Throughout last seasons, we’ve seen several hairstyles come into fashion that reflect the retro trends of yesteryear. The undercut, side part, and comb over hairstyles are all inspired by the dapper, vintage look of men from the 50s. But there’s one hairstyle that defiantly breaks all of these rules and stands on its own––the man bun.
Some love it, some hate it, and some go around cutting of guys’ man buns. But despite all of the glamor surrounding it, the man bun has stayed around, and it doesn’t show any sign of going away anytime soon.
However, the man bun can be confusing to some. What exactly is a man bun? Is it different from this “top knot” hairstyle that everyone’s talking about? To answer all of those questions, we’ve created this definitive guide to the man bun that dispels all of the myths and lore surrounding this hairstyle. If you’re thinking about getting a man bun, then this article is for you.
What Is A Man Bun?
A man bun is simply the gathering of one’s hair into a bun. That’s it. But its simple appearance is deceiving; there are specific techniques for tidying up the hair into different sorts of buns. For example, the phrase “man bun” generally refers to a more rounded knot of hair. By contrast, the phrase “top knot” refers to a small knot of hair that usually rests at the crown of the head.
There are some other variations that we’ll also be going over in this article. For example, the “hipster” or “lumberjack” man bun usually refers to the pairing of a beard with a man bun. This style has gained popularity among the burlier members of the hipster crowd (aka those who look like lumberjacks with a bun).
What Do I Need For A Man Bun?
If you’re going after this look, you’ll need two things: some hair ties and patience. If you don’t already have long hair, you’ll need to grow out your locks so they’re at least 6 inches long. That’s the minimum amount needed for a good man bun; otherwise, you won’t be able to tie up all your hair. For medium-sized man buns, you’ll want somewhere between 10 and 16 inches.
You can go longer if you wish, but keep in mind that the more hair you have, the more difficult it will be to organize. At 14-16 inches, your hair will be past your shoulders and could be difficult to handle.
If you’re growing out your hair from a shorter cut, it could take several months to a year to get the desired length, especially if you’re shooting for the higher end of the range. It might be a good idea to visit your barber or stylist and tell them you’re planning to grow your hair out. They can give it an even cut so it grows at the same pace. This helps to eliminate any awkward transitional phrases your hair may go through.
How To Get The Man Bun
Grab those hair ties! (Elastic bands will also work.) First, identify the spot where you’re going to form the man bun. For most man bun hairstyles, this is the crown of the head. Most guys have a cowlick in this spot. Avoid forming the bun too high on the head. The top area of the back of your head is a good spot for the man bun.
Start by gathering all of your hair up into one ponytail-like fistful. Make sure to get any stray hairs that may be sticking out the sides or bottom.
While holding this hair together, grab a hair tie or elastic band with your free hand. Pass the hair through the band once. On the second pass, stop halfway through, and you’ll get a bun. This is because the hair doubles up inside the tie or band, creating the man bun. (Alternatively, you can pass the hair through the band twice and make the bun on the third pass.)
You might have to experiment with the bun formation, especially if you’re new to tying up your hair. This is a technique where watching someone else do it will help, and YouTube is your best friend here. There are tons of great, clear tutorials on creating a man bun.
How To Style & Maintain The Man Bun
The man bun is a simple hairstyle to get, but it requires regular maintenance to make sure it doesn’t get too greasy or unhealthy. Most hair experts recommend washing your hair two or three times a week because shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils. To have the healthiest hair possible, only shampoo your hair every few days.
What do you do on the other days? You use the magic of dry shampoo. This is a powder that works as a shampoo but preserves your hair’s oils. You have a few options here; for example you could shampoo one day, not do anything the next day, and apply dry shampoo the third day. Then you could start the cycle over again. This is up to personal taste, but it should be mostly up to your hair. Find out what works best for your hair and stick with that.
Good quality products are crucial here, so make sure you purchase shampoos with good feedback. It might also be a good idea to use conditioner to make your long hair noticeably smooth.
How To Get The Top Knot
The top knot is a slightly different twist on the man bun. The top knot consists of a smaller bun of hair formed not at the crown, but at the exact top of the head. You don’t need as much hair for the top knot, but you’ll still need quite a bit, around 6 to 10 inches of hair.
The hair on the back and sides of your head should be clipped and not cut with scissors. This creates a uniform look that will unify the top knot and make it the most noticeable. This is also an element that separates the top knot from the man bun.
Start by identifying the placement of the top knot. As the name suggests, it goes on top of your head, usually in the center. You can place it off-center if you wish, but central placement is standard for the top knot.
Next, gather all of your hair up and tie it as you would with a man bun. The result is a smaller knot of hair contrasting with clipped sides for a much more high-contrast haircut than the man bun. This is a great style for guys who like the bun but don’t want to wait months to grow out their hair.
How To Style/maintain The Top Knot
Like the man bun, the top knot requires care and maintenance. Since you don’t have as much hair to deal with, you can get away with not using conditioner. However, your shampooing routine should be similar to the one described above. This will keep your top knot in tip-top shape.
Variations On The Man Bun/top Knot
For both of these hairstyles, it is extremely common to pair the main style with an undercut on the sides. In fact, some places define the man bun and top knots by the presence of an undercut. This creates higher contrast and makes the style more visible and dramatic.
Another common style that’s similar is pairing a disconnected undercut with the man bun or top knot. This adds a bit of extra flair to the style. For even more style points, you can opt to get a hard part placed in your hair. You can get two hard parts if you wish, each in line with your temples. This makes the center of your head (with the bun) the focal point.
A popular variation on the top knot is a style inspired by the samurais of ancient Asian cultures. The style goes by many names; some people call it a “samurai ponytail” while others simply refer to it as a top knot. Instead of forming a bun with the hair in the tie or band, you simply form a short tail. Thus, it is essentially a short ponytail on the top of the head. This is a good style to choose if you like the idea of the bun but not the more rounded look of it.