The Classic Chignon Bun: History, Tips, and Techniques

Updos come and go, but the chignon is a timeless classic that deserves mention. From Audrey Hepburn to Queen Elizabeth II – the chignon has besotted celebrities, royals, and working women. This is largely due to the sophisticated and elegant touch many seek. 

A cross between a traditional ponytail, in technique, but with the look of a low bun – the chignon is the best of both worlds.  

Also known as the French Roll, a chignon bun is similarly versatile; and quick once you master the technique (more on that later!). 

Read on to learn the history of the chignon, the difference between a bun and a chignon, different ways to style a chignon, and expert tips for creating and maintaining the perfect chignon.

Be the envy of any royal with the classically chic chignon!


More from the Iles Formula Journal: How To Do Cheryl Cole’s Red Carpet Chignon In 5 Easy Steps 

What Is A Chignon? 

A chignon is a sophisticated updo and go-to for red carpets, weddings, or even a romantic dinner. The chignon is created by starting with a ponytail and then twisting the hair into a bun. The hair is secured with bobby pins and if needed. 

Many women choose a chignon for elegant occasions, but this doesn’t mean you can’t style one daily. For a quick and sleek look, try out the chignon. It’s a nice departure from your average ponytail or bun. 

The result? A polished look that can withstand those terribly windy or humid days. 

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The perfect start to styling your next chignon (or any updo for that matter)!

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What Do You Need To Create A Chignon?

You will need a few essential tools and products to achieve the perfect chignon. These include a brush, bobby pins, and optional hair accessories.

Brush(es): There are many options to choose from. The Iles Formula Distribution Comb is a game changer for combing conditioner, like the Iles Formula Conditioner, through your hair (for even distribution of the product). However, for styling you may want to consider a round or paddle brush to work through the hair and then a rat tail comb for sectioning. 

Bobby Pins: Where would we be without bobby pins? A wild mess, perhaps! Bobby pins are smooth on one side and rigid on the other. They are used for updos for securing them at the base. 

Iles Formula Pro Tip: Did you know they go rigid side to the base of the head? Have you been using yours wrong this whole time?  If so, this tip will for sure help you out! 

Serum: These do wonders for flyaways and keeping hair in place, no matter the occasion. Use sparingly and consider applying the Iles Formula Finishing Serum to wet or dry hair for added protective styling (from heated tools, UV, color fade, and humidity). 

Accessories: Hair accessory trends change constantly but you can’t go wrong with a classic Twilly Hair Tie. Made in collaboration with French artist Noémi Lacroix, our twillys are made in France using 100% silk. For more on hair accessories, please read our journal: Must Have Accessories For Women

More from the Iles Formula Journal: Must Have Hair Tools To Step Up Your Hair Game 

How Do You Style A Chignon? 

To style a chignon, shampooing and conditioning your hair the night before is best. 

Use the Iles Formula Signature Collection, our award-winning red carpet rescue kit features: Shampoo 200ml + Conditioner, 200ml + Finishing Serum 200ml + Conditioner Distribution Comb. 

To make this coiffure, it's better to have the hair not too fresh to allow for easier styling. If your hair is curly, blow dry it out to a smooth wave; if it is straight, you can let it naturally dry. You can add texture to dry hair by using a  sea salt spray or a dry shampoo. 

This matte texture makes the hair easier to work. Blow dry this product through the hair upside down to create a tousled look.

  • Take sections on the crown and top of head and section by section and back-comb the hair
  • Clip away one section about 1-inch thickness at the nape of your neck
  • Go back up to the crown area and smooth over the outer surface of backcombing with a small brush. Leave the hair texture a bit rough, as it's more modern
  • Then attach the hair in a low ponytail, sitting just on the section line of the hair that is pinned away near the nape of your neck
  • Back-comb the base of the ponytail with the piece you sectioned out, then roll the 2 pieces together in an upward direction. Pin in place with bobby pins or big flat U-shaped pins. Keep this pretty flat in shape not too round or big.

    Iles Formula Pro Tip: Don't use hairspray! You’ll want to keep the style alive and free, not too stiff.

    History Of The Chignon 

    Speaking of timeless, the chignon has been around for centuries. First seen in ancient Greece and Rome, the chignon was further popularized in the 18th century. 

    However, by the early 1900s, the chignon bun was a popular hairstyle among the elite and has been a staple ever since. In the 1920s, accessories came into play and the chignon bun was worn with a side part and a bow. It faded slightly in the 1930s, but by the 1940s, the chignon peaked again. Only this time, more were tucking their hair in 

    The style loosened and relaxed (quite literally!) largely by the 50s and 60s; the chignon bun was worn high with a bouffant. This further reflected changing society and important movements of the time. 

    However, in the 70s and 80s, the chignon bun was worn low and sleek. This low, sleek style has maintained its popularity and has become widely worn by the modern working woman. It’s quick, sleek, and best of all – stays in place whether you’re dashing to to the train or running late to an event. 

    Now, we see the chignon bun as a classic and versatile hairstyle that can be worn for any occasion, whether at work or an evening on the town.

    What Is The Difference Between A Bun And A Chignon? 

    The difference between a bun and a chignon is that a bun is a hairstyle that involves gathering all the hair into a knot at the back of the head. A chignon is a more intricate hairstyle involving twisting the hair and then wrapping it into a coil or knot. 

    Not more complicated, but still more is involved to create a polished look than a quick, messy bun before a workout. Both do the trick, but depend on the occasion and preference. 

    The chignon is often used to create a more formal look and is commonly used for special occasions.

    A bun is a more casual hairstyle that can be created with any hair length. It is usually created by pulling the hair back into a ponytail and then wrapping it into a knot or twist. It can also be created with a few bobby pins to hold the hair in place.

    You can also style a chignon differently, like the French twist, a half-up chignon, or a side-swept chignon. 

    Various Ways A Chignon Can Be Styled 

    Messy Chignon 

    The messy chignon bun is a great way to add texture and volume to your hair. To create this look, you should start with a high ponytail. Then, twist the ponytail and wrap it around itself to form a bun. Secure the bun with bobby pins Go for a more romantic look with loose strands of hair in the front and a knot in the back. 

    It's a great look for a candlelight dinner for two as well as a night out at the opera.


    Messy Chignon

    Braided Chignon  

    A braided chignon is perfect for special occasions or a night out. To create this look, you will need to start with a high ponytail. Then, braid the ponytail and wrap it around itself to form a bun. Secure the bun with bobby pins and.


    Braided Chignon

    Side-Swept Chignon 

    The side-swept chignon is a great way to add a romantic touch to your look. To create this look, you will need to start with a high ponytail. Then, twist the ponytail and wrap it around itself to form a bun. Secure the bun with bobby pins and sweep the hair over the bun to one side. 

    Double Chignon 

    The double chignon is a great way to add a modern touch to your look. To create this look, you will need to start with two high ponytails. Then, twist each ponytail and wrap them around each other to form two buns. Secure the buns with bobby pins.

    Half-Up Chignon

    The half-up chignon is a great way to add a touch of sophistication to your look. To create this look, you will need to start with a high ponytail. Then, twist the ponytail and wrap it around itself to form a bun. Secure the bun with bobby pins and then leave the remaining hair down.

    Iles Formula Tips & Tricks:

    • For extra volume, tease the hair at the crown of the head before gathering it into a ponytail.
    • To add texture to the style, use a texturizing spray before styling.
    • For a more formal look, use a decorative hair accessory to finish the look.

    Chignon Bun Guide For Short And Fine Hair 

    Creating a chic chignon for short and fine hair can be tricky, but with the right techniques and products, you can achieve a polished and sophisticated look. Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the perfect chignon.

    Step 1: Brush And Gather Hair 

    The first step to achieving the perfect chignon is to brush and gather your hair. Start by brushing your hair with a brush or comb to remove any tangles and knots. 

    If you have long hair, you can use a wide-toothed comb or brush to help separate the strands and make them easier to manage. 

    Once you have brushed your hair, gather it into a high ponytail at the crown of your head. Secure the ponytail with an elastic band or hair tie. You can also use bobby pins to keep the ponytail in place, but be sure to use a gentle touch when doing so. 

    Step 2: Twist The Ponytail 

    Take your gathered hair and start twisting it from the base of the ponytail. Make sure to twist it in the same direction all the way up to the end. 

    It is important to keep the twist tight and secure as you go, as this will be the foundation of your bun. 

    Once you reach the end of the ponytail, twist it around itself to create a coil. Secure the coil with a few bobby pins. This will help keep the bun in place and ensure it lasts throughout the day.

    Step 3: Tuck In Under The Coil 

    Once you have twisted the ponytail, you can start to tuck it in under the coil. To do this, you will need to hold the coil with one hand, while using the other hand to tuck the ends of the ponytail underneath the coil. Make sure to tuck the ends in securely. 

    You can also add some bobby pins to help secure it in place. You can also use a small elastic band to secure the coil, but make sure to use one that matches your hair color so it isn’t too visible. 

    Once you have tucked in the ends of the ponytail, you should have a neat and tidy chignon.

    Step 4: Secure With Bobby Pins 

    Once the coil is in place, it's time to secure the chignon bun with bobby pins. Start by inserting one bobby pin into the coil from the bottom, going up and through the hair. 

    You may need to use more than one bobby pin for short or fine hair to ensure the chignon stays in place. For extra security, you can place the pins in a crisscross pattern to ensure it doesn't slip out. 

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    Who wears a chignon? 

    The classic chignon bun has been a popular hairstyle for centuries and is a favorite among many celebrities, royalty, and fashionistas. The chignon bun is often seen adorning the heads of brides, bridesmaids, and other wedding party members, as well as being a popular style for red carpet events. 

    It is also a favorite among dancers, allowing freedom of movement without sacrificing style. The chignon bun is also a great choice for those with long or medium-length hair, as it can be easily adjusted to fit any face shape. It is a timeless look that is sure to turn heads.

    What is a chignon also called? 

    A chignon is a classic hairstyle that has been around for centuries. It is also known as a French chignon, French twist, or French knot. The chignon is a low, twisted bun that is usually secured at the nape of the neck and can be worn for both formal and informal occasions. It is a versatile hairstyle that can be dressed up with accessories or kept simple for a more classic look. The chignon is a timeless hairstyle that is sure to never go out of style.

    What style is a chignon? 

    The chignon is a type of updo that is characterized by a low, neat bun at the nape of the neck. The style can vary from a simple, neat bun to a more intricate style with braids or twists. It can be worn for a formal occasion or for a more casual look. 

    Is a French twist a chignon? 

    A French twist is a classic hairstyle that is similar to a chignon, but it is not the same. The French twist is a hairstyle that is created by twisting the hair up and securing it at the back of the head. 

    The chignon is a hairstyle that is created by gathering the hair into a low ponytail and then wrapping it into a bun. While the French twist and chignon are similar, they are not the same. The French twist is a more formal style that is often seen at formal events, while the chignon bun is a more casual style that can be worn for everyday occasions.

    What is the difference between a bun and a chignon? 

    A bun and a chignon are two different hairstyles. A bun is a hairstyle usually worn on the back of the head or at the nape of the neck. A bun is usually created by looping the hair around itself and securing it with a hair tie or pins. 

    A chignon is a more sophisticated hairstyle created by twisting the hair into a knot or coil and securing it with pins. Compared to a bun, a chignon is generally more polished and elegant.

    Is the chignon good for thin hair?

    The chignon is a great hairstyle for those with thin hair. It can be styled to create volume and texture, making it perfect for those with finer hair. 

    To get the most out of this hairstyle, it is important to use the right products and styling techniques. Start by using a volumizing shampoo and conditioner to help thicken the hair. Avoid using heavy gels or waxes, as they can weigh the hair down.

    When styling, it is important to create texture and volume. 

    • Start by using a curling iron to create loose waves in the hair. This will give the hair some lift and volume. 
    • Next, gather the hair into a low ponytail and secure it with an elastic. 
    • Twist the ponytail and wrap it around the base of the ponytail to create a chignon. 
    • Secure the chignon with bobby pins, making sure to use extra pins for thin hair. 

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