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Mais Oui! How to Do a Chignon, the Classic French Bun Hairstyle

Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Quick: Name three things that are quintessentially French. In addition to croissants and berets, we hereby move that the classic chignon hairstyle should make the list. Not only is the chignon synonymous with elegance, it’s also surprisingly easy—after all, it’s really a hairstyle you’re already quite familiar with. “Quite literally it means ‘bun’ in French,” explains celebrity hairstylist Clariss Rubenstein. But “chignon” and “bun” aren’t exactly interchangeable; we’re here to explain just what the chignon bun is, along with Rubenstein’s expert insight. Plus, get a step-by-step tutorial, and keep scrolling for some stunning red carpet looks worth copying.

About the Expert:

Clariss Rubenstein is a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles.

What is a chignon?

“Traditionally a chignon is worn low near the nape of the neck, and contains the majority or all of the hair,” explains Rubenstein. It may translate to “bun,” but a chignon “does not have to be a classic-style bun—[i.e.] wrapped around itself—but can be tucked under or twisted in a simple style,” according to the hairstylist. Lastly, the style is “worn as a single bun, never in multiples,” says Rubenstein. (In other words, don’t expect to see “space chignons” anytime soon.)

The chignon’s origins may be French, it’s strikingly universal. “If your hair is long enough to be pulled back and tucked or wrapped into a bun, you can wear a chignon,” says Rubenstein. But don’t worry if you don’t have long hair, says the stylist: “If you need more length, temporary extensions or even a clin-in bun work well.” The style can also be worn by all hair types. “Absolutely all hair textures can wear a chignon,” states Rubenstein.

How to do a chignon, step by step:

What you’ll need: 


  1. Prep your chignon. “Smooth all hair into a ponytail at the nape of your neck. If you are going for more texture or working with natural curls, simply use your fingers so as to not to disrupt the texture. If you are going for a smoother look, brush the ponytail with a natural bristle brush,” says Rubenstein.
  2. Form the bun. “Create your bun by wrapping the hair around the base with your hands, and secure it using French hair pins,” says the stylist.
  3. Et voilà! Add a spritz of hairspray to keep your chic chignon in place, and au revoir!

Celeb chignon inspo to try:

1. Daytime elegance

Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, greeting children and sporting a messy chignon hairstyle
Photo by Tabatha Fireman / Stringer/Getty Images

Megan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, often opts for some form of this hairstyle, and her slightly messy bun (in a good way) is perfection. We love how she keeps the look from being overly simplistic by styling it with a pretty side tendril and volume at the crown.

2. Retro Updo

Zendaya posing and looking glam in a chignon hairstyle on the red carpet
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

Leave it to Zendaya to pair two timeless styles—finger waves and a low chignon—and make them seem modern and fresh. Feel free to pin her look to your “Wedding Hairstyles” Pinterest board (we already have!)

3. Fanned-Out Low Bun

As Rubenstein stated, not all chignons have to be classic buns to be called chignons—and this fanned-out style on Lily Aldridge is a perfect example. Chignons also tend to look fantastic with hair accessories, and Alridge’s gold hair piece is a gorgeous finishing touch.

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About the author
Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated August 11, 2021 12:00 AM