The ATH Team test out 10 cap-friendly graduation hairstyles

Get your degree in style with these first-class graduation hairstyles.

Graduation day almost here? You’ve rented your gown and picked out what you’ll be wearing underneath but still have no idea which hairstyle will work with your mortar cap? To help you out, team ATH have pulled together (and modelled!) 10 cap-friendly looks.

You’d be surprised at the wide range of ‘dos that look great when paired with a cap and gown and, of course, for the after party too. So, whether you’re looking for graduation hairstyles for long hair, short hair or natural hair,get inspired, below.

1. Teased hair

Graduation hairstyles: Elise looking down smiling with teased bob hair wearing a monochrome dotty top
Teasing your hair will help to combat the dreaded hat hair. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

The last thing you want when you throw your hat in the air is to be left with hat hair. Teasing your hair will help to combat this by adding extra volume and giving you a bouncier, fuller look.

If you’re new to the wonders of backcombing, read our how to tease hair tutorial for all your need-to-know tips and tricks.

2. Slicked-back

Graduation hairstyles: Side profile of elise with her hair in a slick wet look bun wearing a black and white dress and black dangly earrings
Celebrities love the slicked back hair look. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Don’t worry if you have a short crop, because a stylish, cap-friendly ‘do can still be yours for graduation day! Simply try rocking a slicked-back, wet-look style; it’s a quick, simple and stylish way to really show off your features and give your look a fashion edge.

Editor’s tip: The VO5 Wet Look Styling Gel is our secret weapon for creating shiny, wet look styles. With the hold of a gel in a wet-look finish, it contains Aquascreen technology to fight frizz-causing humidity and keep your hair looking perfectly sleek.

3. Wrapped ponytail

Graduation hairstyles: Back view of leona with her brown hair in a low wrapped ponytail wearing a red dress with gold geometric earrings
Keep it pared back and chic with a classic low pony. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

If you’re after classic graduation hairstyles for long hair, then look no further: the simple ponytail is just perfect. To make it extra special, don’t forget to up the elegance by concealing your hairband. Simply take a strand from your ponytail and wrap it around the base, securing with a bobby pin underneath.

Keep in mind that it’s best to create a low ponytail so that your mortar cap can sit neatly on top of your head!

4. Polished waves

Graduation hairstyles: close up shot of leona with polished hollywood waves wearing a v neck black jumpsuit
Go retro with sophisticated waves. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Thought waves were just for casual days? Think again. Truth is, they can work for formal events and have the added bonus of looking effortlessly retro, too.

Editor’s tip: Loving these glam Hollywood waves? All you need to do to ensure those softly-undulating kinks stay photo-ready all day is to set them in place with a strong hold hairspray like the TRESemmé Freeze Hold Hairspray to prevent them from dropping. 

5. Side fishtail braid

Graduation hairstyles: beth with blonde hair in a side fishtail braid wearing a graduation cap and white tuxedo style jumpsuit
Show everyone your plaiting prowess with a fishtail braid. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Looking for graduation hairstyles for long hair, but find that the classic ponytail seems a little too low-key? Then we think that this stylish side braid might capture your attention. Carefully bring your strands to one side, then simply plait the hair into a fishtail braid (follow along with our fishtail braid tutorial if you’re unsure how) and tie with a hairband.

Remember to pancake your braid by gently pulling it apart, this will make it look more plumped up.

Editor’s tip: Remember to use a heat protectant to guard your tresses against the effects of heated styling. We love the VO5 Heat Protect Sprayit offers protection up to 230°C, limiting heat damage and keeping your hair soft and shiny. 

6. Beachy waves

Graduation hairstyles: beth with blonde beachy waves wearing a graduation cap and a green floral dress
Soft beachy waves add tousled texture. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Don’t want super structured curls but still want to add some texture through your lengths? Beachy waves are a great alternative to the more polished waves above and they’re great for accentuating your ends, which is important since they’ll be the bits showing under your hat!

7. Twist-out

Graduation hairstyles: jeanette with twist out hair wearing a graduation cap, navy dress and orange tassel earrings
The best curls of your life are just a twist out away! Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Any naturalistas looking for graduation hairstyles should give the twist-out method a try. For reference, Bantu knots will result in a tighter and more voluminous twist-out, while 2-strand twists have a more defined look.

Just remember: this hairstyle needs time to set, so make sure to schedule in time the evening beforehand!

Editor’s tip: For maximum curl definition, you’ll need to apply a leave-in conditioner for extra hydration. The TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist is enriched with coconut oil and aloe vera (famous for their nourishing properties), but in a handy lightweight spray that won’t weigh down your curls.

8. Side puff

Graduation hairstyles: jeanette with her hair in a side puff hairstyle wearing a white high neck lace jumpsuit
To keep your hair neat under your cap, try a cute side puff. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

If you’re looking for graduation hairstyles that’ll allow you to embrace your natural afro texture, while still keeping your mane under control, give this adorable side puff a try! Voluminous yet sleek all at the same time, it’s an easy and elegant option to consider.

9. Low bun

Graduation hairstyles: amra with her natural hair in a low bun wearing a graduation cap and blue short sleeve dress
A low sleek bun looks smart, stylish and professional. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

We’re big supporters of the elegant ballerina bun here at All Things Hair. It’s the perfect solution if you want to protect your hair and look slick on graduation day – not to mention it only takes 5 minutes to do. Practical, protective and pretty? Yes, please!

10. Crown braid

Graduation hairstyles: amra with her natural hair in a crown braid for graduation wearing a mint dress
Princess-worthy crown braids are the perfect formal hairstyle for natural hair. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

Why not add a romantic touch to your natural hair for graduation day, by experimenting with a braided updo like this heavenly crown braid? It’s sophisticated and classy and perfect for keeping your curls protected and under control underneath your cap.

Editor’s tip: Use the VO5 Mega Hold Styling Gel to smooth down any baby hairs around your hairline for a neater finish. This can also be helpful for extending the longevity of your style as you can slick down any strands that start to escape the braid.