My bathroom vanity is littered with the latest skincare products. I have a collection of fragrances that are slowly overtaking my apartment, and the number of makeup products I own is roughly comparable to that of a single Sephora aisle. I'm a self-confessed beauty addict, yet I seldom style my hair. Now that I think about it, I almost never even apply product to my strands unless it's a hair serum or some other tried-and-true favorite. Does that make me a lousy beauty writer?
My medium-length hair is naturally wavy and dry, which is why I've historically strayed from heat tools. Instead, I wake up, comb through it, grab a hair elastic to sling around my wrist, and that's about it as far as any semblance of a hair routine goes. That's all well and good most of the time, but lately, I've felt like I'm stuck in a hair rut. I'm bored with my style (or lack thereof) and am in major need of some hair inspiration—styles that I can turn to when I'm short on time and motivation in the early mornings. That's why I contacted several experts for the easiest hairstyles for medium-length hair.
Keep scrolling for 35 easy hairstyles for medium-length hair.
Volumized Low Pony
This low ponytail by stylist Jody Callan is a little bit '60s and early 2000s (remember the notorious Bumpits?). We're obsessed with its effortless vibe. It works on most lengths, but medium styles give the look loads of bounce:
- Part the front of your hair down the center, brushing the rest back so that it sits nicely into the ponytail shape.
- Prep with a volumizing mousse worked from roots to ends.
- Tease your hair with a boar bristle brush like the Wigo Cushion 100% Boar Bristle Brush ($20), focusing on the crown and roots to create volume.
- Secure the ponytail at the nape of the neck and slick down the edges by combing in your lightweight gel of choice.
Medium hair doesn't offer a ton of room to play around with up 'dos, but a low chignon doesn't require much length to look great. This one leaves just a couple of strands out to flutter in the breeze for an undone and romantic feel. Follow these steps from stylist David Lopez to get the look (and watch the full tutorial below):
- Using a tail comb, create a middle part down the center of the scalp. "You want to make sure that part is dead center because it just brings that symmetry to it, makes it look cool," says Lopez
- Brush the hair back with a boar and nylon bristle brush, moving at a slight angle from the temples to create a bit of lift.
- Combine a shine spray like Kenra Platinum Diamond Deflect Hairspray ($17) and a hair oil like IGK Crybaby Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum ($28) in the palm of your hands and smooth onto the crown of the head.
- Create a low ponytail with a small elastic. Apply more hair oil and shine spray to the ponytail with the hands, then brush through.
- Attach another elastic to the bottom of the ponytail, then twist the ponytail and spiral it into a bun. Secure with a bobby pin tucked into the base and finish with hairspray.
Celeb Stylist David Lopez Shows Us 2 Low Bun Styles For Day & Night
Loose, S-shaped waves (as seen here on Rose Byrne) are easy to achieve with a flat iron, says celebrity hairstylist and L'Oreal ambassador Jonathan Colombini, and works well on shoulder-length strands since there's less weight to drag them down. "I’m all about natural textures or lived in textures," says Colombini.
- "Try putting just a small bend either with a curling iron or flat iron wave and avoiding a traditional curl. It’s the best way to get at least a couple of days out of your style," says Colombini.
- After creating the waves, legendary hairstylist Frederic Fekkai suggests taking a styling product like FEKKAI Shea Butter Gel Crème ($25) "to help define curls throughout the hair."
- Next, he suggests "dry scrunching the hair with a diffuser low speed/medium heat." This will set the wave.
Kourtney Scott, a stylist at Maxine Salon in Chicago, likes "a messy bun or bohemian dutch fishtail braid" for a more formal look for medium-length hair. Ciara's textured topknot fits the bill.
- "You may experience at this length that not all the hair is long enough to be gathered into a top knot," says Colombini.
- "Instead, try a half up half down top knot." Gather the longest strands into a loose bun at the top of the head.
- "As for the hair that’s down, refer to the above style with a slight bend I explained earlier," Colombini adds. If you have natural curls or waves, you might be able to skip this step.
This is a great style to turn to when you are between washes as it embraces texture and gives off an effortless vibe.
Super blunt micro-bangs are balanced out with a bit of length and perfect waves.
- "Wavy mid-lengths can sometimes go too curly with a curling iron," says Joseph Maine, a celebrity hairstylist and cofounder of Trademark Beauty.
- "Instead, I recommend creating waves with a waving iron like Trademark Beauty Babe Waves ($56), which comes in three sizes so you can find one that’s perfect for any length or texture."
- Then, take a small flat iron to your bangs, which will ensure that they lie flat on the forehead.
Here's yet another easy-to-replicate style. "Half up styles like topknots, space buns, and half ponys all look great on mid-length hair," notes Maine. To achieve:
- "Always style your hair as usual, then pull the half up of your hair loosely and secure it down with the hairpin," says Fekkai.
- Add a texturizing spray to create that soft, beachy wave seen here on Kiernan Shipka.
Messy Side Braid
Elizabeth Olsen's side braid is all about volume and loose pieces hanging free from the braid, which work best on layered strands.
- Start by parting your hair deep on one side before loosely plaiting your hair and securing it with an elastic.
- Don't forget to add a little volumizing mousse along the way. We like Bumble and bumble Thickening Full Form Soft Mousse ($31) since it's lightweight and non-sticky.
Model Jamea proves that sometimes all you need is proper curly haircare to make your hair brunch-ready. To style medium-length curls:
- "Set it and forget it!" says Colombini. "Using either a moisture cream like L'Oreal Elvive Dream Lengths Super Curls Leave-In Cream ($7) with a slight hold or a curl-enhancing gel (whichever you prefer) more focused on taming and preventing frizz."
- "Be pretty liberal with the amount of product you apply."
- "After you have an even saturation, take small subsections of your hair and twist; this will create a direction for your hair to fall into rather than letting it fly away."
- "After creating the twist, this is the 'set it and forget it' part. Once you’re completely dry, feel free to break up the twist in the palms of your hands."
"Note: never rake your fingers through; this will relocate the direction of the curl, which in turn, can create frizz," says Colombini.
A slicked-back, high ponytail is a great look for super curly hair that hangs towards the shoulders. Follow Colombini's tips to achieve:
- First, "gather in a pony and let your crazy curls fly free."
- You can brush some gel through to tame down flyaways.
- Comb down baby hairs along the scalp and keep the bangs straight for contrast.
- "This would be a great style to do after you’ve set your curls as I mentioned above [see #9]," says Colombini.
Half-up, half-down space buns look totally effortless and work especially well on medium-length hair because they won't be too small or too large. This style is so quick, so easy. If your hair is curly, style with the tips from #8 and create two buns.
A simple braided crown like the one Nine Zero One stylist Nikki Lee did on Hilary Duff is the perfect bohemian up 'do for medium-length hair. Leave a few loose pieces around the face for a more casual appearance.
"I like a medium-length hairstyle with curtain bangs and/or long layers [in a shag style]," says Fekkai. Face-framing bangs instantly take a simple, medium-length cut to the next level. To style:
- According to Colombini, "If curtain bangs are cut correctly, there is minimal styling involved—this is the point of having them."
- However, to get that quintessential '70s vibe, he suggests styling with a round brush. "I suggest a round brush no larger than two inches in diameter placed at the top of the bangs and with a blow dryer dry from underneath."
- "Once you’ve completely dried, set it with the cool shot to ensure a long-lasting hold."
Messy Bun With Bangs
Or, do as Sienna Miller did at this year's amfAR Gala, and leave your fringe loose as you gather up the rest of your locks in a messy high bun.
- First, follow Colombini's styling tips from #12 to ensure your bangs are in top shape.
- Then, pull your hair back into a bun or ponytail.
- To disguise your hair part, take a ribbon or headband and tie it around the crown of your head.
True Ballerina Bun
A true ballerina bun looks so elegant and takes any outfit to the next level. It works especially well for thicker, slightly longer hair that can really fill out the bun silhouette (think just below the shoulders to collarbone length). Follow these tips from celebrity stylist Ashley Streicher:
- "I recommend brushing clean, wet hair into a bun."
- Next, she lets it dry "as much as possible (if in a hurry add heat)."
- "Then, once it is set like that, you can take it out.
- Finally, "[leave] the shape and brush back into a bun."
To us, there's no single easier way to update a tired high ponytail than by slicking it back as Jamie Chung does here. It only makes sense considering glass hair is the newest and buzziest hair trend in Hollywood. Follow the steps from #14, leaving out the second bun and twisting a small piece of hair around the ponytail elastic for polish.
Margot Robbie's traditional side braid is extremely reminiscent of Frozen's Queen Elsa. This one requires hair on the longer side of medium.
- Start by swooping the top part of the hair back to the crown of your head before braiding down, eliminating the part.
- Leave a few strands loose around the face.
- Then, all it takes is some teasing, a classic three-strand braid, and maybe a little hairspray for extra staying power. We like Living Proof's Flex Hairspray ($27).
The Wet-Look Style
As demonstrated here by Kourtney Kardashian, the wet look is an easy way to style a bob or other medium-length cut. Achieving this glistening, tousled look is easy. For proof, listen to Streicher:
- Start by repeating the steps from #14's ballerina bun style, skipping the second bun.
- Next, "let air dry or blow-dry into the shape you want."
- Finally, "brush through some product." We recommend a flexible hold gel like Not Your Mother's Curl Talk Frizz Control Sculpting Gel ($9).
Yara Shahidi's curls may be braided back, but her look is easy enough to replicate sans braids if you're short on time.
- First, follow Colombini's curly hair styling types from #8.
- Next, give your hair a deep side part.
- Twist the hair back on one side, and secure with bobby pins. It will give the same super-chic effect.
Add interest to a basic ponytail or bun like the one illustrated in #2 by leaving texture at the crown of the head. We love the strands by the ears.
A center part and a lot of volume work beautifully for full curls, which can be styled using the same principles as #8. Keep in mind Fekkai's advice:
- "All of our curls are different textures, patterns, and consistency, no matter the length. However, we all need a proper haircut and the right products, so getting a haircut in your desired shape along with products that work for your texture is half the battle. The other half is choosing your style."
- "I think it’s best to start adding in light layers or texturing once the hair gets to a medium length to release any waves or curl you might have naturally," adds Streicher.
One Thick Braid
One thick braid down the back is classic and cool for any length. We love how this look incorporates natural curls and flyaways for a textured appearance.
- "Braids can be fun but more challenging on short hair," says Maine.
- "If looking to incorporate a braid, just create a small three-strand braid."
- "Once you have tied it with an elastic, start at the top of the braid and move your way down the length, pulling it outwards for more fullness."
Jeweled Mermaid Waves
For fancy occasions, consider adding some rhinestones or pearls to the subtle waves from #3 for a mermaid-inspired vibe. This jeweled look can be overwhelming on longer hair but is pitch-perfect for a lob like Aimee Song's.
Want to play with color but don't want to commit to the maintenance of a full dye job? Consider contrasting your natural shade with a few hidden highlights in a fun color that are only visible when you tuck your hair behind your ears.
Another braid style that doesn't require a whole lot of length. This milkmaid braid worn by Lucy Boynton is perfectly red carpet appropriate while remaining unfussy. Simply create two braids on the side of your head, pin them together at the top, and pull out some strands for that romantic look.
Sharp Center Part
"Sleek and straight" is Maine's favorite way to style medium-length hair. "I love a medium blunt cut at the collar bone," adds Streicher.
The sleek ballerina bun from #14 gets a trendy upgrade by moving the placement from the nape of the neck to the top of the head. Think of this as your formal topknot.
"Medium-length is a chic style in itself, so don’t overthink it with styling. Simple waves or nice and sleek can be super stylish!" says Maine. Glossy, structured waves give Zoey Deutch a sophisticated, Old Hollywood vibe. "For straight or slightly wavy hair, dry your hair at the roots upside down, then flip your hair back and apply the FEKKAI Brilliant Gloss Multitasker Perfecting Crème ($20) to add shine and shape," says Fekkai.
Tracee Ellis Ross's full, shoulder-length curls have a whole lot of definition and shine. This is absolute proof that curly bangs can look fabulous.
The shag is a classic medium-length hairstyle. Choppy layers and grown-out bangs make this look effortless to maintain. To style, Colombini recommends:
- "Beach sprays, sea salt sprays, and a bit of pomade at the tips."
- "You can blow dry them in, but I think letting these products air dry in is the best texture," he says.
Anne Hathaway takes a classic wavy style and makes it unique by slicking back one side for an asymmetrical vibe. Choppy waves deliver a whole lot of shine. "For straight hair, I like using a good thermal protectant and thickening spray like Oribe Maximista ($39) to add texture to your hair to show movement," says Scott.
Stylist Kristin Ess takes a low ponytail to more formal heights with a lush black velvet bow and dramatic curls. For creating dynamic styles, Scott switches between two brushes. "Ion Paddle Brush ($15) is great for straightening longer lengths, and the 9 Row Vess Brush ($28) is great for smoothing and light volume," she says.
"Play with half-up styles like topknots and space buns to switch it up even when it may feel too short to get it all up," says Maine. "Dream Coat by Color Wow has epic sprays for both curly and straight looks that offer a ton of weightless moisture and shine."
To get the medium-length curly hair of your dreams:
- "Invest in a great haircut," says Maine. "Medium length curly shapes can vary from triangular to boxy to round or oval. It’s important to find one that fits your face shape."
- This is a great example of a curly, mid-length style that is balanced.
- "For very curly hair, towel dry the roots and then apply the FEKKAI Shea Butter Gel Crème and defining curl. Apply a curl refresher spray the next day or when needed," says Fekkai.
Gorgeous Shoulder-Length Locs
Shoulder-grazing hair like Halle Bailey's still gives ample opportunity to play with texture. Twists at her scalp create an intricate side part.
While medium-length hair doesn't allow for as many opportunities to create intricate chignons, accessories like clips and jewels can elevate a simple style. Saoirse Ronan pairs a low bun with a jeweled butterfly.