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Stunning Summer Hairstyles for Every Occasion (And How to Do Them)

Long-lasting styles that are easy to achieve — just three steps each.

We love celebrating with friends, family, and co-workers at all of the fun outdoor soirees this time of year. What we don’t love? Spending precious time getting our hair party-ready, only to watch it fall flat, frizz up, or become undone mid-festivity. The simple solution: easy-to-achieve (just 3 steps each!), age-defying hairstyles that stay put when battling hot weather, wind, and humidity. Bonus? They work for all hair lengths! Read on to discover the style that will leave you looking fabulous for hours on end.

A Quick Preview of Our 8 Flattering and Age-Defying Looks

  • Gorgeous at a wedding: the tousled bun
  • Striking at a baby or bridal shower: the poufed pony
  • Beautiful at a BBQ: the braided cascade
  • Polished at a work picnic: the sassy swing
  • Chic at a cocktail party: the tousled topknot
  • Graceful at a graduation: the sparkling sweep
  • Dazzling at a dinner party: the wavy waterfall
  • Pretty at a pool party: the polished side pony

For a Wedding: Create a Tousled Bun

Kristin Chenoweth attends the 27th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on March 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.
Kristin ChenowethGetty

Best for: Medium to Long Hair

A bun with loose tendrils is the best of both worlds: It’s got flair and beauty, but the hairstyle is up for hot weather. And it frames the face to highlight beautiful features, says Jackson Simmonds, a hairstylist at the Julien Farel Salon in New York City, who’s worked with Carol Burnett and Jill Zarin. This combination helps the style appear somewhat “undone” from the start, so if any pieces happen to fall out throughout the celebration, it will look intentional.

What you’ll need: Teasing comb, hair ties, bobby pins, 1-inch curling iron, hair spray

How to:

  1. Make a center part, then back-comb hair at the crown to add texture and help create an “anchor” for the bun.
  2. Split hair into two sections in back and secure each into a low ponytail, leaving a 3-inch section of hair out on each side in front. Twist the two tails together to form a figure-8 shape in back; pin into place.
  3. Wrap the loose tendrils in front around a curling iron; when cool, gently brush through with fingers. Set with hair spray.

For a Shower: Make a Poufed Pony

Jane Seymour attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party hosted by Radhika Jones at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on March 27, 2022 in Beverly Hills, California
Jane SeymourDimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

Best for: Medium to Long Hair

The height of a pompadour-infused half-up ’do directs the eye up and away from aging facial flaws. “The pouf also lifts hair off of the scalp for a cooling, vent-like effect,” says Simmonds. What’s more, the versatile style pairs well with both casual and formal attire.

What you’ll need: Blow-dryer, paddle brush, teasing comb, hair tie, hairspray

How to:

  1. Use a paddle brush to smooth hair while blow-drying.
  2. Tease hair at the crown. Then pull strands from ear to ear in front, smoothing over the teased section, and secure into a half ponytail that sits at the back of the crown.
  3. Gently tug on hair above the base of the pony to create a small pouf. Set with hairspray.

For a BBQ: Try the Braided Cascade

Nicole Kidman attends the "Top Of The Lake: China Girl" photocall during the 70th annual Cannes Film Festival at Palais des Festivals on May 23, 2017 in Cannes, France
Nicole KidmanGetty

Best for: Medium to Long Hair

Sweeping longer locks into a side braid draws attention down, “stretching” the neck for a swan-like look. A bonus of this hairstyle for hot weather: It also exposes pulse points to cooler breezes on one side of the neck to help lower body temperature.

What you’ll need: Dry shampoo, hair ties, bobby pins

How to:

  1. Spritz hair with dry shampoo to give it volume and grip; create a side part.
  2. Place hair from ear to ear in a loose, low half ponytail; braid the hair in the tail and secure with an elastic.
  3. Gather loose strands underneath into a low ponytail and tie with an elastic, then twist the tail together with the braided tail and place on one side; pin in place.

For a Work Picnic: Test Out the Sassy Swing

Gabrielle Union arrives to the 2021 Billboard Music Awards held at the Microsoft Theater on May 23, 2021 in Los Angeles, California
Gabrielle UnionGetty

Best for: Short to Medium Hair

Positioning a ponytail at the top of the crown pulls focus upward, so features look lifted and youthful. And as the tail swings from side to side, it acts like a fan that helps keep the neck cool. Plus, says hairstylist Larry Sims, who created this look for Gabrielle, infusing the style with “flippy” ends adds flirty, feminine flair.

What you’ll need: Blow-dryer, round brush, f lat iron, hair tie, bobby pins, hairspray

How to:

  1. Blow-dry damp hair with a round brush. Once hair is dry, run a flat iron through strands to smooth out any frizz.
  2. Brush hair back and secure into a ponytail at the top of the crown. Take a 1-inch section of hair from the tail and wrap around the base of the pony; pin in place.
  3. Run a flat iron through the ends, flipping hair outward. Set with hairspray.

For a Cocktail Party: Enjoy a Tousled Topknot

Lisa Edelstein attends the 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 19, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Lisa EdelsteinGetty

Best for: Short to Medium Hair

A classic sky-high knot pulls the eye vertically, so the face appears instantly longer and leaner. And, says hairstylist Brant Mayfield, who created this updo for Lisa, the bun will stay in place all night long, no matter how much you sweat or move around.

What you’ll need: Blow-dryer, round brush, hair tie, bobby pins, hairspray

How to:

  1. Use a round brush to smooth 2-inch sections of hair at a time while blow-drying for a silky-smooth appearance.
  2. Pull hair into a high ponytail and secure with a hair tie. Next, split the ponytail into four equal sections, twirl each section into a roll and pin at the tail’s base.
  3. Use fingers to gently tug on each rolled section to fan out hair and hide any gaps, so it appears as a single bountiful bun. Set with hair spray.

For a Graduation: Create a Sparkling Sweep

Rita Moreno attends the 15th Annual WIF Oscar Party Celebrating The 2022 Women Oscar Nominees on March 25, 2022 in Los Angeles, California
Rita MorenoMomodu Mansaray/FilmMagic

Best for: Short to Medium Hair

Styling shorter strands so they’re sleek yet voluminous ensures hair looks more “wow” than wash-and-go. This style also allows the breeze to blow on face to keep you cool when your mingling among a crowd.

What you’ll need: Volumizing mousse, blow-dryer, round brush, jeweled bobby pins, hairspray

How to:

  1. Work a dollop of mousse through damp hair from roots to ends to help prop strands up and off of the scalp.
  2. Blow-dry 1-inch sections of hair with a round brush, pulling strands up and out at the root for added volume.
  3. Part hair to the side and pull back a 1-inch section on one side. Pin back above the temple. Set with hairspray.

For a Dinner Party: Try a Wavy Waterfall

Actress Penelope Cruz attends the 'Dolor y Gloria' (Pain And Glory) premiere at Capitol cinema on March 13, 2019 in Madrid, Spain
Penelope CruzPablo Cuadra/WireImage

Best for: Medium to Long Hair

A half-up style sweeps up the bulk of longer locks, so waves won’t fall flat in the heat, says celebrity hairstylist Jackson Simmonds. Plus, adorning the ’do with a bow adds playful pizzazz to an evening look.

What you’ll need: 1-inch curling iron, teasing comb, hair tie, white ribbon, hairspray

How to:

  1. Wrap 1-inch sections of hair around a curling iron. Once hair is curled, tousle with fingers to create wavy texture.
  2. Create a middle part, tease hair at the back of the crown, then pull hair from ear to ear back into a half ponytail, leaving out a 2-inch section of hair in front on each side. Secure with an elastic.
  3. Tie the ribbon into a large bow around the hair tie. Set with hair spray.

For a Pool Party: Pull Off a Polished Side Pony

Nancy Travis attends the 25th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Nancy TravisGetty

Best for: Medium to Long Hair

Infusing a ponytail with volume visually thickens finer hair and gives the casual style a “chicer” look, says hairstylist Carrie Butterworth, who’s worked with Sigourney Weaver and Mena Suvari. And sweeping the tail to one side allows air to hit the neck so you won’t overheat while outside.

What you’ll need: Teasing comb, 1-inch curling iron, hair tie, bobby pins, hairspray

How to:

  1. Back-comb hair at the roots to create fullness all around. Make a side part, then wrap one-inch sections of hair around a curling iron. After hair is curled, gently comb through with fingers.
  2. Secure hair into a low side ponytail so hair rests on one shoulder.
  3. Wrap a one-inch section of hair from the tail around the elastic; pin in place. Next, gently tug out small pieces of hair around the face. Set with hairspray.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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