Buns are the ultimate last-minute hairstyle. Whether it's rainy weather or a late start to the morning, we at Byrdie HQ are big fans of anything that makes us look effortlessly chic. And while many bun hairstyles earn the title "messy," there is one bun that's a bit more intentional and sophisticated: the chignon.
The word "chignon" comes from the French phrase chignon du cou, which translates to nape of the neck. And with such a sleek, simple style, it should come as no surprise that this style originated on the streets of Paris. The French have long received praise for their sense of style, especially for their ability to capture an undone (yet enviable) result.
Capturing this style is simple and can be very nuanced depending on how casual or formal you desire the final result to look. So as always, we turned to the experts for advice on mastering the chignon on a variety of hair types and lengths.
Here are 20 ways to wear the chignon hairstyle, plus styling tips from two top stylists.
Classic Low Bun
A chignon should require little more (if anything) than your hair itself. Mallett describes creating the style as pinning the hair into a knot at the nape of the neck or at the back of the head. He also recommends using chignon pins to secure the ends.
The traditional French chignon looks like it was completed in seconds. Mallett shares that "to get the most natural and undone French look, the trick here is not to use an elastic."
Leave Bangs Loose
The chignon is the perfect hairstyle for mornings where you only have time to style a very small section of your hair, such as your bangs. Pull the remainder of your hair into a low bun and style your bangs loose for a finished product that looks like you woke up to your first alarm.
Volumize Your Roots
This style does not require you to pull your hair back tightly. Mallett explains that rather than being perfectly pressed and flat, you can create volume at the roots with simple hair flip. He recommends that you "tip your head upside down and use a warm blow-dryer to lift the roots off your scalp. As you do so, gently massage the roots with your fingers."
For a more formal look, try this slicked-back chignon. Use a comb to pull your hair back tightly before forming the chignon at the nape of your neck. Mallet shares that he always uses the Discostar Gel’lac when going for a tight, slicked-back chignon, as "it’s something that doesn’t move. It’s very old school and incredible, and it’s something [he] doesn't leave town without."
Frame Your Face
Don't be afraid to leave loose strands at the front to frame your face. The chignon is all about understated glamour, and Nicole explains that "the more texture and 'imperfections' the better."
Embrace Multiple Textures
If you have curly hair but still want a sleek look, consider letting both textures shine. Slick back the front part of your hair using a comb and your preferred styling product, but leave the bun curly to highlight your natural hair texture.
Keep it Loose
For a style that really appears effortless, don't be afraid to make the whole bun loose. After loosely creating the bun, tease at a few strands for a more windswept look. Mallett encourages you to "accept movement in this style." Loose does not mean unfinished though—Mallett recommends the L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray ($15) to create grip on the hair (and then finish your look).
Short hair? No problem. Even those with shorter strands can capture this timeless low updo by pulling the length of their hair into a small bun at the nape of their neck.
Use a Scrunchie
Skip the bobby pins and secure your chignon with a satin scrunchie for a look that's equal parts trendy and easy.
Protective Styling for Curls
The chignon makes an excellent protective style for curly and textured hair—just make sure to avoid fastening it tightly, as this can cause breakage. Be sure to apply your favorite leave-in conditioner before styling to provide needed moisture to your curls.
Add Hair Clips
Your chignon can be taken to the next level with the addition of a hair clip or even a gemstone brooch in a pinch. Just style your hair into the signature low bun and add your chosen glitz wherever you please.
If you have long hair (or extensions handy), an extra large chignon makes for added glamour. You can also use a sock bun insert to pull off this look.
Up the elegance factor of your chignon by incorporating ribbon within it. Simply braid a piece of ribbon into your hair before wrapping a braid into a knotted bun, or add several tiny bows around the surface of your updo.
Add a Headband
If you're dealing with flyaways or shorter layers of hair when styling your chignon, consider adding a headband. The accessory will hold back these uncooperative pieces and still allow for the chignon to shine through.
Include Statement Clips
Once you've styled your hair into a chignon, use statement clips and pins to secure any loose strands or flyaways (or simply to embellish). This adds glamour and ensures your hair stays fastened away from your face.
Add a Side Braid
To add an extra pop to your chignon, braid a section of hair before incorporating it into the low bun. When attempting more complex styles, Nicole recommends that you set yourself up with either a three-way mirror or a mirror front and back so you can see the back of your head for optimal styling.
This take on the chignon gives the illusion of a larger braid holding the bun together. Start by creating a low ponytail in your hands and separate it into two sections. Tie an elastic around the top section and braid the bottom section. Once you have your braid completed, create a bun using the hair in the ponytail section and then wrap the braid around the outside of the bun. Finally, secure it with bobby pins. If you have box braids like Storm Reid, you can either braid some together into a larger piece to wrap or use extensions to create the detail.
Middle Part Magic
If you have been looking to try out a middle part, the chignon hairstyle provides a great gateway to do so. Simply part your hair evenly down the middle before pulling it into your low bun. Another option would be to create a ponytail instead of a bun for a similar bold style.
For those with thin or fine hair, Mallett recommends creating texture for a stronger chignon. Before styling, Mallett builds texture and volume with the Volume Powder he created. This allows for more movement in the hair.