An Easy Half-Up Top Knot Hair Tutorial

I rock the half-up top knot often and have recently received some requests to share a tutorial on how I tackle this low-maintenance hairstyle. I call the top knot low-maintenance because it’s easy to do yourself and once it’s up, you really don’t have to worry about it again for the entire day!

Having a go-to look that keeps my hair out of my face and doesn’t need to be refreshed throughout the day is key, especially during these hot and humid summer months. Hopefully, this tutorial will prove that you too can add this easy style to your arsenal and have another creative option that will transition from work to weekend with absolutely NO effort.

Top Knot Hair TutorialTop knot hair tutorial

Let me first start out this tutorial by declaring that I’m not someone who is “good at hair”. We all know people in our lives who have the gift to somehow make a plain ponytail magically transform into a gorgeous up-do. I am not one of those people.

That being said, I’m confident that if I can tackle this half-up top knot I know that you can too! Let me show you how.

Top Knot SuppliesHow_to_put_your_hair_in_a_topknot

1. Prepare Your Hair


I typically put my hair in a top knot when it’s at least a day old. I’m sure I could try to put it up right after I wash it, but my hair is so fine that it works better when it’s a bit “lived in” (read: dirtier). But because it’s typically second-day hair, I always have this dry shampoo on hand just in case the roots look a bit greasy. The dry shampoo also adds a bit of texture to my hair and helps it stay up. Sometimes I’ll spray it even when my hair doesn’t look greasy at the root.

Side note: I’ve tried a lot of dry shampoos, but the one I mentioned above is by far my favorite!

2. Curly or Straight Hair

I wear the top knot with both straight hair or curly hair. If I straighten my hair, I will straighten my entire head before starting the top knot. If I’m curling my hair, I typically wait until after the top knot is up before curling the hair that was left out of the top knot. I don’t think there’s a right/wrong way for this, but I have found that when the hair in my bun is curly, it has less volume.

3.  Section off Your Hair

Now it’s time to start building the top knot. You’ll need to use the comb (or just grab) a section of your hair. Do your best to create a straight line and separate the hair you will put in the top knot from the hair that will stay down. If you want more volume, go ahead and tease the hair that will go into the top knot near the root.

4. Twist the Ponytail


If you have mastered the “messy bun” already, go ahead and skip the next few steps and do your own thing now. I have not mastered that skill so I create the bun by first twisting the ponytail.

5. Wrap the Twisted Ponytail


Then I wrap the twisted ponytail into a ball/bun and then wrap a ponytail holder around that bun to make it as tight and secure as possible.

6. A Tight Bun Is Okay to Start


Sharing a picture of myself wearing this tight bun on the internet for the world to see is quite frightening. I may have lost my mind, but I think it’s important to share in order to prove that you did NOT do anything wrong if you arrive at this look after you secure the bun. You’re actually right on track!

7. Loosen Your Hair Bun… Slowly!

I usually start with my scalp and slowly loosen my hair so it doesn’t look completely slicked back (like in my scary photo). I pull a few pieces out a tad and stop when I like the height/look. Sometimes I end up pulling too much out, which is not a huge problem because it can easily be fixed by keeping it down with a bobby pin.

Then I do the same thing with the actual bun to loosen it up and create a bigger, messier, and more volumized look. If I accidentally loosen it too much and a few strands fall out, I simply put them right back into the bun and bobby pin them in place. Remember this is a messy top knot so it never has to look perfectly styled. I personally think the messier the better.

8. Style the Hair


If I’m wearing my hair straight under the top knot, I’ll take this time to tease that hair at the roots so it’s not so flat. If I’m wearing that hair curly, I’ll go ahead and curl it now using this method.

9. Add a Girl’s Best Friend — HAIRSPRAY!


I’m obsessed with hairspray, which probably explains why I never go a day without it. I add hairspray on the top knot and additional hair so that it stays in place and doesn’t lose its volume throughout the day.


And just like that, my half-up top knot is DONE and ready for a whole day of fun. As I mentioned before, I love this look because it’s easy, keeps my hair in place, and doesn’t take any maintenance throughout the day.

I know a regular ponytail does that exact same thing, but this is another option to add to your arsenal, one that can transition from work to the weekend without doing a thing! Well, you can always add a little more hairspray… but that’s just me.


To see how I curl my hair with a straightener, be sure to check out this post!

The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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