Messy French Bun

My friend C. always wears one of those perfectly messy buns that makes it look like she just rolled out of bed in Montmartre. Here are her step-by-step instructions. (I say we copy her ruthlessly.) xo
Step 1: Make your hair dirty. After showering, you can massage in Aveda Pure Abundance Hair Potion. Or you can just wash your hair less often and use a dry shampoo to keep your hair from getting greasy.

Step 2: Next, pull together your hair and hold it straight up, like a Lucky Troll Doll.
Step 3: Then twist your hair down to a few inches above the crown.
Step 4: Wrap your hair around itself until it forms a loose bun, right on top of your head.
Step 5: Pin the bun in place with bobby pins. Anywhere from four to eight, depending on how thick your hair is. You want it loose but secure.

Step 6: Finally, pull loose strands of hair from the nape of your neck and around your face to make it look like you’ve worn the bun all day. Voila! The perfect bun!

(Photo by Anna Wolf for Cup of Jo)

  1. Abby says...

    This is the thing I hate about having layers on my hair

  2. Patricia says...

    Why are there so rarely articles like this for those with curly or shorter hair?

  3. Kyrstyn Beah Merkandis says...

    what does step three mean exactly?
    i don’t quite understand.

  4. Your hair is sooo pretty. Love the pics as well.

  5. it looks so great, gonna try it soon!

  6. If you have very thick/heavy hair that doesn’t stay pinned well, try spin pins with this! They are little miracle corkscrews that hold up even very heavy hair.

  7. I have medium length and incredibly thick hair. I love the “messy bun” look and have tried countless tutorials. This is the first that one has actually worked! Even with tons of bobby pins, it looks amazing since they can be hidden easily.

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  9. I will share this on pinterest great job! andkon

  10. Have just tried this now and it turned out perfect! THANK YOU!

  11. Izzy says...

    Wow me and the last commenter have the same first name
    Thanx soo much jo or whoever u r I luv this hairstyle and have worn it every day for the past century ok maybe that’s over exadderating maybe about a week

  12. Izzy whizzy fizzy busy muzzy twizzley spoon says...

    Thanx sOo much
    People at school always wet them and my friend told me how to do them but it was too messy for me and made my hair so knotty I had to cut bits out but this is gr8 I wear them a lot for school now go smithy’s

  13. Always tried to figure this out. Thanks for sharing. Will be posting this in today’s ‘weekend reads’.


  14. Love this style, so relaxed and easy!

  15. Elin Nielsen says...

    Thanks for the tutorials – now I feel a little regret for having cut off my long hair last month as I never knew what to do with it! Looking forward to have the length again so I can start using your tips.

  16. Your blog is outrageous! I mean, Ive never been so entertained by anything in my life! Your vids are perfect for this. I mean, how did you manage to find something that matches your style of writing so well? Im really happy I started reading this today. Youve got a follower in me for sure!

  17. I am thoroughly convinced in this said post. I am currently searching for ways in which I could enhance my knowledge in this said topic you have posted here. It does help me a lot knowing that you have shared this information here freely. I love the way the people here interact and shared their opinions too. I would love to track your future posts pertaining to the said topic we are able to read.

  18. vicky mattison says...

    I really love this messy bun but alas – the step by step instructions seem to be missing now, boo. Can you do this post again? Pleeaassee, just for me??? (oh and any more great hair tips too!) xoxo

  19. Looking very nice. Its bit messy, but sometimes messy do looks great. I am going to try this one on my hairs by following the instructions. Thank for sharing the steps.

  20. This looks fabulous and easy, but the link isn’t working for me /:

  21. Love this I might have give this a try!

  22. I am loving these hair posts! I see a new obsession forming! (in a totally non frightening way of course)

  23. i have been obsessing over these hair posts. i have tried the previous two and use them all of the time! can’t wait to try the buns. xxo

  24. I have seen my friend suffer from breast cancer… now she isn’t with us anymore. Let us all together fight against it before others fall prey to it.

  25. Excellent blog, I’m looking for information on how to improve my health because I have some problems with my hair, so I would like to help me with advice on the subject, thanks!

  26. Anonymous says...

    I’m a dude who loves to see women with their hair worn up. It’s timeless. I’m happy that so many more ladies are wearing long hair. Ron

  27. I know I am behind the times, but this post is like a revelation! finally I can put my hair in a good looking bun – thank you!

  28. this is great! i often wear a messy bun but it never looks nearly as nice – i’ll try this today!

  29. so gorgeous. i like the ‘lucky troll doll’ tip, but my hair is too long..whenever i do hot rollers and try to start rolling my hair all the way at the end i have to strrreeetch my arms all the way out to reach the ends of my hair, haha. thank goodness i’m getting a trim when i go home to LA for tgiving :]

  30. Love this!!

  31. Sara A. says...

    Hey curl girls, try this with clean hair or 1-2 days post washing hair. Does not work for my crazy curly hair when dirty. For now, I’m sticking with the classic NY cheat bun.

  32. Oh wow, this reminds me of the eponymous french girl Anna Karina in A Woman is a Woman, remember the part where she effortlessly pulls up her hair in a bun, so french and chic!

  33. love the messy bun! but i just donated a foot of hair so i’ll have to wait for it to grow to have my own again! :)

  34. Ohlala… that’s perfection indeed!

  35. THANK YOU!

    When I had long hair I used to try and do my hair that way, but I am too neat thanks soooo much!

  36. Yesss!! Been trying to get this look for months now. This tutorial seemed to do the trick! THANK YOU!

  37. aha you are apparently the source of this messy bun blog post. I tried it and I love it!!! Thanks!

  38. I wore my hair like this today, thanks to your post! Except I had to modify it to a lower bun because my hair is so thick. It hurts if I put it all on top of my head for too long.

  39. It’s the bobby pins that give me pause. I can follow any of the steps except that crucial one!! My hair always feels on the verge of falling out (and probably is) when I try to pin it up . . . Advice?!

  40. I’ve tried many ways to put my hair up but I feel it always looks messy in a bad way. There must be some secret to a gorgeous messy bun. Can’t wait to go to the link and find out!!

  41. Anonymous says...

    I live in Montmartre. Plus I rolled out bed this morning and pulled my hair back in a bun, but sadly, mine doesn’t look nearly as cute. Thanks for the tip! I’ll try this tomorrow!

  42. Jo says...

    Bobby pins ARE key!!

  43. very cute! and now that Ive done the Keratin treatment in my hair, its finally wavy enough to pull such a look off, must try it!

  44. Holy hell, it works! I must rock this in the SLC.

  45. This is my go-to look! But I’m French, it’s in our blood ;-)

  46. Gorgeous! Easy for me to say, I wear my hair like this everyday!!

    Loved the pics, but holding it up with bobby pins?? Not in a million years with my hair, far too thick.

    I use Geisha Pins from my work kit, basically they’re long thick hair pins, 3 of those and it doesn’t budge all day, just gets a little looser and sexier by the evening!

  47. beautiful, but only washing once a week scares me.

  48. This is so Fine Arts faculty!
    And I am sooooo tempted by the image, given that I draw hair!

  49. oh thank you!
    i have always coveted the messy bun look but have never been able to accomplish it…
    looks so terrific!

  50. I am going to try this and post it on my blog!

  51. since i’m growing my hair out, i’m washing it less, and also use a dry shampoo called Psssssst. Yep. That’s its name. The can looks like it’s out of 1973 too. But it works great and is pretty cheap. Plus it’s just funny to say.

  52. love the link!! and i’m definitely going to do this (actually, hair’s already up!)

  53. This photo gives me such hair envy…love it!

  54. i sooo wish i could pull of a messy do. it just never agrees with me (sigh)

  55. Ahh the messy bun – seen all over Shoreditch and perfect for messy, dirty hair too!

  56. My hair doesn’t quite cooperate when I try one of these… plus I chopped my hair into a bob last Dec (bah!) so it’s only down to my shoulder blades right now. Booo…

  57. Drat, my hair is just a bit too short for this! Hmm, maybe in like 8 months I’ll try this out. Her bun looks lovely!

  58. Awesome. Messy French buns make me so happy!


  59. Oh my gosh. I remember in high school that I got my friend to teach me how to do a messy bun because it was so cool and all the girls were doing this.

    But that messy bun in the picture is the best one ever!!!

  60. I, Giulia (aka Julie w/French accent), weel nevair ‘ave zee messy bun. Jus’look, short red ‘air & eet ees lurvely (Joanna says ‘lurve’ sometime). I am half-francaise, half-eetalienne. Where ees zee accent mark on zee kee-bored. Maman?).

    [My human amie, she ees a whole bunch of stuff but mostly cranky. But she theenks you ‘ar all mignon (thees means ‘cute’) & someday you weell not copy anyone (too much:)]


    Now go put up your buns (as opposed to sitting on them) & get some chocolate. Yes, even if it’s raining. (That’s not GG, that’s moi. xo Susan)

  61. when i had long hair my messy french buns somehow never seemed to look this good. and it was always tres disappointing!!

  62. Haha! I guess I have the French thing going on almost everyday. I have so much hair and it’s so thick that the messy bun is always the best way to go!

  63. such understated class & sophistication. i love it!

  64. growing my hair out stat to do this!! i love the french more sophisticated version on the top knot!

  65. I am wearing my hair in a messy bun today! Not nearly as pretty as that one though. I can never get them quite right… or quite messy enough. And my hair is quite heavy and thick and always makes the bun slip down :(
    So off I go to these instructions then!

  66. Anonymous says...

    Thank you for the step by step insructions. I am also intrigued by the dry shampoo.

  67. I can never get my hair to do that!

  68. Thanks for the advice, looks so simple, but definitely an art to master!

  69. Oh my God!!!! Although I’m French, I definitely needed a lesson to do this because my buns never look THAT pretty… Thank you Jo !

  70. haha, iriska, maybe we can call it a Euro Bun :)

  71. Anonymous says...

    Wait a minute! Isn’t that Swedish bun? I always thought it was :)

    Ah well… as long as you don’t need a dictionary to make it on your head… :)


  72. thank you for sharing this!! i know a few of us out there want to be french more and more each day…and this helps!!

  73. Lovely! Thanks so much for the instructions!

  74. Anonymous says...

    So pretty!

  75. I just love this style, but it is kinda difficult to create it that good! I am jalouze ;)!!


  76. i am not about copying a cute hair do! as soon as my hair gets long enough (could it grow any slower?!) i’m totally trying this.

  77. There is nothing I have ever wanted more than to perfect the messy bun. These step-by-step instructions are like a godsend! :)

  78. I used to always wear my hair when like that when it was super long – i should try it again…it’s a relaxed comfy look…thanks!

  79. Fabulous post. Whenever I’m NOT trying to create a perfect messy bun is when I manage to do it right, but the second I actually try to achieve the look – pure fug.

    I think Olivia Palermo does a good job of creating a chic bun look.

  80. I love this look! My hair isn’t short, but it’s just short enough that I can’t get it up like this. Heart ache.

    • try holding your hair straight out instead of straight up, the bun won’t be as high, but it might work

  81. i have been wishing my hair to be long enough for this bun! its almost there…such a fun and relaxed look!

  82. merci, merci. for the instructions, and the rec on dry shampoo!

  83. I will have to click over and figure out how to rock this look because I always covet the messy bun style but can never quite get it right. Practice makes unperfect? ;)

  84. I rock this hairstyle everday!! people always ask me oh are you going to prom, but I dig the messy bun. =)

  85. this just made me happy i haven’t cut my hair (like i was tempted to so many times during the summer). hooray for instructions.


  86. jo, if this had a like button, i would click it!

  87. oh yes! i always do a bun, but i often hold it with one of those “claw clips” (I don’t know their real names). This has so much more…je ne sais quoi!

  88. gorgeous! but mine will never look like that! (especially after it has been cycle helmeted.)

    • Wear yours in a tight bun, put on the helmet, go to your destination and it should be cute and messy. If not, loosen it up a touch. They key for you is starting with a librarian bun, because the helmet with do all the messing-up for you (:

  89. yes, i think the key is having dirty hair, funnily enough! :)

  90. this makes me so sad that I cut my hair! :)

  91. My hair is always in a messy bun. It doesn’t look this good though. Ever.

  92. my best friend is able to do the same thing! i always have loathed to have her hair. thanks for the post!

  93. aww, i miss my long hair.

  94. I wish I had my long hair. Once it grows out I will be sporting this bun everyday!

  95. ooh lovely. i always wear my hair in a bun but it’s usually a tight ‘librarian bun’ so this might me nice for the weekends hehe

  96. beautiful! and what a great coincidence, i did my hair in a messy bun today for work. (though my hair is a bit shorter, so it’s improvized).