How To Do A Loose Side Bun

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To ease into our newest hair and makeup series, we thought we’d start with something really basic: the messy bun. I’m willing to bet most of you with hair longer than mine probably have a good handle on the fundamentals of throwing your hair in a bun (ponytail, twist, secure, tada!). But for something a little more formal than, say, going to the grocery story, we figured it would be helpful to show you how to create a bun with a little more oomph to it that can also withstand a few hours of breaking it down to “Starships.”* So without further ado, here are our expert tips from Nichole Kreps of Harper Paige Salon (she’s that rad chick in the striped shirt up there with the cool tattoos) who created this look for our very own Sharon (who you might remember from her wedding grad post or this awesome piece from last month):

Prepping your hair: Nichole likes to start with what she calls “day old dirty hair” for the most control and staying power (if you have the kind of hair that refuses to ever hold a style, this is your golden ticket). Of course, if you don’t feel like waiting around for your hair to get dirty on its own, Nichole suggests spraying your clean hair with a texturizing spray to dirty it up. She used Oribe Texture Spray and Oribes Après Beach on Sharon for this look. Also, it’s worth noting that Sharon’s hair had some curl in it left over from a different tutorial, but you can absolutely do this on straight hair too. (Actually her hair is normally pretty straight and thick, so if you want some added texture or softness, you can always pre-curl your hair before putting it up in the bun.)

Using hair screws: This was the part of the tutorial I was expecting to be really complicated. Turns out, it’s the easiest bit. Just take a few hair screws (which are also called “spin pins” and can be found at most big box retailers) and twist them into your hair. For those of you with finer hair, you might be able to get away with just using two hair screws (place one hair screw at the top of your bun and twist toward the center, then place another one on the bottom of the bun and twist toward the center again and voila! Done.) For thicker hair, just use more hair screws. And if you’re the kind of visual person who needs to see someone actually go through the motions before you totally comprehend how it’s done (raises hand), I found this quick video tutorial on how to apply hair screws to be really helpful.

Finishing the look: To finish Sharon’s look, Nichole curled a few loose pieces of hair to hang down near Sharon’s face. But you can just as easily make the front a little more polished by tucking those hairs away. And my favorite pro tip? Nichole says you can use the roundness of your hairspray can to smooth out the top where you backcombed.

And that’s it! An easy, unfussy side bun in less than ten minutes. And the best part is that this is the kind of look you can practice a bunch of times before your wedding with relatively little effort. So rejoice, lazy hair-doers. This is the fancy occasion staple for you.

*No, really. I swear this was the most popular wedding song of 2012. Nicki Minaj will get your granny dancing, apparently.


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  • Corrie

    I always love the fullness that backcombing the crown gives in these looks, but I have curly hair (not super tight curls, but curlier than wavy hair) and don’t like how the backcombing turns that specific section of hair straight after I do it. I like the messiness the curls add to the look, but it looks weird when part of it is straight. Does anyone have tips on how to create that volume at the crown while maintaining my curls?

    PS: thanks for the great tutorial! I didn’t even know that hair screws existed, nor would I have known how to use them.

    • I have seriously curly hair. I don’t know if this would work with your curl type or for this style, but what I’ve done in the past for a similar look is finger comb out that section of curls. This breaks all the curls up and adds a LOT of volume to my hair. The hair won’t look like perfect individual curls this way, but it will still be curl-reminiscent, and have a lot of texture, rather than being straight.

      Your mileage may vary–I know better than anyone that each person’s curls have a mind of their own!

    • Jessica

      I have curly hair and have back-combed successfully. I make sure to leave my front curls untouched, so they can be pulled back over the back-combed section to hide it. Then, I back comb the area I want volume in sort of curl by curl, pinching the curl REALLY tightly about 4 inches away from the scalp. That way, the 4 inches I’ve back combed give the volume, but if I pinch tight enough, it leaves the rest of the curl intact.

  • Emily

    Spin Pins! I rocked ’em on my wedding day, only I didn’t do anything nearly this fancy.

  • Beaula

    Where is that blue dress from? I need that!

    • Maddie

      All of the dresses from these tutorials were from our sponsor Joielle! This is one of their Ceremony by Joanna August dresses. It also comes in a shorter option too.

  • Kess

    I just wanted to say yay for the hair screws!

    Spin pins are some of the greatest hair things I have ever found. I’ve got a set (2) of the longer ones and also a set (3) of the shorter ones made by goody. They work really well for holding up a mass of hair. Even my sister who has some of the thickest hair I’ve seen can get her hair into a bun – and they work well on curly hair too (don’t worry about them snagging in your hair – just unscrew them just like you screwed them in).

    Seriously a great purchase for anyone with shoulder length or longer hair – particularly those who are somewhat ‘bobby pin challenged’.

    I use them for french twists, buns, helping hold up a french braid tuck, and tons of other ‘updos’. I do updos a lot in the summer and they work well – even for exercising. I can run with the spin pins in and if I did it somewhat properly the first time, the bun doesn’t fall out. (I’ve got hair a little longer than bra-strap length that’s wavy and medium thickness) I also don’t get headaches as they seem to distribute the load more evenly than I could manage with bobby pins.

    • Copper

      ‘bobby pin challenged’ ha, that’s me! I did not know that spin pins existed, and have simply lived with the fact that every time I do an updo, 2-4 bobby pins will disappear and another will break. And I’ll probably have to redo it twice during the day. I’m going to have to check those out…

  • carrie

    HAIR SCREWS! For buns, after you’ve done your ponytail! Genius!!

    Also RE “Starships” – I was in Amsterdam in July last year and the video came on in a (coffeeshop). Everyone sorta looked around like WTF but they kinda liked it too.

  • LMS

    I can’t believe that I didn’t know about hair screws until now! Trying to figure out if I can sneak out of work to go buy some immediately…

  • New England Ana

    Maybe it’s just me but I could DEFINITELY use some more instruction about how to gather the teased hair into a ponytail. Whenever I’ve tried, it either flattens out completely or continues to look super frizzy and out of control. In the tutorial it looks smooth and voluminous!

    • What might help is gathering hair into the ponytail a bit at a time. For example, pull back the sides/unteased sections and secure them, then get that teased section to lay right- using either a natural bristle brush or your fingers to make the top layer of hair smooth, resist the urge to comb through all of it- then add that section to your already-started ponytail.

      I don’t tease me hair often, even in updos, but hair styles are generally easier when you approach them section by section. Good luck!

  • Sheryl from SG

    Great tutorial! I need to get some hair screws!

    Just a quick question, if I wanted to add a flower or a hair comb (those crystal type), where should I position it? Any advice?

  • Elisabeth

    I’d love to get some tips on creating a fantastic looking bun with thin hair. My hair doesn’t seem to get so voluminous to be well-distributed in a bun.
    I’ll try teasing it, though! From the looks of this tutorial, that could help!

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