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Easy Updo: Sultry Hair Chignon


Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon was a big winner in more ways than one at the recent 2006 Oscar Award ceremony. Not only did she snag the gold statue for her leading role as June Carter Cash her buttery blonde tresses were magnificently coiled into a soft sultry hair chignon.

Yes it's true that Reese, who now commands the largest paycheck in the leading actress category ($29+ Million per film) has the very best celebrity hair experts at her beck and speed dial call.

She also has a great team of publicists, make-up artists and stylists. And why shouldn't she? She is an industry in her own right.

Forget all the biz chatter. Reese is a certifiable Hollywood style icon with her great fashion sense and beautiful blonde locks that shimmer and sparkle as she sashays down any number of Red Carpets.

The good news is that anyone with tresses long enough to pull into a low ponytail can instantly steal her Academy Award chignon. Just follow the steps below for your own sultry bun that you can dress up, down or adorn with flowers, hair accessories or just a high shine hairspray.

Steal Reese's Chignon Style

Reese Witherspoon

Reese is famous for her classic fame framing hairstyles. Over the past two years the busy actress has been letting her signature length bouncy Bob grow down slightly past the top of her shoulders. She has also lost previous edgy layers and tapered edges. Along with her more mature roles Reese has transitioned into softer, more elegant and longer styles that work well with her classic heart shaped face and prominent chin.

Brilliantly designed and executed highlighting and low lighting create instant definition and focus throughout the interior and perimeter of Reese's look.

If you wish to copy this style start with hair that is shoulder length or longer and is either naturally straight or has been pre-straightened.

The secret to this successful and stunning chignon style is based on a ponytail or add-on pony that is positioned to perch just a few inches off the neck. You also need enough "pony" hair to fan it out into a soft roll that is easy to do but needs some finger picking and arranging.

If your hair is too short for a ponytail but you adore the look take your mouse and visit the HairUWear site for beautiful and incredibly affordable PutOnPieces that come in an array of ponytail lengths and hues to match your own hair.

Note: My own personal favorite is The Swing Style which can be popped on your head in a matching color and then wrapped into a bun. For more info check out the article about Anna Kournikova.

Either you or your hairdresser can help you successfully add a PutOnPieces pony so that you can have a similar nape hugging chignon.

Depending on your face shape, hair texture and type, work with your stylist to select whether you should go with an off-center parted crown like Reese did, or whether you should add a soft fringe.

Step By Step Instructions

Follow the steps listed below to steal Reese Witherspoon's Oscar winning chignon hairstyle:

Reese Witherspoon

1. To duplicate Reese's sleek chignon, shampoo hair with a product designed to address your hair's special needs. If you color, highlight or chemically treat your hair, select a shampoo that supports those treatments. If you prefer, use a dilution formula or a conditioning only (CO) treatment.

Note: For extra volume around the crown area, try PhytoVolume Shampoo or PhytoVolume Mousse Shampoo.

Note: Ponytails are often easier to style when hair is slightly aged from the last shampoo. Newly washed, soft, or slippery hair, can often be trickier to work with then “day old” hair.

If your hair is naturally slippery, you may wish to let your hair "age" a few hours after shampooing before attempting this style.

2. Apply the appropriate rinse-out conditioners. (Avoid if hair is super thin or fine).

3. Finish with a cool/cold water rinse to close cuticles and encourage natural shine.

4. Towel blot and apply very light cocktail of desired leave-in detangler, conditioner or styling products (firm holding mousse or gel).

5. For extra volume along the crown, apply a volumizing product such as PhytoVolume Actif or similar. You can also apply a firm holding or sculpting gel.

6. Blow dry hair straight using a blow dryer with a concentrator attachment. If hair is naturally curly or wavy, apply a straightening balm like Phytodefrisant or similar to damp strands. Use a boar's head style paddle brush and separate hair into individual sections.

Note: For detailed tips on how to blow dry hair perfectly straight read Celebrity Hairdresser's Tips: Blow Drying Your Hair

7. When hair is completely dry, spray entire head with a firm holding spray. To get more pronounced fullness around the crown back comb slightly. Work from side to side focusing special attention on the root and crown areas.

8. After hair has the desired fullness spray the entire head with another spritz of firm hold hair spray like PhytoPro Strong Finishing Spray or similar.

9. Use a boar's bristle brush or your fingers to direct all of the hair away from the face towards the back of the head. Gather hair into a ponytail with a base that rests right above the nape of the neck. Before attaching a hair-friendly bungee band or Blax in the same color as your hair, make sure that the crown and sides are smooth.

10. Separate the newly formed ponytail into 1-2 inch sections. Working with individual sections, spritz with hairspray and then wrap around the outside of a large barrel curling iron. Release the newly formed curl and pin carefully to back of your scalp.

11. When the entire pony tail is curled and the new curls are 100% cool, release the pins holding them into place.

12. Brush pony to integrate the new curls.

13. Wrap the ponytail by lifting the bottom of the tail and gently wrapping it up and over the top of the Bungee or Blax elastic. Depending on the length of your hair, you will be able to wrap one or more times.

14. Keep the finished bun soft and loose. Use your fingers to arrange the finished chignon into the desired size and shape. You may want to wear it looser or tighter, depending on your own personal preference.

15. Use bobby pins in the same color as your hair. Pin around the edges. Stagger the bobby pins according to how loose or tight you wish to wear the finished chignon.

16. When the bun is pinned to your desired placement spray well with firm holding styling spray like PhytoPro Strong Finishing Spray .

17. Apply a light touch of shine product to add shimmer. Remember not to apply too much shine product.

18. Add appropriate accessories such as earrings, necklaces and where desired, hair accessories. Scale them to work with the length and size of the finished spiked hairstyle.


Reese Witherspoon is a hair and fashion icon. Steal her gorgeous chignon bun and wear it for any party hair event. It is a perfect style for Proms, Weddings or other dressy events where you wish to create your own Red Carpet magic.

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- Revised Publication Date: 05/22/10

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