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10 Steps to The Best Ballet Bun

  • May 26, 2016
  • by Katherine Moore of Dance Informa.

Tips from Rena Most, hair and make-up artist for American Ballet Theatre

Knowing how to create the perfect bun is an important part of life as a ballet dancer. During an important performance, you want to be able to focus on dancing and not worry about how your hair looks or whether it will come loose. While it’s not necessary to have a perfect bun for everyday rehearsal and class, on performance day you want to be worry-free. Rena Most, hair and make-up artist for American Ballet Theatre, tells us how to create a Standard Ballet High Bun:

#1. Know your hair type.

Before you even start making the bun, Most recommends that you know what kind of hair you have and how it should be prepped.

  • If you have medium to thick hair, it might be better for your hair to be a little dirty so that it’s easier to style. Try washing the night before a performance instead of the day of.
  • If you have fine, thin, hair that easily shows oil, it’s better for it to be clean.
  • For those with really curly hair, it can be helpful to blowout your hair or keep it slightly wet while you’re shaping your bun so that it’s more easily controlled.

#2. To begin, make a center part with your hair from the forehead to the crown of the head.

#3. Split the hair into three sections.

  • Part the hair from the top of the head down to the left ear.
  • Do the same to the right ear.
  • You’ll end up with three hair sections: two on either side of the head and one in the back.

#4. Create a high ponytail with just the hair from the back section first. You’ll want to spray or gel this section and make sure the ponytail is nice and tight.

#5. Pin the remaining hair back to meet the ponytail. Most emphasizes that this step is really important: it makes the strongest bun because not all of your hair will be held up by the ponytail, which reduces the strain.

#6. Give yourself some volume.

Most mentions that a common mistake is to pull your hair so tight that it looks like you’ve had a face lift. You actually want enough volume that the hairline meets the outside edge of your ear so that your ears don’t look like they’re sticking out. If you have medium to thick hair, this should be easy; just don’t pull your hair too tight and use too much gel. For finer, thin hair, you can actually tease the underside of your hair a bit and then pull the top layer of hair smooth on top of it.

#7. Create the bun.

  • Contrary to what you might see in everyday fashion, a ballet bun is actually not a perfect circle. According to Most, creating more of a heart shape will help the bun look like a seamless continuation of the rest of your hair. The bun should follow the shape of your head. “You don’t want to look like you have an alien growing out of your head!” she says.
  • Twisting, or even braiding, the hair before you spin it into a bun will give it control and a pretty look.
  • If you have very thick, bulky hair, splitting it into two sections and wrapping it in different directions to make the bun can be helpful, especially so it doesn’t look like “your bun is another head on top your head”, explains Most.

#8. Use pins, large and small, to set the shape of the bun.

#9. Try using a hair net around the bun to make it more secure and then pin some more.

#10. Apply hairspray to control fly-aways. You’re ready to dance!

*For a low bun, the same three-section principle applies: You simply place the ponytail low on the head and take the other two sections to meet it. Instead of a heart shape, you want the bun to be more oblong, and make sure the bun meets the base of the hairline at the nape, and not below. Otherwise, the bun will restrict movement at the neck. Again, you want the shape of the bun to look like a fluid continuation of the head.

Photo: Misty Copeland and Herman Cornejo of American Ballet Theatre in The Nutcracker. Photo: Doug Gifford

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