A slicked-back bun is a staple hairstyle, especially for those with curly and coily hair. It’s one of those hairdos that works for any occasion, but anyone with type 3 or 4 hair knows this look requires patience and precision. From detangling to molding the hair, creating a perfectly sleek bun is a process. But thankfully, the pros have a few tips on how to make bringing the style to life easier. Ahead, celebrity hairstylists Ric Pipino and Larry Sims share exactly how to achieve a slicked-back bun on textured hair.
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Section Your Hair
“The first step in creating the perfect slick back bun is sectioning your hair off [with clips or hair ties],” Sims says. Once your hair is sectioned, you’ll want to begin detangling with a boar bristle brush to ensure there are no knots. “A sleek hairstyle requires brushing every layer to ensure flatness,” Sims notes. “It’s important to ensure that your curls are wet during this process because they will be easier to manage and lay flat. Type 4 hair dries faster than other hair types, so it’s especially important to keep the hair damp to allow for easy maneuvering,” Sims explains.
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After detangling, it’s time to focus on adding styling products to your hair. Sims recommends first mixing water and leave-in conditioner in a spray bottle and misting the combination all over your hair to ensure your hair is adequately moisturized. Once you’ve applied water and a leave-in conditioner to your hair, add gel to each section. “Prepping the hair with product will ensure that [the hair is smooth enough] for the final look,” Pipino explains.
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Part Your Hair
While applying product to your curls, you can take some time to figure out how you’d like to part your hair (i.e., middle, side, zig-zag, etc.). Once you’ve decided, use a comb to create the desired part and apply more gel along the part line to keep it in place.
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Pull Your Hair Back
After parting your hair, the next step is pulling it back into a ponytail. To do this, brush and comb your hair until it is smooth. Then, pull your hair into a tight low ponytail. “I highly recommend using hair bands with hooks on each end,” Pipino says. “This way, you can hook one end of the band to the ponytail and keep twirling the band around [as you create the ponytail]. This will keep the hair tight, making it easier to achieve the bun.”
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Twist Your Hair Into a Bun
Once you’ve pulled your hair back, start twisting it into a bun. You can secure the shape using another hair tie or bobby pins. Pipino recommends adding more product and hairspray to the front of your hair for a lasting, smooth look. Sims suggests applying a small amount of Flawless by Gabrielle Union’s Repairing Edge Control ($8). “It creates a super long-lasting hold without flaking or building up, and it’s infused with Biotin to help stimulate growth and creatine to rebuild and strengthen hair,” he says. Sims shares that mousse or oil can also help smooth through any flyaways that may appear.
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Set the Style
If you want to ensure your slicked-back bun lasts a while, it’s important to take the appropriate measures to set the style. “After you create the bun, use a silk scarf to set your hair into place,” Sims says. Once your hair is dry, remove the scarf and apply a final mist of hairspray to give your sleek bun added shine and hold. Another pro tip? If you have a hooded dryer, you can also use it to ensure your hair remains sleek. “Hooded dryers are a great alternative to quickly setting the hairstyle,” Sims adds.