Genius Half-Up Hair Looks From Kourtney Kardashian, Lupita Nyong'o, and More

by Jessica DeFino

Half-up hairstyles, by nature of the name, are usually seen as a midpoint: a look that falls somewhere between loose strands and an elegant updo, a style perfect for skipped wash days and indecisive mornings alike. But thanks to a recent influx of half-up hairstyles on the red carpet, this ‘do is becoming a must-try trend that’s chic enough to stand on its own — and easy enough to recreate at home.

Read more: Short Layered Haircuts Every Cool Girl Wants For Winter 2021

While the traditional take on the look (with the front section of hair pulled off the face and the back section left loose) is still going strong, celebrities and their hairstylists are redefining the meaning of “half-up” — after all, who says it’s the face-framing half that deserves all of the styling attention? Recent red carpet appearances from Emily Blunt and Nicole Kidman prove that ponytails and low buns can look low-key glamorous when waves are left loose at the front. Nicole Richie gave her side braid a similar treatment this past month by freeing a section of her natural curls to frame her face — and gave bohemian fashion girls everywhere a new go-to hairstyle in the process.

Ahead, 15 half-up hairstyles for all textures, lengths, and occasions that you’ll want to recreate ASAP.

Coily Topknot

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Issa Rae’s recent topknot keeps her coily texture front and center — and highlights a sparkly pair of statement earrings, too.

Middle-Parted Topknot

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This casual, middle-parted topknot worn by Mandy Moore is the ultimate everyday rendition of the look.

Elevated Faux Hawk

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Short haired ladies can get in on the half-up style, too. Just take a cue from actress Kristen Stewart, who combed the front section of her pixie forward and secured the back into a teeny-tiny pony.

Threaded Senegalese Twists

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Stylist Vernon Francois created this regal look on Lupita Nyong’o by binding her Senegalese twists (also known as #singlestwists) with golden thread. The red carpet style is made for the upcoming holiday party season; to try it for yourself, pull back sections of face-framing twists and wrap them from root to tip with thread or wire. Leave the back loose, or continue the binding all over.

Sleek Front Tendrils

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Funny lady Chrissy Teigen’s take on the half-up trend is no joke. With smooth strands and sleek, face-framing tendrils, this style is equal parts fancy and fail-proof.

Mostly Pulled Back

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Crazy Rich Asians actress Constance Wu proves that a pulled-back style like this is best accessorized with a smoky eye.

Side Swept And Curly

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Actress (and hair color chameleon) Lucy Hale’s side swept half-up hair— created by her longtime stylist Carly Walters Bethel — manages to lend the lazy-day look an elegant edge.

Voluminous Side Part

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Modern bombshell Priyanka Chopra adds some va-va-volume to her half-up look by teasing the pulled-back section into a bouffant. Recreate the vibe for yourself by backcombing the top section of your hair and spritzing with a volumizing spray before pinning it away from your face.

Laid Back Waves

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English singer Jorja Smith pairs her ‘do with a red carpet gown; but her wavy half-up style is simple enough to wear with jeans and a tee, too.

Low Bun

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A twist on the traditional half-up hairstyle: Nicole Kidman accentuates a timeless low bun with curly tendrils and statement earrings.

Sleek Topknot

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To cop Yara Shahidi’s perfect topknot, secure the front section of your natural curls into a tight bun at the crown of your head.

Loose Waves

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Emily Blunt fakes a bob at the premier of Mary Poppins by leaving shorter layers loose, and sweeping her long locks into a bun at the nape of her neck.

Gelled Back

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The Kardashian sisters have never been known for effortless style, so it makes sense that Kourtney Kardashian opts for a super-sleek take on the trend, meticulously styled with a coat (or two) of wet-look gel.


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Switch things up by leaving the front half of your hair loose and securing the rest into a braid, a la Nicole Richie.

Twisted Bun

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Logan Browning piles half her twists high on her head in a messy bun, but leaves a few key pieces (and gelled edges) out to frame her face.