially cute.
This has been a jagged little pill for me, because I LOVE high-set hairstyles. But I figured I’d just have to wait for my hair to get longer before I could wear them again.
I was wrong.
I’ve invented a way for we babes of the bob (and lob) to wear our crowning glory piled up on the very tops of our heads, without a single pin in sight!
Everyone, I’d like to introduce you to the underbraid. If you have shorter hair, it’s going to be your new best friend.
Not only does it keep your shorter locks off your neck with ZERO pins or clips, but it looks freaking ADORABLE. I wore my hair like this to C2E2 and people freaked out over it. This article is gonna teach you everything you need to know to rock this style with impunity!
But first, the basics. Here’s what you’ll need for this underbraided style:
First, divide your hair into two halves horizontally and clip the top half up on your head. Don’t tie it up--you’ll need to get to it in a minute, and you’ll only have one hand free. You'll probably want your hair tie around your wrist for quick access.
Flip your head upside down and spray the bottom half with some hairspray for extra grip, then brush it out with your comb. Don’t skip this--it really helps.
Working from the base of your neck up towards where your ponytail will sit, begin French braiding your hair. I pulled in smaller sections at the base and increased the size as I went; this made everything very secure (and also pretty).
When you’re all out of hair to bring in, hang on to the “end” of the French braid and unclip the top section of hair. Pull both sections into your fist so that you’re hanging onto a single ponytail. Tie it all off with a hair tie--I told you you'd want it around your wrist!
If you like, you can comb back your hair to make the top and sides look very smooth, or leave it a little undone. It all depends on you and your hair! I like mine to be sleek, but not too tight.
And now you are done! You have a high ponytail with NO pins in the back. The shortest bits of my hair are only around three inches long, and the braid is holding them back like magic.
Oh, and it looks amazing.
Now that you have the basics under control, I’m going to show you three ways to style your hair with this underbraid. They work for all hair lengths, but are especially cute on bob-or-lob length hair.
The Pretty Pony
This is the simplest way to wear this underbraided style, but still totally cute in a '50s cheerleader sort of way.
I started by taking a long section of hair from my ponytail, wrapping it around the tie to hide it, and then pinning the end underneath to hold it in place.
Since my hair has gotten a bit longer, I like to curl sections of the tail with a 1” curling iron to bring them up a little bit and reveal more of the braid underneath.
That's it! Easy, right? If you have bob-length hair, or hair with a tonne of layers in it, this looks especially kicky and adorable. The result is simple, chic ponytail with a secret surprise underneath. It’s the SHIELD Agent of hairstyles!
Obviously this works on longer hair, too--you just might not be able to see the bottom of the braid as clearly.
The Criss-Crossed Bun
If your hair is a little longer, or if you love really big hair, this is the style for you!
First, take your ponytail and split it in half. Lightly backcomb each section so that you have two equal, teased sections.
Now, criss-cross the two sections over each other in the front. One goes over; one goes under, like you’re getting ready to tie a bow, and then the ends meet behind. I can only do this once because my hair is pretty short, but you can do this a few times in front and back if your hair is longer.
Finally, pin it down! I only need to pin mine in the back, but this will vary depending on the length and thickness of your hair.
This results in a cute, almost heart-shaped bun right on the very top of your head.
This style also looks great with a ribbon tied around the base, so if you’ve been feeling a mighty need to look adorable, now is the time.
The Modified Betty Draper
This is based off a style that I showed you how to do last summer, and which I named “The Betty Draper” for no other reason than I was watching a lot of Mad Men at the time. Anyway, this style is super-sleek, shows off the underbraid perfectly AND is amazing to wear to weddings. I know I’ve got a lot of them to go to this year.
Start by wrapping a piece of hair around your tie and pinning it down.
Then, brush out your pony so that the hair is quite smooth and sleek. Spray it with some hairspray if you need extra control (and I always do).
Now, if you have shorter hair or hair with a lot of layers, you may want to tease the underside of your hair a little to keep everything together. Make sure you keep the “face” smooth. Spray with more hairspray if you need to.
Now, grab your ponytail and spread it out so that it’s kind of fan-like. With one hand, keep the face smooth, and with the other, grab it underneath and pin it down against your scalp.
And now you are done! People will marvel at your hairstyle and you’ll be like, oh, it only LOOKS complicated.
Betty Draper herself would be proud. Or at least not actively hate me.
Tell me: DID THIS TRICK ACTUALLY BLOW YOUR MIND? Which of these styles are you going to try out? Have you ever used a French braid to keep the short bits of your hair off your neck? What other braid experiments should I attempt?