How To: Braid + Bun

by Maddie Eisenhart, Chief Revenue Officer

The Info—Stylist: Yesenia Guinea of Ketér Salon / Photography: Emily Takes Photos / Dress: Joielle

Today’s hair how-to might just be my favorite tutorial yet. There just aren’t enough examples online of wedding hair that looks simultaneously “done” while also looking like you didn’t try too hard (because I retired that look with prom, thankyouverymuch). But with this easy braided bun, our stylist Yesenia totally nailed it (and in about five minutes, no less). And while this tutorial is mostly straightforward, there are a few modifications you can make based on the texture of your hair to get the most out of this look.

But! Before we get started, a few of you had asked in the comments of the previous hair tutorial where the dresses for this series came from (because they are totally hot bridesmaid dresses y’all). So we just wanted to let you know that all of the dresses in the current Lazy Girl Hair & Makeup series are from APW Sponsor Joielle! These posts were in no way sponsored by Joielle, but they were kind enough to lend us a few of their Ceremony by Joanna August dresses for the shoot, and guys, they were so comfortable. This dress that Meg is wearing? It’s a freaking wrap dress. I mean. I don’t know what else to say.

And now onto the good stuff:

Prepping your hair: Yesenia recommends starting with more polished hair for this look. What that means will depend on your hair’s normal texture (smooth, curly, straight, etc.). Meg’s hair is normally pretty curly, so that meant prepping her hair with Kérastase heat protection and shine serum before blow drying it smooth. If your hair is naturally smooth, you can skip this step and go right to the braiding.

Creating the bun: Depending on your hair’s natural texture, you can create your bun a few different ways. If your hair is finer, you’ll want to take your ponytail and backcomb for added volume, then mold a bun from there (the teasing will make for a bigger, more pronounced bun). If your hair is thicker, you can skip the teasing and just twist a bun like you would normally do, and then secure it with either bobby pins or hair screws.

And that’s all there is to it! If you can french braid (or better yet, if you know someone else who can), then you can create this look! Yesenia does recommend getting help with the upside down part, though we think there should be some sort of APW Best In Show ribbon awarded to anyone to who can braid upside down on their own head. You, friend, get two glasses of champagne.

Maddie Eisenhart

Maddie is APW’s Chief Revenue Officer. She’s been writing stories about boys, crushes, and relationships since she was old enough to form shapes into words, but received her formal training (and a BS) from NYU in Entertainment and Mass Media in 2008. She now spends a significant amount of time thinking about trends on the internet and whether flower crowns will be out next year. A Maine native, Maddie currently lives on a pony farm in the Bay Area with her husband, Michael and their mastiff puppy. Current hair color: Purple(ish).

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  • Attending a wedding this weekend. Might just have to give this a try…

  • Amy March

    Ohhh I can French braid myself- totally trying the upside down challenge!

    • Granola

      Let me know how it goes. I tried it once and failed miserably, and I can french braid my own hair fine. I think my fingers just hadn’t gotten the hang of it yet. Hope you have better luck!

  • Totally attempting the upside down french braid on my own hair – totally confident I could do it on someone else, but I want it for me!!! This is by far my favorite hair tutorial yet!

  • Megan

    No pictures of the baby???

    • When this series was shot, pictures of the baby were called sonograms.

      • meg


  • Bubbles

    This is really cute!

    Somehow, I missed the part of growing up female where you learn how to do a french braid. I tried it on my own (super-curly) hair several weeks ago, and ended up with a tangled mess. :(

    Anyone have any tips/tutorials/videos that could help me learn? Bonus points if they’re geared toward working with curly hair!

    • One More Sara

      I have curly hair as well, and I usually get the best braids when I braid it wet (and brushed). If you still need to learn the general technique, it’s way easier to learn on someone else so you can see what you’re doing. So look for a straight-haired friend, a good youtube video, and get your learn on :)

    • Granola

      I find it really helpful NOT to look in the mirror. It messes up my fingers and I can’t tell which direction things should go. I just braid slowly and feel it out. It’s messy at first, but eventually you can do it tighter and use the mirror a little to check your work.

    • Kathryn F.

      Seconded all this advice! I have very curly hair and I’m always french-braiding bits of it — two french pigtails, side part with braid to behind the ear, inside-out braid, classic braid with a low bun, and my most impressive accomplishment: a headband braid!

      I do mine when it’s still wet from the shower. Comb through carefully, pick where you want your part to be, work in your gel or cream or mousse or whatever, just like normal. Then leave the bathroom. NOT looking at the mirror is the single best tip I have – it only confuses me. Add small sections, and aim for a sort-of intermediate looseness — too loose and you lose the structure of the braid, too tight and you lose all the beautiful body and shape of your curl. I tend to pull each segment tight as I add it, and then loosen up on it once I’ve added in the next row, if that makes any sense. If you want it to look elegant, either hide your hairtie by wrapping it with a small section of hair, or don’t use one! I usually braid down to the very end and then either 1) tie it off with a hairtie, go back and use crossed bobby pins to secure it higher up, then slide out the hairtie and fluff the loose ends; or 2) trust the wet gel-y-ness to hold the ends together for long enough to twist all the loose ends into a bun and secure with bobby pins. Finally, wait til it dries and de-crisp the braid with your fingers. Voila! Beautiful french-braided curly hair!

      And yeah, practice on your friends. Or your pet. We don’t judge.

  • Jen

    oh man, if I had to go back and pick bridesmaid dresses again for my wedding I would DEFINITELY pick the dress Meg is wearing!! So nice!!! and it would look great on lots of body types :)

    That said…if I end up in any wedding parties anytime soon I will definitely be slyly suggesting the bride check out Joielle for inspiration!!

  • Amanda

    These –>> spin pins (aka hair screws).

    Ladies – your morning hair routine will never be the same. Seriously. Go. Now! Buy some – they come in various colours to “match” your hair. Goody sells the ones I love, but I am sure other companies sell them, as well. Not only can you achieve gorgeous, fancy looks (like above) with these marvels, you can also achieve gorgeous, casual “oh this? I just threw this together” looks.

  • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

    These posts are making me want to grow my hair out. So pretty. And maybe I’d learn to french braid. Or use spin pins.

    • Maddie

      Ha, make that two of us. ::runs fingers through all of three inches of hair::

      • Brytani

        Yep. I’m hoping someone has advice on how to dress up a pixie. I’m a bridesmaid in three weddings this year.

        Anyone? Anyone?

        • Maddie

          You know, I wanted REALLY badly to have an answer for this (because I have super short hair too and wanted to get my hair did) but basically the best answer I can come up with is to get something rad to put it in. I got to wear this glorious headband during the shoot that was all encrusted with grungy gemstones and a big bow and it was the bees knees. So I say get an awesome headpiece or some cool statement jewelry and call it good. I mean, we cut all our hair off so we wouldn’t have to bother with this nonsense right? (And because it makes me look taller). :)

          • Brytani

            I’ve kind of decided on this solution too. Yay, no salon fees!

            Also? Agreed on the height help. I’m 5’2″ and believe a pixie could make Frodo Baggins look like Gandalf.

  • Nikki T

    This is really great. I LOVE your tutorials. But, I haz a question for you :) Could you guys possibly do a tutorial here or there for natural haired African American women? It would be so wonderful and greatly appreciated.

    • Maddie

      We’ve got some of that coming your way soon! In the meantime, check out our tutorial from the last hair & makeup series we did on creating smooth curls on natural hair.

      • NikkiT

        My response to this is WOOT!!!! Thank you! :)

  • Lisa

    Wish my hair was longer so I could try the upside down braid challenge. I can French braid my own hair when it’s long enough.

  • Next time I’m in town I’m investing in hair screws. I just don’t trust bobby pins with all my hair. I need something more substantial.

  • Yay, two glasses of champagne! For anyone struggling with French-braiding, look up a tutorial and most of all- practice.When you’re browsing the internet or reading a book or watching a movie, just practice while your hands are free. It takes times to build the muscle memory, so the more you attempt it (then check the mirror and take note of what pieces need to be tighter or smoother), the better you get.

  • Pippa

    Ooooh this hairstyle is one of my standards when I want something just a little bit fancy, and I always get compliments, so good choice APW! Thrilled that you chose one of my favourites!

  • Meg, this might be weird, but I just have to say I adore your cardigan. I think its appeared in a few other photos of you in the past, too, and every time it makes me sigh with longing. I’m a sucker for a good cardigan, and this one looks so soft and pretty and put-together.

    • meg

      It’s the J Crew “Jenna” that they designed to be cropped so you could wear it with a dress. I don’t think they still make it. (Booooo).

  • Sadie

    Excuse me, but what is that gorgeous watch on the stylist’s wrist? Does anyone know?

  • Eva

    That would look so nice if I had straight or wavy hair…any love for the curly girls in this series?

  • I get two glasses of champagne! (It’s not that hard once you practice A LOT, though the arm cramping never goes away.) Love this look!