How to Make a Messy Bun

Rebecca Wiseman
Messy bun

The messy bun is a quick and easy style that can be worn for many occasions, from casual to dressy. It is a bun that is done in either a chignon style or wrapped around itself, with the ends left out instead of smoothed down into the bun. Try this style or one of its variations for a fun twist on a classic hairdo.

Before You Start the Bun

Before starting the bun, make sure your hair has a texturizer or mousse in it. Choose a styling product that will work with your hair type. For example, to tame frizzy curls or dry hair, use a conditioning mousse mixed with a drop or two of anti-frizz serum. For fine hair, try a volumizing mousse.. This style can be done on freshly washed hair or second day hair. There are only a few items that needed to make a messy bun, and you may already have them on hand:

  • Bobby pins
  • Ponytail holder or hair elastic
  • Hair brush or comb
  • Hairspray

Make a Basic Messy Bun

This is a quick and easy hairstyle that any age can wear. Regardless if your hair is curly or straight, thick or thin, very long or shoulder length, a messy bun will get you a casual yet polished look to be out the door in minutes. The pictures here show the bun with naturally curly hair.

  1. Brush all of your hair to the back of your head and pull it through a ponytail holder one time. Wrap the holder a second time if needed. If your hair is fine or thin, you may want to back comb the ponytail before moving to the next step.
    Ponytail at the back of the head
    Create a ponytail at the back of the head.
  2. On the final loop of the ponytail holder, pull your hair halfway through the holder. This will leave a loop of hair.
    Pulling the hair to form a loop
    Pull the hair to form a loop.
  3. Spread and pull the loop gently to tighten the elastic holder.

  4. Pull the ends of the hair around to encircle the bun. If your hair is curled or naturally curly, the ends will curl around and hide the elastic. If your hair is straight, you will have more of a spiky result. You can also tuck the ends around the bun and fasten them with bobby pins.
    Pull the ends around
    Pull the ends around the bun.

If your hair is longer than shoulder length or if your hair is thick, you may need to use bobby pins on the sides of the loop to keep it looking like a bun. Cross the bobby pins to lock them in place. You can pull a few tendrils of hair out from around your face or the back of your hairline to make it a more casual style.

Variations on the Basic Style

There are several variations of the messy bun. All of them work on any hair type. The difference will be the amount of curl in the ends.

Top Knot

To make a messy bun high on your head, follow the same directions for the basic messy bun, except brush your hair up to the crown of your head. The fewer ends you leave out the sleeker your style will look. If your hair is very long, you may need to wrap the ends around the bun and secure them with bobby pins.

Top knot messy bun

Nape of the Neck

This look is created the same way as the basic messy bun, except that you start by brushing your hair to the nape of your neck into a low ponytail. This style resembles a chignon, but is much easier to pull together in limited time. As long as your hair comes to your shoulders, you can wear this style.

Messy Bun at Nape of Neck

Side Bun

This style works best on longer hair with layers and is made by wrapping instead of pulling hair through the elastic. This variation makes a beautiful wedding hairstyle when finished with a flower.

  1. Brush hair to one side.
  2. Make the ponytail with an elastic behind the ear.
  3. Wrap the ponytail into a bun and allow the ends to fall out.
  4. Secure the bun with bobby pins.
Messy side bun

Finishing Tips

A messy bun, regardless of where it is worn on the head, can take you from day to night or from business to casual. If you have troublesome flyaways, finish your style with hairspray and smooth the hairs down. Add a flower or metallic headband for an evening out or for a wedding. For today's busy women, this style is a must.

How to Make a Messy Bun