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A braided bun is a timeless way to elevate an updo. Discover how to create a braided bun, smart styling hacks, and new spins you can put on the look.

Tips and Tricks for Mastering the Ultimate Braided Bun

A braided bun is a timeless way to elevate an updo. Discover how to create a braided bun, smart styling hacks, and new spins you can put on the look.
Tips and Tricks for Mastering the Ultimate Braided Bun

Two fundamental hair skills often come in handy: the dexterity to braid and the ability to style a killer bun. If you can accomplish both, now’s a great time to learn how to combine them into a chic braided bun. We love this plaited ‘do for its versatility. Like the friend you can bring to any party, a braided bun plays well with spangled barrettes at a formal wedding but is also easy to pull together when you sleep through your alarm. You can change its placement, size, and complexity for a totally unique vibe each time. No matter your hair type or texture, the braided bun hairstyle is a low-effort, high-reward style. Keep scrolling to learn how to add this look to your hairstyling repertoire.

How To Master a Classic Braided Bun in 6 Steps

Before diving head-first into the braided bun-making process, you should gather all the necessary tools. You’ll need:

  • Detangling spray
  • Dry shampoo and/or texturizer
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Hair ties or scrunchies
  • Bobby pins
  • Flexible hairspray

With these must-have items by your side, it’s time to get to work.

Step 1: Detangle your hair

The first order of business when styling a braided bun is to remove knots from your hair. Tangles can make it that much more difficult to separate your hair into even sections for braiding. Gently pull snarls apart with your fingers or a comb until you can easily pass through your hair without snagging. For stubborn kinks, spritz the area with a bit of detangling spray first. We’re partial to Biolage Professional’s All-In-One Coconut Infusion Multi-Benefit Treatment Spray, which helps detangle hair, prevent breakage from brushing, and prime strands for styling.

Step 2: Add texture to your strands

Dirty hair generally retains the shape of updos better than clean hair. That’s because natural scalp oils and leftover hair products add a bit of style-holding grit to your strands. If you just washed your hair (or have fine strands that seem to escape every elastic), use a dry shampoo or texturizing spray to help you fake the feel of second-day hair. We love Redken’s Deep Clean Dry Shampoo for the former and the brand’s Dry Texture Weightless Volumizing Hairspray for the latter.

Step 3: Create a ponytail

Instead of getting right down to business and weaving your braid, pull your hair into a ponytail first. A ponytail acts as the foundation of your braided bun hairstyle. It provides extra stability to help your look withstand long days or big events, especially those where you’ll be dancing or moving about.

Form your ponytail at the crown of your head or an inch or two above the nape of your neck (either placement works), securing it with a thin scrunchie or an elastic band.

Step 4: Braid away

This is the easy part of styling. With your ponytail secured in place, start either a standard three-strand braid or a fishtail braid (we have the easy how-to for you below). Continue braiding until you reach the end of your ponytail, and use a no-show hair elastic to tie off the style.

Step 5: Wrap your hair into a braided bun

Here’s where the bun comes in. Wrap your braid clockwise or counterclockwise (whichever feels more natural for your dominant hand) around your ponytail’s base to form a donut shape. Pin as you go, sliding in as many bobby pins as you need to create a support system that evenly distributes the weight of your hair. You can also secure the bun to your head with another elastic.

Step 6: Spray it into place

You’ve already come this far, so don’t let your updo succumb to humidity, flyaways, and falling pins. Finish the style with a spritz of L’Oréal Professionnel’s Tecni.Art Infinium 4 High-Hold Hairspray for medium hold, then you can be on your way.

Good hair day by @clairehartleystylist.

Tips for Perfecting a Braided Bun

Practice makes perfect—so don't be discouraged if your braided bun doesn’t look Instagram-worthy right away. Here are a few more pointers to help you get your woven ‘do just right.

Pancake for volume

To help make your braid appear more voluminous, use your thumb and pointer finger to gently tug each section of the braid apart. This technique, called pancaking, flattens and expands the braid so that it appears fuller. It works particularly well for those with fine hair needing some extra oomph or for anyone who prefers a looser, more undone finish.

Twirl it for a tighter look

The opposite of pancaking, twist your braid into a taut “rope” before wrapping it around your ponytail base. Tightening your tail helps keep your braid closer to your head to prevent fallout and gives off a more polished vibe. Try it with slicked-back sides to channel your inner off-duty model persona.

Experiment with embellishments

Hair accessories are having a major comeback (the coquette hair trend is proof), so don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage. Delicate hairbands, pretty ribbons, and sparkly barrettes can elevate your braided bun hairstyle in seconds. You can also wrap an oversized scrunchie over your bun for a modern ballerina effect. A few simple embellishments are all it takes to totally transform your look.

Add extensions and weaves

Adding clip-in extensions or extra hair to your ponytail can help ensure the resulting bun looks more voluminous. Or, if you’re using a braided bun as a protective style, you can incorporate a braiding hair weave into your final look. This type of hair extension is specifically made to lengthen and blend with textured hair for updos.

Editor’s note: You might associate protective hairstyles with looks that are worn for weeks on end, but that doesn’t have to be the case. A braided bun is gentle on natural hair and keeps your ends tucked away so they’re protected from unnecessary pulling or tugging.

Control your layers

Layers are amazing for adding volume and movement to your hair, but those shorter pieces tend to go rogue when braiding. There are a few ways to help your layers work with your braided bun, not against them. Here are three of our favorite tricks to make your braiding life a bit easier:

  • Curl your hair. Straight hair is more likely to stick out from your braided bun, so you’ll want to give it some texture to help it flow into your ‘do. Throw your hair into a heatless style the night before you plan to braid it, or use a curling iron to give your hair a gentle wave (just remember to apply a heat protectant beforehand).
  • Braid damp hair. Wet hair is usually more pliable than dry hair, making it easier to manipulate your layers into a braid. Just be sure your hair is damp and not drenched if you go this route: Soaking wet hair tends to be more fragile and, therefore, more prone to breakage. If you don’t feel like jumping in the shower, dampen your hair with a mousse for a similar effect. Try Pureology On the Rise Root-Lifting Hair Mousse for Colored Hair, which also enhances body and shine.
  • Slick your sides. To control face-framing layers or overgrown side bangs, consider slicking back the sides of your hair before creating your braided bun. Apply a strong hold gel, like Matrix Controller Gel, all over unwashed hair to add structure and shine. Then, use a boar bristle brush or your fingers to smooth away bumps and pull your hair back into a ponytail. Once finished, you can craft your braid using the steps outlined above.

4 Elevated Braided Bun Tutorials To Try Now

So you’ve got the classic braided bun down pat—now what? Consider recreating one of these tutorials to breathe new life into the basic version of this plaited ‘do.

High Braided Bun With Tendrils

Soften the look of a high braided bun by letting a few wispy tendrils frame your face. Here, L’Oréal Professionnel hairstylist Madison Sullivan broke her ponytail into two separate braids before crisscrossing them together to form her bun. This is a good idea if you have thin hair that needs more volume or you want to section off thicker hair into more manageable segments.

Space Bun Braids

Follow the lead of content creator Kamarra Sanker and take space bun braids for a spin. Ideal for festival season and beyond, the double bun look is a whimsical play on the more sophisticated braided bun. Check out our article, How to Style Space Buns in 6 Easy Steps, for more inspo.

Fishtail Braided Bun

Trade in your three-strand braided bun for a fishtail braided bun. Despite what you might believe, the fishtail braiding technique is easier to master than it looks (watch Redken artist Hannah Matthews Moore walk you through it above). Once your braiding is complete, hold a finger horizontally across the top of your fishtail to hold it in place, then bring your tail up and wrap it around your finger to form your bun. Tie it with an elastic, and you’re off.

Faux Braided Bun Knot

Calling all long-haired gals: This knotted hack can help prevent that all-too-familiar arm ache that occurs when wrangling princess-length hair into a cascading braid. Digital creator Emily Schaffer demonstrates how easy it is to create the illusion of a braid with just a few twists and tucks—arm day soreness not withstanding.

Next Up: 40 of the Trendiest Plaited Hair Ideas Suitable for Every Hair Length

Use our salon locator to try a braided bun with a stylist in your area.

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