So I think it’s fair to say that pretty much every natural curly-haired girl has a struggle fitting and laying down their hair into a neat, classy donut bun. Let’s be real, it’s not easy getting coily type 4 hair slick and brushed down without flyaways. If you had asked me a couple of months ago, I would’ve said it’s borderline impossible. Even if you do somehow get your mane wrapped around a donut, it’ll probably look frizzy, small, and just… not cute. Allow Middle School me demonstrate what a donut bun is not supposed to look like.
And these two photos here are how donut buns typically look. Girls with straight hair have it the easiest, but type 2 and most type 3 hair girls are also able to lay their locks to the nines with a little water and gel. We typically see the mixed ethnicity divas as the ladies who are not only able to squeeze all their hair into the single band but also achieve that perfect “shiny” look. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about.
And if we’re being honest, some of the best buns are the ones that don’t have even a “donut.” Any attractive bun is a win in my books. Sometimes getting that “shiny” look is extremely challenging without straightening your hair in some way, or brushing each strand to the MAX. And that’s after applying two handfuls of gel and water.
Don’t worry though curlfriend! You can still rock that ’rounded’ bun look on type 4 coils. And *spoiler* your hair doesn’t have to look exactly like looser hair girls’ for you to still SLAY that bomb updo. Let me present with you with the bun I rocked today (in contrast with 7th grade me. )
A lot better huh? May not be what you’re going for, but I absolutely loved it. I was able to retain my natural curl texture while getting it smooth and neat. My hair looked really full to me and the style lasted the whole day. I plan to tie it down tonight and wear it straight from the bed again tomorrow. But let me stop rambling. Let me tell you how I achieved this perfect donut bun– oh and did I mention that I didn’t even use an actual hair donut?
1.) Start on at least slightly stretched hair
I’m definitely not saying that you need to use any form of heat to loosen the coil a bit. I simple put two large flat twists in my hair last. I hadn’t washed my hair in a week so my locks were relatively dry. Which is a bit preferable in my opinion, when trying to solidify this look.
Flat twists loosened my hair up nicely and helped me achieve the length I was going for. You can use big braids, big twists, rubber bands, anything.
2.) Brush your hair
I’m talking about a typical hairbrush, not a detangling or denman brush. A decently hard bristle hairbrush to smooth down your hair without damaging it. I’ll go ahead and tell you now that you can basically never actually get a smooth bun without brushing your hair first.
I hope it goes without saying that brushing your “hair” means the full circumference of your hair line and edges, not the ends of your hair.
3.) Apply Gel and Water
A big question a lot of naturals have is what kind of gel to use on their curls. Certain gels flake, others over-harden, and others simply don’t work. The search can be an extremely eventful venture. Ecostyler gel is a staple for many type 4 ladies but I actually chose to use another form of gel for hold my hair in place. Notice that I work on getting the hair as smooth as I can get it BEFORE putting a band on it.
I decided to cocktail two products for the best hold. I used “moco de gorila gorilla snot gel indestructible punk,” known for it’s hold meter of 10, and “African Essence Protein Styling Gel,” boasting non-flaking superior hold & shine. The African Essence gel is non-alcoholic, protein enriched, and marketed as a professional product on the back label.
First I rubbed my hair down with some water and then very generously applied the blend all around the edges of my head. This action goes hand in hand with brushing and eventually you’ll start to see a nice shine showing up. Sometimes gorilla snot gel will start flaking along my edges, but I haven’t had that problem when applied to my actual hair.
Let’s just call them the power duo.
4.) Wrap a big band or long shoelace around your hair
Notice my terminology here. What you don’t want to try doing is grabbing all your hair and squeezing it through a medium sized band. Yes, that might be how straight hair girls achieve their ponytails but if you haven’t already noticed, type 4 curls don’t even resemble the hair of pony. That’s why the pulled back ‘do is normally referred to as a “puff.” Wrapping your hair in the way that other girls wrap their ponytails just limits your volume and can even give the illusion of decreased length.
You want to take the large band or shoelace and start by wrapping it around the circumference of your hair. You got to tackle the very outside before you work towards the center. You then progressively squeeze the band/lace by pulling both sides in opposite directions. You’ll watch the puff take shape and feel your hair smooth as the band/lace tightly glides over it’s surface. You finish off by wrapping as many times as necessary to hold the puff firm without losing the snugness around the edge of your hair.
This results in a maximum volume and a much fuller area of hair to work with. The more hair, the better when trying to not make your donut bun look stingey. Once you secure the puff, you’re already halfway to your bun.
5.) Use thick extension hair in place of the donut
I know; what?? One of the most embarrassing things back when I used to do my old donut buns, was when the hair donut was visible due to the fact that my natural hair wasn’t long enough to fully cover it. It was pretty noticeable and it wasn’t cute. Plus half the time, the real struggle was to even find a donut bun suitable for my hair texture and desired size. A pair of stockings cut and rolled up was my typical foundation for my bun. But that can only take you so far.
Wrapping thick extension hair underneath my natural hair meant my hair blended in naturally with any areas that my natural couldn’t cover. No shame in wanting a bun bigger than your length will allow. It also gave me extra volume and the nice rounded shape I wanted. You can’t even tell that there’s extension hair underneath my natural hair.
I would call my hair medium-length so if your hair is the same length or longer, then you should only have small gaps where the fake hair peaks out through the areas you wrapped your real hair over. Understandably, the step immediately after this would wrapping your real hair as much over the fake hair and securing it in place.
6.) Wrap a smaller-to-medium size band around the natural and extension hair
This step is pretty obvious but you have to wrap a band around your Puff and fake hair to actually form the bun. The band needs to be small enough to firmly hold your hair in place, but big enough to fit around all of it. You could also use a larger band and wrap it around multiple times if more convenient. You just dont want to over squish your bun and restrict the size.
7.) Gel your edges and sideburns
Not a must but can definitely help the overall look. It’ll help the updo look smooth and attractive even after a bit of wear. Nice ringlets can spice up your style that much more.
8.) Tie it down
This might be the last step but its definitely as important as the others. There’s nothing that holds a style down better than a silk scarf. Tie it relatively tight and leave it on as long you want. This will hold any flyaways firmly down and maintain your edges from frizzing or reverting. Especially don’t skip this step if you plan to rock your bun for multiple days. This bun lasted me 3 days without touchups and I was honestly able to boast I #wokeuplikethis.
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