Buns are the ultimate updo for “next day hair” and when you slept past your alarm. Whether it’s rainy weather or a late start to the morning, we at Byrdie HQ are big fans of anything that makes us look effortlessly chic. And while many bun hairstyles earn the title “messy,” there is one bun that’s a bit more intentional and sophisticated: the chignon.
The word “chignon” comes from the French phrase chignon du cou, which translates to nape of the neck. And with such a sleek, simple style, it should come as no surprise that this style originated on the streets of Paris. The French have long received praise for their sense of style, especially for their ability to capture an undone (yet enviable) result.
Capturing this style is simple and can be very nuanced depending on how casual or formal you desire the final result to look. So as always, we turned to the experts for advice on mastering the chignon on a variety of hair types and lengths.
Here are 20 ways to wear the chignon hairstyle, plus styling tips from two top stylists.
Classic Low Bun
A chignon should require little more (if anything) than your hair itself, as seen above on Zendaya. Mallett describes creating the style as pinning the hair into a knot at the nape of the neck or at the back of the head. He also recommends using chignon pins to secure the ends.
The traditional French chignon looks like it was completed in seconds, as seen here on Gemma Chan. Mallett shares that “to get the most natural and undone French look, the trick here is not to use an elastic.” Nicole also explains that “the more texture and ‘imperfections,’ the better.”
The chignon that Rihanna is rocking is the perfect hairstyle for mornings where you only have time to style a very small section of your hair, such as your bangs. Leave your bangs or a few front pieces of your hair out and pull the remainder of your hair into a low bun. Style your bangs loose for a finished product that looks like you woke up to your first alarm.
If you’re looking for some lift to your bun, like Julia Roberts, make sure to keep the style loose. Mallett explains that rather than being perfectly pressed and flat, you can create volume at the roots with simple hair flip. He recommends that you “tip your head upside down and use a warm blow-dryer to lift the roots off your scalp. As you do so, gently massage the roots with your fingers.”
For a more formal look, try this slicked-back chignon, like what you see here on Lily Aldridge. Use a comb to pull your hair back tightly before forming the chignon at the nape of your neck.
Mallet recommends using a strong hold gel to help get that tight, slicked-back look.
What’s better than one low bun? Two! Divide your hair down the middle and separate one section while you twist the other. When you go to twist the second section, aim to have it a comparable bun size and location as the opposite side (so they look like twins). Above, you can see Margot Robbie showcasing a loose double bun look.
If you have curly hair but still want a sleek look, consider letting both textures shine. Slick back the front part of your hair using a comb and your preferred styling product, but leave the bun curly to highlight your natural hair texture. Marsai Martin added a little extra glam with a silver bun cover.
For a style that really appears effortless, don’t be afraid to make the whole bun loose as seen on Chloe Grace Moretz. After loosely creating the bun, tease at a few strands for a more windswept look. Mallett encourages you to “accept movement in this style.” Loose does not mean unfinished though. Mallett recommends the L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray ($15) to create grip on the hair (and then finish your look).
Short hair? No problem. Even those with shorter strands can capture this timeless low updo by pulling the length of their hair into a small bun at the nape of their neck. Using bobby pins to pin stray hairs back into the bun can help keep it sleek.
For those ladies rocking box braids or cornrows, a braided chignon is a simple but polished updo. Just pull all your hair together (like you’re putting it into a low ponytail), then twist it onto itself and secure with an elastic. Alicia Keys adds more to her look by adding baby hair waves.
We can’t help but want to copy this low, side-sitting bun like Jennifer Lawrence. Parting your hair on the opposite side the bun is sitting on gives this a more balanced look.
Hopefully you didn’t throw away those hair clips from middle school, because they make a great accessory to your chignon. Just style your hair into the signature low bun and add your chosen glitz wherever you please. You can clip them along your hairline, like you see here on Solange Knowles, or get a long barrette to clip right above your bun.
If you have long hair (or extensions handy), an extra large chignon makes for added glamour. You can also use a sock bun insert to pull off this look if you have shorter locks. Try this Revlon Sophist-O-Twist Perfect Hair Bun Maker ($7) which makes it easy to add volume regardless of length or hair texture. Blake Lively pulls the macro chignon off perfectly!
Up the elegance factor of your chignon by incorporating ribbon within it. Simply braid a piece of ribbon into your hair before wrapping a braid into a knotted bun, or add several tiny bows around the surface of your updo, like Ashley Graham did for the 2019 Oscars.
If you’re dealing with flyaways or shorter layers of hair when styling your chignon, consider adding a headband. The accessory will hold back these uncooperative pieces and still allow for the chignon to shine through.
We’re giving you permission to keep the side part in order to wear this hairstyle, like Thandiwe Newton. Create your part on either the left or right side and gather your hair at the base of your neck into a low bun.
Jessica Alba adds an extra pop to a chignon by adding a braid to a section of hair before incorporating it into the low bun. If you plan to do this look yourself, Nicole recommends that you set yourself up with either a three-way mirror or a mirror front and back so you can see the back of your head for optimal styling.
This take on the chignon gives the illusion of a larger braid holding the bun together. Start by creating a low ponytail in your hands and separate it into two sections. Tie an elastic around the top section and braid the bottom section. Once you have your braid completed, create a bun using the hair in the ponytail section and then wrap the braid around the outside of the bun. Finally, secure it with bobby pins. If you have box braids, like Storm Reid, you can either braid some together into a larger piece to wrap or use extensions to create the detail.
The “queen” of a middle part chignon bun: Meghan Markle. If you have been looking to try out a middle part, the chignon hairstyle provides a great gateway to do so. Simply part your hair evenly down the middle before pulling it into your low bun. Another option would be to create a ponytail instead of a bun for a similar bold style.
For those with thin or fine hair, Mallett recommends creating texture for a stronger chignon. Before styling, Mallett builds texture and volume with the Volume Powder he created. This allows for more movement in the hair as seen on Kate Hudson.
Is short or long hair better for chignon?
As long as you have enough hair to secure at the base of your neck, you can create a chignon. Longer hair may be easier to work with and will form a “fuller” looking chignon.
What is the difference between a bun vs chignon?
While all chignons are technically buns, not all buns are chignons. A chignon is a bun that exclusively sit low at the nape of the neck. Other buns don’t have a specific area they need to be placed.
When was the chignon created?
It’s believed the chignon started back in Ancient Greece, where the women would wear it with gold hair pins.