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


Laurent Liotardo (post-production by Nik Pate), Courtesy ENB

Catch English National Ballet’s Rising Stars in the Emerging Dancer Competition Livestream

The coronavirus pandemic may have postponed English National Ballet's annual Emerging Dancer competition last spring, but the show must go on—digitally! You can still watch ENB's best and brightest talent during the competition's livestream, taking place on September 22 at 7:20 pm BST (that's 2:20 pm ET). Now in its 11th year, the competition for the Emerging Dancer Award will be broadcast live from the company's East London production studio for the first time. Tickets are available for $6.99 per device and will remain available to view on demand until September 29.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
From left: Alaina Broyles, Courtesy Werner; Courtesy Underwood

Gaynor Minden's Latest Dancer Lineup Features a Body-Positivity Activist and Its First Guy

Pointe shoe brand Gaynor Minden recently welcomed 32 young dancers to its coveted roster of Gaynor Girls. But this year, the company included two applicants who push the boundaries of what it means to dance on pointe. While both Mason Simon Underwood and Colleen Werner are longtime GM wearers, they stand out from the rest of this year's group: Underwood is the first ever Gaynor Guy, and Werner is a body-positivity activist.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Dylan Giles, Courtesy Festival Ballet Providence

Festival Ballet Providence's New Leap Year Program Gives Dancers Facing a Gap Year a Place to Grow

A new training program at Festival Ballet Providence called Leap Year is welcoming pre-professional and professional dancers who don't have a studio or company to dance for this season.

The endeavor is the brainchild of Kathleen Breen Combes, FBP's executive and artistic director. "I kept getting these emails of dancers saying they just need a place to train this year," says Combes. "I thought, What if we could provide a space for dancers to get stronger, experiment and try new things in a nonjudgmental and no-pressure environment?"

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks