What is it and how do you wear it?

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We know what you are thinking. The buns are bad. Terrible. A hairstyling crime punishable by a minimum of five years of ridicule. We can’t blame you, especially when they’re co-opted by footballers who have about as much taste as Liberace in Poundland (hey, Andy Carroll). However, don’t be put off by the Premier League players and your insufferable local barista. Other famous faces have proven that it can be done if you follow the rules. David Beckham brought his back recently, before cutting his hair again. Jon Snow had one for a while The iron Throne, too much. It might even sound like, * gulp *, good. Yes, the bun will always be a tough sell, and the margin for error is colossal. But do it right, and you can untangle the most delicate male hairstyle in the book.

What is a bun man?

Let’s get rid of the definitions. For men with long hair, a bun is a style that features a ponytail or a tuft of hair, gathered somewhere on the crown. When the bun is placed high on the head, it is usually called a bun. There are different styles of man bun, some less acceptable than others. A shaggy “full bun” is just long hair tied in a loose knot, much like your girlfriend’s hair when she goes to the gym. You see them stacked high and low, and they’re often accompanied by facial hair (which is less common with girlfriends). Male buns also sometimes appear with an undercut, where the hair is left long on top but shaved tight on the back and sides. Sometimes the contrast between the top and the bottom is extreme, similar to a disconnected undercut. Other times the guys only keep just enough hair on top to tie them up to what most people think of as a dodgy rodent tail. The classic bun.

A little history

If you think the man bun was invented by a hipster web designer in Williamsburg in 2008, think again. It is not a recent trend. They’ve been around for years – at least 2,000 years. If you want proof, each member of the Terracotta Army sports their own, many with elaborate updos. Let’s not give the Chinese all the credit, however. Sail east, and buns were also a staple for samurai warriors in Edo-era Japan. This iteration – locally dubbed a ‘chonmage’ – kept the helmet in place, with the rest of the head shaved, except for a bun on top. Sumo wrestlers also embraced the style, eager to emulate the power of samurai, long before men who worked in organic cafes thought they were doing the same. It was not a movement easily adopted in the West. In Roman times, topknots were seen as a style for barbarians – the club-wielding grunts of Eastern Europe and Northern Scandinavia – and as such were shunned by polite society. (Swap “barbarians” for “footballers,” and not much has changed in the centuries that have followed.) Things changed in the late 2000s, however. That’s when David Beckham left dropping her own version of the bun, and interest mounted from there. Jared Leto grew up one. Chris Hemsworth too. Leonardo DiCaprio gave it a try, followed closely by Orlando Bloom. And, while the man’s bun has often divided opinions, these five men sit firmly on the right side of style. We will take their word for it against some tense Romans.

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Celebrity Buns: David Beckham, Jared Leto, Chris Hemsworth and Leonardo DiCaprio

Who is suitable for a man bun?

The A-listers may have sported theirs, but that doesn’t give the plebs carte blanche to cultivate one. Different hairstyles suit different face shapes, and the man bun is no exception. “Topknot is suitable for people with less defined bone structure because it can make the face appear longer,” says Carley McGuire, stylist at Pall Mall Barbers. “It also refines your facial features and the updo pairs well with a beard that will masculinize the style.” Equally important is the type of hair. “Both ends of the density spectrum should avoid the bun,” says London hairstylist Jamie Stevens. “Really thick hair can be a lot harder to control, giving the illusion of a more rounded face shape. It can make your head look bigger than it actually is. Which, unlike your arms and everywhere else, is one of the few areas where bigger isn’t better. “On the other hand, there is the very fine hair, and that can be just as problematic as the receding hairline will be more noticeable with the hair pulled back.” So that means the follicles in the middle of the road are your best bet for a man bun. Everything else, and you risk a crop that is too unruly or just too sparse.

How to get it

You have the shape of the face. You have the balls. Now you just need the actual hairstyle. A man bun can’t be done without length, and no, that ball-sized joke on the top of your head doesn’t count. If you need to grow your hair out, there are ways to speed up the process, Stevens explains. “I would recommend regular cuts to keep your hair looking its best, as healthier strands tend to grow faster.” And while it might seem counterproductive to lose an inch in the pursuit for more, it will prevent any damage that might stunt your growth along the line. “Hair that is not cut regularly is more likely to suffer from split ends,” says Stevens. “Once these are installed, the hair becomes unraveled, weakens and can be damaged very far down the shaft.” The only cure for such hairs is to get rid of them, thus delaying your quest for a man bun. The right product is just as crucial. “Because healthy hair will grow faster, mix a conditioner into the ends to keep it hydrated. It’s not rocket science, but a lot of men overlook the importance of a conditioner for nourishing your hair after shampooing. Look for natural ingredients, like coconut, palm, or jojoba oil, that will hydrate the scalp without the risk of irritation.

The best hair products for men's updos

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How to style it

Now that your hair is at least shoulder length, firmly congratulate yourself: you’ve completed the first leg of the race for an acceptable updo. But it takes good technique to cross the finish line. “Starting at the temple, brush the first section of hair down to where you want your bun to rest,” says Nat Angold, stylist for London barber chain Ruffians. Aim for the top of your head: too low, and you’ll look like a Greenpeace activist, too high and you’re basically an Essex girl. “From there, hold your free hand in place. It is about repeating oneself. “Do the same with all the sections around the head until your hair is held in the free hand.” Note that it’s best to invest in a headband well in advance (or at least steal your loved ones). “Tie the band around the hair to create a loose pony, then twist and loop it again,” says Angold. “Except this time, only pull the hair halfway to keep the ends out of the band. Alternatively, you can twist longer ponytails around the base of the hair band. Once everything is wrapped, place the free ends under the tape to secure.

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How to keep it

Generally speaking, the more hair you have, the more attention it takes. This means you need an extra product and a regular maintenance regimen to stay on top of those knots. “L’Oréal Professionnel Absolut Hair Repair Lipidium is perfect for dry ends, stubborn knots and flyaways,” says Angold. You will come across these three things more and more with longer hair. “Once you’ve tied your hair back, the sea salt mist can give light hold and texture, while a little matte clay can stray the ends.” Also, don’t think that you can deflect barbers once your hair is at its peak. “Sideburns and nape hair should always be trimmed, especially if you’re on a more formal occasion where your man’s bun needs to be slicked back without going astray.” And if you’re unsure of the exact wait time between visits, Angold recommends a cut every nine weeks.

Styling products for men's updos

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The best hairstyles for men

Wholemeal bread

The go-to bun, this style sometimes gets a bad rap, but for men with long hair, it’s a handy way to keep flyaways from blinding you. It can also be styled both shaggy and smart (both effortlessly), depending on what’s in your journal.

Full man bun hairstyles

Little bread

More casual and less affected than overly neat updos, the low bun is an effortless style that brings a bit of beach-bum nonchalance to the city. Pull the hair back slightly, tie it with a band and forget about it.

Low bun haircut for men

Afro bun

For men with afro hair, the texture itself lends itself to some interesting (and arguably the coolest) man bun options. If you wear braids, take A $ AP inspiration and have your hairstylist give you a cut, or if your hair is long all over, consider reggae-inspired dramatic stacking.

Afro man buns / Fro Bun for black men

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