Tight bun

SLEEK & TIGHT

There's a reason ballerinas are partial to the tight bun. You can work up quite a sweat and still not have a hair out of place. This version, perched high on the head, is simple to do with long hair that's not too layered.

First, comb a generous amount of styling cream through dry hair, from the roots to the ends. (Kiehl's Creme with Silk Groom, $18, adds beautiful shine without looking greasy. If your hair is wet, use a gel instead. Try Aveda Confixor Liquid Gel, $17.) Then brush your hair back and up, pulling it taut with each stroke, and fasten it into a ponytail. Because you want it supertight, you might want to use a hair "bungee" (like Rickycare Invisipin Bungee, $5 for four) that you can wrap as many times as you need to and then hook.

Coil the length of the tail around the elastic and secure it with two or three bobby pins. A little hairspray at the hairline will tame flyaways.
Short, simple summer hairstyle

SHORT & SIMPLE

Even bobbed hair can feel suffocating when it's falling in your face. The simplest solution: a strong-hold gel (like Paul Mitchell Super Clean Sculpting Gel, $8.50). Just run a quarter-size dollop through damp hair with your fingers—starting at your hairline and moving back toward your crown, then through to the ends. Use your fingers to flip your hair up a bit in the back. The gel will set within a few minutes and keep your hair off your face for hours. (And if your last gel experience was with Dippity-Do, take note: Gels today give firm hold, but they don't dry into a crunchy helmet.)
Simple twist updo

TWIST & TURN

Haven't washed your hair in a day or two? Good work—you've got a jump start on this style. It looks best on hair that's less than silky clean (if yours is freshly shampooed, use a mousse to add texture).

First, gently tease your hair all over at the root with a fine-tooth comb. Then use a soft-bristle brush to smooth out the top layer. Pull the upper half of your hair up and away from the temples and fasten it with a couple of pins in the back just below the crown. Now take the bottom half of your hair, twist it up, and pin that section on either side like a loose bun. The style will require fewer pins than you might think—our model's hair hung midway down her back and needed only eight.

When you're done, slide a slim elastic headband (the one here is from Emi-Jay, $5) an inch or two back from the hairline (leaving out bangs if you have them); it'll smooth flyaways. This is a very casual take on the French twist, so don't try for anything close to perfection. "Embrace the beautiful mess!" says Melville.
Fast and quick bun updo

FAST & LOOSE

Curls tend to get wilder as the humidity rises—which is great news for this soft, tousled updo. "The bigger the better," says Melville, who completed the look at right in about three minutes (but he's a pro, so you might want to give yourself...five).

Smooth a tablespoon of curl-defining cream through dry hair (try Aveeno Nourish + Style Soft-Hold Gel-Creme, $7) before drawing it up into a high ponytail. Secure with a strong, subtle elastic (Melville swears by Blax, $3.50 for 12). If your hair is shoulder length, like our model's, tuck the ends of the pony underneath the elastic with a few bobby pins. (Ignore loose pieces and flyaways—they add to this style's appeal.)

Tie a short, simple ribbon around the base of the ponytail for a sophisticated finishing touch. Cream or beige looks clean and bright against dark hair; black is an elegant choice for blondes.
Summer ponytail hairstyle

PONY EXPRESS

Just because it's a summer standby doesn't mean a ponytail can't also be gorgeous. For the most flattering—and grown-up—silhouette, tilt your chin up (to get a hair-smoothing assist from gravity) and rake your hair back with your fingers, fixing the pony with an elastic midway between the crown and the nape of your neck. Then pull a piece of hair from the underside of the tail and wrap it around the elastic as many times as you can, securing it with a bobby pin beneath the base. (This is ridiculously easy, yet everyone will reverently ask, "How did you do that?")

For a polished finish: Run a large-barreled curling iron along the length of the ponytail to smooth it and create a slight bend at the ends. "A ponytail never looks like an afterthought when you give it a little flip," says Melville. "It becomes instantly chic." Easy and elegant—isn't that refreshing?

Still feel like a hair clutz? We've got four, no-maintenance haircuts anyone can style.

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