The Messy Bun


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The question I’m asked THE MOST is how I do a messy bun. I did a tutorial for something similar early last year, but I thought an updated one would help!

Things to keep in mind: 

    1. If you want a messy bun, you have to start with somewhat messy hair.
    2. Hold everything very loosely.
    3. The looser the nape area, the softer the overall look.

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I love seeing your versions of the tutorials I share, so use #smallthingshair on Instagram when you post a pic!

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Comments (77)

  1. Sherry says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Cute and comfy for home, but I thought the messy bun was “out”.

    • Kate says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Not for me 🙂

      • Christa says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        Wear loud! Wear it proud!
        Love love your blog!

    • Suzannah says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Oh heck no!! Very much “in”!! 🙂

      • Sherry says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        Ah ok, didn’t realize it was still in- I used to wear my hair like this 10 years ago when my daughter was born in late 2005.

    • Asya says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      What does that matter anyways. Do what you like!

    • Rachael says
      Posted January 12, 2016

      The messy bun is LIFE!

      • Posted January 17, 2016

        LOL I agree that messy bun is LIFE!

  2. Posted January 11, 2016

    This is such a cute style and easy once you master it 🙂

  3. Jean Ann Moore says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    So, my hair is extremely straight naturally… do you recommend that I curl it before I put it up, or will some texture in it be sufficient??

    • Laura T-R says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Me too! My hair is super straight/slick/fine and just past my shoulders in length. The messy bun look has never worked for me, so I end up with a ballroom, tango bun (slicked back and tight).

      • Natalie Williams says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        Did you guys not watch the tutorial?? Kate is very clear about how to achieve this look. You cannot do this with stick straight hair. It must have some bend in it and you need texture either from dry shampoo, or a texture spray.

        • Jean Ann Moore says
          Posted January 11, 2016

          Why, yes Natalie, I did. And she said her hair was curled because she had other intentions for it before she decided to do a messy bun. My question was whether she recommended the curl AND texture, or just texture. She was very clear that you need texture to support it, but as I’m sure you know, Natalie, straight hair can have texture just as much as curls can have little to no texture.

          • Kate says
            Posted January 11, 2016

            Hi Jean Ann, to answer your question texture and curl will help support the bun but the most important of the two is the texture!

          • Posted January 11, 2016

            I have wavy fine hair that I sometimes dry straight which makes it very smooth and find that when I try to throw it up in a messy bun later in the day, the bun kinds of flops over in loops.

            However on the days I let it go crazy wavy or throw a curl in it with an iron after drying it smooth (so that I look like a grown up) it will take to the messy bun like cheese on a cracker! Texture spray, powder or dry shampoo helps it grip too.

            For Kate: I’m so happy you did another tutorial on the messy bun now that your hair is longer! Thank you so much for your help – since I found your blog not only have I some control over my mop, but your posts (as well as your Periscopes) are smile-inducing. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  4. Elizabeth Tessier says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    It won’t allow me to play the video. It says there is an error. Is anyone else having this trouble?

    • Grace Liles says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Yes! I’m getting the same thing????????????

      • Kate says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        Try watching it on YouTube directly. I’m not having that issue so I’m not sure how to resolve it!

        • Elizabeth Tessier says
          Posted January 11, 2016

          Ok..good idea. I’ll try that. ???? Thank you!

        • Elizabeth Tessier says
          Posted January 11, 2016

          It worked! ????

    • Ginger says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Yes I’m getting that also ????

      • Kate says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        Try watching it on YouTube directly. I’m not having that issue so I’m not sure how to resolve it!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      Try watching it on YouTube directly. I’m not having that issue so I’m not sure how to resolve it!

  5. Kelly says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    I love wearing a messy bun.I will be sporting a messy bun today as I tackle the remaining remnants of Christmas in my house!!!! I’m so glad I can access your website this week. I love all of you’re tutorials. Thank you for doing them!! ❤

  6. Lauren says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    LOVE the messy bun! I think most of my days at home I live in the messy bun look☺️???? Love all your tutorials and your blog!

  7. Katy says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    My hair is really fine and I’ve always REALLY struggled with a messy bun because it just flops right out into a ponytail. Should I both curl it and add a texture spray? I want to achieve this look so badly!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      yes, both will help greatly!

  8. Acacia says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    This tutorial was the most helpful I’ve seen, I’m pretty hair challenged so it’s nice to know that even I could get this wonderful soft bun style 🙂

  9. Courtney says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    I definitely wear a messy bun more often then not while chasing my little lady around! Thank you for the tutorial! ❤️

  10. Alyssa says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Thank you so much for this! My messy bun never looks this cute!
    Alyssa | Glitter and Grey

  11. Heather says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    I love this look, don’t think it looks right on me, but I’m trying it today!! Where can we find the hair bands you used?

  12. Sherry says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Story of my life around the house with an almost 2-year-old! 😉 Love the tutorial. So I know you’ve posted before but I feel like your hair looks to be a different color then in the past. Super cute. Care for sharing the color combos with the highlight that you use? Sharing pictures with my stylist has thus far been ineffective. It’s always too dark.. THANKS! 🙂

  13. Katie says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Cute shirt too! Where is it from? 🙂

  14. Reese says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    “and fold the hair over” <—— that is where I always get lost. My hair is almost identical to yours, in cut, texture (mine may be a little thicker) even length. But when I fold it all over, it looks too perfect, like a loop. If I start pulling stretching, it becomes a loop with some pieces hanging out.

    I would love to see that part closer up and from a few angles (side and back). There are some days I can get it to work, but generally I can't or I can if I use a ton of bobby pins.

    • Reese says
      Posted January 11, 2016

      i just went back to watch that part again (actually watched it about 5 times on full screen) and you just can’t see what you are doing there. It does not look like you are “folding it over” and you give it some kind of twist or turn before you let it go too.

      I don’t mean to imply you are not “folding it over”, but it’s not clear what you are calling “fold it over”

      • Stephanie says
        Posted January 11, 2016

        I agree with you…the “fold over” isn’t working for me. I just get a loop. Watched and paused several times trying to see what she did. Seeing that part in slow mo or another view would make this perfect! 🙂 Got the curls, got the poof, got the tease…but no fold over 🙁

    • Layle says
      Posted January 14, 2016

      Yes, this part!! It’s like a magic trick. I too just get a loop. Please please focus on this key part & help us out,lol!

    • Grete says
      Posted January 16, 2016

      This is the part I re-watched multiple times, too, because I keep getting a looped-looking half-pony tail instead of a rounded-bun look… Is it folded up and over the hair clump from the bottom/tips of the hair?

  15. Karol says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Help! My hair is just about your length but I just CANNOT master the part where you “fold the hair over.” ???? Mine turns out less like a messy bun and more like a sloppy-I-just-woke-up bun. Any suggestions?

  16. Tracy K says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Hi Kate! I’m so lazy when it comes to doing my hair so I love this! Would I do a top knot the same, but on top of my head? I think it looks better with my face shape, but when I’ve tried, I have little tails that fall out in the back. ????

  17. Alex says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Love the little bit of a tease on the sides! I could never figure out how to get more volume there.
    Also what top are you wearing?? It’s super cute!

  18. Kari says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Hi Kate! First- I lLOVE your blog. Second- I am so grateful for the time you’ve spent making helpful videos for hair and makeup. Third- I’ve been inspired to keep myself beautiful for my love and our seven kiddos, because of all the helpful tips on hair products and such. My two year old son, Duke, said last night,”Mama, pretty hair. Mama, pretty cheeks.” Well, that made my night! Fourth-Thank you! Ps. I did a pixie cut last summer and am growing out my hair. A pixie cut is cute but luxurious long locks are more of my likin’! Hugs from Oklahoma-Kari

  19. Lindy says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Can you do a tutorial on how to do a ballerina…my daughter is in dance and we have to do those a lot and I have short hair and its hard. PS where did you get your shirt

  20. Susan says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Where did u get shirt in video

  21. Madison Hamilton says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Where did you get that adorable shirt? I think it compliments the hair style (and really any hairstyle, for that matter) so well!

  22. Katie says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    What a great tutorial! Do you have any recommendations for someone like me who has very curly hair (natural ringlets) and the tips of the curls pop out when I stretch the bun?

    I’ve always done a “pull through” bun for my messy bun days, and it was eye opening for me to see you pull down hair at the nape and near the temples. Thank you for such great ideas!

  23. Dani says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    I love the messy bun look but have never been able to master it because I’m totally OCD. I want the mess to look ‘perfect’, which makes absolutely no sense. Now that I have extremely long hair I’ve been able to master the super messy bun on top of my head for home, but it’s definitely too “right out of bed” & floppy for leaving the house. I’m cutting my hair short/mid-length again in a couple weeks & am looking forward to trying this out when I have less hair to deal with!

  24. Ellen says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    Love this, definitly need to try this for my next bad hair day!

  25. Evelina says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    The softer the better! I usually pull my hair out as much as possible without it falling apart!

  26. Kara says
    Posted January 11, 2016

    “If you want your bun to be a messy bun, you must create a mess. That’s how it works, guys.”

    Ok. That’s, for sure, the best line I have ever heard in one of your tutorials, and I’m pretty sure I’ve watched all of them at one point or another!!! Thank you so much for this tutorial, Kate! I love your blog and most especially your professionalism. You make all these great hairstyles ATTAINABLE. If a messy bun is wrong, I don’t want to be right! I’m looking forward to trying a messy bun tomorrow, using your new tutorial as a guide. Have a great night!

  27. Lindsay says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    I was just telling my husband last night how much I have learned about doing my hair from your blog as a whole, and these tutorials! Thanks for putting them together and sharing them with us, they make a world of difference!

  28. Martie says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    I rarely get to watch your videos because I live in the boonies and have limited wifi. I got after it early this morning (I have bonus data at crazy hours)! Your personality is just super! This hairstyle is a go-to for me, as well. My problems are: I have really thick, coarse, heavy hair. Those elastics won’t work for me at all. Also, if I put a lot of product in my hair it gets heavier, which makes my bun fall out. I will say that my best bun happens on days that I have shampooed and diffused my hair curly, but once I do all that I hate to ruin it with two (that’s what it takes for me) covered elastics! If I use bobby pins at the bottom, those always make it sag down to the bottom of my head. I’m going to try curling, a little teasing, and some dry shampoo today…I’ll let you know how it goes! Although, for the most part I use the messy bun as an escape from styling…I’ll have to really want to rock this look to put in that much effort! lol! Thanks for another great tutorial, so glad I got to watch one!

  29. maggie says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    So I was watching the video with my 4 year old and he said “That’s a mommy. It’s so beautiful, her hair!” It was too cute!

  30. Racheleah says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    I always get the loop too! 🙂
    My hair is quite long right now, so that is a challenge as well anytime I do my hair up: the weight, all that extra length.

    Do you wash your hair pretty much every night? Do you put product in when blow drying it at night?
    (I’m a first time Momma of a beautiful 7 month girl and finding me time, even for showering, is hard. 😉

    Also, any drug store brands for Texture sprays, dry shampoos and hairspray you recommend? I never see more than one brand of dry shampoo when I look. Very limited selection.


  31. susan says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    I’ve never seen a “messy” bun look so beautiful!
    You are obviously a hair wizard.

  32. Gen says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    I have a question about night hair washing – I have fine hair and prefer to wash my hair at night. Watching your videos and noting that you dry it at night has helped some, as I usually just let it air dry. Could you recommend a product I can use after night washes that would help keep oil at bay overnight so I don’t have to rehash or use dry shampoo in the morning given the fine nature of my hair? Thanks!!

    • Kate says
      Posted January 12, 2016

      Try spraying dry shampoo in at your roots before you go to bed, and wear your hair in a loose ponytail on top of your head too!

      • Gen says
        Posted January 12, 2016

        Thanks so much!

  33. adrianne says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    So many awesome tips! On my “I want a messy bun” days, I always have a little wave to my hair, so now all I need is the texture. Looking forward to trying this one out!

  34. Roxanne says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    Thank you for doing this post! I have always loved the messy bun, but have only recently been wearing it recently as an “on purpose” hairdo. Your tip to loosen up the nape and sides really helped me achieve what I was going for.

  35. Lesley Evans says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    My hair is too short for this style, but that NEVER stops me from watching!!! I LOVE your blog and tutorials!!! Your SHIRT!!!!! Too cute!!! Would you mind sharing where you purchased?

  36. Krista says
    Posted January 12, 2016

    Hi! Long time reader of your blog and I love the hair tutorials, thanks! I too am at a bit of a loss on the fold over. I watched it multiple times and couldn’t see it. Tried this tonight and got what looked like a loop multiple times (and then a stretched loop after messing with it) I finally folded my hair up rather than down. That seemed to make a big difference. Still maybe not quite right but much closer. Can you add an edit with your fold over in a little more detail?? Thanks!

  37. Susan says
    Posted January 13, 2016

    I thought this video was excellent! I’ve been trying to master the messy bun for months, and finally, I understand how to do it. Thank you, and keep up your very interesting blogs. I enjoy them all!

  38. Sydni says
    Posted January 13, 2016

    Soo my problem with wearing my hair up in a bun is that the hair around my ears and nape gets too separated – I guess because my hair is too greasy? I normally wear my hair in a bun when it’s a day or two old and I don’t have time to shower (yikes), but even when I do it with freshly washed hair it does that separation thing. Is it because my hair is too long or too slick/fine? I have a lot of medium hair.

  39. Posted January 14, 2016

    Hi Katie, Tried to do your famous messy bun and the result is on my blog. Please let me know what you think, as I’ve got a lot to learn. 🙂

  40. Emily says
    Posted January 17, 2016

    This is so cute and effortless! Love it! #messybunforliiife

  41. Lydia says
    Posted March 31, 2016

    Hi Kate! I sent you an email regarding if I could post one of your hair tutorials on my blog, but never got a response. I do hope it’s alright that I posted this post on my blog today.
    I used your images + video, but linked back to your website and this post. I also made sure to say that the images and videos I used were yours. Please let me know if it’s alright, so I can take it down if it’s not.

    Also, how is it possible to create such a flawless messy bun? Forever jealous of your gorgeous hair.

    Thank you!

  42. Ashley says
    Posted April 4, 2016

    Hello! I find this video super helpful, thank you!! Is there any chance you could list the products you used & mentioned in this video?! I would really appreciate it, thank you!!

  43. Amanda O says
    Posted June 21, 2016

    Thank you for this tutorial!!

    I can’t get the “fold the hair over” part. ! want to do this hair style so badly but I just get a floppy loop. Please help with the fold!!

  44. Candi says
    Posted October 20, 2017

    Thank you so much!!!! I have watched so many messy bun tutorials and they never worked😤. The secret is the messy hair! I never would have thought and the other tutorials never said anything about it either!! I am SO happy to have this trick now. I swear everyone knows we but me. Until now! Love your blog!

  45. Rebecca Jarrett says
    Posted January 29, 2018

    Hi Kate
    I like that you are updating, but it would have been great to see it from the back, the way you used your hands to pull up the hair, as you did it in your old tutorial. you have such beautiful hair!
    Bless you for sharing your knowledge 🙂
    thank you

  46. Shari Hall says
    Posted February 6, 2018

    Hi, I love this Messy bun look. I’m a retired Hairstylist too. I’ve done something like it but not as messy as yours & I really like that. My hair is long as yours, but I don’t have as much hair on my sides. But backing combing helps. I’ll try to put a pic on Instagram when I get better at it.

  47. Amy Leal says
    Posted April 7, 2019

    I have my hair like this almost all the time now. It’s so easy and so cute! Thanks for sharing this one.

  48. Nanci says
    Posted July 27, 2021

    Thank you!!!

  49. Caylee says
    Posted September 29, 2021

    You can create this look with straight and thin hair. Just tease it and make it loose. My hair is ultra-thin and straight, it still looks good!