How to style a giant top knot when you don’t have a lot of hair

Welcome to a week of hairstyle tutorials on Hair Romance!

Today is one of my favourite easy hairstyles – the giant top knot. I find I wear this hairstyle a lot lately as it’s so quick to do.

My hair is long enough now to make a pretty good top knot on it’s own, but this giant top knot has a little secret…padding! Think of it like a Wonderbra for your hair, this donut shaped mesh padding adds a little oomph to turn your bun into a statement. If you have fine or short hair you will love this.

Hair padding comes in lots of shapes and sizes and colours. You can buy it from beauty supply stores and most beauty retailers. This hairstyle is sometimes called the ‘sock bun’ as you can make your own padding with an old sock (like this). The padding I have used is made from a soft, stretchy mesh, kind of like a shower loofah. It has enough grip to keep your hair in place, but it’s soft so won’t tear or damage your hair.

What you need:

  • A brush – I like a paddle brush or a bristle brush
  • A comb
  • An elastic
  • Bobby pins
  • Donut shaped padding

How to style a giant top knot


1-2 – Gather your hair into a high ponytail. I find this is easier if I flip my head over and brush my hair up, but whatever works for you! Make sure you have a strong elastic to hold your hair in the high ponytail.

3-4 – Pop your donut padding around your ponytail. Try and use padding that is close to your natural hair colour.

5 – Tease your hair. Gently backcomb your ponytail to create more volume so you have enough hair to cover the donut.

6-7 – Hide the donut by wrapping your hair around it.ย Find the centre of your ponytail and wrap your hair around evenly to cover the donut. Use bobby pins to secure the ends of your hair. You can also tuck your hair under the donut to keep it neat.

8 – Finish with a spritz of hairspray to smooth any fuzzy flyaways. I like to smooth around my hairline, but I still keep the bun a little messy so that it looks more natural.

Hair Romance Styling Tip: I like to tease the ponytail and wrap the top knot so that the hair is a little messy. I don’t like to see an exact outline of the padding. I pull at a few sections of hair to keep it a little uneven, and more natural looking.

This is such a quick and easy hairstyle that will have you out the door looking fab in only a few minutes. The giant top knot is perfect in second day hair too, as your hair will hold the shape even better.

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The top knot is fast becoming my go-to hairstyle. What’s your favourite easy hairstyle?

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  1. says

    I’ve also seen this done with a sock if you don’t have a doughnut but the doughnut makes it so much easier!!! Top knots are such a handy look. I do have a tiny paranoia that on me they look like Britney, mid breakdown, though. They always look far classier on others- you look very elegant.
    Lianne recently posted..Rosemary oilMy Profile

  2. Honeyandhair says

    I prefer to do the same with a low bun / low side bun for a more suitable look for office. Though I still haven’t figured out a way how to keep it secure with elastics alone (I usually use 5-6 bobby pins to keep it in place). My favorite quick style nowadays is a single bantu knot on the back of my head. I just doesn’t get easier than that.

    • Hair Romance says

      I have a side bun tutorial coming up this week too! I love both styles. Bantu knots are great, plus you get lovely curls when you take them out at the end of the day.

  3. says

    I love this! I tried a sock bun on my hair last week and I loved the way it turned out. I normally wear my hair down because I don’t like the way it looks up, but I actually really liked this style. I’ll have to see if I can find one of those spongy donuts so I don’t have to cut up my husband’s old socks!
    Toni recently posted..Choosing Your Color Shade: BlondesMy Profile

  4. says

    I wanted to make the sock comment, but Lianne beat me to it! I’ve done it with a sock and it worked pretty well. I just really need to try and give my hair styles more attention – I’m a daughter of a hairstylist, but you’d never know it =]
    Jessica recently posted..List of OdditiesMy Profile

    • Hair Romance says

      I didn’t know your mum is a hairstylist. My sister was too. Did you have to play guinea pig for all the hairstyles when you were growing up too?

  5. Eilidh says

    Thanks for this post, it motivated me to try and make my own sock bun. I followed your link and I think it’s going to be a much used item! I’ve been struggling with things to do with my long hair (I got your ebook, which I love and have attempted a couple of the styles but my hair is really fine and I need to practise more). Some positive feedback on the sock bun from my husband has added to my satisfaction!

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Eilidh! An added bonus with the sock bun is if your roll your hair down onto it, you get great curls when you take it out.

  6. says

    I love the buns that use sock, or a donut as you did.
    BTW I like how your hair always looks healthy and shiny…. did I miss out on a pos about how you take care of it? Or there isn’t one yet?

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Maissaa! I haven’t done a full post on my hair care routine though I have done some reviews on products I use. That’s a great idea for a post, I’ll put together some hair care tips soon x

  7. ash says

    I’ve been bored lately as I put college on pause and am currently doing SAHM full time, I’ve been watching many hair tutorials and I already tried this with the sock and liked it a lot, have used it many times now, the thing is I have black hair so it can’t be appreciated as with your blonde hair , it sort of ‘fades’ if you know what I mean.. I loved your page, btw, will be spending lots of time around ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Hair Romance says

      Some people do have enough hair but so often it’s just padding! It’s like a little wonderbra for your hair ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. kimbo says

    I just bought the hair donut and I love it. Trust me I have more hair than anyone I know, it’s really thick but the donut makes it look amazing. Easily as big as anything Carrie Bradshaw could produce.. Naturally I got the biggest donut I could find.

  9. Ida says

    I have really long hair and always find that my hair is too thick and long to be wrapped around the doughnut, do you have any good tips on how to do this`?

  10. Aly says

    Wow this is awesome! so many girls at my 6th form wear this and I have the longest hair so never know what to do with it! and this is a good idea! Now my long hair can be tucked away so I can work witout it getting in my way x

  11. Hannah says

    You can also do this rolling it down your hair, it makes it really big and you hardly need any pins to secure it. You basically put your hair in a ponytail as high as you want the bun to sit, loop your hair through the doughnut right onto the end of the ponytails (as in furthest from your head) then fold the end in a little and turn the doughnut inside out, with the hair around it, as many times as possible. It looks messy to start with but neatens up usually in the last couple of turns!

  12. AJ says

    Hi i absolutely love the your top knot hairstyle here, iv been wanting to buy a donut for ages but i want my hair to be as high and full as yours, higher the better, i have looked at lots of people with this hair style but never quite what im looking for height wise etc, where as yours is perfect!!! can you advise me on what size of donut i should buy? is it a large one, a thick one etc? i clicked on your link but there is tons of different choices, my hair is similiar length to yours. your help would be appreciated, thanks

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi AJ, I agree the higher the hair the better! I’ve used a medium regular donut and I’ve teased my hair before wrapping it around. If your hair is fine, the thick donut is better as it provides more support. If you want giant hair go for the big donut!

  13. Rae says

    Omg i actually love you for this tutorial.
    Like i have super super thin hair and i cant do a top knot bun what so ever, to be honest i cant do alot to my hair, but having a look at this tutorial and teasing the pony tail it ACTUALLY WORKED!! it looks like i have a big bundle of hair on top of my head lol and i absolutely LOVE it.
    THANK YOU so much for this tutorial

  14. Al says

    Thank you thank you thank you! I literally ran out and bought one last week after month of deliberating about whether or not it would work in my baby-fine hair. And it does!! Today I had four separate people in four separate work places tell me how great my hair looked. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face and style to my head. Al x

  15. Jenny says

    Thank you! This is the first demonstration that shows how you wrap the hair in and around the donut. The ones I’ve seen go directly from step 4 to step 8!

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Jenny! You can also roll the donut down your hair, but I find this tease & wrap method works best in my hair x

    • Hair Romance says

      Thanks Catherine! Curl the ends of your layers under before you start. You can do this with a round brush and your hairdryer or a curling wand. When the ends are curled under they curve into the style, rather than out, so it will hold better. Also lots of hairspray! Xx

  16. charlotte says

    where can i find the donut for your hair ? I have tried walmart and a few other places. Any suggestions?

  17. Jade says

    I have long hair and always struggle to wrap it around the doughnut and hide the ends (there’s lots of hair left over with it being so long!) – do you have any tips?

    • Hair Romance says

      Hi Jade, have you tried braiding your hair around the base of your bun? This looks gorgeous and helps fit all your hair around the donut x

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