Hair Secrets: Bun Basics
Hair Secrets:
Bun Basics
Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved
Revised Date: 02/10/2008- Original Publication Date:  2/08/2005

Introduction

Hair buns are the universal wear-your-hair-up style which literally can be worn by any age, race or for literally every hair event.  Hair buns have been worn throughout history by men as well as women. 

The basic bun can be modified through a series of hair parts, forehead fringes or bangs, textures and accessories to accommodate any conceivable face or body shape or facial features.

In addition, styling products can help to prepare the tresses so that any hair texture or type can be modified for easy bun creation.

With the recent popularity of both temporary clip-ins and more permanent hair extensions, people with literally any length of hair can adjust their locks appropriately to create buns. 

Whether utilizing clip-in ponytails, pin on a pre-styled chignon or other twist hairstyle or work with clip-on extension strands, even chin length strands can be modified to be bun ready.

Yes, even people with super short hair can opt to slide on a long wig that can be wrapped into a low slung chignon, bun or twist.

Basic Types Of Hair Buns

Okay, I confess, a bun really isn't just a bun.  There are so many different types of hair buns that it is only fitting to at least try to define a few of the most popular.

1.  The Ballerina Bun is worn by dancers of all types.  Although it is most commonly seen on ballerinas who must keep their tresses out of their eyes and faces while twirling and leaping, this type of hair bun is most commonly worn tightly pulled back from the face and perched near the top of the crown. 

Depending on the hair type, texture and length of the bun wearer, the size of the finished bun may range from small to larger. 

To see additional Ballerina Bun articles check out the following helpful links:
How To Create Ballerina Buns
Prom Hair: Ballerina Bun Hairstyle

2.  The Chignon is worn at the middle of the back of the head or down towards the base of the neck.  The most common type of chignon is wrapped into a soft circular form and pinned against the back of the head. 

Depending on the amount of hair used in the bun and the texture of the hair a chignon can be worn tight or loose.

To see additional Chignon Bun articles check out the following helpful links:

Hot Braided Chignon
Easy Updo: Sultry Hair Chignon

3.  The Messy Bun can be a ballerina style bun that has been deliberately wrapped to allow individual strands to flow free to give the appearance of a bun that just rolled out of bed. 

Messy buns may be designed to have a fan or hair erupting from one or multiple sides of the bun. 

No two messy buns look alike since they are designed to be a free form type of bun.

To see additional Messy Bun articles check out the following helpful links:
Prom Updo: Messy Buns Look Stunning
Creating The "Undone" & "Slicked Back" Buns For Longer Hair
Hair Buns - Messy Undone Curls

5.  The Slicked Back Bun is a cross between a low slung ballerina bun and a chignon but it is worn very tight to the head and slicked back off the face.  It is usually created with lots of styling products, often gel, and it is popular with fashions that feature leather and stark designs.  A faux slicked back bun can be created using heavy gel and smaller amounts of hair.

To see additional Slicked Back Bun information check out the following link:
Creating The "Undone" & "Slicked Back" Buns For Longer Hair

(From 388 Hairstyles)

5.  The French Twist is truly a classic much like the ballerina bun and the chignon.  A traditional French Twist is a type of bun that is created by pulling all of the hair in the back of the head into a long cylinder of hair which is twisted and pinned tightly against the back of the head.

To see additional French Twist Bun information check out the following link:

Part #1 Dressy Hairstyles: The Classic Updo - French Twist
Prom Hair Styles: Basic French Twist Steps

6.  Braided Buns combine braided strands

with various bun formations.  Hair that is first braided can be wrapped into a ballerina or chignon.  Or, a ballerina bun might be wrapped on the outside with an add-on braid.  A Chignon Twist might have accent braids adorning the top of side of the twist. 

To see an additional Chignon Bun article check out the following helpful links:

Hot Braided Chignon

7.  Dreadlock Buns are any type of hair bun, twist, roll or similar that is created from hair that is already dreadlocked.

8.  Mini Buns can take multiple forms.  They can be a form of Bantu style knots created all over the head or they can be a singular bun that is created at any location on the head. 

There are many different ways buns can be designed including but not limited to side buns, where all the hair is directed to one side and wrapped in a bun or off-center buns where the bun is positioned to one side of the head. 

You name it, I am sure it has been done somewhere at sometime, especially on the fashion runways.

Other Common Hair Bun Names

Hair buns are also commonly described as updos, which simply means the hair is worn in an up hairdo.  Bun are often described as hair twists which refers to the fact that the bun is created from a variety of twisted strands.  A hair twist may differ from a hair bun like the ballerina bun by the fact the hair twists has multiple twists.

Of course hair buns may be known as hair knots which may or may not refer to a knotting of the strands wrapped into the style.

Other common bun names besides updos, twists and knots might be hair rolls or hair loops.  I am sure there are names that I have not included but you get my drift.

Bun Rules For Face Shape

Although hair experts have basic face shape "rules" they recommend for different hairstyles, I believe the rules should only be considered as one form of input when deciding how to wear your hair.

I also believe rules are made to be broken.  Therefore, if you find a bun or chignon style you adore but it doesn't fit into the official face shape rules, feel free to wear it anyway. 

You can easily modify your bun style to work best for you.

In general, listed below are the rules for selecting bun styles and shapes based on your face shape:

Oval Face Shape

Yes, we all know, those lucky folks with oval shaped faces can pretty much wear a bag over their heads and look good in their chosen hairstyles.  When it comes to selecting great bun styles, oval shaped faces can opt for buns worn high up near the crown, at the back of the head or down at the base of the neck. 

One important point to mention is that even those lucky oval faced people may need to deal with irregular features like a prominent nose, deep set eyes or less than perfect lips.  Even oval shaped people don't have a one-bun-fits-all hairstyle they can select.  It's important to maximize the best features and minimize the less than perfect. 

How?  With carefully constructed parts, strategically placed volume along the sides, the crown or behind the hairline. 

Although buns can be worn by any face shape, it's also true that some people just don't like buns for whatever reason.  If you are one of those anti-bun people, even if you have perfect features and a perfect face shape, opt for a dressy hairstyle you enjoy.  After all, life's too short to have bun stress.

Round Face Shape

The key with round face shapes, whether selecting bun hairstyles is to provide balance and offset the roundness of the face.  This can easily be accomplished with the addition of a layered and side-swept fringe.

A few strands pulled out from along the sides of the face will help to give the illusion of chiseled cheekbones. 

Lengthening the face shape with a top of the head bun can be a great option.  Pulling the sides sleekly back and combining it with a sleek bun positioned at the top of the head or right at the crown can give the illusion of a more oval shape.  It's certainly worth a try.

Square Face Shape

Square face shapes tend to have a strong jaw line.  This can easily be accomplished with the addition of a side-swept fringe.  A bun worn high off the crown or nestled to one side will redirect attention up and away from the chine and jaw areas.

Heart Face Shape

Heart face shapes, whether selecting bun hairstyles is to provide balance and offset the prominence of a square jaw.  This can easily be accomplished with the addition of a layered and side-swept fringe.  A few strands pulled out from along the sides of the face will help to give the illusion of chiseled cheekbones. 

Hair Texture And Type Bun Styling Options

All textures and types of hair can wear a variety of hair buns.  The question is whether the natural hair texture is to be altered for the final bun design.

In general, listed below are styling options for creating bun styles based on natural hair texture and type:

Naturally Curly Hair

Although some hair consumers and celebrity stylists might believe the beginning of faking sudden hairstyle changed started with the introduction of Jessica and Ken's sizzling hot HairDo line, the reality is that Ken had been creating faux hairstyles for years. 

The celebrity hairdresser, and a dear friend of mine, has been pinning, wrapping and banding long hair into short styles and popping on extensions for many years.  He is truly a quick change hair artist.  Which is great news for his celebrity clients.

The reason faking hairstyles became a big hit with hair consumers, celebrities and their hairdressers over the past two years is because the HairDo cap style clip-in extensions make it a snap to instantly change your hairstyle without cutting, coloring or spending months of dedicated hair growing.

Naturally Wavy Hair

Recently the beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard graced the Red Carpet with a faux wavy bob.  If you didn't know better, you might think Marion had a trendy bob dressed up with lush tousled waves.

If you look closer you would discover that Marion has naturally long strands with natural waves.  The hairstyle she showcased in early February at An Evening With La Vie En Rose was old school Ken Paves. 

Marion's hair was first curled and tousled to create loose messy waves.  Her tresses were brushed up and off her face with lots of volume throughout the sides.

The bulk of Marion's hair was softly pulled back towards the middle of the back of her head and expertly wrapped and pinned to give the impression that the celebrated performed had transitioned from her long waves to a short textured bob.

It was a brilliant hairstyle design and not all that complicated.  Really?  Indeed.

Basic Hair Bun Tools

In general, for most types of hair buns, uou will need the following tools to create the look:

1.  Bobby pins that match your hair color.
2.  A hair-dryer that has a diffuser attachment.
3.  Hair mousse, gel, cream or similar.  A gel or mousse product would be ideal.
4.  A good styling comb and brush.
5.  "Hair friendly" elastic bands or bungee bands to match your hair color.
6.  Shaping/styling spray product for long term hold
7.  Shine products.  These come in a wide range of options from drops and elixirs to sprays.
8.  Hair accessories such as headbands, flowers, feathers or other desired adornments.

Options bun tools might include the following:

1.  Add-on hair pieces whether individual or an entire set
2.  Clip-in extensions
3.  Add-on ponytails
4.  Invisible style hair net

Step By Step Basic Bun Instructions

When it comes to buns there are a myriad of opinions by both hair experts and hair consumers.  Talk to ten people who create buns and they will give you ten answers about their technique.  The key is to either trust your bun building to your favorite hairdresser or learn what techniques work best for you and stick to them.

Some of the more popular bun sticking points include:

Shampoo Bun Hair Or Not?

Hair experts tend to disagree on whether it is better to create a hair bun on tresses that are newly washed or on strands that have been allowed to "age" a little.  Why?  Some hair types, especially fine or naturally straight, can be very soft or slippery right after washing and drying.  This is also true when a lot of conditioning products have been applied. 

Hair that is slippery or overly soft is harder to work with and may be more difficult to shape and pin.  After hair has aged a few hours after it has been washed, natural scalp oils will start to flow and makes naturally soft or slippery hair easier to style.

If freshly washed hair is preferred over aged hair the softness factor can be overcome with proper styling products such as mousse, gels, creams and sprays.

When Bun Hair Is First Washed

1.  Shampoo your hair with a product designed to address your hair's type, texture and current condition.  If your hair tends to be very slippery or soft after it is washed and dried, skip any rinse-out conditioning products which might accent your hair's natural softness.

Only one sudsing is necessary.  Be sure to rinse really well.  If tresses are fine or thin, consider using a volumizing product to pump up fullness.

Note:  Depending on your hair's condition you may wish to use a diluted formulation or do a conditioning only rinse.

2.  Apply a rinse-out conditioner only if it is appropriate for your hair type and texture.  If your hair is fine or tends to flatten easily, avoid this step.  If your tresses are naturally curly, wavy, chemically processed or tends to be dry you may still need to apply a rinse out conditioner.  This would also be true if your hair is damaged. 

Keeping in mind your goals to put your hair up or pull it back in a half bun, use your own judgment about the products you decide to utilize.

3.  Finish with a cool/cold final rinse to pump up natural volume and add lots of shine.  Although hair experts disagree about the benefits of a cool/cold water rinse, I believe it does make a difference.
4.  Towel blot to remove excess moisture.
5.  Detangle tresses starting with the ends using a wide tooth comb.  Use a light conditioning detangler or leave-in conditioner.  If tresses are fine or tend to flatten, use detanglers or conditioners sparingly.  Keep in mind that overly soft strands will be harder to style into a bun.
6.  Apply a volumizing mousse and/or root lifter to build in lots of fullness and volume unless you are going for a very sleek look.
7.  To get maximum volume bend over at the waist and blow dry with a long finger diffuser to maximize texture and volume.  If you prefer, you can also use a round brush and a blow dryer to dry strands.
8.  When hair is 100% dry, if diffused hair is not as full as you like, separate hair into 2" sections, spritz with hairspray or other setting spray and then set on large electric rollers, self adhesive hair rollers or large sponge style rollers.  Sit under a hood or bonnet style hair dryer until curlers are completely dry.
9.  Remove rollers and spray with hairspray.  Allow hair to dry from hairspray.
10.  Use fingers to direct all hair behind the ears towards the back of the head.   Create the bun style of your choice.
11.  Make sure all pins are secure.  Finish with hairspray.

Summary

Buns are a universal hairstyle.  They can be dressed up or down, depending on the hair occasion.  Buns can run the gamet from sleek to messy.  They can be styled to signal a wide range of moods from sexy and sensual to sassy and playful.  There are no limits when it comes to create a bun. 

Different face shapes can be accommodated by adding or subtracting forehead fringes, adding loose strands along the sides or around the face or wearing a half up/half down bun style.

People with super short strands can play with a clip-on ponytail wrapped into a bun or pop on a longer wig wrapped into a faux bun.  Even men with longer strands can wear a form of buns.

The only thing blocking you from total bun nirvana is your imagination. 

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