Are you the type to throw your hair into a pony - even if it's just been styled? Or do you default to down every day? Surprisingly, your hair habits may not be working for you. Here, the pros spell out when it's right, wrong and absolutely essential to sport each look.
Updo & Downdo Don'ts
If you put your hair up, avoid:
Overly curly updos (you'll look like Shirley Temple)
If you leave it down, avoid:
Overstraightening (the "Cher hair" trend has passed)
Even if you roll out of bed without brushing your hair, run a little gloss or leave-in conditioner through it so you don't wind up with frizz.
Wear Your Hair Up If:
You're feeling tired or under the weather.
"Wearing your hair down - especially if it hangs past your shoulders - will elongate your face, while sweeping it off your face is instantly uplifting," notes Paula Casano, co-owner of New York City's Insitu Salon.
You're trying to land the job.
A polished look says professional. In general, there's more that can go wrong with your hair when it's down than when it's up, but a well-styled chignon or low ponytail always appears coifed, notes Casano.
Your hair looks stringy.
If you haven't had time to get a trim and those scraggly ends are making your locks fall lank, tie them up, says Barry Reitman, a celebrity stylist at Juan Juan in Beverly Hills.
You have an interesting neckline or earrings to flaunt.
"My rule of thumb is that if the details of your outfit are on top, keep your hair off your face," says Serge Normant, celebrity stylist at the John Frieda Salon in NYC. Otherwise, your locks will compete with your look.
You're a bride - or attending a black-tie event.
"Your wedding day is your princess day; it's when you really want to stand out, and wearing your hair down tends to look too casual, no matter how it's styled," says Vincent J of the eponymous salon in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Ditto black-tie events, since updos are "always more sophisticated than down," according to Dov, owner of NYC's Dov salon.
Wear Your Hair Down If:
You want to look younger.
There's a "mature" stigma attached to hair that's worn up - think governess or headmistress. "Down is generally considered more youthful and carefree," says Normant.
You want to look sexy.
Every stylist we interviewed for this story replied that hair down is decidedly sexier - before we could even finish asking the question! "There's not a man on the planet who will tell you otherwise," says Casano.
Your hair is freshly washed.
The second day is the day to play with it. Once it's a bit greasier and less puffy, it will be much easier to put up, notes Normant.
You're wearing jeans.
"If you're in laid-back attire, an elaborate updo just doesn't match," says Casano. As with every rule, however, there is an exception: A messy bun or ponytail can work with casual attire. Just think of it like makeup at the gym - a too-done effect is just silly.
You want to flaunt your hair color - or are freshly dyed.
"If you have gorgeous red hair, show it off. Look at Julianne Moore!" says Normant. He adds that heavily pigmented tresses - think newly tinted reds, browns and blacks, which are at their heaviest saturation points - can look severe worn up.
You've got visible roots.
"Regrowth can be obscured more easily when your hair is left down and tousled," says Casano.