If you’re anything like us, it’s probably always been your dream to be the girl with the flawless top knot. Even if you don’t know her personally, you’ve seen her on social media: effortlessly cool hair, perfectly distressed jeans, an almond milk latte in one hand, no cares in the world.
Luckily, though, the trendy bun isn’t that hard to master, even if your life doesn’t involve designer clothes or expensive coffee drinks. A little patience and a few minutes of extra time are all that’s need to upgrade your post-college messy bun and turn it into a pristine, office-appropriate style. Top knots are the perfect style for days you wake up a little too late to feasibly wash, rinse, and blow dry your hair. They’re the snooze button of hairstyles.
Before you begin twisting and pinning, take a moment in front of the mirror to determine the bun position you find most flattering to your face. Ladies with round faces will most likely prefer a knot that sits high up on the head, while those with oval or square faces may want it to closer to the crown. It’s all personal preference, so determine what you like best. After you’ve done that, it’s time to learn our tricks.
Step 1: Gather your tools.
An artist would have started a fresco without lining up his or her supplies first, and the same goes for you. For this breezy style, grab two no-tangle hair elastics, a brush, a long-tailed comb (optional), and a handful of bobby pins. If you have slippery hair or prefer a more lived-in look, this is also the moment to grab a bottle of texturizing spray.
Step 2: Brush it out.
A journey of a thousand miles (or five minutes) starts with a single step, and this is yours: Brush through your hair and rid it of any tangles, starting at the ends and working your way to the roots in small strokes. This technique helps minimize breakage while distributing any scalp oils throughout your hair—with this style, we’ll need them to give the hair grip and hold the top knot in place.
If you’re interested in volume or texturizing spray at the roots, use it now to add a little oomph to your bun. If adding more product isn’t your thing, simply flip all your hair up and over a few times.
Step 3: Secure your crown.
Have you ever wondered how celebrities manage to keep their hair looking nearly unchanged during endless hours on red carpets under hot lights? Their stylists know the secret to a long-lasting ‘do is creating a solid base for the style. Using the tail of a comb or your fingers, divide your hair into a top and a bottom section. Be mindful of how high on the head you’d like the bun to end up, making sure the part is just below that.
Before securing the section into a ponytail with your elastic, be sure to smooth it with either your free hand or a brush. You’re also welcome to puff it up a bit, for maximum volume (your top knot, your choice).
Step 4: Make the second ponytail.
Now that the top half of your hair is perfectly positioned and definitely not moving until the end of the workday, it’s time to wrangle the bottom. Use your comb, brush, or fingers to draw up the rest of your hair to meet the first ponytail, securing it with a second elastic. We like to flip our heads over for this step, which makes it a little easier to achieve a smooth ponytail base.
Step 5: Play the tease.
No, not like that. You have to finish your hairstyle, first.
Using your comb or brush, backcomb the ponytail. Stroke from the ends toward the base of the ponytail, aiming to gently tease the hair. This creates the illusion that you have more hair, creating a larger top knot. If you’ve ever seen a fashion blogger try the look but haven’t been able to achieve the same results, this is probably the step you’ve been missing out on.
Step 6: Twist and wrap.
Six steps in, we’ve finally reached the bun portion of the look. Coincidentally, it’s also the simplest part of the top knot to accomplish. Using one hand to twist and the other to wrap, pull the ponytail around its base several times. This will depend upon the length of your hair.
For long-haired ladies, we recommend twisting the end once, wrapping it one full revolution around the base of the ponytail, and repeating the process. Remember not to over-twist the ponytail, because you’re aiming for height here.
When you’ve run out of hair, crisscross pins into the base of the ponytail to hold the ends in place. For a stylish, undone touch, leave an inch or so of excess hair to stick out of the top knot flirtatiously.
Step 7: Finishing touches.
By now, you should have a Pinterest-worthy top knot sitting happily atop your head. You can leave it just like this and look lovely, or you can take it a step further. Using your hands, pull out small strands along your hairline and above your ears to create a “done but undone” illusion.
If you’re facing wind or rain, give the style a light spritz of hairspray, and don’t be afraid to fluff the bun even more with your hands.
Step 8: Top your knot game.
Once you’ve mastered the basic top knot, the world of buns is all yours to conquer. Try a crown braid that leads into a bun, or attempt the style using only the top half of your hair (it’s an excellent fix for a day-old blowout that’s oily at the roots, but perfectly styled at the bottom).
Keep practicing, and very soon you’ll be teaching other how to recreate the style. Who doesn’t want to be #bunspiration, really? A hairstyle that’s functional, quick, and feminine is top of our list any day.
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