12 Back-to-School Hairstyles For All Hair Types

Girls with various hairstyles playing volleyball

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

With each new school year comes new challenges, new friends, new teachers, and new trends. It's also a time to try out a new hairstyle—even for toddlers and kids.

If you find yourself having difficulty drawing inspiration, we get it. It’s easy to get stuck in a hairstyling rut, especially if you’re always running late and rushing out the door.

To help make mornings easier, we asked four expert hairstylists to break down 12 creative styles, so your child will look and feel confident on the first day of school and beyond.

"Back-to-school is an exciting time for both the kids and their parents,” stylist Ona Diaz-Santin enthuses. “It means fresh new beginnings, and what better way to express this excitement but through hair!"

Scroll through to see these easy, unique styles created by celebrity stylists—who are all mothers, themselves. Adorable inspiration for this school year is right this way!

Meet The Stylists

Laura Polko is scunci's Celebrity Stylist and works with stars like Lucy Hale, Bella Hadid, and Lily Aldridge. She has a 4-year-daughter, Breeze, and is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Sarah Potempa has worked with stars like Reese Witherspoon, Lea Michele, and Emily Blunt. The founder of The Beachwaver Co is also a braiding expert. She has two children (ages 8 and 11) and is based in Chicago, IL.

Ona Diaz-Santin is the owner and CEO of 5 Salon & Spa in New Jersey. Ona's youngest daughter, Joie Rei, is 8 and loves getting her hair done by mom!

Michelle Sultan is a brand ambassador and creative director for Imbue. The U.K.-based textured hair specialist has worked with stars like Jennifer Hudson and Mel B.  


Double Dutch Braids

Girl with double dutch braids and backpack

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Double Dutch Braids by Sarah Potempa

Description: This style features pigtail braids that look like floating French braids.

Skill level: Intermediate

Create the look:

  1. Start by creating a center part. Potempa suggests making an imaginary line from nose up to determine where the middle is.
  2. Apply a hair braiding balm (such as the Beachwaver version) throughout the loose strands to give it extra texture and grip.
  3. Split the loose hair into three even sections. Plait the hair by weaving the right under the middle, and the left under the middle—adding hair from the base as you go. (This is similar to a French braid, but instead of weaving over the middle, you go under it.) Secure it with an elastic at the tail (Potempa prefers clear ones).
  4. Repeat the Dutch braid process on the other side.

Baby Pineapple Curls

Girl with pineapple curls and books

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Baby Pineapple Curls by Ona Diaz-Santin

Description: This look showcases a child's natural curls with an adorable accessory for some flair.

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. "Lil’ momma pineapples are the cutest way to show off your juicy curls," Diaz-Santin says. Start with clean, detangled hair that is damp.
  2. Apply a curl-enhancing cream or gel (depending on your hair texture) and diffuse or let air dry.
  3. Flip head forward and pull all hair into a high ponytail at the crown of the head.
  4. Add a headband or bow to add some style and coordinate with your child's outfit.

Pom-Pom Ropes

Girl with pom pom ropes and backpack

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Pom-Pom Ropes by Ona Diaz-Santin

Description: Get Instagram ready with two bubble ponytails and colorful elastics.

"Pom-Pom ropes are easy and fun, not to mention they give your child the freedom to get creative with colors, ribbons, rubber bands, and other kinds of embellishments," says Diaz-Santin.

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. Start by letting your child pick their accessories, whether it’s a ribbon or colored rubber bands.
  2. Make a part in the center of the head.
  3. On one side, take an inch section and secure with an elastic.
  4. Repeat going down each side, adding small sections of hair (like you would with a braid), and securing sections along the way.
  5. Continue all the way to the ends of hair, adding elastics every one to two inches, depending on hair length.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

Pulled Back Headband

Girl carrying notebook in hands with headband in hair

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Double pony with headband by Laura Polko

Description: For this 'do, you'll need a cute headband that sits atop two half-up ponytails and a low pony.

"This look just gets cuter with the more pigtails that you make, so if your kid has the patience, you can make as many mini pigtails connecting to each other as you’d like!," Polko says. "But this look is a team effort, and even with just two pigtails, it’s adorable." 

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. Apply a detangler (Polko likes the BabyBum Detangler) liberally on damp hair and dry.
  2. Split hair down the middle and section off.
  3. Create high half-ponytails on both sides of the middle part. Brush tight and secure with an elastic (Polko suggests clear ones like these). 
  4. Collect the remaining hair on either side and make another ponytail, including the hair from the higher, original ponytail.
  5. Finish the look with a pompom headband (or another festive headband of your choice).

Beaded Braids with Big Buns

Girl carrying notebook in hands with beaded braids with big buns

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Beaded Braids with Big Buns by Michelle Sultan

Description: Two high buns with four braids framing the face complete this look.

"This is great for children’s hair that is really long," says Sultan. "It's also good if you struggle to find alternative styles and want to try something cute that looks cool."

Skill level: Intermediate

Create the look:

  1. Prep hair with a leave-in conditioner to refresh dehydrated curls and make the hair easier to separate.
  2. Starting in the back, separate the hair into two large sections, and use clips to hold and separate the opposite side while you work.
  3. From the middle of the head, part a triangular section from the crown to the ends of the eyebrow, and repeat on the other side. Depending on the thickness of the hair, split those sections into two, and secure with a small hairband (not rubber).
  4. Use a curl-specific hair gel to neaten and smooth each side, applying a small amount down each section to be twisted.
  5. Twist right down to the ends and use clear beads to secure. The beads will act as a buffer for small fingers that like to undo braids as well as keeping twists neat for school.
  6. Finally, create two big buns on top of the head using gel to smooth edges. Be careful not to secure the hair too tightly to avoid tension hair loss and headaches.

Triangular Mohawk Plait with Hair Glitter

Girl on her phone with glitter mohawk hairdo

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Triangular Mohawk Plait with Hair Glitter

Description: This look features a French braid down the center of the head with glitter on either side of the style.

"Middle school can be overwhelming, but it’s nothing a little sparkle and a triangular mohawk plait can’t fix," says Diaz-Santin.

Skill level: Intermediate

Create the look:

  1. Create a V-shaped part over the round of the head on both sides.
  2. In the center, do a Dutch braid (using three strands and weaving strands under the middle strand as you go).
  3. Grab hair to add to both the top and bottom strands as you weave under the middle strand.
  4. Add some glitter gel or sparkle hair spray on the loose hair below the part.

Beware of using loose glitter since it can be quite messy. Secure the style with hairspray, or use a hair-specific glitter gel or spray. To remove, use coconut oil as a mask in hair for 10 to 15 minutes and then shampoo.


Wash and Go

Girl with natural hairdo and backpack

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Wash and Go by Michelle Sultan

Description: Show off the hair's natural texture, and then add some accessories to pull the hair away from the face.

"If the hair is a medium length and you don’t want to tie it up completely, then using cute little letter clips or grips in the hair is really effective," says Sultan.

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. Clean and condition hair, and detangle curls in the shower.
  2. On damp hair, use a gel all over to add maximum shine and definition (Sultan likes the Imbue Curl Empowering Gel).
  3. Allow curls to dry, and then section off an area near the temples.
  4. Apply a shine oil and create four to five small braids or flat twists towards the crown of the head,
  5. As the braids or twists meet the rest of the hair, add a bedazzled barrette or letter clips to spell out a word like "LOVE" or "GLAM."

Waterfall Braid

Girl with basketball in hands and waterfall braid in hair

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Waterfall Braid by Sarah Potempa

Description: A waterfall braid starts as a French braid, with hair continuously cascading down from the braid, like...a waterfall! Often it's only a small section of hair.

Skill level: Advanced

Create the look:

  1. Start by curling hair to add texture and movement.
  2. Create a clean side part. With the heavier side, apply a braiding balm and separate the hair into three pieces.
  3. Start to do a French braid by taking three sections and crossing right over the middle, then add hair from the base, cross left over the middle. Drop the right section and let it literally fall out.
  4. Grab a new section of hair from the base—this becomes your new right section! Repeat until you reach the area in line with the top of the ear.
  5. Continue creating a normal, three-strand braid, and secure with a clear elastic.

Baby Waterfall Pigtails

Girl with apple in hands and pigtails on head

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Baby Waterfall Pigtails by Laura Polko

The description: For younger children or for those with short hair, this easy double pigtail style is cute and fun.

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. Create a part straight down the center of the head—that is, if your kid will let you. "The only way I used to get my daughter Breeze to sit still for her hair was when she was a baby, and I could put her in a highchair with my phone!" jokes Polko.
  2. Pro mom tip from Polko: "I gently use my fingernail instead of a comb, and then I brush her hair to the top of her head with a detangling brush with flexible bristles."
  3. Secure the pigtails with clear elastics high on the top of the each.
  4. After securing, gently pull each pigtail side to side, pulling it apart slightly. Don't pull too tight, but doing so will create a more fluffy, "waterfall" look.
  5. If desired, add bows, butterfly clips, or a colorful ribbon on top of the clear elastics.

Twisted Half-Up With Waves

Girl with wavy half-up hairdo carrying lunch tray

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Twisted Half-Up with Waves by Sarah Potempa

Description: For a special occasion or school dance, this style is a showstopper. The hair is half-up and twisted with loose boho waves.

Skill level: Intermediate

Create the look:

  1. Curl the entire head with a curling iron, such as The Beachwaver. Once set, shake out curls for a looser, more boho vibe.
  2. Take two small sections from either side of the head just above the eyebrows and pull back. Secure with a clear elastic.
  3. Flip the ponytail under and through itself, creating a twist in the pulled back sections.
  4. Gently pull apart the left and right sides for a more relaxed look.

Twist Out

Girl with twist out hairdo playing recorder

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Twist out by Michelle Sultan

Description: A two-for-one look that can lasts upwards of a week. It starts in twists and can later reveal the hair's natural texture in a loose, volumized style.

"If you have medium to long hair, a twist out can be perfect for you, as it’s something that looks great for an extended period of time while in twists—and also once you remove the twists," says Sultan.

Skill level: Intermediate

Create the look:

  1. Clean hair. Sultan says if your child has type four hair, use a sulfate-free shampoo to gently cleanse your hair and restore your curls to prep for styling.
  2. Use a leave-in conditioner or apply a more intensive mask to enhance the curl pattern. This will give the hair slip to begin the twisting process.
  3. Make sure the hair is saturated before starting to work on a section. Depending on the thickness of the hair, create 1/2-inch sections, starting at the back, and do a two-strand twist until the entire head is done. 
  4. Let the hair set dry using either an overhead hairdryer or a diffuser, being sure to mist hair with a heat protectant spray before applying heat.
  5. Once dry, use accessories to enhance the style.
  6. After a few days or a week, gently untwist each section to give the hair a new style, which will be bigger and show off the hair's texture.

Baby Ballerina Top Knot

Girl with topknot hair paintin

Verywell / Bailey Mariner

The style: Baby Ballerina Top Knot by Laura Polko

Description: This style is a twist on the traditional top knot. Hair looks polished and sleek from the front, but then a "tail" in the back adds interest and adorableness.

Skill level: Beginner

Create the look:

  1. After a bath, use a detangling spray liberally and brush through hair. "Many children have fine, tangly hair—mine does," says Polko. "Since most kids are so sensitive and don’t want their hair pulled, it’s super helpful to spray that all over."
  2. Brush hair tightly to the top of the head, and secure the ponytail with an elastic.
  3. Next, choose a scrunchie that coordinates with your child's look.
  4. "Instead of making a bun before I put the scrunchie on, I do a ponytail and the last time I go to wrap the scrunchie, I don’t pull the ponytail all the way through," Polko says. "This way, the ends are actually hanging out in the back. In the front, it looks super cute and the back has a really cute detail as well."
  5. If your child has baby hairs, take a paste or gel on a toothbrush and brush down to create little bangs. This will give shine and hold to the hair and keep it from getting in the child's face.

Have fun creating hairstyles and making memories this school year!

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