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

by Hair Romance on March 5, 2012 · 71 comments

in Hair Style Advice,My Hair,Tutorials

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

Step-by-step

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. 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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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Clare @ cclarebearcom March 5, 2012 at 7:44 am

I love this!! I always get a little tiny one when I try and do it, but the padding is a super cute idea. Love it.

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Hair Romance March 5, 2012 at 7:51 am

Thanks! The padding is such a great trick, and it’s so light you forget you’re wearing it

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Lianne March 5, 2012 at 8:11 am

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.
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Hair Romance March 5, 2012 at 9:40 am

haha, I always think old SATC and Carrie Bradshaw rather than Britney!

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Kerri March 5, 2012 at 10:03 am

Love it! Where can I buy the donut padding from??

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Hair Romance March 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thanks Kerri! I bought mine from my local hairdressing supply store but you can find them online at i-glamour too – http://i-glamour.com/tools-and-accessories/hair-donuts-and-hair-padding?PageProduct=1

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Honeyandhair March 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm

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.

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Hair Romance March 5, 2012 at 6:17 pm

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.

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Toni March 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm

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!
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Hair Romance March 5, 2012 at 8:52 pm

Thanks Toni! The sponges are great as they’re really light to wear.

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Elli March 6, 2012 at 4:19 am

Off-topic, but I love your necklace!

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Hair Romance March 6, 2012 at 6:34 am

Thanks Elli! I bought it from a shop called Mushu in Sydney

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Jessica March 6, 2012 at 6:59 am

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 =]
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Hair Romance March 6, 2012 at 7:21 am

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?

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Eilidh March 6, 2012 at 9:31 am

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!

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Hair Romance March 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

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.

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Rach // In Spaces Between March 6, 2012 at 2:13 pm

WOW, I have never seen one of these glorious padded thingies before – genius! Thanks for sharing (and by the way, looking smoking hot lady) xx

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Hair Romance March 6, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Thanks Rach! You can also buy sausage padding for big French rolls too – it’s great!

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Maissaa March 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm

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?

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Hair Romance March 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

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

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Anneke March 7, 2012 at 2:03 am

This is so awesome. Thank you for sharing!

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ash March 13, 2012 at 5:56 am

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 :D

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Hair Romance March 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

Thanks Ash x

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Kate Sins April 4, 2012 at 2:11 pm

I feel so silly now, I had no idea people used a bit of padding! I always just thought they had enough hair to do it. I’m so inspired to do it now!! Thanks!
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Hair Romance April 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Some people do have enough hair but so often it’s just padding! It’s like a little wonderbra for your hair ;)

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Monica April 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm

it’s so simple, and looks absolutely amazing even on my tiny hairs
Thank you!

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Hair Romance April 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm

Thanks for trying it Monica

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kimbo April 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm

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.

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Hair Romance April 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Nothing wrong with a little enhancement. Particularly something so temporary and fun!

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Florine Marioli May 13, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Love it!
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Ida June 11, 2012 at 6:35 pm

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`?

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Rachel June 11, 2012 at 11:09 pm

Oh my goodness, I love you. Know I know what to do with dirty hair and look awesome and chic.

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Aly June 21, 2012 at 6:24 am

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

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Hannah July 1, 2012 at 6:53 am

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!

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ren July 2, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Thanks so much! This is brilliant. We added the link to your blog in an updo feature we did http://giftsofsubstance.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/how-to-make-updo-work-for-you-celebrity.html
We love that you added the sock donut too!! We’re making one today ;)

Thanks again!
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AJ September 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

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

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Hair Romance September 11, 2012 at 11:01 pm

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!

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Rae September 12, 2012 at 8:13 am

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

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Amy @ Food Crush September 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm

Hi Christina, I just did my first top knot and it worked! I am hopeless with styling my hair, but I’m going to follow your tutorials to teach myself some new hairstyles. Amy :)

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Hair Romance September 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm

Yay! That’s great Amy. Thank you xx

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roxie hunt September 27, 2012 at 3:22 am

I love the sock bun. I am seeing it everywhere now so I came up with a couple ways to sass it up….
http://www.howtohairgirl.com/2012/09/5-ways-to-sass-up-your-sock-bun/

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Hair Romance September 27, 2012 at 8:15 am

Great ideas Roxie x

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Tithy October 29, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Thank you so much this is helping me so much. I will do it for my competition :)

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Hair Romance October 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

Thank you and good luck Tithy!

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Al November 8, 2012 at 9:46 pm

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

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Hair Romance November 9, 2012 at 10:00 am

Thank you Al! So glad it worked for you, it’s a like a wonderbra for your hair ;)

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Jenny December 13, 2012 at 10:59 am

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!

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Hair Romance December 13, 2012 at 11:03 am

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

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Catherine January 6, 2013 at 8:27 am

I love this! All your tutorials are great… is there a way to make it easier with layers?

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Hair Romance January 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

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

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charlotte April 29, 2013 at 5:37 am

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

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Hair Romance April 29, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hi Charlotte, try Walgreens or Sally Beauty Supply sell them (they are online too)

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Jade February 21, 2014 at 5:56 am

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?

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Hair Romance February 21, 2014 at 11:11 am

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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