The Perfect Messy Bun in 3 Easy Steps

January 14, 2021
Dawn Davis
By: Dawn Davis | Makeup.com by L'Oréal
The Perfect Messy Bun in 3 Easy Steps

Consider a messy bun one of life’s great ironies: When it comes to beauty, the most undone looks usually require the most effort. In our quest to master the perfect I-woke-up-like-this messy bun, we’ve ended up with looks that are too messy and deflated, too ballerina-tight, or just wrong all together. After lots of trial and error, we finally found a fool-proof way to nail the messy bun hairstyle. The secret? Second-day hair (or third, or even fourth). Think of it this way: A tousled, messy bun is to dirty hair what glitter is to a night out: absolutely essential if you want to do it right.

If there’s a hairstyle that’s more of a saving grace on mornings you just can’t get it together enough to wash your hair (or afternoons when you’ve managed to sneak in a lunchtime workout), we haven’t found it yet. 

“The messy bun is playful and timelessly chic,” says Jill Engelsen, senior stylist and educator at Butterfly Studio Salon in NYC. “Most importantly, you feel like you’re you when you wear a messy bun — you don’t feel like you’re trying to be something you’re not.”

Read on to learn how you can get the classic look in just three simple steps, plus three other ways to rock a messy bun.


How to Create a Classic Messy Bun

STEP 1 

First, flip your head upside down and pull your hair into a loose ponytail, as high or as low as you’d like it. Don’t use a comb or worry about your strands being perfectly slicked back — some bumps are ok.
 
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Glass.Mapper.Sc.Fields.Image

STEP 2 

 

Twist the hair, and spin it around the base of the ponytail, continuing to wrap below the bun. Be sure to leave the tail out at the end.


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Glass.Mapper.Sc.Fields.Image

STEP 3

Secure it with a hair elastic and bobby pins.

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Glass.Mapper.Sc.Fields.Image

Quick Tip: 

One of our favorite things about messy buns is that they work well on dirty hair (love you, snooze button), but if your hair is clean and you want to pull off the look, spray your hair with dry shampoo (try the Garnier Fructis Invisible Dry Shampoo) or texturizing spray to add some texture and grip. To make your messy bun look even more, well, messy, pull out the sections and the pieces of hair that frame your face. “As you wear it throughout the day, it starts to take on its own personality,” says Engelsen. “Only redo it if it’s really drooping; otherwise, go with it.” And there you have it — an effortless style that’s actually easy to achieve.

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Glass.Mapper.Sc.Fields.Image

How to Create a Sexy, Messy Bun for Wavy Hair

STEP 1

Use your fingers to comb through the hair, and then pull it into a high tight ponytail.

STEP 2

Spray a fine-tooth comb with hairspray and gently tease the ponytail, from roots to ends.

STEP 3

Wrap the teased ponytail loosely around the hair tie, creating coils until all hair is swept around the tie.

STEP 4

Secure with bobby pins in the front, back and sides.

STEP 5 

If there are excessive flyaways, spritz with hairspray and gently pull back towards the topknot with your fingertips.

How to Create a Sleek Messy Bun on Straight Hair

STEP 1

Brush hair up into a loose ponytail.

STEP 2

Spray a fine-tooth comb with hairspray and comb back all flyaways towards the ponytail.

STEP 3 

Pull the pony out and re-brush into place. For a fierce look, position on top of the head in front of the crown (where the head starts to round) or right at the crown for a tamer look.

STEP 4

Rub a texturizing, strong-hold gel or cream onto a fine-tooth comb and lightly comb hair back towards the ponytail.

STEP 5 

Coil the ponytail around the hair tie, making sure not to stack the coils on top of each other. The first several wraps should be extremely tight and close to the ponytail holder. Each subsequent wrap can get looser and looser.

STEP 6 

Once all of the hair is coiled, tuck it under the first coiled layer and secure using bobby pins. When inserting the bobby pin, place the opening towards your scalp, push down and into the knot.

STEP 7 

Use bobby pins to secure the rest of the knot — front, back and sides. The thickness of the knot will determine how many pins you will need.

STEP 8 

Finish by spritzing with spray.

How to Create a Funky Messy Bun For Thicker Hair

STEP 1

Apply a volumizing, texturizing powder like the Matrix Style Link Height Riser Powder to roots, and separate the front pieces of your hair.

STEP 2 

Part the rest of your hair into two sections and then tie the two sections together into a knot (just like you would as if you were doing the first step in tying your shoelaces).

STEP 3

Continue to repeat knotting your hair until you've reached the ends.

STEP 4

 Secure the knot in place with several bobby pins, but leave the ends out.

STEP 5 

Take the front pieces of your hair (if you have bangs or shorter pieces in front, if not then skip this part) and twist them while bringing them to the back. Secure them under the knot with bobby pins. 

STEP 6

Lightly mist a hairspray over the knot to keep hair in place.
Hair: Jill Engelsen, Makeup: Justine Sweetman, Photo: Chaunte Vaughn

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