A half up, half down hairstyle can feel reminiscent of eighth grade picture day, when a spiral perm created the waves and a scrunchie tied it all together. But when Angelina Jolie and Jessica Biel glided down the Oscar red carpet this year with their hair pulled half up in a sexy and effortless way, the style instantly got a sophisticated new look.
With a Brigitte Bardot "bump" at the crown of the head and textured pieces pulled gently away from the face, today's half up, half down hair is polished enough for a formal event but can also be loose and laid back to suit the relaxed look of spring.
Celebrity stylist David Babaii gave Jolie her 'do for the Oscars, and he also cuts and styles the hair of Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Liv Tyler and Uma Thurman. Between his trips to Tokyo (for a film premiere with Kidman) and New York (to trim Tyler's heavy bangs), we caught up with Babaii at the Neil George salon in Beverly Hills, where, starting in April, he will be cutting civilian hair at a salon for the first time in his career. His services aren't cheap -- they start at $650 for a haircut -- but he plans to donate 100% of his fee to WildAid, the same organization his hair-care line supports to save endangered animals.
Babaii gave us this step-by-step lesson on how to achieve perfectly tousled half up, half down hair.
Step 1: Begin with clean, dry hair. Section the hair into three equal parts around the head and mist a "sea spray" or "beach spray" product over each section. Babaii uses his own Bohemian Beach Spray, one of the lightest (and cheapest) such sprays we've seen. Working section by section, wind inch-wide lengths of hair around a curling iron, starting from the ends. Don't worry about making all the curls go the same direction -- you want "shuffled curls." (And it's OK if you look Shirley Temple-ish in the process. It's only temporary; the curls will fall and separate in the end.)
Step 2: Throw hair forward over your face and spray with a light-hold hair spray. Flip hair back over your head, and you're ready to start pinning the top pieces back.
Step 3: Pick up small sections of hair from the top of your head and pin them back with bobby pins. Use small pins, unless you have thick or coarse hair, which may require a larger size. Start with the top and then work over to the side, doing pinning in stages so you can see how much you want to put back. Don't be afraid to have bobby pins show or to use pins that don't match your hair. "I like that it's not perfect -- that's sexier," Babaii says.
Step 4: If you want to go more extreme, pull back more hair on the side. The texture looks great for daytime, so there doesn't have to be any rhyme or reason to how much you pin back. Later in the day or for evening, regain volume by flipping the hair over to "open" the curls and separate waves.
"Half up, half down hair was prim and proper back in third grade," Babaii says, "but now it's about being sexy and disheveled. It's cleanliness with chaos."