A Hairstylist’s Guide to Updos

Hairstylist creates updos for clients

There is lot of creativity involved in a hairstylist’s job. Clients come to have their hair styled for many different reasons. Some clients have their hair styled for special occasions. Some clients get their hair styled professionally because they are working on an artistic or creative project. Whatever the case is, there are going to be a lot of different styling skills you will need for success in the hair industry, which includes updo hairstyles.

First, updo hairstyles have been around for centuries and evolved over time. Updos are ideal for many special occasions or as an easy-going style for work and evening wear. As a hairstylist, it is easy for you to create beautiful updo hairstyles that your clients can enjoy showing off.  The key to creating the proper updo hairstyle is to use proven techniques that will provide clients with lasting looks for special occasions.

What Exactly is an Updo Hairstyle?

An updo is a type of hairstyle that involves the hair being up and out of the face. The hair is kept in place with pins or bands to prevent the hair from falling down. Updos are versatile and can be created to complement many looks that the client is going for. Some women love sporting an updo for work, where they can still look professional without having to worry about their hair falling in their face. However, most updo hairstyles are worn for special occasions.

Updos are going to be typical of clients who are attending a special event or celebrating a special occasion. Weddings, birthdays and professional events are just a few of the examples that a client might call in a hairstylist for an updo. Updos and partial updos add a level of sophistication and elegance to most any look. As a hairstylist you get to help your clients feel and look their best for their big moments.

Updo hairstyles can be done regardless of the length of client’s hair. Even if a client has shorter hair, you can still use pins to keep the hair in place, making it appear as though they have longer hair than they actually do. Likewise, you can use extensions to provide length to the hair so that creating a updo hairstyle is easier. Depending on the quality of your work, an updo can last for one day to several days before it may begin to fall down. This is why most clients will come to see you either the day of or the evening before a big event.

What’s the History of the Updo?

Updos have been around for many years and have changed dramatically over time. These gravity-defying hairstyles helped shape history, with some of the most well-known being the beehive, finger curls and punk spikes. In the 1920s, flappers would create elegant finger curls in their hair using pomades and styling gels, according to Vintage Dancer. This would keep their hair looking its best.

Short hair was all the rage back in the 1920s, but styles changed years later when the beehive and other large updos became trendy. Later, the invention of aerosol hairspray in the 1950s gave way to big updo hairstyles. For example, the quintessential bouffant and beehive were most popular.

In the 1970s, these larger updos took a sleek transition and fell from popularity. However, the updo made a comeback in the 1980s with Mohawks, spikes and big, puffy hair. With this, styling products became a necessity. Gels and hairspray were used to create these updo looks and to keep them in place.

Modern Updos

In the 2000s, women began to sport updos for both everyday looks and also for special events. Rather than the big, bouffant hairstyles, styles were sleeker and more casual. The modern updo hairstyle complements a women’s look, rather than working against it. Updo hairstyles can still be elegant and dramatic without looking overdone.

Where Would an Updo Hairstyle Work Well?

When most people think about updos, they think about special occasions. For example, this includes prom, weddings, parties and formal events. Rather than leaving the hair down or simply throwing it up into a ponytail or bun, an updo creates an elegant style that is unique.

Updo hairstyles are meant to last, which is helped through styling products. The updo’s versatility depends on how well they are done and the amount of product used. Because of this, they’re ideal for an evening of dancing and mingling with friends and colleagues.

What Skills are Needed as a Hairstylist to Create a Proper Updo?

Updos come in many shapes and styles. From braided flowers to elegant draping locks of hair, you can create any updo hairstyle with the right tools and skills. As a hairstylist, it is important to continually practice your skills. The more you practice, the more you’ll be able to implement the techniques you’ve learned to create lasting updo hairstyles.

First decide on a design or theme for the client’s hair. Your client may even come in with a picture of the specific updo they want for their upcoming event or occasion. From there, you need to prepare the hair to both retain the style and have it stay flexible enough to work with. Using a variety of different mousses, gels and sprays can help you create an updo hairstyle.


The more that you work on improving your skills, the more you’ll know which products you need to use to make the perfect updo hairstyle. Backcombing can be done to increase volume without the need for extensions or additional product. Hair pins are necessary to secure the style. The goal of the pins is to keep the style up rather than to let the style dig into the client’s head.

Comb Out

Combing out the hair when the style is finished might seem like an unnecessary step, but it can help to improve the volume and look of the updo. This allows for the hairstyle to look more professional. The more that you practice creating this hairstyle, the better you will become and the more likely you will be to satisfy your clients.

Why Should You Become a Hairstylist?

There are a number of reasons for becoming a professional hairstylist. First, you are able to begin a career that helps others and is rewarding. Clients will come to you for hairstyles to celebrate big events like prom or a wedding. You can help them celebrate a night they will never forget.

Flexible Schedules

Being a hairstylist also gives you some flexibility on scheduling. You can either choose to work on your own or with a group of other professionals in a salon. Along with the monetary benefits of being a hairstylist, you are also able to work with a large range of clients. You might be working with teenage girls who are getting ready for prom and then a bride before her wedding day. You might even have a large group booked for a wedding, prom or other event where everyone needs a newly styled updo. You have the rewarding challenge of helping clients on their special day.

Most of the work that a hairstylist does has to do with managing how a client’s hair looks. However, there will be times when a client comes to you with hair problems of a different nature. Healthy hair is not always easy to come by. There are all kinds of environmental factors that damage hair. Not to mention the damage clients due to their hair with chemicals and heat. Keeping hair lustrous and beautiful sometimes begins with a professional hair treatment or some informed advice from a hairstylist.

Continuing Your Education in Updos

Updos continually change and a hairstyle that works today might not necessarily be the “in” thing tomorrow. It is your job to keep updated about different looks that will be complementary to your clients’ style. Watching videos, practicing different techniques and continuing your education within cosmetology can help you stay ahead of any changes in the industry. From there, you’ll be better equipped to work with your clients to always provide them with the most modern, elegant styles.

Understanding Your Clients and Their Needs

You need to know what your client wants before getting started. Sure, you may get some clients that let you create the design and style for them, but most will have a pretty specific idea of what they’re looking to achieve. Many clients will come prepared with print outs pictures of the specific updo they want, and it is your job to work of this image so that they are satisfied with the finished work.

Ask Questions!

Before creating any type of hairstyle, you should ask questions regarding where they’re planning to go with the updo hairstyle. This will give you a chance to see if extra pins or spray will be needed to hold the updo in place. For instance, your client might say that they are going to be attending prom, dancing and then going out to party with their friends after the event. In this case, you’ll want to use different methods to keep that updo held together so that it doesn’t fall down during the evening. For brides, you need to create elegant, unique styles that will last not only for the ceremony, but for the reception party afterwards.

Final Thoughts

As a hairstylist, there are many different updos available for you and your clients. Taking their face shape and needs into consideration, you can create a beautifully designed hairstyle that they will love to show off to friends and family. By creating long-lasting, elegant designs, you’ll likely set yourself apart and create loyal customers who continually come to your salon to have their hair done.

Want to Learn More?

Want to learn more about how to make updos? Need to get your undergraduate certificate in cosmetology? At Minnesota School of Cosmetology, we are dedicated to helping our Cosmetology program students develop a solid foundation and a flair for style through hands-on training in basic and advanced industry techniques. You will learn how to cut, color and style hair, give manicures and pedicures, provide spa treatments and perform various skin care techniques from industry-experienced instructors in a professional salon setting. We keep our class sizes small to make sure you get the individualized instruction you need and attention you deserve. You will graduate with everything you need to be a versatile artist in an exciting industry, including a cosmetology diploma from a respected college.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a hairstylist and starting a rewarding career in the beauty industry.

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