June 3, 2023

The author secures her chignon.

Chignons are a classic hairstyle we’ve all heard of but may not be the most comfortable vocalizing aloud. Pronounced shee-nyohn, the term translates from the French expression chignon du cou, meaning nape of the neck. And that’s precisely where this style sits on the head – just above the nape of the neck. Also commonly known as a low bun, a chignon offers versatility in its shape, presenting itself as a knot, twist, or wrap-style bun. This versatility offers options for hair of all textures and all lengths, and it gives it a certain chic-ness that goes beyond your average DIY bun. While there is a chignon style out there for everyone, today, I’m showing you how to do a clean and simple twisted chignon on short, thick hair. Keep reading to learn how to get the perfect chignon in seven simple steps.

What You’ll Need:

  • Japanese hairpins
  • Matte bobby pins
  • A hairnet
  • A bungee hair tie
  • Hair spray
  • Teasing comb
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Choose Your Texture

Step 1

You can create a chignon in various textures. Natural or stylized curls would be beautiful in a chignon, but to keep this look classic, I’m going to cater this tutorial to smoothed out, straightened texture. I used a hot brush to alter my naturally wavy hair for a softer finish quickly. If you want an extra sleek style, I suggest running over your strands with a flat iron.

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Define Your Parting

Step 2

Again, any parting is a good parting when creating a chignon. I kept my natural side part for ease and used the end of my tail comb to straighten it out for a cleaner look.

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Build Your Volume

Step 3

I suppose volume is always optional, but I like to have a little extra lift up top, specifically around the crown area. You can be as dramatic with this as you’d like, but I kept my volume pretty subtle. For easy-to-achieve volume, I wove out small sections at a time and over directed the hair before teasing. Over-directing will help give the hair some height to stand on its own when you bring it back down. The best comb for building volume on medium-heavy hair is the YS Park 150 Teasing Comb because it is uniquely designed with three layers of teeth to help create that fluffy base at the root. A boar bristle teasing brush will be a better fit for building volume if you have finer hair.

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Create a Low Ponytail

Step 4

I recommend creating your ponytail about one-to-two inches up from your hairline. This will keep your chignon from sitting at the base of your neck and getting ruined as you inevitably move around. If you have thicker hair, opt for the 2 inches or slightly more, depending on length and the size of your bun.

You can use any hair tie of your choosing, but I suggest using a bungee cord on medium-thick density hair types like my own. Bungee cords have two hooks on each end and allow for much more control and tension, giving you a perfect hold without snapping your hair tie. Select a bungee cord that matches closest to your hair color.

If you have longer hair, you may want to conceal your hair tie. By taking a small section of hair from beneath your ponytail, carefully hold it out and away from the head and spray it with a medium hold hair spray before wrapping it around the base of your ponytail. Remember, this part is totally optional. Due to the length and density of my own strands, my hair was not a good fit for this step so I decided I would conceal my tie later with the shape of my chignon instead.

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Use a Hair Net

Step 5

The hairnet is one of the best-kept secrets to Kate Middleton’s infamous chignons, so this trick will have you feeling like a part of the royal family in no time. Getting a hairnet that matches your hair color will make it difficult for anyone to distinguish what’s holding your strands into such perfect placement. This is especially great for those of you with layered hair that tends to kick out of place when pulled up, or perhaps like me, your hair is deceivingly thick and struggles to hold its shape. Wrapping a hair net around your ponytail and pinning the excess netting into the base of your ponytail will help you have the utmost control when it comes time to create your bun shape.

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Secure Your Shape

Step 6

When it comes to creating a seamless updo, you want to hide any sign of effort. That means making the hair accessories you use invisible. This might be one of the most important details to any updo or style you create, which means that the pins you use are essential. I recommend using a couple of matte bobby pins that match your hair color to tuck in those ends and secure the foundation of your shape. Hairpins can also be used to fine-tune and secure your shape. Japanese hairpins are great for updos because they have a textured surface that helps grip onto your hair and, therefore, won’t slip out easily.

The shape you make can be a simple twist, knot, or wrap. There are plenty of beautiful ways to define your chignon, especially with longer hair. Since my hair skims right at my shoulders, I opted for a clean and simple twist. Longer lengths can get a little more creative, using little tricks like the topsy turvy to give more detail to their ponytails, or separating the front sections to twist back around at the end. There’s no wrong way to shape your chignon. It’s all about finding a shape that suits your hair type and aligns with the style of your choosing.

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Finishing Touches

Step 7

I know a lot of us like our hairstylists to tell us what we should do and what’s best for our hair, and while I do believe it’s a stylist’s job to help you, I’m also a big believer that no one knows your hair as well as you do. So when it comes to finishing touches, ask yourself, how does your hair normally hold up? What kind of style are you going for? Maybe you decided to opt-out of the volume for a sleeker, snatched chignon, in which case I would suggest using a good shine spray to finish off your style. If you have hair that’s prone to frizzing or isn’t in its natural texture, you might opt for hairspray to help keep your look intact. If you choose to keep some curl and texture to your style, loosen up your look with a dry texturizing spray. A few mists of your choice, and voila; you have a beautiful, classic, easy-to-achieve chignon (and the confidence to pronounce it).

  • How long does your hair need to be for a chignon?

    Hair that sits at your shoulders, or slightly above, is the perfect length to create a chignon. Although, if your hair is shorter, there are many options to still rock a chignon including a hair piece or temporary extensions.

  • Where did the chignon originate?

    In ancient Greece, women and men created a simple low-bun hairstyle, which often included jewelry to show off their wealth.