8 Tips for Making Your Hair Look Amazing on Graduation Day

Victoria Moorhouse


Even though the classes, finals, and papers are complete, graduation day still manages to bring one seriously large and stressful challenge to the table—and we’re not talking about how to manage walking in heels on the grass of a football field without them sinking in. This one is all about hair. Your first thought probably directed you straight to the graduation cap, a symbolic hat that takes hat hair to an entirely different level.

While styling your locks underneath that little cap is a big concern on graduation day, that’s not the only time you want your hair to look good. The party doesn’t end after you flip that little tassel—you need to be ready to snap pictures before and after the event and combat whatever weather presents itself day of. Follow these tips below to make graduation day a good hair day, too.

MORE: Graduation Hairstyle Ideas: How to Style Your Hair Under a Cap

Weather-Proof Your Hair
No matter if you have naturally straight or curly hair, you’re not going to want frizz to invade the hair that’s exposed from your graduation cap. Take all necessary precautions with a smoothing shampoo and conditioner, and before heat-styling, apply a smoothing serum or spray that specifically fights frizz. Living Proof’s Weightless Styling Spray takes care of those issues without weighing down your hair—something you’ll definitely want to take into consideration before putting on that cap.

You can further lock your hair into place by using a humidity protectant spray, which usually comes in the form of a setting spray. Sexy Hair’s Weather Proof Humidity Resistant Spray lightly coats your hair in an almost-weightless formula and basically shields your hair from humidity’s horrible forces.

Create Volume at the Roots
The most recognizable sign of hat hair is when the hair at your roots has fallen flat against your head. Unless you’re wearing something really sleek and super straight, the hair pancaked to your roots isn’t going to fly once you’ve thrown that cap in the air. To ensure you’re not ducking from pics the minute you take your cap off, you’ll want to take preventative measures to create volume in this tricky area. Gently tease 1-2 inch sections of your hair near your roots with a comb and set it in place with hairspray. You can also scrunch your hair up at the roots with your fingers and spritz in some hairspray to keep it in place.

And of course, you can get instant volume after the event by simply flipping your hair to the opposite side

Dry Shampoo Is Key
If you can snag a travel-sized dry shampoo bottle prior to the festivities, definitely do so. Put it in your clutch so that you can use it to soak up and oils and sweat that might collect underneath your graduation cap. You can also use this to revive waves for post-walking dinner or parties.

Uncurl Those Ringlets
Love curly hair? Make sure you unwind those tendrils after you create them with a curling iron or a wand. It’ll create a more natural look and way less of a contrast from the hair underneath the cap.

Don’t Forget Your Bangs
How you style your bangs on graduation day is largely determined on the type you have. Duh, right? If you have longer bangs that fall underneath your brows and almost double as super short layers, try parting them to the middle (kind of like 70s bangs) and curling them outwards for a flippy, windblown look. If you have micro bangs, style them as per usual—the cap will cover them.

Blunt bangs may be best pinned back or braided to the side for a pretty look combined with beachy waves.

Bobby Pins Will Save the Day
As a rule, those caps do not like to stay in place. Combine the shape of those head accessories with a windy day? Not a great situation for your locks. Pin your cap in place on the sides and behind your head with bobby pins in a color similar to the shade of your hair.

Sometimes graduation caps have no-slide grips (or just elastic) that don’t pull your hair along the seams, making them less likely to slip off your head. If this is something your cap doesn’t have, you can always try a DIY.

Go for Messy Braids
If fussing over products or trying to fit them in your handbag makes you stressed out, skip it entirely and try a messy side braid. You can make it more voluminous by adding in extensions and “pancaking” it out after braiding it. Part your hair on the side and pull all your hair over to one side. Start a French braid at your roots. Braid down to about your ear and then start Fishtail braiding down. Secure this with an elastic and then gently pull apart the braid. These types of hairstyles often look better when they’re on the messier side, so the normal wear and tear of the special day will only make it look prettier.

Plan Your Color and Cuts Accordingly
We’re all for drastic cuts, cool hair colors, and expressing yourself à la your locks, but graduation day leaves little room for damage control. On top of that, styling your hair around a graduation cap requires some thought and time. If you’re set for a cut or color process that’s out of the ordinary, try scheduling it about a week ahead of time so you can get some practice.

MORE: 3 Ways to Braid Short Hair