Compared to the speedy bun you might whip up for laying on the sofa, the TikTok-trending topknot has a couple of extra steps — though it's twice as polished and very wearable. Amassing 5.4 million views and counting, celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton recently went viral for his take on the casual updo, while Sam McKnight took to Instagram last week to show how it's done on Gigi Hadid.
The topknot isn't exactly new, but unlike the classic style, 2022's take features face-framing tendrils, intentionally spiky ends, a deep middle parting (the superior kind, according to TikTok), and boasts a handful of very smart hacks to stop it unravelling. The 'modern' topknot, if you will — and there isn't a spongy hair doughnut in sight (remember those?).
Of course, the best technique varies depending on the length of your hair and its texture. Thankfully, TikTok's hair enthusiasts are making it seriously easy — here's how.
How to do the modern topknot on curly hair
@lian.vng pinpoints Kendall Jenner as the inspiration behind their middle-part topknot bun. The TikToker starts off with "week-old hair" to give the bun a little more hold (just-washed hair tends to be a little too slippery) and a dollop of styling cream pulled through the mid-lengths and ends. "It makes it bounce back like that!" Lian parts their hair down the middle and leaves out two front sections of hair. The rest is brushed up into a simple twisted bun using a smoothing brush and secured with a hair tie.
"You're going to take these two parts," says Lian, referring to the front sections, "and put some Gorilla Snot in it." (Gorilla Snot is a hair styling product beloved by celebrity stylists like Jen Atkin for keeping sleek updos from budging an inch.) "Then you're going to grab a hard bristle brush," says Lian, "and brush it all the way to the back." Take a bobby pin and pin the front sections behind the bun, and if your hair is long enough, wrap the ends around the bun and secure with another hair tie.
How to do the modern topknot on medium-length hair
To recreate this look, you'll need two sturdy hair ties, a dense flat brush, a small comb, and hair pomade. "First, part your hair down the middle. This is super, super important," says the TikToker in @inhhair's video. "Then you're going to take some pomade and flatten all the little flyaways. The next step is to brush the front section back only, then to scoop all of your lengths into a high ponytail very tightly. To finish, twist the bun, and secure with a small claw clip. Et voilà — that Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, Hailey Bieber topknot."
How to do the modern topknot on long hair
Though Chris Appleton has a great topknot hack for long hair, Haley Odegard's is arguably a little less fiddly for a beginner. Using a paddle brush loaded with hairspray, Odegard brushes their hair back into a high ponytail. The next step is to split the ponytail down the middle and twist both sections of hair from the base to the tip. Clutching tightly, pass each section of hair over the other, starting at the front, until you create a knotted bun. Take a couple of bobby pins and pin the twisted bun but allow the ends to flick out for a slightly lived-in feel.
How to do the modern topknot on short hair
If your hair is on the short side, the slicked topknot is your friend — and TikToker @ellen.vlora is proof. You'll need OUAI's Matte Pomade, an oval paddle brush and a smoothing brush, as well as hair elastics. Ellen starts by raking the pomade through their roots and mid-lengths, then pulls the hair into a high ponytail using the smoothing brush. With short hair you're bound to get some strays at the back, but Ellen has a solution: Simply take a little more pomade, smooth the back lengths upwards with your hands, twist and secure with two hair slides. Then all you need to do is twist the ponytail around the base and secure it with a clear hair tie. The pronged ends make this super cute.
How to do the modern topknot on thick hair
@emmarosebland's middle-part topknot is inspired by Kendall Jenner, who has made this her signature off-duty style. With thick hair, it pays to section off the front part. Clip this forward and brush the rest of your lengths into a high ponytail, but don't secure it with a hair tie. Instead, twist the hair around itself so it looks a bit like a rope, then twist this into a bun shape. Secure this with as many hair elastics as you need to keep the bun from feeling wobbly. Now, on to the front. Emma creates a deep middle parting and pulls each section back, securing it behind the bun with hair elastics. This is what gives the style a 'snatched' feel.
How to do the modern topknot on natural hair
TikToker Cecile sprays their 4C hair with water first and parts it down the middle. Take a good amount of Eco Style Olive Oil Styling Gel, and slick each side using a smoothing brush. Cecile says that using a hair tie to keep one section in place as you're doing the other is a good idea. "I tie my hair twice and do a half-bun," says Cecile. "That shit looks nice already, then I just put some TRESemmé hairspray to hold that part back just so it can look really slick and then I lay the edges with got2b." (Cecile uses got2b Ultra Glued Styling Gel for Edges).
How to do the modern topknot on fine hair
If you're not into a center parting and you want your hair to look thicker, try this trick, courtesy of Chris Appleton. He gathers his model's hair up into a high ponytail using a small scrunchie and spreads the ponytail over the scrunchie, placing a smaller hair tie on top so that it creates a small bun shape. "Pull [the bun] out so that it creates some height and then criss-cross the ends over," says Appleton. All you need to do then is pin the ends into place and take a small smoothing brush to fluff out the hairline for an accidentally-perfect finish. "This looks triple the thickness in no time at all."
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This article was originally published on Refinery29 UK.