Prom Hair: The 10 Hottest Trends for 2016

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I've Handpicked the Best Hair for This Year's Prom

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All images from Getty

I've handpicked 100s of prom hairstyles that aren't ugly, dated or wrong, wrong, wrong (tiaras, anyone? Leave that for the prom queen). In this article, I break down below the 10 most popular prom and homecoming hairstyle trends for 2016. But before you check them out, here's a sneak-peek:

The Top 10 Trends

Here are the top trends in order. I'll hit the details and provide photos in this slideshow:

  1. The Mussy Updo
  2. Half-up/Half-down Prom Hair
  3. The Classic Prom Updo
  4. Long Hair Worn Down (the Non-Updo)
  5. Braids
  6. The Side Ponytail
  7. Short Hair
  8. Side Buns
  9. The Bejeweled Prom Hairstyle
  10. Fake Bobs

See photos of all 10 trends.

Picking Your Perfect Hairstyle: 4 Rules to Live By

When it comes to finding the perfect hairstyle for prom or homecoming, abide by these 4 rules and you'll be good to go:

No. 1: Choose the dress first. Your hair should complement your dress, not compete with it. The same goes with your prom makeup. Figure out your makeup last -- after you've chosen the dress and hairstyle.

No. 2: Consider your personality. You want to be comfortable at prom, which means you want to look like the very best version of yourself. If you are a casual girl who never wears makeup, the prom is not the day to break out your inner Kim Kardashian. Leave the formal updos for the classic, traditional girls in your school.

No. 3: Work with your hair texture, but consider changing it up to surprise everyone. Curly hair looks amazing either down or up, left curly or blown-dried super-straight (that will surprise everyone!). Straight hair can be curled into waves and wound into ornate updos (with the help of pins and hairspray). Wavy hair can be either straightened or curled and is the perfect texture for half-up/half-down styles as well as updos.

No. 4: Finally, when selecting styles, think ahead 20 years. Those prom photos may show up on 2035's version of Facebook, so you want to look fabulous and timeless. See How to Look 10 Pounds Thinner in Prom Photos before you stand in front of the camera. Those tips will last you a lifetime of picture-taking.

Let's get started with the top 10 trends beginning with the gorgeous mussy updo (my favorite).....

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 1: The Mussy Updo

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Ellie Kemper. Getty Images

Messy is trendy and has been for a few years. These prom and homecoming hairstyles are incredibly stylish, yet aren't shellacked in place.

Hair type: Mussy updos work best with a bit of wave or curl in them. If you have super straight hair, you'll need the help of a curling iron or hot rollers before attempting the updo. You also need hair that's at least to the shoulders or longer. While you can do these yourself, I recommend the help of a pro or at least a friend.

Personality: Mussy updos work with all personalities.

Dress type: Works great with strapless dresses because they show off the neckline. Great for dresses with straps, too. Avoid this look if you have an ornate dress, if you have a lot going on below the neck, you want something simple and sleek above the neck.

There are dozens of versions of the mussy updo. I suggest looking through these 5 galleries and selecting a few you like before your prom hair consultation.

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 2: Half-up/Half-down

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Hannah Simone. Jason Merritt / Getty Images

Guys love to see your hair, that's no secret, but wearing your hair down can be too boring for prom. These half-up/half-down looks are particularly sexy because they feature both your skin and your hair.

Hair type: This style works on all hair lengths and textures, except hair that's shorter than the chin. To keep this look from being boring, you might add curl, waves or extensions to your hair.

Personality: This is a classic prom trend, so it works best on girls who prefer traditional, classic looks. But you can funk this style up with a beehive pouf.

Dress type: These styles work well with strapless dresses.

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 3: The Classic Prom Updo

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Jessica Alba. Steve Granitz for Getty Images

These classic prom hairstyles include mostly updos featured on the celebrity red carpet. Choose between a variety of classic hairstyles, a roundup of chignons and a gallery of ballerina buns. Be careful not to make your updo too tight, or pulled-back because all you will see in pictures is your forehead and neck. Opt for a side part with bangs angled gently over the forehead.

Hair texture: Works on all hair types from straight to super curly. Hair should be at least to your shoulders.

Personality: This style is best on classic, traditional girls.

Dress type: Works well with most dress types. Avoid casual, flowing dresses. Great hairstyle if you are featuring a necklace, earrings or an ornate bodice.

See photos of The Classic Prom Updo

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 4: Keep Your Hair Down

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left: Pinterest, right Steve Granitz of Getty

Who says you have to put hair in an updo for prom? You can go straight and sleek, or opt for bouncy curls or beachy waves. Just don't show up at prom looking as you do every day at school. If you are wearing your hair down and loose, make sure it hits below the top of your dress. Otherwise it can look boxy. If your hair isn't long enough, you can get extensions just for prom. Or grow out your hair.

Hair texture: Works on all hair types.

Personality: Works with all personalities, except traditional girls, who are better off with an updo.

Dress type: Balance out a tight-fitting, curve-hugging dress with loose, flowing waves or curls. This look works well with strapless dresses and spaghetti straps. Avoid wearing your hair down if the dress is a halter or covers the chest.

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 5: Short Hair for Prom

Ashley Benson. Getty: Jason LaVeris, Steve Granitz

Who says you have to go long at prom? Short hair is sassy and sophisticated. With the right dress and jewelry, even a pixie cut can look dressed up.

Hair texture: Works on all hair types except super thick and curly.

Personality: Edgy, funky, casual, sporty.

Dress type: You can wear any dress with short hair. Consider a dress that flatters your body shape rather than your hairstyle.

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 7: Braids

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models show off braided hairstyles. Arun Nevader for Getty

Braids are more popular than ever. Try a bun wrapped in a braid, a braid as a headband or curly hair loosely braided into a romantic updo.

Hair texture: Straight or wavy. Works on all hair lengths, except super short.

Personality: Casual, romantic, sporty.

Dress type: Depends on the braids.

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 6: The Sleek and the Side Ponytail

A sleek ponytail or the super trendy side ponytail can set you apart from the crowd at prom this year. Paired with the right dress and jewelry, a ponytail can be your best prom hair option.

Hair texture: Works best with long, straight hair. If you have wavy hair, straighten it with a flat iron first. Avoid a ponytail if you have curly hair. Play up your makeup with smokey eyes.

Personality: Great on sophisticates, sporty girls, casual girls and book worms. Just be sure your hair doesn't look as if you pulled it back for soccer practice.

Dress type: Short dresses with flouncy skirts, modern dresses and long, curve-hugging dresses all work great with a ponytail.

Here are some great ponytail galleries:

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 8: Side-swept Hair

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Selena Gomez. Frazer Harrison // Getty

It seemed every celebrity wore a side bun or side-swept hair on the red carpets last year so of course I had to name it a trend and oh boy are these hairstyles amazing. Check out the side buns, the side ponytails and the side-swept hair galleries below and stand out from the other girls at prom.

Hair texture: You need longish hair for this look.

Personality: Works on anyone who's willing to try something new.

Dress type: A popular look on the red carpet this year was one-sleeved dresses with hair pulled over to the side. If your dress has one sleeve, this is a great option for you. Pile the hair over the sleeveless side.

My side-swept hair galleries:

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 9: Bejeweled

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Kasia Smutniak. Ian Gavan for Getty

There are so many cool ways to bejewel your prom hairstyles. Wind a ribbon in curly hair, put a vintage broach-turned-hairpin on the side of your updo or half-do or braid a jeweled strand into your side 'do. Here are just a few red carpet ideas to inspire you:

Hair texture: All.

Personality: Daring, sophisticated, romantic, sporty and girlish.

Dress type: Best with simple dresses. Also, be careful not to over-accessorize. If you are wearing jewels in your hair, skip the necklace and wear a bracelet and simple diamond studs instead.

Photo galleries:

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Prom Hairstyle Trend No. 10: Fake a Bob

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Freida Pinto faux bob. Ian Gavan // Getty Images

This look has been around the red carpet for awhile and done right can be absolutely adorable. Everyone will think you cut off your hair! Hair texture: Best on wavy hair or hair that's been curled. Must be below the shoulders.

Personality: Daring, romantic, trendy.

Dress type: Works well with dresses with sleeves, sleeveless dresses and any dress that would work with a bob hairstyle.

  • Fake Bobs: Gallery 1

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More Prom Musts

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Ashley Benson. Jason Merritt // Getty Images

And to round up this prom article, I present to you a few more articles of note. Enjoy! And enjoy your big day!

Prom Makeup Dos and Don'ts
Are You Curvy, Busty or Petite? Why Body Shape Matters
10 More Prom Makeup Tips