Expert Advice

HOW-TO: Formal Hair: Up and Down

Kelly Cison | October 31, 2011 | 6:23 AM

When it comes to styling hair for formal events—whether it’s a wedding, prom or gala—you can go either Up or Down. At this year’s Emmy Awards show, Padma Lakshmi showed off a chic undone updo, while Gwyneth Paltrow wore her hair down, going sleek and straight.

While both celeb styles took top honors in our book, we want to know: Which formal hair look do you typically prefer, Up or Down? Read on to get all the steps for both looks!



Padma Lakshmi

Recreated by Ric Pipino, celebrity stylist and owner of Pipino 57, Wella Professionals Flagship Salon

Ric loves Padma’s piecy updo because “her hair looks naturally thrown up, as if she did it herself, which is a very sexy look.” 

1. Start with proper care—clean and condition hair with Wella Professionals Brilliance Shampoo and Conditioner (for fine/normal or thick hair). Conditioner for colored hair.

2. Prime hair with Wella Professionals Velvet Amplifier while hair is wet, followed by Wella Professionals Extra Volume Mousse for maximum volume and fullness.

3. Blow dry hair and lift the root for volume to set the stage for wave and movement.

4. Once the hair is blown dry, spray Wella Professionals Thermal Image on dry hair to help smooth out frizz and protect hair from heat styling.

5. Set the hair in big rollers or use a 1-1/2 inch curling iron (ceramic for fine/normal hair; titanium for thick hair).

6. Section hair, twirling it around a flat iron almost as you would with a curling iron to achieve a mixed curl results, some hair section strands are curlier and others are straighter.

7. Tease the root at the front to create volume around the face and lift at the top of the head.

8. Pull back the rest of the hair in a loose, natural piece-y chignon and pin it with a mixture of bobby pins and long T pins.

9. Spray the finished look with Wella Professionals Dynamic Fix 45 Second Crafting Spray to set.



Gwyneth Paltrow

By celebrity hairstylist David Babaii

Babaii, who created this look, calls it “straight edgy,” or taking a straight look and disheveling it to create soft texture.

1. To begin, he took a small amount of Couture Colour Pequi Oil and massaged it into the hair prior to blow drying. Pequi Oil absorbs instantly into the hair while giving tresses incredible softness and shine without weighing it down.

2. After the hair was completely dry, he parted her hair down the middle and divided strands into 4 sections (sides, crown and nape). To straighten, David used the IT&LY HAIRFASHION 1" Digital Flat Iron with even temperature control. He started at the nape working up toward the crown and sides.

3. To finish and create movement, he added an additional amount of Pequi Oil to his hands running it through her hair and scrunching to create this "straight edgy" look.

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