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How to Style Red Hair for a Pageant

Miss Ohio USA 2016 Megan Wise with her court.
Miss Ohio USA 2016 Megan Wise with her court after the 2016 pageant. Photo: Miss Ohio USA

Red hair in the pageant world can be one of a contestants’ greatest assets. The color pops on stage and, when styled correctly, can make a contestant unforgettable to the judges. Natural or not (like me), it is important to remember the correct style could be the difference between first runner-up and the crown.

How to Style Red Hair for a Pageant

Waves

At Miss Ohio USA 2016, Megan Wise styled her natural red hair with a side part and flowing beachy waves. The style oozed glamour and polished off her overall look to help her capture the crown. In the photo above, your eye goes straight to her and it is not just because she is wearing a coveted, glistening, Miss USA state titleholder crown.

Her red hair made her stand out throughout the competition and in the Top 5. Her overall look hints at inspiration from Jessica Rabbit and, since she won the crown, it clearly was a hit with the judges. (Read: Miss Ohio USA 2016 Preliminary Evening Gown: HIT or MISS?)

Another great example comes from Miss California USA 2011, later Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella. At Miss USA, she went with a similar look. While not a natural redhead, the side part with waves is clearly a flattering style. It enhances her beautiful heart-shaped jawline and brings the attention to her face.

Alyssa Campanella, representing California, competes in the preliminary evening gown competition at Miss USA 2011. She walked away with the title and placed in the Top 16 at Miss Universe later that year.
Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011. Photo: Miss Universe Organization

One last example of this style is Miss Missouri Teen USA 2015 Christina Stratton. At Miss Teen USA 2015, she wore her hair in an almost identical fashion to Alyssa. The style paid off as she walked away with Miss Photogenic as well as placing in the Top 16. She went with a softer wave and tons of volume which is perfect for a Teen division. She looked youthful and bubbly.

Considering that she, Alyssa and Megan all did very well in their respective pageants with this hairstyle, you can say it is a big hit with judges!

Miss Missouri Teen USA 2015, Christina Stratton, during the final night of competition at Miss Teen USA 2015./Photo Credit: Miss Teen USA
Miss Missouri Teen USA 2015, Christina Stratton, during the final night of competition at Miss Teen USA 2015. Photo: Miss Teen USA

Half-Up, Half-Down

One of the best parts of a half-up, half-down hairstyle is that it has the ability to transition between all phases of competition. From opening number to swimwear to evening gown, contestants can style their hair before the pageant begins and they do not have to worry about changing hairstyles backstage as lip gloss, butt glue and hairspray fly everywhere. (Read: 3 Gorgeous Ways to Style Red Hair)

Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella during the prelimnary evening gown competition at Miss Universe 2011./Photo Credit: Miss Universe Organization
Miss USA 2011, Alyssa Campanella during the preliminary evening gown competition at Miss Universe 2011. Photo: Miss Universe Organization

Alyssa slayed the hair game once again when she competed at Miss Universe 2011. Being the only redhead, she already stood out. However, she went with a very different look from Miss USA. She chose a very detailed gown with sleeves, embellishments and a train. A hairstyle like the one she wore when she won Miss USA would have competed with the gown.

By pulling her hair off her face, she kept the look balanced. The back of the gown was not as detailed as the front and she used her hair as the focal point. When she turned around, the cascading red curls down her back made her exit just as strong as her entrance.

This same look can be seen on Miss Miami Earth, Amber Dawn Butler. When she competed at Miss Maryland 2015 as Miss Western Maryland, she too went for a half-up, half-down style inspired by Alyssa Campanella. Her evening gown was covered in sequins.

If she had left her hair completely down, it would have competed with the gown. By pulling it back like Alyssa, she let her striking jawline, high cheekbones and smile pop and shine on the stage. The look landed her in the Top 11 that year.

Miss Western Maryland 2015, Amber Dawn Butler, during the preliminary evening gown competition at Miss Maryland 2015.
Miss Western Maryland 2015, Amber Dawn Butler. Photo: Mary Pat at Photography by Dale

Updos

This can be a tricky one. While updos are elegant and a classic staple in the pageant world, redheads walk a fine line when pulling all of their beautiful fiery locks into a bun. When all the hair is pulled back, it no longer becomes a focal point. Since red hair is rather uncommon, it should always be used as an asset.

An updo for a redhead works best with talent. For example, Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers, twirled for her talent at Miss America 2017. This is a case where she does not want her red hair to be a star. Instead, the focus should be on her incredible technique and ability.

Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers, during the preliminary talent competition at Miss America 2017. Photo: Miss America Organization
Miss Texas 2016, Caroline Carothers, during the preliminary talent competition at Miss America 2017. Photo: Miss America Organization

Another great example of an updo during talent is Miss South Florida 2017, Danielle Ball, when she won Miss Palm Beach County 2016. Danielle sang a beautiful aria for her talent. She pulled her hair back but the volume and side-swept bangs paired with the dark shade of red enhanced her porcelain skin and strong jawline. Overall, the look is cohesive and elegant.

Danielle Ball preforming her talent during Miss Palm Beach County 2016. Photo: Miss Palm Beach County Facebook Page
Danielle Ball preforming her talent during Miss Palm Beach County 2016. Photo: Miss Palm Beach County Facebook Page

Redheads have a unique asset in the pageant world. With red being such an uncommon color, the right hairstyle can really help them stand out on stage.

Best of luck with your hair styling, ladies!

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