Best Bun Practices for Length Retention


With the cold weather breathing down my neck and the drying air that accompanies the cool temps, as well as the return of friction-causing, lint-spreading, tangle-inducing sweaters, coats, scarves and hats, it seemed like a good time to bring back protective styling in force!!! So, I’ve decided to embark on my own personal bunning challenge for the next month or two. However, as many of you know, constant bunning can cause more harm than good if done haphazardly or without good techniques. It can be murder on your edges and crown and result in some nasty detangling sessions if done improperly. So, if healthy length retention is your goal, it’s important to establish a strong regimen.

That being said, I decided to put together a list of bunning steps and techniques that I’ve found give me the biggest bang for my buck! Hope that you find them helpful!


  • Start with clean and well-conditioned hair. A dirty scalp can clog pores and cause “the itchies.” Dirty hair can collect lint and dirt that cause knots and tangles, resulting in breakage. Dry and/or weak hair is more susceptible to damage and breakage. So, wash, condition/detangle and deep condition (moisturizing or protein, as needed) weekly or every two weeks. (Note: You can find my wash day regimen here.)
  • Apply a leave-in conditioner and/or moisturizer.
  • If desired, massage scalp with a stimulating oil such as Wild Growth Hair Oil, Jamaican Black Castor Oil or an essential oil mix like the one I shared here.
  • Seal hair using an oil, butter or follow the L.O.C. Method.
  • Stretch curls, kinks and coils with twists, braids, Bantu knots or lightly blow-out to reduce tangles and single-strand knots. Stretching also makes it easier to thoroughly re-moisturize hair, when needed.
  • Bun hair after it dries fully. Bunning wet can cause mildew and/or result in over-conditioned/weak hair if the hair can’t dry.
  • Wear buns in different styles and positions. This reduces repeated tension on the same areas and alleviates boredom! Don’t forget, you can wear your bun high, low, to the side, to the other side, make multi-buns, roll, tuck, braid, twist, pin-curl and/or add extra hair too!! Check out YouTube, other hair blogs and my Style Library for oodles of ideas!


  • Don’t pull hair too tightly!! Your edges and nape will thank you! Plus, a loose, messy bun can be fun, relaxed, sophisticated and sexy ;)!
  • Use hair-friendly tools to secure your buns. There are a lots of options available and you don’t have to choose just one! Hair bungees, ouchless/metal-free hair elastics, satin scrunchies, silicone ponytail holders, banana clips and/or comfort flex barrettes are all great tools. You can also go the homemade route! Try cutting the leg of a pair of opaque tights into a 1-2 inch loop to make a DIY ponytail holder!
  • Be careful with bobby and hair pins! Don’t stab your scalp and use as few pins as needed to secure your style. Your scalp/head shouldn’t be sore or hurt while or wearing a bun or after releasing it. If it is, those are signs that the scalp is being traumatized and/or the style is too tight. Also, use good quality, undamaged pins to prevent snagging and tearing (check out this post for the Best Bobby Pins! They are totally worth the investment IMHO).
  • If you are using a gel for hold, ensure that it is free of drying alcohols. Not sure which alcohols are drying?  Check out Skills Notes: Product Ingredients!
  • Smooth the surface of hair leading to the bun(s) lightly with a firm, natural bristle brush or a fine-tooth comb laid flat on its side. Yes!! I said a fine-tooth comb!! I just learned about this from watching this video by my girl MyHairFetish, where she demonstrates how this enemy of natural-haired women everywhere is converted from foe to friend!!

(I’ve only tried this a couple of times, but I’ll be forsaking my Phillips teasing brush for a fine-toothed comb for the immediate future.)

  • Don’t brush/comb through to your scalp/roots. Simply smooth the top surface of the hair and tie edges down with a silk or satin scarf for 10-15 minutes to set.
  • Release bun and re-moisturize and seal as needed between wash sessions. For some, this may be every day, for others it may be a few times a week and for others still, it may not be at all between wash sessions. This is entirely dependent upon your hair’s needs. The important thing is to make certain that your hair doesn’t become dry and brittle.
  • Wear a silk/satin scarf or bonnet at night and/or sleep on a silk/satin pillowcase.
  • Wear hair bunned for a minimum of 5-6 days a week.


And here are a few extra tips to make a bunning regimen work for you!

  • Think you hair is too short to bun? Maybe not! If you can make a ponytail, you can probably bun. Try stretching, using a sock bun and/or adding extension hair for length and fullness!!
 Check out the many wonderful YouTube mavens for ways to make buns work for short to medium-length hair.
  • Feeling bored and ho-hom? Dont forget to accessorize! Dress up buns with cute accessories like bows, headbands, flowers (my fave!), broaches, hair sticks, hair forks, snoods, etc. Just make certain that your accessories are gentle and don’t snag or dry hair.
  • Brrrrrr!!! Cold ears a concern? Don’t forget your earmuffs or opt for more stylish and trendy winter headbands! To keep knits, cotton, wool and fleece from robbing your hair of healthy moisture, tie a small silk or satin scarf under the headband or sew a piece of silk or satin fabric to the inside to make your own custom lining. Choose a pretty printed fabric to up the cuteness factor! Or, you can just buy pre-made satin-lined headbands like these flowered and sequined ones sold on!
  • Ends looking and feeling jacked? Get a trim or do it yourself because, who wants to retain ratchet looking length?!

Sooooo … that’s all I got. Now, about my personal bunning challenge. It actually may not remain that way! If you’re interested in joining me, stay tuned for the “official” buning challenge announcement, which is coming very soon!


Do you bun for length retention? What techniques work for you? What Best Bun Practices would you add to the list?


22 responses »

  1. Great post! I’ve been unintentionally bunning two or three days a week when my hair looks a hot mess. I have been thinking about bunning more during the winter but it doesn’t get that cold where I live. (Last week it was 80 degrees!)


  2. My hair buns really well on dirty hair 🙂 I just make sure that when I do bun (dirty or clean), I do NOT detangle. Detangling will cause breakage unless I wet it and add some conditioner for slip. Even with using oil on my dry hair to detangle, I incure some breakage. I’ve found that I need a combo of oil and a slippy condish to detangle with little to no breakage.

    yooooo lol how about my hair is growing faster with WnGs instead of PS. Only thing is the WnGs give me SSKs which I hate. When I PS I don’t get SSKs so I guess I gotta mix it up. I’d say my hair is just about back to the length it was before the cut.


    • I hate SSKs too! That’s why I had to stop the WnG, b/c I think they were detrimental and causing lots of rough tangles, which made rough detangling sessions and pulling out the scissors to cut out knots a lot more often. My name hair is just too fine and it tangles something horrible and high up on the strands too!! I think it’s great if you get good length retention with WnGs!! You probably messed with your hair less b/c you like to experiment a lot with protective styles. Like, didn’t I see you post 2 different buns on IG this weekend;)?

      As to bunning “dirty” hair, I’ve done it often towards the end of the week after an out style has worn out its stay. Shoot, just rocked a “dirty” bun for a week b/c I couldn’t wash my hair b/c of Sandy!! But, for a bunning regimen where I’m actively using that protective style to maintain growth, I think it works better when I start with clean hair.


      • LOL Shelli you know I have Hand in hair syndrome. OK I probably won’t do 40 buns but I’ll use the same bun as a base and change up the front.

        Last night I kept my high bun in and just changed the front. Now, it’s a different bun style 🙂

        Them WnGs man. In one month I had to trim SSKs like 4 times. I don’t like that so they are shelved. Maybe in the summer. I don’t know how Mahoganyknots does it. She said the SSKs don’t bother her though.


      • I have fine hair that’s not tightly curly. I experienced breakage from styling my hair in braid out’s which seemed practical given that my hair is long and tangles. However the longer I did wng, the more ssk’s I noticed. While they never take up more than 2% of my hair, it depends on how you look at it. Seeing one or two a day means one or two strands are damaged somehow. So what I do (and recommend) is to do very few loose braids on damp hair rather than soaking wet, and use the wooden comb from the Body Shop which is wide but not too wide that it skips over finer snarls. Also, avoid stuff like pineapples or any kind of loosr hair at night. Do loose braids. Braidout’s are not really safe for styling very fine hair. But loose braids for the sake of protection and tangle control (rather than definition) can help. I still put shampoo on hair and scalp and my ssks have gone down. I use ph balanced shampoo and try to space out washes as far as I can.


  3. Thanks for all this great info…but, I guess I still don’t understand what is meant by re-moisturize. Please describ how you re-moisturize your bun. Thanks 🙂


    • Thanks Tilaina. Re-moisturize just means I take down my bun and first apply a moisturizing (water as first ingredient) product like Wonder Curl Butter than Love or Cream & Coco Curls for Days Hair Pudding, then seal with an oil like Wild Growth Hair Oil or JBCO mixed w/EVOO. I apply the products to the lower half of my hair usually. But, if my hair feels dry all over, I apply to all of my hair. Then, I put my hair back up in a bun.


  4. Pingback: Hairscapades Bunning Challenge « hairscapades

  5. great post Shelley I love your blog it has been so helpful to me. I’ve been doing a lot of wash and gos lately but it’s been so dry here that I am up for a bun Challenge so I will be staying tuned to see when you start that.


  6. Count me in! I am ready to get some big bodacious bunning going on! Keep me posted on the challenge ;P Good to see you are up and at ’em too – the power’s back on early???!!! 😀


  7. What is an SSK? Shelley, go have it going on. i love your blog! Can you tell me if Kinky Kurly Knot Today is sold in stores or solely on line? I know, I’m all over the place, I’m sorry. I just have a lot of questions.


    • Awwww, thanks Joanna. SSK are single strand knots. If you ever aren’t sure about an acronym or shorthand term, check out “Lexicon” under the “Home” tab. I try to list the ones that I use most often w/o the long description. As to KCKT, yes, it’s sold in stores! Target and Whole Foods both sell it.


  8. I came her from a link from the Mane Objective and I *LOVE* this site! I’m about to step up my hair game and for me, bunning is the perfect way to do it so I’m down for the challenge. I’m a bit past APL and my goal is to get BSL but I’m at a plateau so this bunning challenge is right on time.


  9. ratchet-looking length?!? #FLATLINE

    This post is so ON TIME. I bunned my hair yesterday & the boo loved it! I can’t say that I’m willing to go 5 days a week, but I’ll definitely be bunning more often 😉


  10. I would love to join in on bunning, but I have short edges while the rest of my hair is long-ish…which leads me to think that my edges break easily. Is bunning still possible for someone with edges like mine?


    • I think you can, BUT you shouldn’t pull the hair tightly or brush for a super sleek look. Bunning where you use a roll and tuck technique or soft (not tight) braiding or flat twisting at your edges would probably be the best bets. To bring your hair back into a bun w/o the tight tension or need for slick , smooth edges.


  11. Pingback: CurlKit Reveal « hairscapades

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s