For cute, casual hair on hot summer days, the messy bun (see our tutorial here) can’t be beat. But what about those summer occasions – weddings, birthdays or even Zoom interviews - that call for a style that’s more polished, yet still helps you beat the heat? Ladies, meet the Messy Chignon.
Unlike a bun, which can be worn anywhere on the head, a chignon is worn low, near the nape of the neck. Instead of twisting around itself, the hair is rolled neatly and secured with pins or hair ornaments giving traditional chignons a more formal look. The summer chignon we’ll cover here is a mix between the two: neater than a messy bun and less perfect than a classic chignon. Or as one NY publisher once described: “My favorite event hair is a chignon that looks like I made out with my date in the car between the salon and the venue.” In other words, chic becomes sexy when it’s slightly mussed.
Three-Step Summer Chignon
Better Natured spoke with celebrity hair stylist and #betternaturedpartner Marcus Francis to learn the secrets of how to master this unkempt updo at home.
As with many updo styles, ‘day two hair’ works best because an extra bit of texture, plus some volume, helps maintain the hold. Start by throwing in a few curls with a 11/4” curling iron, working in 2-inch sections all the way across your lengths. If your hair feels dry here or there, lightly spritz on a little Better Natured Hydrating Leave-In Milk , let it dry before you curl. “I typically use this product on wet hair to moisturize, smooth and detangle, but the nourishing formula makes it an effective heat protectant, too,” Francis says.
If your hair is quite thick and long, another approach to adding texture and volume minus heat styling is a few blasts of Better Natured Beach Texture Spray. “This sea-salt-infused spray adds just enough grit and body to create the ideal foundation for a relaxed updo,” he explains. “Plus, it has an incredible fruity-floral scent that adds a tropical summer vibe.”
Next, lightly tease a few sections at the crown, gently finger comb the sections together and pull into a low ponytail at the nape of your neck. If you need to smooth down frizzy flyaways, add a small amount of the Heat Styling Lotion to your fingertips and apply where needed.
At this point, Francis also recommends checking out how the ends of your hair look in the ponytail. If they are laying relatively flat, proceed. But if the ends look dry or rough and uneven, he suggests applying a very small amount of Better Natured Shine Glaze.
Because a little goes a long way, his preferred way to apply is by squeezing a dime size amount in the lower palm of your dominant hand, and then gently tapping your fingertips into the product. “You want to control the amount of serum and add it just to the very ends of the hair, a little at a time,” he explains. “This silicone-free product will deliver healthy-looking shine to damaged ends and add polish to your perfectly imperfect end-look.”
To give a messier feel to the style, before proceeding carefully pull a few side pieces out of the ponytail and let them hang loosely around your ears. According to Francis, if your hairstyle has some angled layers, these pieces “beautifully frame the face and look playful when tucked behind the ears on one side.”
Depending on the length and texture of your hair, there are two different approaches you can take here. If your hair is shoulder length or shorter, it can be easier to roll the hair, tucking it inside itself and adding bobby pins underneath as you go. Don’t worry if the ends stick out – that’s part of the look. It should appear neat, but not sleek and tight like the more classic chignon.
If your hair is long, take hold of the ponytail, twist the full length of the hair and then wrap in circles around the elastic. Secure with a few bobby pins as you go. The goal is a loosely gathered coil, not a severe ballerina bun. Once things feel secure, Francis advises self-stylers to “take your fingertips to gently loosen flyaways on the chignon to create softness for a slightly undone feel.” Add some hoops, a sundress and voila – effortless summer chic achieved.