Tutorial: from how to grow a man bun to how to tie a manbun
So you want to get a man bun, huh? Well, you’re in the best place online to learn how to get and style a manbun; after all, I would not have created a site on manbuns only if it wasn’t because not only do I have one but also because I’m a barber and we get a lot of male clients at our barbershop wanting to either grow a man bun or get a man bun (once they have enough hair length).
Right. So back to how to get a man bun. I’ll divide this tutorial into different sections (all in the same page) so that you can get to know everything on this particular long hairstyle. Let’s go!
What is a man bun hairstyle?
The man bun isn’t just a mens hairstyle that popped up casually in 2014, which is what most guys believe since these days about 98% of hipsters wear a manbun. Plenty of long haired men over the years have styled their hair into a manbun, and this hairstyle was simply called a “bun”; just like women too call the hairstyle a “bun”. How do I know this? Because I have had long hair for many years, and the hairstyle name of a “man bun” is something that doesn’t resonate with any long haired dude who had been growing his long tresses prior to 2011.
The term “man bun”, however, refers to the particular placing of a bun on a male’s head as a trendy hairstyle, for which this guide is all about. The man bun is also known as the “bro bun” and the “hipster bun”. Likewise, the man bun can also be spelled as “manbun” or “man-bun”. Whatever the word used, it simply indicates that the man bun is a bun-hairstyle for men.
The hipster manbun in particular is usually combined with a hipster beard: the shaggy and messy type of beards that right until 2011 were not trendy at all (and you’d probably be mistaken for a homeless person asking for change if you had such a beard). The fact that hipsters have managed to make such a disgusting beard style a male trend is something short of miraculous and no barber would have predicted that in 2008 (in retrospect, we do have a lot to thank hipsters for). Neither would barbers have predicted that a simple (and relatively feminine) hairstyle as is the bun would become so popular with men.
How to grow a man bun
The most essential thing that you need for a man bun is hair length. Without enough hair length, there’s no manbun. That’s the way it goes, folks, so you will have to grow your hair long in order to grow and get a man bun. There’s no getting out of growing your mane if you want a manbun; however, there’s also no need to grow your locks all the way to your navel: as little as 6 inches is all that’s needed for a man bun.
There are two types of manbuns: the “semi bun” and the “full bun”. Each type of bun is only differentiated by the length needed for it as well as the amount of hair used for the bun. I’ll go through the two types of man buns below.
The semi bun
The semi bun, also known as a “topknot”, is a bun that is made up of only the hair on the top of the head. So, to get a semi bun, you’ll be grabbing all the hair on the top of your head and tying it into a single bun. Thus, you only need 6 to 7 inches of hair length to get a semi bun. The actual haircut for this type of man bun is usually an undercut haircut as the undercut allows for the hair on the sides and back of the head to be super short, which then accentuates the topknot (i.e. the hair tied on the end of the bun). Thus, the semi bun is sometimes referred to as the man bun undercut.
Aside from getting an undercut for your man bun, you can also get any kind of short haircut on the sides and back of the head. I recommend you to go for any kind of taper haircut, such as the mid-contour cut, regulation cut, fade haircut, 2 step undercut or classic taper. That’s if you don’t want to get an undercut. As examples, the man bun haircut above this paragraph is an undercut, while the man bun haircut below belongs to a male with a 2 step undercut man bun.
The good news for those of you wanting to get a man bun but not wanting to commit to growing super-long hair is that 6 inches of hair length is achieved relatively fast. From a very short buzz cut (say a #1 hair clipper length), your hair would only take one year to grow 6 inches of hair. However, most of the guys wanting to grow a manbun do already have some hair length, usually from 2 to 4 inches, so the amount of time needed to grow a man bun is, most of the time, much less than 12 months. Likewise, the semi man bun can also be alternated with the slicked back undercut hairstyle for different hairstyle looks to wear on different days. In any case, you could be looking at only 4 months of hair grow to grow a semi bun or topknot.
The semi bun should not be confused with the “half bun”. A half bun is a half-finished bun with a tail hanging out of the bun; thus, a half bun is also known as a ponybun or pony-bun. Bear that in mind, folks: a semi bun uses only the hair on the top of the head, while a half bun is a half-made bun with a tail (i.e. ponytail) and can use as much hair from the head as needed. A male celebrity known for wearing both manbuns and ponybuns is Jared Leto as he grew his hair long all through 2013 and 2014 to then appear publicly with these two long hairstyles back when the trend was just about picking up.
As a last point with regards to the semi bun aka topknot, some people refer to the topknot as a very short ponytail, which comes from a wrong perception of what a topknot hairstyle is. A more-correct hairstyle name for a very-short male ponytail would be a Samurai hairstyle or Samurai ponytail.
Below is the type of short-ponytail hairstyle (i.e. Samurai hairstyle) that some people will call a topknot (notice how there’s no bun and instead there’s just a very short tail). However, the name is so interchangeable these days that it’s pretty much acceptable in barbershop circles to address a very short ponytail as a topknot.
The full bun
The full bun is what we’d consider a textbook man bun. The full bun uses all the hair on the head to make the bun; thus, when styling your manbun, you will be grabbing all the hair on your head (sides and back included) and be trying it all into a single bun.
Because the full manbun requires all the hair on the head to be used, you do need more hair length for it. You will need at least 9 inches of hair length for the (full) man bun, although I’d err on the side of caution and shoot for 10 inches of hair length for your manbun (I always recommend ten inches of hair length for the man bun too). You want to have enough hair length on your head so as to not have to pull really hard to get the bun tied, so always be conservative when growing your man bun length.
Ideally the best hair length for the man bun is between 12 to 16 inches of hair length. Such a hair length will have your hair on the top of your head easily reaching your shoulders. Likewise and depending on the haircut for your full man bun (layered haircut, asymmetric, etc), the hair on the sides and back of your head will reach between your chest and mid-back.
To give you an idea of how long such a hair length is, watch the video below of men’s hair expert Rogelio Samson (ManlyCurls.com) as he documented on the video how his (below-shoulder-length) long curly hair dried from wet to fully dry (the hair dried on its own without the use of a towel or a hair dryer). That’s the kind of hair length (as seen in the video below) that you should be expecting if you want to wear an epic manbun.
If you don’t want to grow your mane as long as 12 to 16 inches, then simply bear in mind that 9 inches of hair length all across the head (including the hair on the sides and back of the head) is the bare minimum length for the man bun.
Where is the man bun placed on the head?
A bun hairstyle can be placed anywhere on the head, and men through the decades have been placing their buns anywhere on the head and especially on the lower end of the head (close to the nape). However, the man bun is a specific men’s hairstyle that requires a certain overall shape, and thus the positioning of the man bun on your head is crucial for the best man bun style!
The placement of the bun on your head for a manbun is on the vertex area of your head. The vertex is also known as the crown of your head; to be more anatomically specific, the man bun is placed on the back of the top of your head (men usually have a cowlick in that spot).
The placement of the bun can vary an inch or two, but don’t place the bun too low on the head or too forward; a forward-style bun is what I call the pineapple hairstyle and it looks silly in men. To get a good idea of where the manbun is styled on the head, simply browse my man bun website to see plenty of pictures of man buns (aside from the ones in this man bun guide).
How to tie a man bun
Ok, now that you’ve satisfied the basics of the man bun (i.e. enough hair length), it’s time to tie the bun. Tying a bun is very simple and very easy to learn, but the instructions are better provided visually (see man bun video below).
To tie a man bun, all you need is an elastic hair band and your hands. You start tying your man bun by first scooping your long hair hair with your hands, starting the scooping motion at the forehead and slowly moving your hands backwards as you scoop all hair across the length that your hands are traveling back. Once you have scooped and collected all your hair at the vertex, you will notice that the end of the scooped hair looks like a tail: that’s the hair that will make your manbun.
Once you have the end of the scooped hair established (i.e. hair to make the bun), you then choke the hair with the elastic band by passing it through the end of the scooped hair, as if you were to tie a simple ponytail. You then pass the elastic band again (for a second time), but, this time, you pass it only through half the distance of the end of the scooped hair; this will automatically get you a bun, and you can visualize it as closing the elastic band on the end of the scooped hair. Any hair from the end of the scooped hair making the bun that is loose is then circled around the bun so as to make sure that no hair is loose or breaking the aesthetics of the manbun.
While the above instructions on how to tie a man bun may look a bit complex, I can tell you that it’s very easy to tie a manbun. It will take you literally a couple of seconds to tie the bun once you have practiced the motion a couple of times.
In any case, I’m leaving below two videos on how to tie a man bun. Actually, they’re two videos on how to tie a bun, just a bun. The videos feature two long hair individuals, a lady and a guy, as it’s long hair men (and women in particular) who know best how to tie a bun. Simply take the instructions and place the bun a little higher on the crown of your head. In any case, these two videos are great to visually get the cues of tying the bun. Make sure to continue reading below the video as there’s more to this man bun guide!
Hair products for the man bun hairstyle
The man bun is quite an economical hairstyle since all you need is an elastic band, which is very cheap to buy. Aside from an elastic band and since you will have longer hair, it’s important to also take good care of your long mane. You can know how to tie the best manbuns, but, if your hair looks like a bird’s nest, then your manbun will look bad. You’ve spent months growing your hair to get a man bun, so you might as well go ahead and look after the hair too.
An elastic hair band for your man bun looks like the set of hair bands below. Typically you will only need one hair band, but you can use a couple more if your hair is too long and you need to keep the bun secured.
Here are the hair products needed for a man bun (directly or indirectly):
- Elastic band: used to secure the bun in place.
- Headband: used to hold back any hair that could not be tied into the bun (the headband is optional)
- Conditioner: used to keep your long mane smooth and looking great. All dudes with the hair length needed for a manbun (i.e. more than 6 inches) need to use a conditioner; it isn’t optional!
- Leave-in conditioner: used to style the man bun. A leave-in conditioner is a watered-down conditioner which is helpful when styling your hair into any men’s hairstyle, including the man bun.
- Hairstyling cream: used to style the manbun. If you don’t want to use a leave-in conditioner to style your bun, then you can use a hairstyling cream.
- Pomade: used to style the semi bun or topknot. Pomade must only be used to style the semi bun, folks; do not use pomade on a full bun!
- Hair clipper: used for the man bun haircut. I recommend men who want to sport a man bun to have a hair clipper at home. Cutting with a hair clipper your own undercut for the semi bun is very easy and only takes 10 minutes at maximum. You will save tons of money by not having to visit your hairdresser every 2 weeks to re-touch your undercut or similar man bun haircut.
- The Men’s Hair Book: used as hair-care literature for your long hair. This book was published by Rogelio Samson in 2013 and it’s the best book on men’s hair. The hair care tips in the book alone are worth the book’s price. This is optional too, but it’s a good purchase over the long term.
I’ve also published my own man bun hair products guide which I highly recommend that you read as I go deeper into each of the hair products needed for a man bun. As said, you can keep your man bun as minimalist as you may desire, but, if you’re interested in making the most of your dude bun, then make sure to through the link above to my guide on hair products for the man bun. I’ve even recommended the best places from where to get the products so that you can buy these products for actual fair prices instead of ending up with an empty wallet and nonsense products as it usually happens when shopping for men’s hair products without having a clue of what’s good and what’s garbage.
Conclusion to our man bun hairstyle guide
You now have all that you need to grow, get and tie your man bun. In itself, the manbun is a simple and easy hairstyle for men; the only obstacle to a man bun is the length needed, which means that you need to commit some of your time to growing the hair length for the type of man bun that you want to get.
Regardless of the man bun type that you want to get or that you already have, I can tell you that it’s the best hairstyle decision you will ever make!
If you have any questions, I invite you to read our detailed man bun and top knot FAQ as you will probably find an answer in the FAQ for your related man-bun and top-knot hairstyle questions. You’re still free to ask questions below or to send us your man bun pictures so that we feature them on our site.
Last Updated: 22nd September 2015