In case you haven’t heard, updos are in. But if you're not a fan of super sleek, slicked-back styles, you can still rock this look. In fact, the trend of the moment is an effortless and carefree updo, according to experts at Pinterest—searches for "messy updos" are up a whopping 1,247% on the social network.
Why the sudden interest in the perfect messy updo? We’re willing to bet Meghan Markle's favorite casual-cool hairstyle has something to do with it. Ever since she and Prince Harry announced their engagement, we've been inspired by Markle’s killer sense of style, particularly her dark, shiny strands and signature messy bun.
While future sister-in-law Kate Middleton is known for her classic chignon, Markle often chooses to style her hair in a laid-back bun. According to hairstylist Aaron Grenia, co-founder of IGK Hair Care, opting for a messy updo can add a bit of flair to a basic everyday look. "A messy bun is a great way to put your hair up quickly and still look chic," he says. "It's more interesting than a simple ponytail and it's undone, so it's easy and doesn't need to be perfect to look good."
If you want to give Markle's messy bun a try yourself, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite inspo photos below, as well as the top must-have products to help you master the look.
Second-day hair usually has the best natural texture for a perfectly imperfect style. But if you need to wash and style same day, opt for volumizing products in the shower, such as Avalon Organics Rosemary Volumizing Shampoo & Conditioner ($17 each; amazon.com). Next, follow up with a styling product before blowing out hair or letting it air dry. Cantu Coconut Curling Cream Gel ($6; target.com) is a great choice, since it enhances natural texture and adds moisture. Also good: got2b fat-tastic Instant Collagen Infusion Mousse ($13; amazon.com) will add thickness and grip to fine hair that struggles to hold a style or curl.
For those who don’t have naturally wavy hair, adding in a few curls can make a big difference when getting your style to take shape and hold all day long. Prep with Ouai Memory Mist ($28; sephora.com), a priming spray that provides heat protection and helps styles last longer. A large-barrel curling iron like NuMe Classic Curling Wand ($80; target.com) or Beachwaver S1.25 Curling Iron ($129; amazon.com) can create volume and shape that enhances a look in seconds. Curl the whole head and don’t worry if the result isn’t perfect—it will make gathering up a bun and pinning tendrils easier regardless.
Once hair is prepped, it’s pretty much grab and go from there as you work to shape your style. For a look that’s truly Markle-esque, "gather hair with your hands in the middle back if your head," says Grenia. "Before you secure your hair, pull a couple pieces out in the front. Once you've achieved your desired look, twist the hair back and down into a bun." Finally, secure with a large French pin, which will look more chic than an elastic.
The placement of your bun also makes a difference—a messy top knot is carefree and fun, but a bun at the nape of the neck can give off a more elegant, seductive vibe. Markle’s go-to bun is usually a low knot with front strands left out, but a messy bun can be as simple or intricate as you’d like, depending on hair thickness and how the bun’s shape is formed.
For bridal styles, often a simple bun is created as a base, and then curled tendrils are pinned over and around it to elevate the style to a wedding-ready look. Adding braids is another way to personalize your style, whether braided into the bun or at the top of the crown going into the bun’s base.
Clean, shiny hair doesn’t always grip the way slightly dirty strands do, so spritzing in texturizer like Bumble and Bumble Surf Infusion ($29; sephora.com) can make hair more manageable as you figure out your updo’s shape. For on-the-go texture touchups, R+Co Dart Pomade Stick ($19; saksfifthavenue.com) is a life-saving styler that’s smaller than your iPhone—throw it in your bag if you plan on rocking your messy bun all day long.
When your updo has finally taken shape, you have a few options to lock in the look. "Spray more texture spray on the bun and pull out the bun a little to make it look undone," advises Grenia. "Rough up the hair at the scalp too for a more textured look."
For fine hair that needs as much grip and hold as possible, lightly spritz a dry shampoo in lieu of hairspray all over the style—IGK Jet Lag Invisible Dry Shampoo ($29; sephora.com) is the perfect weightless option to set a look. If you’re already textured-out and hair looks dull as a result, Fekkai Brilliant Gloss Diamond Shimmer Spray ($20; dermstore.com) can add shine to a finished look in seconds.
The best part about a messy updo? No two are ever the same, so have fun playing with texture and shape to create a new look every time—and don’t be surprised if your friends are jealous of your Markle-inspired hair vibes.