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5 Ways to Wear a Man Bun

5 Ways to Wear a Man Bun

For thousands of years, long-haired men have worn some variation of what, in recent years, has been dubbed the man bun.

2,000 years ago, the Suebi or Suebians—an early group of Germanic peoples known for their high grooming standards—wore side buns called the Suebian Knot. While the Suebians were busy introducing the world to what would become synonymous with Princess Leia, man buns were blossoming all over China. Around 1300 CE, high-status Māori men wore top knots, and some 500 years later, the Samurai were using a variation of the top knot to help keep their helmets on.

Yet, despite the history of long hair on men, people lost their minds when the man bun trend peaked in the mid-2010s.

Between 2013 and 2015, the man bun was king—and the style rested like a heavy crown on the heads of celebrities and baristas alike. Everyone had an opinion on man buns. We were culturally obsessed and culturally divided.

There’s a social phenomenon where we have to try and figure out what everything means. And everyone had theories on what the man bun signified about its wearers.

An idea arose that the man bun—or even having long hair—was playing with gender norms. It was as if men hadn’t worn long hair throughout history. We wouldn’t have said that Wild Bill Hickock was simply playing with gender norms. Or, maybe we would say that—he was a dapper dude. But then again, you’d probably be wise to not question Wild Bill.

All this is to say one thing—the man bun isn’t a fad or a style. It’s a practical way of keeping your hair out of your face.

The man bun says two things, and two things only, about its wearer:

  1. It says I’d like to not have my hair in my face at this moment, and
  2. It says I am self-aware enough to know that I am not WWE Superstar Shawn Michaels and therefore cannot pull off the ponytail.

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Shawn Michaels and his signature ponytail.


So, if you have long hair, forget the critics and bun up. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are five ways to wear the man bun.

THE TOP BUN

Greg Berzinsky keeping it casual with a man bunGreg Berzinsky keeping it casual with the top bun.

The top bun is the original man bun that arrived hot and fresh from the cultural ovens of Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Berlin in the mid-2010s. The bun sits directly on top of the head or slightly lower on the crown.

It’s a style that became synonymous with hipsters, making it the most divisive of the man bun styles. Of all the bun types, there is more of a conscious decision behind the bun placement. There is a small part of the top bun that screams for attention. Perhaps that intentionality is what rubs its detractors the wrong way.

Despite its critics, the top bun does have its practical applications. It’s great for keeping your hair out of your face at the gym while allowing you to comfortably crank out those reps on the bench press.

The top bun is more casual than other man bun styles, making it ideal for pairing with a dressed-down, casual outfit.

HOW TO DO THE TOP BUN

  1. Apply a little hair oil, styling cream, or Beardbrand Utility Balm to your hair and then comb or brush hair to remove any knots or tangles.
  2. Gather up all of your hair and pull it straight up.
  3. Hold the hair where you want the bun to be. Aim for the crown or just in front of the crown.
  4. Twist hair into a bun and secure with a hair tie.

THE LOW BUN

Beardbrand's Mike Lawson wearing a low bun man bun

If the top bun has a reputation for being an attention-seeker, the low bun is its IDGAF brother that is more interested in function over form. The low bun sits at the base of the back of the head, where a traditional ponytail would begin. The low bun is a ponytail, but replace the tail with a bun.

While the top bun can make your head look too long and narrow, the low bun helps add more depth to your dome. The low bun should be your go-to if you have an oblong head shape.

The beauty of the low bun is that it allows you to use different parts in your hair. Instead of pushing the hair straight back and into the low bun, you can part the hair down the middle or off to one side and then bun it. You’ll be surprised at how of a difference this can make in your style.

HOW TO DO THE LOW BUN

  1. Apply a little hair oil, styling cream, or Beardbrand Utility Balm to hair and then brush or comb to remove any knots or tangles.
  2. Create a part in your hair and then pull it back into a ponytail.
  3. Instead of putting the hair into a ponytail, loop back into the hair tie. Or, twist to create a bun similar to the top bun.

THE MIDDLE BUN

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Hozier rocking a middle bun.

Not quite a top bun, not quite a low bun; the middle bun plays it right down the middle. It’s neither safe nor risky—it just is.

The middle bun works best when you have enough hair to form a larger bun or when worn in a half-up, half-down style a la Jared Leto.

HOW TO DO THE MIDDLE BUN

  1. Follow the same steps as the low bun but set the bun higher up on your head.

HALF-UP, HALF-DOWN

Beardbrand's Mike Lawson wearing a half-up, half-down man bun

If we had to pick the coolest man bun style, we’d probably opt for the half-up, half-down. It’s the perfect combination of keeping your hair out of your face while still showing off your hard-earned growth. It works with a bun or a ponytail and looks effortlessly badass, especially when paired with a beard.

HOW TO DO THE HALF-UP, HALF-DOWN

  1. Apply a little hair oil, styling cream, or Beardbrand Utility Balm to your hair and then comb or brush hair to remove any knots or tangles.
  2. Grab the hair you want to bun and use your other hand to separate it from the hair you want to keep down.
  3. Use a hair tie to create the bun or loop. Alternatively, you can go with a pony here as well.

Pro tip: don’t create a super tight bun, or you’ll end up with flyaways and frizz. A looser, messier bun is the way to go. For a slight extra variation, try letting a few front hair strands hang free.

THE TOP KNOT

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The top knot has been around for centuries, though it enjoyed a bit of renaissance in the late-2010s. The trend was more of a flash-in-the-pan and has receded popularity in recent years.

The top knot has its origins in the Samurai hairstyle known as the chonmage, though there are differences. The modern top knot combines short hair or a skin fade on the sides and a longer undercut on top. The longer hair is tied back in a small loop. In the chonmage, the top of the head is shaved, and the longer side hair is used to create the top knot.

HOW TO DO THE TOP KNOT

  1. Start with a standard undercut haircut, but let the top grow to at least 4” in length. Keep maintaining the undercut in the process.
  2. Once you have enough hair on top, pull it back and use a hair tie to create the top knot or ponytail. You can use a light hold styling product to help control flyaways.

HOW MUCH HAIR DO YOU NEED TO MAN BUN?

The general consensus is that your hair needs to be about 6” long to make a small man bun. To put that in perspective, that’s about 12 months of hair growth if starting from a shorter, close-cropped hairstyle. Keep in mind that if you have curly hair, you may need more than 6” worth of growth.

THE WRAP-UP

Have questions about your man buns or growing your hair? Text "STYLE" to 512-879-3297 for a free personalized consultation. We’ll be happy to help you out.

Keep on Growing.

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