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What Is a Ballet Bun?

A ballet bun keeps hair out of a dancer's face.
Different types of dancers tweak the ballet bun to achieve the look they need.
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  • Written By: Lauren Romano
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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A ballet bun is the traditional hairstyle a ballerina wears while dancing. It's secured high on top of the head so it keeps the hair out of the face. Creating the style takes only a few steps, but the results must be perfect. To ensure it remains that way, it's best to keep a few hair supplies on hand at all times. Non-dancers also wear the style and have tweaked it in different ways.

Ballerinas traditionally wear a ballet bun, although depending on the production, occasionally may have a different hairstyle. The bun requires the hair to be secured high on top of the head in a small, compact circular design. Ballet studios and companies usually have an entry in their dress code that dictates ballerinas must wear this particular hairstyle while performing and practicing.

The main reason for wearing a ballet bun is to keep the hair out of the dancer's face. Ballerinas dance across the stage, twirl around, and often dance for hours at a time. Having hair that whips around the face creates a distraction, which could cause her, or other dancers, to get injured or not perform properly. The hairstyle also helps them appear more put-together, which is an essential part of ballet dancing.

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To create the ballet bun, use a hairbrush to pull all of the hair up into a tight ponytail and secure it near the crown of the head using a hair elastic; place the base of the ponytail where the bun is going to be. Apply gel and water to hands, then twist the ponytail from top to bottom so the hair compacts and is easier to work with. Wrap it around the base of the ponytail, then use hairpins all around the base of the bun to secure it. Put a fine hair net over the bun — it must be the same color as the hair — then use more hairpins so it stays in place. Use hairspray and gel all over the head, as well as more hairpins if necessary, until nothing moves and all the stray hairs are in place.

Considering the ballet bun must look perfect, carry extra hair supplies whenever wearing the style to ensure it stays that way. Hairpins and hair elastics are essential, especially for controlling stray hairs. It's also best to carry a travel-sized bottle of hair gel and hairspray.

Non-dancers have also adopted the ballet bun style. Some wear it neat like a ballerina while others prefer a messier style. Those who prefer the latter will follow the same steps of putting the hair into a ponytail and twisting it so it's easier to secure on the head, but will make it less compact. While stray hairs are frowned upon for the traditional style, the messy style consists of plenty of them as well as some bumps and end pieces sticking up.

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