Half-Assed Hair Tutorial: Gigantic Messy Bun Head

j=how to create a messy bun

On Sunday, I… well, I’ll be honest: I couldn’t be bothered washing my hair. And then I got an email from a reader asking how I create that giant, messy bun thing that sits on top of my head, and if I could possibly do a tutorial on it. This is one of several such requests I’ve had over the past few months, and I thought, “Well, why not? It wouldn’t be the first time the blind had led the blind, after all!” And so it is that today I bring to you this half-assed hair tutorial. I call it “Messy Bun Head”. You are welcome.

Important Disclaimer:

* Clears throat *  Before I get started, I just want to stress here that I am not a “hair” person, as those of you who make up fake names to tell me how awful my hair is can testify. I just make it up as I go along, and if I’m putting my hair up, I really just mess around with it until it looks vaguely presentable. I arrived at my Messy Bun Head on holiday last December, when my usual routine was turned on its (messy bun) head, and rather than washing my hair first thing in the morning, I was washing it before we went out in the evening. That left me with the entire day to get through with a head full of dirty, greasy hair (keepin’ it classy here, folks!), and lo! The Messy Bun Head was born.

I tell you all of this purely to make it clear that I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on this. I’m sure there are easier, better, prettier ways to create the same look: this is just how I do it, for the benefit of those of you who have specifically asked.

So! The Gigantic Messy Bun Head!

Here is what you’ll need:

L-R: Hair grips. I swear by the Goody Spin Pin, which I’ve been using since the nineties, when they were sold as “Hair Scroos”. Yes, with that spelling. I KNOW. Goody recently re-released them as a the “Spin Pin”, however, and you can buy them in Asda or Boots if you’re in the UK, or Wal*Mart and Target in the US. You can probably buy them in lots of other places too, but those are the ones I’ve seen them in personally. You can also use good old bobby pins (I normally use a few of those too, to secure any stray strands of hair I’m left with) or any other kind of hair-securing measure you know of, as I will not be coming round to check you’re all doing this EXACTLY LIKE ME.

Comb. You’re all familiar with combs, right?

Hair elastic: And I believe you know Mr. Hair Elastic?

Hairspray. This one is Asda’s own brand, and is the probably only the second can of hairspray I’ve bought since I was a teenager, so I have no idea how good it is compared to any other brands. It seems to work, though.

Greasy Hair: I find this style is best done on unwashed hair, because if my hair has been freshly washed, it’s just too fine and slippery, and so the bun will be much smaller and less full of TEH DRAMA. In other words, it will be simply a Small Messy Bun Head, rather than a gigantic one.  If you don’t have a handy head-full of greasy hair, there are probably lots of things you can use to add texture, thicken your hair up, and make it easier to style. I wouldn’t know about any of them, though, because I’m not really into hair products (See “Not a Hair Person” above. Actually, that image is kind of creepy, isn’t it? A Hair Person, I mean. Run, do not walk, from… THE HAIR PERSON!!!!!!!)

Let’s get started and make us some messy bunheads, shall we?

STEP ONE: Take your hair elastic, and secure your hair in a high ponytail. How high you make this will determine the eventual look. If you want the full-on, Messy Bun Head effect, secure your pont tail more or less in the centre of your head. For a more subtle, “coronet” effect, place it further back. You can also create a Messy Bun Head at the nape of the neck, on the side, under your arm…anywhere you have hair, basically.

messy bun: how to

“Hai, ponytail!” (D’you see what I did there?)

(Yes, I am watermarking my face now – or as close to is as possible. This is what it’s come to, people.)

(Also, the false eyelashes were for a review I was doing: am all about multitasking, you know. I don’t normally ponce around in false eyelashes on a Sunday. Sometimes I don’t even wear CLOTHES on a Sunday, to be completely honest.)

STEP TWO:  Take your comb:

how to create a messy bun

And backcomb like your life depends on it.

“Must. Create. Messy. Bun. Head.”


backcombing hair

(Things I Learned From Blogging # 392: it’s hard to take photos of yourself backcombing your hair. I’m sure you all know how to backcomb, but just in case you don’t, you’re basically combing your hair in the opposite direction you’d usually do it, i.e. working the comb from tip to root, rather than from root to tip.)

Again, how much backcombing you do will detemine your final outcome, and the more backcombing, the bigger the hair, and the bigger the Messy Bun Head. For a more subtle look, just backcomb very lightly, to add a bit of body. You could also add clip-in hair extensions here, if you had them, or pad it out with old socks, or anything you feel like, really: your hair is your oyster. Or something.

Amber’s Top Tip: To keep the bun looking as smooth as possible, try to backcomb the underside of your ponytail only, leaving the front of the hair smooth. This is the part that people will see once the bun is complete.

Once you’re done, your hair will look something like this:

easy messy updo

It was acceptable in the 80s, the 80s…

STEP THREE: Wrap the hair around the hair tie, in the rough shape of a bun.

 So. Very. Drunk.

Oh yeah, did I mention I’d been drinking when I took these? It helps.

(Things I Learned From Blogging # 393: Also hard to take photos of yourself putting your hair in a bun, GOD.)

messy bun tutorial

“C’mon, Vogue! Let your body gooo with the floooow!”

This style is supposed to look messy (Well, d’uh!), and not too “done”, so you don’t have to get this perfect. If it was supposed to look perfect, I wouldn’t be able to show you how to do it, you’d need an actual Hair Person (OMG!).  And, at the risk of repeating myself yet again, how you do this will… yes, you guessed it, effect the final look of the bun! If you wrap the hair tightly, it will create a small bun. If you wrap it loosely, it will create a larger one. I personally tend to go for a “The Bigger, The Better” approach, so I keep the circumference of the bun fairly wide, but that’s just me.

how to do a messy bun

“You! Know! You! Can! Do! It!”

(Note how my hair is changing colour from photo to photo. You’ll be pleased to know that this is NOT a requirement of this hairdo, it was because the sun was constantly going in and out from behind clouds, so the lighting in the room kept changing, and sometimes the flash would come on, sometimes it wouldn’t. I don’t have magically changing hair, although that would be pretty cool.)

STEP FOUR:  Once you have your basic shape, secure with your hair grip of choice. Here, I’ve used four of the spin pins: one on each side, one at the back, and one right on the top, to hold down the shorter bits of hair which stick up. I find these will hold my hair in place all day, but obviously do whatever you need to here to keep it secure.

“There’s something scary on the ceiling…”

“No, seriously, what is that? Is it a ceiling crab?” 

Rubin to the rescue!

At this point, your hair will be a hot mess, I’m not even joking. There will be bits sticking up everywhere, there will be wispy bits all over your head. There will be a weird bit sticking out the back:

You won’t want anyone to get too close:

Too close, back off.

and you’ll be thinking, “That FREAKING Amber, why did I ever listen to her?” Your forehead will also be weirdly shiny. Oh no, wait, that’s just me. Don’t panic! And don’t come round and beat me up. It can be fixed! Simply return to your trusty bobby pins and comb, smooth down the hair where you need to and secure any rogue strands. Soon you will be feeling all warm and fuzzy:

“Oh, Gigantic Bun Head, I love you!”

(Er, I hadn’t actually done any of those things here, as you can tell from the fact that my hair is still a Hot Mess. I just thought it was a funny photo.)

Finally, you’re ready for…

STEP FIVE: Hairspray.

“Simply spray directly into the eye…”

OK, so this is a totally posed photo. Because yeah, like I’m allowed to use flammable liquids around my face without supervision: I DON’T THINK.

I only really use spray to keep the little fluffy bits around my head down: the pins do the rest of the work. You may not even need to use a product at all: I will leave that up to you.

And there you have it: A Gigantic Messy Bun Head, all of your very own! Awww! I think I’ll call mine “Clive”.

“Why Ambassador, wiz zees giant bunheads you are really spoiling us!”

Now, I gotta admit: this isn’t one of my better bunheads. In fact, it truly is a Halfassed Bunhead, if ever I saw one. I was trying to do it without the aid of a mirror, and with one hand clutching the camera remote and THAT IS MY EXCUSE. I also didn’t ACTUALLY use the hairspray, so you can see that the fuzzies are still very much in evidence. Sometimes, though, that’s just how it goes. Some days, my hair just doesn’t want to be in a Giant Bunhead, and this was one of those days. I’m sure you get the idea, though, and it’s not creating the perfect Bunhead that matters, it’s, er, the taking part. Or something. Where is my wine?

And they all lived happily ever after, with their giant bunheads…

OK, folks, it’s over to you. Go forth and create Giant Messy Bunheads of your own. A Giant Messy Bunhead Army we will be!

P.S. Right after taking these photos, I took Rubin for a walk, and a wasp landed on my head and would not leave me alone. I am 98.72% sure it thought my head was its nest, true story.