How To Do a Sleek Back Bun-5 Easy Ways

Sleek Back Bun

Beauty School: Mastering the Slicked-Back Bun with a Pro Stylist

The slicked-back bun is making waves on social media, and if you’re into #HairTok, you’ve probably paused to check out a tutorial. This chic look, often crafted on damp hair, brings high-fashion vibes to your overall style.

However, it’s crucial to handle it right to avoid damage. We connected with Hannah Nishimoto, a Shu Uemura Art of Hair educator, to spill the secrets on achieving the perfect slicked-back bun. Here’s the scoop: It doesn’t involve styling overly wet strands.

Is a Slicked-Back Bun Harmful?

In general, frequently styling your hair in tight hairstyles like buns, ponytails, braids, and locs may lead to a type of temporary hair loss called traction alopecia. While the occasional slicked-back bun is likely not harmful, doing it too often, especially with lots of product on wet hair, can be damaging. Wet hair is weaker and more prone to damage than dry hair.

Combined with tight elastics, hair in sleek styles can break or shed. The strong gels used to keep the style intact don’t improve hair; they just coat it to keep it in place.

Luckily, you can care for your hair while enjoying a slicked-back style. Limit tight styles to twice a week, and when you do, start with dry hair dampened with nourishing masks, oils, or serums. These products give the wet effect while providing hydration, protection, and strength. It’s a win-win.

“If your hair is fine to medium, I recommend [Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s] Ashita Supreme Serum for its lightweight texture that also tackles frizz,” says Nishimoto. Those with thicker hair may prefer a richer oil, like Essence Absolue. For fine, brittle hair, skip oils and serums and use a strengthening spray like Izumi Tonic. The rice water-infused treatment can help create “stronger, thicker hair fibers.”

How to Do a Slicked-Back Bun

Nishimoto shares her favorite way to do the trendy chignon using some go-to tricks and products. You’re only five steps away from rocking a sleek bun of your own.

Step 1: Part your hair

How you part your hair is personal preference. A middle part gives an off-duty model vibe, a side part softens features, and a zigzag part pays homage to the Y2K era.

Step 2: Use products to fake a wet look

Although hair shouldn’t be soaking wet, you need to create the illusion. Moisturize slightly with a spray bottle and apply serum, oil, or mask. Layer different products for your desired finish, like Nishimoto’s combo of oil and airy mousse. Oil nourishes, while the mousse dampens for a wet, reflective look.

Section your hair for even distribution, avoiding oversaturation—remember, wet hair is more vulnerable to damage.

Step 3: Brush Your Hair Into a Ponytail

Now, let’s make a ponytail. Collect your hair about two inches above the back of your neck and use a brush to smooth down the front and sides. Boar bristle brushes work best here, says Nishimoto.

Their smaller bristles capture and sweep back each strand without causing too much friction against the hair. Once your hair looks how you want it, secure the ponytail with an elastic.

Pro Tip: For an extra-flat, slicked-back appearance, brush your hair back in small sections “to ensure you’re getting [hair] as close to your scalp as possible.”

Step 4: Create Your Bun

Now, let’s shape your bun. Use your fingers to twist the ponytail and wrap it around the elastic, forming a donut shape. Secure it in place with a hair tie or bungee. If any strands stick out, tuck them into the bun using bobby pins.

Step 5: Smooth the Sides

Give your look the final touch by smoothing down the sides of your hair with a strong-hold gel or pomade. Nishimoto suggests Shu Uemura Art of Hair’s Ishi Sculpt to “enhance the sleek wet look, eliminate frizz, and leave your hair with tons of shine.” Use a spoolie to apply a small amount through your hair.

After mastering the classic sleek bun, you can try creating a snatched ponytail. Check out our guide, How to Do a Slicked-Back Ponytail, for more tips.

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