Back in the day, we hated when our ballet teacher would single us out in class if we forgot to hairnet our bun. A bun was a rigorous style in those days, worn at the barre and the barre only. Today, we have quite a different relationship with the prim look thanks to the bun’s evolution into an inspiring, modern style. To prove our point, we’ve found a bun for every occasion, and best of all: hairnets aren’t required!
Keep scrolling to see 15 stunning styles that won’t make you look like a bunhead.
Meet the Expert
- Clariss Rubenstein is a celebrity hairstylist and member of the R+Co Collective.
- Leo Izquierdo is a hairstylist and the cofounder of IGK Haircare.
A decidedly sophisticated take on the topknot, this high bun is pure class.
- "Try doing the base ponytail for your topknot in two sections," Rubenstein says. "Create a high ponytail with the top section of your hair (from the ears up), then add the bottom section. This will make your topknot more secure."
- Use pomade to smooth the flyaways around the face and to ensure little hairs don’t fall out around the nape.
- "Brush through the ponytail, twist into a bun or knot and secure with French hairpins," she says. "If you can’t find textured French hairpins, use a bit of texture spray on regular ones."
This look is perfect for a girls' night out. But keep in mind: when you’re going for this much fullness, you’ll want second-day dirty hair and a little help from your trusty dry shampoo.
- Start by pulling your hair into a ponytail with a healthy dose of holding or hydrating mousse.
- Then, build the look by looping small or medium-sized sections of your hair into a bun and pinning them into place.
Super-Smooth Sock Bun
Need an inspired (and easy) 'do for a black-tie affair? Look no further.
- First things first: you need an extra-large sock bun or bun form to achieve this look.
- Brush your hair into a sky-high, super-smooth ponytail. Insert your ponytail through the center of your bun form and roll it down.
- Smooth the hair over the donut and secure with elastic around the entire bun.
- Leave one section out. Twist that section around the bun's base to cover the elastic, and pin it into place.
This is an easy yet still pulled-together look that translates from the office to a weekend farmers' market run.
- Pull your hair into a low ponytail.
- Tease the top section of your ponytail until you’ve made a little ball of volume.
- Flip the ponytail’s smoother bottom section over the teased area, haphazardly wrapping the ends around the ponytail base, and pin in place.
- Muss it all up with your fingers and enjoy the finished look.
A casual messy bun is cute and easy to replicate.
- First, add texture to your hair with a texturizing hair spray for body and grit.
- Then flip your head over, gather your hair into a high ponytail, and tie your strands in a bun, pulling out as many pieces as you please—the messier, the better.
Learn to Do a Messy Bun with Justine Marjan
Topknot With Bangs
Those with bangs can still get in on the fun—the bangs add a little something extra to the standard look.
- Start with dry hair.
- "You can spray IGK First Class Charcoal Detox Dry Shampoo ($29) for more grip and texture," says Izquierdo.
- "Brush your strands into a ponytail that lands at the highest part of the back of your head. After you have all of your hair up, simply twist it around and fasten with a clear elastic."
As ideal for a Monday meeting as it is for a Friday-night wedding.
- Brush your hair, and then gather it into a ponytail at the nape of your neck.
- Wrap the ponytail into a bun, and tuck the tail underneath the chignon (kind of like you’re making a knot).
- Pull a few small pieces of hair out of the bun to achieve that model-off-duty vibe.
- Tackle any obvious flyaways with a spritz of hairspray, and you’re out the door.
The best part about this look (other than how chic it is), is that it works even better on hair that hasn't been washed in a couple of days.
- Loosely tie your hair in a low ponytail, lifting a few sections here and there around the crown of your head to soften the look.
- Create ½-inch braids from the ponytail. Secure each one with a clear elastic, leaving about an inch-long tail on each.
- Wind the braids into a bun and pin them in place.
Boho chic at its finest, the loosely-tied bun is a great daytime style.
- Start with clean, straight hair. Smooth hair gloss over the ends of your hair, or spritz it with shine spray, and pull it into a loose ponytail at the nape of your neck.
- Flip the ponytail up once, letting an inch or so hang out at the top.
- Pull a piece or two out of the loop and tie it off.
- Take a small section of hair from the back and wrap it around the elastic.
This look is about as sophisticated as it gets.
- Run some shine serum through your hair from root to tip, and then slick your shiny locks back into a low ponytail. Separate the ponytail into two sections.
- Wrap the first one into a bun, and then do the same with the second section, wrapping it around the first bun.
- Secure with bobby pins underneath the chignon. For a look like Nicole Kidman's, remove a few strands and curl with a wide-barrel curling iron to create face-framing tendrils.
Undone Side Bun
Another easy but still chic look that manages to remain sophisticated, even if a few errant hairs come out of place.
- Pick a side for your part, and then sweep your strands over just behind the opposite ear.
- Gather your hair into a relaxed ponytail in your hands. Once you’re satisfied with the placement, twist the ponytail into a bun.
- Pin the sides all the way around, and lock it in place with a generous coat of hairspray.
The sophisticated chignon gets a dose of cool in this classic look.
- Create a ponytail by positioning it high atop your head.
- Take the end of the ponytail and wrap it loosely around the base, pinning into place and teasing as you go.
- Muss the entire thing up for a messier, lived-in look.
The half-bun is a youthful style that's perfect for everything from a trip to the gym to a night out with the girls.
- Separate the top section of your hair. Smooth it back, creating a ponytail at the top of your head.
- Twist the hair into a bun and pin it in place with bobby pins.
- Rough up the sides that are down and you're good to go.
Wavy and Loose Bun
For a loose, perfectly messy topknot, don't be afraid to turn to stellar products.
- Starting on naturally wavy hair (or hair that's been curled with a wide-barrel curling iron), pull hair into a high ponytail, twisting and pinning into a bun with pins.
- Once the hair is up, muss with your fingertips and finish the look with hair spray.
This sleek updo has the added funky factor of a tiny tail, created by leaving the end out and unpinned.
- Follow all the steps of a traditional topknot, putting the hair into a ponytail before wrapping the end around the base, leaving a little bit of the tail out, suggests Izquierdo.
- You can keep the tail out by first wrapping most of the ponytail around the bun before securing with bobby pins.
- "Spray some IGK 1-800 Hold Me No Crunch Flexible Hold Hairspray ($29) to seal the deal," he adds.
Is it easier to create a bun if you have wet hair?
Damp or wet hair does make it easier to maneuver strands into a bun. Just use a comb to create the look (and don't be surprised if hair is still damp when you remove it from the style later).
How long does your hair need to be to wear a bun?
Six inches in length is really the minimum to create a bun — though extensions are always a saving grace for those with shorter hair.
Do buns cause hair loss or breakage?
Traction alopecia is hair loss condition that's caused by repeatedly pulling on hair — which could be caused by constantly putting hair up. If you notice hair loss and wear a bun frequently, try taking a break from the updo (and see an expert if the condition worsens).