10 Ways to Style Medium-Length Hair

A ponytail isn't your only option.

Ways to Style Shoulder Length Hair
Photo: Getty Images

When I think of medium length hairstyles, the words time-consuming come to mind. If you have medium length hair, you probably know what I mean — attempting to do anything more than a ponytail seems like a tough task, and it can be easy to get caught in a hairstyle-rut. Basically, I'm talking about the tendency to do the same hairstyle over and over again — I'm a culprit and can shamelessly confess that I fall into this category.

So let's take a trip down memory lane. Think back to the last two weddings you attended, what hairstyle did you do? The same hairstyle? I thought so, me too.

In an effort to help you (and me) escape the hairstyle-rut, we reached out to a few celebrity stylists and asked them to share their favorite medium length hairstyles. If you could do with some hairstyle inspiration, read on.

Sleek Bun With Twisted Back Detail

A sleek, slick bun takes a little patience to achieve especially on medium length hair, but it's a good go-to if you want a look that is simple and chic.

To recreate this style, Virtue ambassador and celebrity hairstylist, Rena Calhoun says start by applying a quarter sized amount (or slightly more for thicker hair) of Virtue Unfrizz Cream all over damp hair, combing it through to make sure it's evenly dispersed, then blow-dry the hair as smooth and straight as possible, to eliminate any frizz.

"Combine Virtue's 6-in-1 Styling Paste, and a couple drops of Healing Oil, and mix together by rubbing it through the palms of your hands," says Calhoun. "Create a center part with a tail comb, run your hands through the entirety of the top of your hair and use a boar bristle brush to brush it smooth into a low ponytail."

"Once you've secured your ponytail with an elastic band, take another dollop of Styling Paste and combine it with a couple more drops of Healing Oil to add shine," the hairstylist continues. "Mix the products in the palms of your hands and apply them to the ponytail while twisting the ponytail into any shape. You can do a figure eight, a more abstract shape, or a classic donut shape."

To finish, leave the ends out and secure the rest of the hair with bobby pins throughout.

Braided Bun

According to celebrity stylist and curl expert, Sophie Gutterman, low buns on medium length hair don't have to be plain, you can make a bun look super chic with gelled baby hairs, a braided extension and minimal effort.

To recreate this style, start by applying All About Curls High-Definition Gel, then use a boar brush to slick your hair back, and secure it in a low pony. "Add Hidden Crown Extensions on the base of the pony and create a long braid," says Gutterman. "Wrap the braid into a tight bun and secure it using bobby pins." To finish off the style, spray it with All About Curls Finishing Spray, then perfect the edges with more gel using a toothbrush to brush down your baby hairs.

Textured Updo

Creating a hairstyle on medium length hair might seem complicated, but it really doesn't have to be. This textured updo gives off an effortless, playful vibe, and it's really easy to do.

"To create this style, I apply a golf ball sized amount of Virtue Curl Defining Whip to damp hair," says Calhoun. "I run the product through the hair with a wide tooth comb to create definition in each curl and minimize frizz."

Following this, the stylist scrunches the hair to define the texture and uses a diffuser on low speed and low heat to dry the hair. "To keep the look feeling soft, pull a few face framing pieces out of the front around the hairline near the parting of your choice," says Calhoun. "Starting at the temples, use just your fingers to loosely section out the top 1/3 of your hair and secure into a ponytail. Create a second and third ponytail just below the previous, grabbing a section similar in size." Now you should have a mohawk of three ponytails. Using a pea sized amount of 6-in-1 Styling Paste for some hold, twist each ponytail into a bun and secure with pins.

VIDEO: Expert-Approved Tips to Make Your Ponytail Look Fuller and More Voluminous

Half Up, Half Down

If you have medium length curly hair, you probably get away without doing much styling to your locks, as the curls are a style of their own 𑁋 they always look cool. But, if you want to change things up a bit, Gutterman recommends having half of your hair up and half down.

Scooping up the front of your hair and letting the curls hang will not only help to elongate your face, but it's also a great way to add more volume and height to your curls. "To create this style I apply All About Curls Bouncy Cream and High-Definition Gel to wet hair," says the stylist. "Next, I diffuse the hair using the T3 AireLuxe dryer and Soft Touch 3 diffuser attachment and section it mid eyebrow to mid eyebrow, using an elastic. I finish off by wrapping a piece of hair around the base of the ponytail."

Braided Crown

This style is one of our favorites, and looks great if you're going for a summery boho vibe. To create this look, start by applying a golf ball sized amount of Virtue Curl Defining Whip to damp hair. "The Curl Defining Whip is wonderful even on straight hair, it brings out all of your natural texture when scrunched in and diffused dry," says Calhoun.

To polish and define the texture of the hair, create oscillating waves or "s-waves" around the face using a one-inch curling iron. Next, part the hair in two down the center and braid each section securing with an elastic band. "Spray Virtue's Texture Spray onto each braid and gently pull apart the braids to create some volume," says the hairstylist. "Flip each braid up to the top of the head to create a crown, and secure with pins."

Wet Faux Pompadour With French Braid

"Whip up this wet looking updo by applying some of Virtue's Volumizing Mousse to just the top, front section of your hair," says Calhoun. "This will create the lift and volume needed for the front."

Using your fingers, without much precision, gently lift, hold and dry the front of the hair to achieve maximum volume. Remember, this can be messy as the look is meant to look piecey and wet.

"Next, combine more Volumizing Mousse with a dollop of the Virtue Restorative Treatment Mask in the palms of your hands," says the hairstylist. "The mask will give you the heavy texture that's needed for this wet look. Run the mixture of products tightly through the sides and the back of the hair, avoiding the volume we created in the front. Use a hold clip on each of the sides of the head to keep them nice and tight and braid the back into a french braid then secure with an elastic."

Braided Ponytails

With summer now in full swing, you might be looking for a hairstyle that can keep your medium length mane tamed and cute at the same time. Good news, braids were built for this weather. This playful style is perfect for a summer concert, beach trip or rooftop drinks, and you won't have to worry about it getting frizzy.

"To create this look, start by brushing out your hair with the T3 Detangle Duo and then apply All About Curls Luxe Leave-In Conditioner," says Gutterman. "Next, section the hair into seven ponytails, using the All About Curls High-Definition Gel, and secure each ponytail with a hair tie." Instead of doing a traditional braid for each ponytail, Gutterman makes the style a bit more artistic by braiding each ponytail in a fishtail braid.

Bantu Knots

This look is a continuation of braided ponytails and we love it because you're basically getting two styles for one 𑁋 you can either have seven playful braids or bring out a whole different vibe by wrapping the braids up into seven bantu knots.

"To create this style, take each fishtail braid and wrap them into small buns, then secure them with bobby pins," says Gutterman. "Finish the style by using All About Curls Finishing Spray to slick down your baby hairs."

Flipped Sleek Bob

Lisa Epperson, hairstylist at FEKKAI SoHo, NY, says she loves this medium length hairstyle on Laura Harrier, as it's a sleek, youthful take on the classic bob. "This is a good style for summer, specifically when paired with a floaty summer dress or a chic blazer," says the stylist.

To create this look, start with wet hair and apply Fekkai Brilliant Gloss Multi Tasker Perfecting Creme to eliminate any frizz, and add a serum to add shine. Next, make a defined middle part and dry the hair as desired. "Go over the hair with a flat iron, leaving out the ends. Once all your hair is straightened, take a 1-inch curling iron and use it to flip up the bottom part of the hair. Set the style with hairspray to ensure it lasts," says Epperson.

Middle Part Updo

Kendall Jenner's updo is a simple but sophisticated day to night look, and it's really easy to create on medium length hair.

First, separate the bang area from the rest of your hair and create a parting a little farther back onto the hairline than usual to bring more hair to the front. Next, comb the rest of the hair to the nape of your neck and twist the hair to the top. "Secure the twist with bobby pins and leave hair out at the top," says Epperson. "Then roll the top pieces towards the face in three sections and secure them with pins. Finish by misting the hair with Fekkai Full Blown Volume Dry Texturizing Spray to create texture and hold.

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