Marissa DeSantis

How to Get the Perfect Textured Ballet Bun for Class

Growing up, I had the worst time learning to master the "perfect" ballet bun. My poker straight hair was impossible to keep up and out of my face unless I completely slicked it back with enough hairspray to ensure I could never wear it down loose after class. Even if your hair is thick or curly, chances are you've struggled with getting your ballet bun just right. That's why on a recent photo shoot (stay tuned for the October/November issue), I watched as hair and makeup artist Sandrine Van Slee styled the models' hair into the coolest textured buns.

Using some tricks I picked up from Van Slee (and a few things I figured out on my own over the years), here's your step-by-step guide for a bun that will take you from studio to street! Plus, a few behind-the-scenes shots from our photo shoot.


1) Start by brushing through your hair and misting a dry texturizing spray throughout to give it grip. Van Slee used my personal favorite, Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $46, but I've found that Garnier Fructis Texture Tease, $4.49, is a great drugstore alternative.

2) Because this was for a photo shoot, Van Slee used a curling iron to add soft waves to the girls' hair before she pulled it back, but you can skip this step since it's pretty time consuming.

3) Use a paddle brush or comb to loosely pull your hair into a high ponytail at the crown of your head. Don't fuss over getting a perfectly smooth ponytail—Van Slee actually pulled (gently!) at the hair once it was secured with an elastic to get a more textured finish. Use a thicker elastic without any metal, like the Scunci No Damage Hair Ties, $3.84, to keep your ponytail in place without leaving an indent in your hair.

Van Slee's hair and makeup setup.Marissa DeSantis

4) If your hair is fine and silky, blast the length of your ponytail with another spritz of texturizing spray. Or, if your hair is thick or curly and tends to get frizzy, use an anti-frizz spray like Living Proof No Frizz Humidity Shield, $22, on the length of your ponytail.

5) Twist the length of your pony into a rope, wrapping it around the base of your elastic and pinning it into place with u-shaped pins like Bunheads Hairpins, $7, as you twist and wrap. Van Slee didn't worry about twisting the hair before pinning it into place since the girls weren't taking class, but the tighter you twist, the more secure your bun will be when you anchor it in place with the pins. If you have layers you're afraid will pop out, wrap a Bunheads Hair Net, $3, that matches the color of your hair around your bun and pin in place.

6) Finish by misting your hair with L'Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray, $12.59, which will add extra hold and shine to your bun without making it impossible to brush through after class.

Van Slee and our model behind-the-scenes at the shoot.Marissa DeSantis

7) Post-class, you can wear the slightly tousled knot as is for an outing with your friends. Or, pack along a brush and some dry shampoo in your dance bag so you can let your hair loose. The twist you created earlier, mixed with the dry texturizing spray, will leave you with undone waves. And the dry shampoo (sprayed throughout your roots on dry hair) will give the hair at the crown of your head a volumizing boost.

Latest Posts


The author, Lucy Van Cleef, dancing Balanchine's Serenade at Los Angeles Ballet. Reed Hutchinson, Courtesy Los Angeles Ballet

My 12-Year Journey to a Bachelor’s Degree While Dancing Professionally

If you'd have told me in 2009 that it would take 12 years to earn my bachelor's degree, I never would have believed you. Back then, I was a dancer in my early 20s and in my second year with Los Angeles Ballet. I was used to the straightforward demands of the professional ballet world. I knew that hard work and willpower were the currency you paid in the studio, and that the thrill of live performance made all that investment worth it. What I didn't know then is how life's twists and turns aren't always so straightforward. In hindsight, I can see how my winding road to higher education has strengthened me—and my relationship with the ballet world—more than I ever could have imagined.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
New York City Ballet principal and Dance Against Cancer Co-Founder Daniel Ulbricht in New York City's Columbus Circle. Travis Magee, Courtesy DAC.

Dance Against Cancer Is Back With a Starry Outdoor Gala—and It Will Also Be Livestreamed

The annual Dance Against Cancer gala is back in full force this year, bringing major dance stars together on Monday, June 21, to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Held in Lincoln Center's outdoor Damrosch Park, it will be New York City's largest in-person ticketed event since the onset of the pandemic. And for the first time, this year's gala will also be livestreamed by Nel Shelby Productions for international audiences. The evening's finale—a tribute to first responders, medical professionals, educators, mentors and other heroes who have lost their lives to cancer or are battling it—stars special guest Kevin Boseman, a former dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Martha Graham Dance Company, a cancer survivor, and the brother of the late actor Chadwick Boseman.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Margo Moritz, Courtesy Alonzo King LINES Ballet

How Adult Students Can Prep for a Safe Return to the Studio

After a year (or more) of virtual classes, it's finally time to unplug and head back to the studio.

Exciting? Absolutely. A little scary? Definitely.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks