The man bun has been the most famous, talked about, and highly debated haircut in the past 50 years. It sparked controversy and divided the whole world into two teams. On the one hand you have the die-hard fans who love it and will always support it while on the other hand you have people giving it a bad reputation and stating that it’s too feminine. Now we’re going to dissect all that, go into the depths of the man bun, show you how to style it, talk about its history, the celebrities who wear it and much more.
What Is a Man Bun?
The first thing we need to figure out together is what exactly is a man bun? Because ever since it has emerged victoriously on the hairstyling firmament, the original man bun has been corrupted or maybe transposed into tens of other versions. You have your messy buns, your top knots, your buns made of dreads, of man braids, and so on.
Still, the traditional man bun is a hairstyle aiming at men with long hair. It starts with a ponytail that is then bundled or coiled around itself. The wearer can both go natural, and just use an elastic band at the end to secure the bun or a so-called doughnut. But we will get to that in detail below.
The hair has to be bundled or coiled on top of the head or at the crown. This is what a classic man bun requires. Any other position is just a variation. It also has to be perfectly round with smooth hair and no fly-away strands of hair. If you have fly-aways, it’s no longer a man bun, but a messy knot. Which brings us to this.
What Variations of the Man Bun Are There?
As mentioned above, men have gotten very creative with their buns over the years. They came up with different types which we will detail more below. For now, let’s just list them so that you can get a better and clearer picture of what separates a man bun from its spin-offs.
A shaggy bun is a hairstyle in which your round bun placed at the top of your head is not perfectly made. Instead, it has loose strands of hair coming off as if you’ve just come home from a long session of working out. Or from running in the park or doing yoga with your girlfriend.
There’s also the top knot in which you don’t tie your hair into a bun at all. Instead you merely use an elastic band to work your hair into a simple twist and leave it hanging. You will usually have some fly-away strands of hair here as well.
The messy bun or messy knot are variations on the above in which you are not concerned with this particular hairstyle at all. In fact, all you are aiming for is just to get some hair out of your face. There’s a lot of art in this hairstyle and even a great deal of product to get it to look messy. It’s a paradox, we know!
Man buns can also be created if you are wearing man braids or dreadlocks, much in the same way you would with straight hair. There is also the low version of every single type we’ve discussed above. The difference is that, instead of tying your hair up on the crown of the head, you do it down at the nape, closer to a ballerina bun.
The History of the Man Bun
Many people wrongly believe that the man bun was invented just a few years ago, possibly in some hipster neighborhood in New York. They couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, the man bun has a longer history than you might believe.
Chinese soldiers wore man buns 2000 years ago, as evidenced by the Terracotta warriors. If you look closely you will see that they are all wearing this haircut.
Samurai warriors in Japan from the Edo period loved the man bun as well because it helped keep their helmet in place. They shaved the rest of their heads and simply left enough hair on top for the now incredibly famous man bun.
Are you familiar with Sumo wrestlers? We bet you are! Because they are fond of a good man bun as well. So did ancient Scandinavians and Barbarians from Eastern Europe when they fought the Roman Empire. It’s pretty much safe to say that if you were a warrior in the Ancient world, a man bun was a must-have. So, what changed?
Why Did the Man Bun Get a Bad Reputation?
Let’s talk now about a topic that has just captivated the entire world. The man bun’s bad rep. When it first came out and started getting a lot of traction, especially with celebrities, there were a lot of people who loved it to bits. And I mean a lot! In fact, there was a span of a few years when every single man seemed to grow his hair and then get a bun.
But there were also droves of onlookers who simply derided the bun and its wearers. Why? There are a few reasons for that.
First of all because it was considered to be too feminine. Long hair to begin with has been considered a feminine staple for a very long time in our global culture. To actually add a bun to that is taking a step to far according to some people. Buns belong to the feminine hairstyling category. Ballerinas have buns, your fourth grade teacher had one, and so does your mom. Buns on a man? Maybe not.
Second of all because it’s a hairstyle meant to attract attention in a world that is already all about selfies and self-image. This is the hairstyle that says ‘look at me!’ In other words, a lot of people considered that a man bun is the type of thing a man would get not because he actually wanted long hair but because he would get a lot of attention and maybe a lot of compliments on social media.
Other Reasons Why Some Opposed the Man Bun
Thirdly, because men were using the man bun as an excuse to be lazy about grooming themselves. Yes, you read that right. At the height of the man bun craze, people who were opposing this hairstyle were beginning to say this. They though that men who grow their hair long and then tie it up in buns and knots do it so as not to wash it anymore.
Apart from that, a man bun was also viewed as lazy. All you have to do to take care of this look is grow your locks out and then tie them up every day. There are no visits to the barber and no worries. Opponents of this new craze saw it as the epitome of lazy styling.
And, lastly, they came up with the idea that a man bun might also make men go bald. There were some voices which said that all that pulling up your hair and forcing it to stay in a tight bun all day would eventually make men lose their hair.
The conclusion is that there has never been such a controversial hairstyle since the pompadour came back around in the 50s. It was also interesting to watch how a hairstyle that was once worn by warriors as a sign of courage in battle was now being described as too feminine and lazy. This goes to show how times and perception change.
Who Can Wear a Man Bun?
So, having established all that and having looked at both sides of the story, meaning those who love it and those who oppose it, let’s define another thing. Who can wear a man bun? Does anyone get the greenlight for it?
Actually hold your horses for a little bit, warriors, because it’s a little more complicated than that. If you remember what I wrote a few paragraphs above, there are different types of versions of the man bun. That wasn’t just for the sake of the knowledge in hairstyling. If there is more than one variation, then each matches a certain type of facial structure. As follows.
If you have a round face, one that is less defined in structure or one that is slightly on the plump side, specialists suggest you go for the high or maybe even the very high top bun. A very high top bun is the one that sits right on top of the head, close to the forehead. This trick will elongate your face, give it more structure and make it seem slimmer. It will also highlight your cheekbones which would otherwise go unnoticed.
However, if you already have a slender face with a good set of cheekbones and gaunt cheeks, then you’re lucky! You can also try a low bun as well as a messy style.
How About a Beard?
A beard will always compliment a man bun very well and make it look a lot more masculine and rugged. Of course, the type of beard you grow will completely alter the way you look. For example, a bushy beard plus man bun will get you to the coveted lumberjack look. A five o’clock shadow plus man bun will make you look like you just rolled out of bed in search for coffee. If you try a short beard and a messy knot, you’ll look like a bohemian artist looking for his muse. Try different lengths of facial hair and see which one suits you best.
It also depends on what type of hair you have. Simply put if you at either extreme on the density scale, stay away from the man bun.
If you have very thick hair, a man bun will be extremely hard to control. Apart from that, your thick hair will have natural volume and body that will make your head appear rounder and bigger. Even if you try to tame it down with hair care products.
On the other hand, when you have very fine or thin hair, pulling back into a bun will only show off just how thin it really is. So, in this case a bun or a top knot will serve to reveal your problem rather than fix it.
How to Do a Man Bun
Ok. We have been through all the info. You now know the history, you’re a warrior, a poet, an artist who wants a man bun. You have the facial structure and the right type of hair for it. But how do you do it?
First of all, please understand that it’s highly important to have long hair. Men who walk around with a few inches of strands tied up in a knot the size of a marble are doing it wrong. They are also the ones who helped give the bun its bad reputation. Therefore, you need to wait until your hair grows long enough.
Then you need to moisturize your hair as much as you can. After shampooing it, apply a conditioner that has natural ingredients. They can be argan oil, coconut, olive or jojoba oil. Don’t use them at the roots to avoid greasy hair. Start in the middle and work your way to the tips.
If you want, you can also use some leave-in conditioner or dry-oil for after the shower. This will make your hair even softer and better hydrated. In turn, you will notice just how easier it is to create the man bun than with dry and coarse hair.
What Comes After Hydration?
The process is very simple. Start by putting your hair up in a ponytail. After you’ve secured it at your desired height, coil the hair around itself until you get the bun. Tie an elastic hairband around it to make sure it won’t untangle.
You can also use a hair doughnut. They’re made of artificial sponges and very easy to use. But keep in mind they will yield a much bigger bun that will look very neat and official as if you’re going to a meeting or the office.
Man Bun with Man Braids
Another variation of the bun is the one that is either paired with or made entirely out of man braids. The reason why this might be the best one you can wear is because it’s closest to the original meaning of the bun. As we’ve explained the man bun used to be worn by warriors.
Guess what? So were braids. In fact, they have a similar history. They are also called ‘warrior braids’ because they were worn in battle or as a symbols of your victories over your opponents. It is a known fact that the Vikings would grow long braids until they got defeated in combat. When that happened, they had to cut the man braids off as a symbol of shame. Ancient Greek warriors wore man braids as well, which they decorated with beads. Therefore, a man bun with man braids is the mark of a true fighter.
Celebrities Who Wore the Man Bun
We couldn’t really point the finger and show you who the first famous man to sport the man bun was. But a good contender for the title might be David Beckham. The king of hairstyles himself. Beckham wore a man bun a long time ago, back in the 2000s, before all the rest of the male celebrities even knew what this was. So maybe he was the trendsetter.
A few years later he was followed by the likes of Chris Hemsworth and Leonardo DiCaprio. Although, in all fairness, it’s difficult to say if that was a styling choice. Both actors starred in movies for which they had to grow long hair. We’re talking about Thor and The Revenant, respectively.
Two young heartthrobs who really stole the show, got the ball rolling and people talking in the man bun department were none other than Zayn Malik and Harry Styles. They got their buns while still in the larger than life boyband One Direction. Malik’s bun was loved. Styles’ man bun was worshipped. The entire planet talked about it, and whole Instagram accounts were dedicated to it. In fact, when Harry had to cut his hair a few years later to star in Dunkirk, hearts broke in sadness.
More Celebrities Who Wore the Man Bun
Justin Bieber grew one as well as actor Jason Momoa from smash hits such as Game of Thrones and Aquaman. One of them looked better with a man bun than the other. We’ll let you guess which one. We also saw Jared Leto, Kit Harrington, and even Brad Pitt hop on this trend. The latter took people by surprise, even though Brad Pitt has worn long hair many times over the span of his career and not just for movies.
Kit Harrington wearing a man bun was quite alright with everyone as it was clear that the Brit or, to put it more accurately, the King in the North, has mastered the look of the man bun. Even when he wears a suit he can pull it off. Jared Leto was close to his saintly look as he always is with long, straight hair and a messy, low knot.
The Man Bun with Fade
Of course, as is the case with most things, eventually the craze dwindled down a little bit. Harry Styles got a haircut for a movie, Zayn Malik bleached his hair, and Leonardo DiCaprio did everyone a favor and shaved. So the man bun retreated somewhat into obscurity allowing other hairstyles to become the next best thing.
However, that doesn’t mean that men aren’t still wearing it. In fact, they found a clever way of pairing it with the fade. In this way, they can still keep their favorite hairstyle but mix it with today’s new craze. Men also mix and match a man bun with an undercut or with long curly bangs.
The Clip on Man Bun
Did you know there’s a clip on man bun on the market? At one point during the last few years the craze for the bun got so intense that a manufacturer sought to quench men’s thirst for this hairstyle. They recognized that men didn’t want to wait approximately two years until their own hair grew. Instead what men wanted was to join this trend right away.
So they came up with a clip-on man bun which is exactly what it sounds like. It has a little clip on the back that you need to attach to your own hair on top of your head. It comes in three different shades – blonde, dark, and brown, and it costs under $10. If men wear toupees, why not faux man buns? Fake man buns are here to stay!
Since we’re on the topic, if you’re interested to know just how big of a hairstyle the man bun really is, here’s something interesting. Even Mattel released in 2017 a Ken doll which had a bun. Yes, he was dressed in double distressed denim, was very tanned, and had a Ken man bun. Twitter went nuts!
Man Bun with Dreads
This might be one of the coolest hairstyles around at this point. It originates in the traditional man bun but it’s actually a pile up of dreadlocks. We’ve already seen celebrities like A$AP wearing it with so much success, so why not give it a go? If you want, you can also get a fade or an undercut to make the look even edgier.
If not, the theatrical pileup we’ve already mentioned should be enough to get the spotlight on you wherever you go.
How About You?
Are you thinking about growing you hair long and then wearing it in a man bun? If so, take a look at the ideas we’ve chosen for you and the info we’ve provided. It will help you on your journey to the best hairstyle you’ve ever had. If you have any questions, need help or simply have an opinion on the man bun, write to us below in the comment section!