Consider it one of life’s great ironies: When it comes to beauty, the most undone looks usually require the most effort. Ever seen a celebrity waltz down the red carpet with a subtle face of makeup that says “I’m too cool to care” or a head of messy beach waves that look perfectly nonchalant? Well, we all know those looks took hours and countless products to create—the jig is up. Unfortunately, our struggle to master the perfect "I-woke-up-like-this" messy bun has also required a massive amount of effort (and many lost moments). Usually it’s either too messy and deflated, too ballerina-tight, or just wrong all together … until now. We found a fool-proof way to nail the perfect messy bun hairstyle in just 3 steps (Makeup.com tested).
The secret to getting the perfect look? Second-day hair (or third, or even fourth). Think of it this way: A tousled, messy bun is to dirty hair what champagne is to a girls’ 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 mane (or afternoons when you’ve managed to sneak in a lunchtime workout), we haven’t found it yet.
“The messy bun is a staple for second and third day hair, and if they aren't they should be,” explains stylist Amber Mayo, who is based in Arlington, Virginia. “No discrimination on length either, shoulder-length and long can achieve the look, and it looks great regardless of your hair texture—curly, straight, somewhere in between.”
Step 1. First, 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—the look is effortless.
Step 2. Separate the hair in your ponytail into two or three sections and tease. Teasing is the key step that totally changes our bun game—it gives you the volume and messy texture you need to pull off the look that keeps your bun from entering ballerina territory.
Step 3. Separate your teased hair into two sections and wrap the hair in opposite directions, as you would when creating a topknot. But, instead of pinning your hair neatly in, secure your hair with a bobby pin about an inch from the bottom of your strands, leaving the ends to fray around your bun, creating a messy effect. If you feel like the body of your bun is too tight, gently pull it apart with your hands or the end of a comb. We also like to pull a few rogue pieces out around the face.
MDC Quick Tip: One of our favorite things about buns is they work well on dirty hair (snooze button, am I right?) but if your hair is clean, and you want to pull off the look, spray your hair with dry shampoo to add some texture and grip. And there you have it – effortless style that’s actually easy to achieve.
All topknots should start with "dirty hair". What this means is a day or two of natural hair oils and product buildup, so strands can easily bend into a perfect knot. If you happen to have a fresh blowout, simply flip your hair over and lightly spritz with hair spray, then flip it back up and lightly spray again. The key is to not overspray or use products that are too heavy. Remember: You’re only trying to give your fresh hair some grit and texture, not spray it into place.
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
Step 1. Brush hair up into a loose ponytail.
Step 2. Spray a fine-tooth comb with hairspray Garnier Fructis Full Control Anti-Humidity 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 like L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Overworked Hair Putty 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.
Step 1. Apply a volumizing, texturizing powder to roots (try Shu Uemura Volume Maker Invisible Texturizing Powder) 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 shoe laces).
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. Try Redken Instant Quick Dry 18 Finishing Spray.
Ever thought you’d be wearing something called an Octopus Bun? Chances are you already do, maybe even daily. You just never thought about giving it an Instagram-worthy name. Here’s what it looks like: Strands are haphazardly pulled up into a knotted twist at the top of your head with the ends splayed out along the top of your head like the tentacles of an octopus. So, it’s the simplest of the messy bun options. To make sure the look is a little more on-trend than ordinary, spread the ends all around the bun instead of letting them bunch up in one place. Looking for hipster extra credit? Quickly crimp ends before throwing hair up in the messy bun so you see the crimpy ends sticking out.
Get our top stories straight to your inbox!
THANK YOU! YOU ARE NOW SIGNED UP
Look out for our latest stories in your inbox.
Something went wrong. We're so sorry!