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My bun is such a disaster in rehearsals that when I finish dancing, my hair is in my face. Please help! —Marcela

A secure bun isn’t just born that way—it needs a little help from the right tools, hair products and styling techniques. First, use a spray bottle to dampen your hair with water. Then, you may want to rub a little gel or hair paste in so that your hair brushes back easily (my favorite is KMS Hair Play molding paste, available at most drugstores). Use a flat brush with lots of softer bristles to help smooth your hair into a ponytail. When it comes to hair elastics, the thicker, metal-free versions tend to hold ponytails more firmly in place—otherwise try doubling up two thin ones.

Once your ponytail is finished, it may seem logical to wind your hair tightly around its base; but a tiny, ball-shaped knot is actually harder to pin firmly in place. It’s better to loosely twist the hair around to make more of a flat shape. I sometimes use my fingers to lightly backcomb my ponytail, which helps make my fine, thin hair less slippery to pin in. If you need extra help holding the bun’s shape, try winding a hairnet around it before you pin it. Then, make sure you have the right type of pin—you want U-shaped hairpins, not flat bobby pins, which don’t hold large amounts of hair as well and tend to pop out. Catch the edge of your bun with the prongs going away from the center, then twist the pin and push it down into the bun (you’ll want to feel the pin against your head, although it shouldn’t dig into it). Hairspray and bobby pin any flyaways, and give your head a good shake. If you feel your bun sliding around, you may need to start over.

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