How To: Braided Bun

Plus, a fancy braid trick!

I wish there was a way to say “business in the front, party in the back” without invoking a visual of Billy Ray Cyrus. But once you get past the part where I just described a mullet, this is really what I see at most APW reader weddings: something that looks natural from the front so you look like the real you on your wedding day (instead of the prom version of yourself), but then you turn around and BAM! Not your mama’s French twist (are people still doing that, by the way?).

As an added bonus to today’s tutorial, I learned a brand new didn’t-even-know-it-was-possible technique from our resident stylist, Yesenia, and it’s going to blow your mind. (Do you remember how excited you were when the Topsy Tail came out? It’s that kind of awesome.)

Don’t Forget to Prep

Even though this hairstyle is a little softer than last week’s tutorial, you’ll still want to prep before you start styling. To save you the trip to our previous tutorial, the steps for prepping your hair are below. In the comments of last week’s tutorial, someone asked what you can do if your hair is normally very fine and oil prone. There are a lot of tips floating around the Internet (and in the comments of that post) about how to deal with oil-prone hair, most of which are techniques you can try far in advance of the wedding. (I, for example, recently switched to sulfate-free shampoos and started shampooing my hair only once or twice a week, and have found that adding an oil serum to my prep routine has made my hair less likely to be oily. Go figure.) But if you’re looking for a quick fix, dry shampoo is your best friend (here’s a great list of brands you can try at a bunch of different price points). Or for a cheap fix, I usually put a tiny bit of baby powder or cornstarch in my hair just at the roots before styling it. Just make sure you blend it in really well with your fingertips so you don’t see any powder residue. It’ll zap all the oil at your scalp, without messing with the rest of your hair.

Prep Work, The Details

  • First, apply a styling product to your hair that is tailored to heat. There is a whole subsection of products available these days that are formulated specifically for the purpose of prepping your hair before you apply heat to it, and they are magic (if your hair never turns out the way you want when you blow-dry or curl it, applying this stuff first will change the whole game). They usually take the form of a cream or a serum, but the one that is best for your hair will depend on its texture. Your best bet is to talk to your hair stylist at your next appointment to figure out what product works for you. Sticker shock warning: they can be a bit pricey, but I find I use less of the professional products over time than their drugstore counterparts because the formulas are better.
  • Next, blow-dry your hair using a boar-bristle brush. The boar bristle will make it easier to smooth your hair, and adds a nice shine to your hair to boot. (For finer hair, use a metal brush to get more fullness.)
  • For the best blow-dry technique, start close to your scalp, then pull out with your brush.
  • But be careful: you don’t want to go overboard. Too much texture will be difficult to work with (too little will go flat).

The Braided Bun

Even though our Braided Wedding Hair for Beginners was considered the easy tutorial of this series, this looks is perhaps even simpler. All the effort is in Yesenia’s magic step. But we’ll get to that in a second. For now, to start this look:

1. Take a 4–5” section of hair from the crown of your head (a.k.a. the very top, toward the back a little). Do some very light teasing with a comb. This means you want to just skim the hair a bit with your comb, instead of full-on 80s teasing it. This will give you a small cushion of volume, but not a big bouffant. If you’re new to teasing, all you’re going to do is hold your hair as demonstrated above, and then comb down toward your head to create the kinds of knots you’re usually try to get out when you comb your hair.

2. Next, create a shallow side part in your hair on the side of your head where your hair normally falls. (If you have a middle part, just pick the side that takes the part more easily. I’ve got a wicked cowlick on one side of my head, so my hair usually decides for me). If you want a more dramatic look, you can deepen this side part. Then wrap the front pieces of your hair (the ones you’ll have hanging down) around a curling iron to create soft curls that frame the front of your face.

3. When you’re done with that, gather all your hair (except for the parts you’re leaving to hang down in front), pull it to the side of your part that has more hair, and make one big braid down one side of the head. Important! Don’t secure it yet. Just hold it in your hands.

4. Take the three ends of your braid in one hand. Hold the end of the center piece of hair with your other hand.

5. Now for magic! While holding the center strand of hair firm in one hand, push the rest of the braid up towards your head. It will form a braided, full bun. (For a video of what that looks like, head over to APW’s Instagram feed.)

6. Tuck the tail of the bun under at the nape of your neck and secure with pins. Tuck any loose bits in with pins as well.

So if you’ve been thinking you might want to try some kind of updo for your wedding that feels current, but doesn’t remind you of bad prom hairstyles of years past, this is your happy medium. Plus, you can wow your friends at parties with your fancy new trick. And who doesn’t want that?


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