A Tip for Your Topknot

Elizabeth Mayville Topknot Illustration
{image source}

I like big buns and I cannot lie.

But for a style that looks so effortless, it can be awfully tricky to master the just-messy-enough topknot. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyone else get a cockatoo crest on the majority of attempts?

{Yeah, it’s probably just me.}

In last month’s issue of Allure, there was a feature on How to Get Surfer-Girl Hair. It shared a tip that totally changed my topknot game: Start by working two big handfuls of mousse into your dry hair from roots to ends. The mousse gives your hair some volume and grip, making it much easier to twist into a bun without any weird pieces jutting out.

When you’re sufficiently moussed — don’t be shy; handfuls, ladies —  flip your head and roughly dry your hair with a blowdryer and your fingers. While you’re still upside down, gather all your hair into a super-high pony and secure it to the top of your head with an elastic. Give that pony a good backcombing with a teasing brush, then twist it around the base and secure with bobby pins.

Spritz it with a salt spray or hairspray for extra hold, and you’re done!

And now a confession (judge me if you will):

I used this trick to put my hair into a topknot on Monday evening, when I realized I wouldn’t have time to wash and dry before heading to a friend’s house for her birthday dinner. I slept on it for two nights, only adding a bobby pin here and there each morning to fix any loose pieces.

2.5 days of wear from five minutes of styling? I’ll take it all day and twice on Sunday.

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  1. 9.23.14
    Madi said:


  2. 9.3.14
    diybyamy said:

    I love wearing my hair in a cute, stylish bun, but never thought of blow drying it for several minutes! Can’t wait to try this!!

  3. 9.3.14
    Kayla said:

    Any thoughts on how to avoid getting that ponytail headache by the end of the day? I wore my first top knot on Monday and it was so easy and fun. But I hate the way my scalp feels by the end of the day, since I rarely wear up do’s. =/

  4. 8.28.14

    Ah yes, the cockatoo. Thanks for an uber helpful post!

  5. 8.26.14

    Reblogged this on Toria Frances and commented:
    This may have just changed my life…

  6. 8.20.14

    You’ve changed my bun days for life, I owe you big time!
    Annoyingly mine can go right just before getting into bed/when I’m making no human contact so hopefully now I’ll be flaunting my bun like there’s no tomorrow.

  7. 8.19.14

    *On my way to Ulta to get texturizing spray and mousse* hehe, great post! I thought I was the only on who left their bun in for a while longer than just one day.

  8. 8.18.14

    You get lots of comments so this one is probably not very special for you but I just wanted to say how much I love and admire your blog. I wish my blog was just as good and perfect as yours! Keep going! xoxo

  9. 8.17.14

    My hair just isn’t thick enough for this style and I’ve accepted it. :-D

  10. 8.17.14

    Damn girl, I’ll have to give this a go! And you’re not alone…my topknot experiments usually have me looking like a cockatoo as well. Not cute.

  11. 8.17.14

    This was awesome! Thanks for sharing. I’m totally going to do my hair for work using this technique. Maybe I’ll master that bun yet!

  12. 8.16.14
    Rebecca said:

    This a great idea. I’ve been using dry texture spray, which helps with grip, but doesn’t add wave like mousse would. (And two days is totally acceptable, especially with dry shampoo.)

  13. 8.16.14

    Thanks for the lovely tips!

  14. 8.16.14

    Brilliant tip …. Think I am a little long in the tooth for a really high bun but love the idea of adding volume and hold for a lower nape bun

  15. 8.15.14

    Love it and I’m doing the same ;)


  16. 8.15.14

    Great tips thanks- I’ve just got into top knots :)

  17. 8.15.14

    Omg ! 2 nights ! This is impressive ! Great tip !

  18. 8.15.14

    Amen, sister! Dirty hair don’t care. I use baby powder on my roots when I’m pushing day 3. It absorbs the grease, adds volume, and even lightens and brightens the color. Magic. (Unfortunately, it only works for blondies. Brunettes, do not try this at home.) Haven’t been brave enough to blog it yet, but maybe a post is in order! Thanks for the tips!!

    • 8.19.14

      I use baby powder too! I love that it makes my dark roots look a little bit more like the ends of my hair!

  19. 8.15.14
    vestitini said:

    Nice post! :-)

  20. 8.15.14

    AHHH!!! I LOVE this post and def. don’t think you are crazy. I have really thick dry hair and if washed too often it looks like straw. That’s for sharing your top knot trick. Please take some time to check out my blog: http://missthriftee.wordpress.com … I’m new to the scene and love yours for inspiration.

  21. 8.15.14

    Thanks for this post, now I can maybe make my hair look half-decent when I put it up :D I’ll try this out ASAP

  22. 8.15.14

    No judgement from me on not washing your hair after two days! Washing it every day ruins it. I’m glad you rocked a sweet topknot! :)

  23. 8.15.14

    Two nights! That is some major hold! If I did that trick with my long thick hair it would look like I had a football on my head lol I do hate cockatoo bits though, so will try it anyway :0)

  24. 8.15.14
    momcloset said:

    Nice tip! I’m all for lasting hairstyles that can make the morning routine a little easier! I’ll have to remember this one when my bob grows out.

  25. 8.15.14

    Top knots are so chic & quick…I love they never go out of style.

  26. 8.15.14

    That is actually a really good idea! Going out to restock on mousse now. Thanks!

  27. 8.15.14

    Im glad someone else finds it acceptable to leave your hair for 2! I often get asked how I managed my messy bun… and people think im crazy when I say I slept in it! x