There seems to be some cruel rule that ensures our hair only ever looks good when we have absolutely zero appointments in our calendar. And on days when we really, really need it to behave, knots, twists, and flips suddenly appear from thin air, and styling can feel like such a behemoth of a task that we usually give up after five minutes (okay, 30 seconds). So for those dreaded mornings when you stare at your hair and think, why?!, these 30 strategic hairstyles ahead are here to save the (bad) hair day.
Whether it's the morning after a wild night out (or in—don’t underestimate our ability to consume copious amounts of wine while watching Vanderpump Rules), these hairstyles will guarantee your strands look enviably styled for any occasion.
From the most eye-catching of hair accessories to a childhood favorite we're determined to resurrect from the dead, we rounded up the hairstyles we consistently resort to on even the grizzliest of bad hair days.
Meet the Expert
Keep scrolling for our roundup of 30 hairstyles that will ensure you never have to suffer the bad hair day blues.
Pinned Loose Waves
Pinned-back, loose waves might be the easiest way to perk up lifeless strands.
- "Start by washing your hair to add shine, moisture, and natural bounce to your hair," says Izquierdo.
- Once hair is dry, spritz your favorite dry shampoo at the roots, and twist a two-inch section back away from your crown.
- Pin the hair in place with a metal hair accessory like this Rectangle And Oval Metal Barette Set ($7) or a pretty velour barrette à la the above model.
- Bonus points for emulating the enviable waves seen here.
We love how unexpected Lilly Singh's hairstyle is (it somehow veers between casual and put-together) and appreciate the fact that it's sure to save even the most disastrous of bad hair days.
- Create one large winding braid (with compliment-provoking twists and turns) down the back of your head and clip in a head-turning gold barrette.
- To keep it soft, leave a few pieces out at the front to frame your bone structure.
A sleek, low bun will never go out of style. As a bonus, it's low-maintenance and effortlessly disguises a bad hair day.
- "Begin by adding IGK Good Behavior Spirulina Protein Smoothing Spray ($32) throughout for heat protection and frizz control," Izquierdo says.
- Create a ponytail and loosely wind the end around the elastic.
- Pin the ends, or leave some out for a more casual look.
- For even more styling inspiration, check out how vlogger CaribBeauty creates her stunning style.
When in doubt, try a topknot.
- Flip your head over and brush your hair into a high ponytail, holding the last loop of your pony through the elastic, so a small loop of hair sits on the top of your head.
- Wrap the ends of the ponytail around the elastic.
- Make the hairstyle unique by leaving your ends out like actress Maisie Williams. Or slick everything back with a lightweight gel for a high-fashion finish.
- Need more help? This five-minute topknot tutorial makes it easy.
One of the prettiest ways to ensure your ponytail is far from basic (but still staving off bad-hair-day voodoo)? A high ponytail. For an added boost, Izquierdo says to "take your classic ponytail to the next level with this fun and insanely simple hair tip:" dry shampoo.
- For added volume, backcomb towards the roots with a teasing comb before gathering your hair into a ponytail near the top of your head.
- "Apply IGK Rich Kid Coconut Oil Air-Dry Styler ($29) to damp hair to enhance your natural texture, and let it air-dry," Izquierdo says.
- Secure the ponytail with a plastic band
- Smooth serum or gel over the top of the head to tame any flyaways.
The good old slick-back merely requires some hair gloss, oil, or gel (or just a touch of all three), a dusting of hair spray, and practically zero effort. Even better, this cool-girl hairstyle can be done in less than two minutes—here's a tutorial.
- Starting with damp hair, brush hair straight back.
- Begin blow-drying your hair while running the brush back, so the hair molds to the shape of your head.
- Flat iron the ends in sections for a piecey look. "Use R+Co. WALL ST Strong Hold Gel ($28) to give a polished, sleek look," Garren suggests.
These double fishtail braids work better on second-day hair. Plus, they easily transition from the water (be it the beach, pool, or bubble bath) into your evening plans—whatever those may be.
- Sprinkle a texture powder in your strands before braiding to fatten them up.
- Pull hair into a ponytail and divide the pony into two smaller, equal-sized ponytails.
- Separate a small section of hair from the outside of the left ponytail, pulling the piece over to the right.
- Complete this step on the right side and continue down the ponytail and secure with an elastic.
- We even suggest sleeping in this bad-hair-day hairstyle for enhanced texture and volume the following day.
Small Accent Braids
We've all whipped our hair back into a braid and hoped for the best when we're in a rush, but the addition of several small braids, like on this model here, elevates this go-to style into something truly workplace-worthy.
- First, divide hair into however many sections into however many braids you want.
- Divide each section into three equal parts, and begin by braiding the smallest section of hair at the hairline.
- As you continue to braid, add hair from the section you're braiding. Continue braiding, adding hair as you go.
- Secure the ends with an elastic.
When in doubt, reach for your bobby pins to create an elegant and versatile half-up style like this one. Of course, there are tons of variations—let your heart be your guide.
- Section off the top portion of your hair, starting near the top of your ears.
- Secure the half ponytail with an elastic.
- Add in waves or extra volume if you wish.
Easy and Accessorized
Don't underestimate the power of a delicate headband to both contain your strands and add a feminine edge to any outfit.
- For a look like Rita Ora's, pull hair back into a loose pony, leaving some loose strands at the sides.
- Slide on a headband for an added touch of glam.
"This is the perfect hairstyle for no-wash days," says Izquierdo. Better yet: it's sleek, sophisticated, and a cinch to pull off.
- Izquierdo recommends first flat-ironing your hair "for a frizz-less, sleek look and add IGK Crybaby Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum ($25) to your ends."
- "Part hair down the middle and pull back into a tight pony, ensuring it is above the ears for a lifted look," Izquierdo says.
- Wrap the hair into a spiral around the base of the ponytail, tucking in the ends and securing with bobby pins.
- "Use a bristle brush to smooth down any baby hairs for a clean look," Izquierdo says.
The easiest, most sure-fire way cool-girl chic is with stick-straight tresses. Blow-drying your hair first ensures a shiny, sleek end result.
- Blow-dry your hair, so it's as dry as possible.
- Spray hairspray all over the hair, then straighten in sections, using a fine-tooth comb as you go.
- Finish with more hairspray and a smoothing serum.
Loose Waves With Center Part
Constance Wu's beachy-but-sleek waves go from day to night.
- Brush hair and prep with hairspray.
- Curl in sections, moving the curls away from your face.
- Spritz the final waves with hairspray and brush out with a brush or your fingers for a loose, casual end result.
Side Part With Waves
A touch retro, these side-parted waves have a modern touch thanks to the blunt ends. "Accentuate the waves all the way down for a '40s look," says Garren.
- Begin with clean, side-parted hair.
- Separate hair into one-inch sections, wrapping them around a one and half-inch curling iron.
- Pull your fingers through the finished curls for added softness, brushing with a fine-toothed comb as needed.
- To smooth the finished curls, "use products that tone down the look, like R+Co. NEON LIGHTS Dry Oil Spray ($29)," Garren says.
Youthful but still trendy, pigtail plaits are a fun daytime look that offers something different from the standard ponytail. "If your hair is thick enough, wrap the braid wrap with a plain ribbon tied into a knot at the top and bottom," suggests Garren.
- Part hair down the middle, continuing the part to the nape of the neck so that you've created two equally-sized sections of hair.
- Starting with one section, pick up a piece of hair at the front and divide it into three smaller sections.
- Start braiding the hair, adding small pieces of hair to each section as you go.
- Go all the way to the end, repeating on the next side and securing both plaits with elastics.
Twists at the scalp create an extra detail and look exceptionally great when side parted.
- Once you've reached the mature loc stage, you can mold and twist them to your liking.
- Use sponge rollers or braid your locs for adding texture and curl.
- Try creating a deep side part for a glam look and ensure your locs stay well-hydrated.
Youthful and still sophisticated, the wavy pony is a classic for good reason.
- Pull hair back into a ponytail, securing it with an elastic.
- Tease the crown of the hair for added volume.
- Use a curling iron to begin loosely curling the ponytail.
- Take a few strands on the front of the head out of the ponytail and curl those, too, to frame the face.
If you already have voluminous natural curls, not much else is needed to complete this tried-and-true look.
- First, ensure hair is properly moisturized using a sulfate-free shampoo, a leave-in conditioner, and an anti-humectant styling product.
- Once hair is clean, let it air dry for as long as possible, then blow it out gently with a diffuser (this will help avoid the dreaded poof).
Slicked Back Half-Up, Half-Down
Another look meant for those with naturally curly hair; this is a no-nonsense, high-impact style.
- Beginning with freshly conditioned naturally curly hair, pull the top half of hair into a ponytail, securing it with an elastic.
- Smooth a frizz-free serum through the ends and backcomb for additional volume.
Accessorized Half-Up, Half Down
This retro style is easy to pull off at home.
- Beginning with straight hair, pull the top half of hair into a ponytail, securing with an elastic.
- Use a texturizing product to create piecey ends.
- Finish off with an accessory over the elastic, like a thick black ribbon or glam barrette.
Moisturized hair is key to this look, which is more about the health of strands than any styling treatment.
- Starting on damp hair (or dry hair that you've spritzed some water on), section the hair into four to five sections using clips.
- Spritz hair with a heat protectant to protect your strands.
- Begin blow-drying each section from the bottom up, and moving from tip to root.
"This always looks good when you’re getting dressed in the evening paired with big hoops and a red lip. It’s always a winner," Garren says. "You will look so cool and modern."
- Slick hair back into a low bun, ensuring the strands on the top of the hair are perfectly flat against the head.
- Pull one small section of hair from one side of the head to act as an almost long bang.
- Use a curling iron to add a slight flip out at the end of the loose hair.
Bouncy waves help to open up the face and manage to make even thin strands look voluminous.
- Split hair into two sections.
- Use a 1.25" curling wand to the ends of the hair to provide that bounce.
- Repeat on both sides, curling in small sections as you go.
- Once the entire head is curled, let waves cool for five minutes before using your fingers to loosen as much as you like.
Bob With Volume
Hair can go from limp and lifeless to sexy and lived-in with a few tips.
- Place a volumizing mousse in the palm of your hands, running it through the hair to add texture and hold.
- Put your hair in sections, then blow dry each section, being careful not to get any pieces too straight (the goal here is piecey).
- Use a wide barrel curling iron or a flat iron to curl some sections of the hair.
- Once dry, run your fingers through the hair to separate it.
Ringlets might conjure up a child-like image, but these defined curls are sophisticated and look great on natural hair.
- Separate hair into four sections.
- Take a small section from each of those four sections, and smooth a curl-defining product on strands from root to tip.
- For further definition, rake your fingers through each curl. Let dry or leave in overnight for ringlets the next day.
Loose but wide waves á la Olivia Culpo go from day to night and aren't difficult to replicate.
- To fake volume and texture, work in a volumizing mousse before towel-drying hair.
- Take two-inch sections of hair and wrap them around a curling iron, holding the wand vertically for looser, wider curls.
- Continue around the head, finishing with a soft-hold hairspray.
Mussed and Textured
Think of this look as the more casual alternative to the sophisticated slicked-backed style.
- Backcomb dry hair, using a lightweight hairspray to set hair in place (but not going overboard, as you would for a wet look style).
- Finish with a texture spray to ensure hair looks lived-in.
Fros of all sizes are classic, but this short look has edge.
- This look is all about haircare rather than styling, so after shampooing, apply a deep conditioner.
- Next, use a moisturizing product to define curls while still damp.
- Seal strands with a nourishing hair oil before heading out the door.
Pinned Back Natural Curls
Pretty spirals look great pulled back, with a few loose strands framing the face.
- Starting with damp or dry hair, place hair into several sections and coat strands with a priming product.
- Wrap each section around the outside of a flexi-rod (keep in mind that the smaller the rod, the tighter the curl), rolling upward in a spiral motion and bending the rod around the hair to clasp it.
- Keep in overnight (or under a dryer for a couple of hours) and unravel each rod one at a time.
- Run your fingers through the final product to loosen the curls slightly.