A Hair Bow Tutorial That Actually Works

Let's get totally freaking adorable.
Publish date:
October 8, 2013
tutorials, hairsprays, How-To, hairstyles, bobby pins, hair bows, cute stuff, being adorable

I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a hair bow for a couple of years now. Yep, you read that right: YEARS.

I tried so many things. I tried following those super-pretty four-step tutorials on Pinterest. I tried videos made by charming fashion bloggers with charming filters applied. I scoured the depths of the internet and, again and again, I found similar sets of instructions that absolutely, utterly FAILED.

But since I’ve been writing for xoVain, my hairstyling skills (and confidence IN said skills) have increased exponentially. So one weekend, I was like “You know what? I bet I can work this out myself.” Be the change you want to see on the internet, you know?

Submitted for your approval: My very technical, guaranteed to ACTUALLY WORK hair bow tutorial.

My hair is pretty long, but it will work on any length starting slightly below the shoulders. If you can get it all up into a very high ponytail, you’re golden. If you have very thin hair, your bow will be little--thick, and it’ll be big. It also looks cute with curly hair, although for this tutorial my hair will be straight because it’s easier to see what I’m doing in photos.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A brush
  • Bobby pins in a colour close to your hair
  • A clip
  • Hairspray
  • Two hair ties, either clear or in a colour close to your hair

The first thing you’re going to do is pull all your hair up onto the very top of your head in a super-high ponytail. You want it so high that you feel like a pineapple. Brush around the sides if you’re going for a very sleek look--I like my bows to look a little messy, so I skip this part.

Take a section from the front of your pony and pull it forward. This is gonna be the center “knot” of your bow, so take an amount that works with the overall thickness of your hair. My hair is thick, so I’ve pulled out about an inch. Clip this bit to your bangs if you’ve got them, or the front of your head if you don’t--anything so that it’s out of the way.

Spray the tail with hairspray and then brush it out. I always find that this helps my hair stay together rather then separating out into smaller factions later. If you have layers in your hair, this will also help them all stay together.

Take your second hairtie and put about 3/4 of the way down your pony. Instead of pulling the hair all the way through the tie last time, pull it halfway through so that you have a neat little hair nub instead of a Princess Jasmine-style multiple tie ponytail.

Now we’re gonna make a cool hair fan, which is pretty much just looping the hair over your hand and pinning the nub at the base of your ponytail. Use two or three bobbypins here; you want to feel secure!

This is very stylish, and I understand you probably just want to stop right here and wear your hair like this for the rest of your life.

Fight that urge, though! It's going to get better!

Split your hair fan in half with your fingers. There’s no cool way to say that. Make sure both sides are as even as you can get them without employing a ruler.

Take a couple bobby pins and pin the underside of the bow “wings” down to your head. I always put one towards the middle of the bow and one near the edge on each side, because that eliminates any gapping between my skull and the bow. Spray with hairspray afterwards to prevent any flyaways.

Now unclip the spare front section and, while it’s lying flat against your head, pin it down about an inch in front of the ponytail. When you pull it up and over towards the back, this hides the hairtie!

Pull this section backwards, making sure it’s pretty tight forming the “knot” in the middle. You now have two options for how to pin it down, so get ready to choose your own adventure:

Option one is to pull the hair straight back and pin it down underneath the base of the hair fan, so that it hides the ties, then pull the remainder to the side and hide it inside one of the wings of the hairbow.

This is easy, but it doesn’t look very tidy from the back. You could put a fancy clip, or even a second bow (bows on bows? Bowception?) on there to hide it. I don’t have many cute hair accessories, so I improvised to show you how it could look:

Option two is to pull the hair back and start coiling it up like a little pin curl.

One it’s all bundled up, pin the curl underneath the base of the hair fan so that the elastics are hidden. This is my preferred method--whether you’re going for total immaculate perfection or something a little more undone, I just think it looks better.

Important perfectionist note: Don’t overdo the hairspray! I did, which is why my curl looks kind of NOT AWESOME. You can see how I pinned it, which is my only consolation. *kills self in shame*

Pull gently at the wings until they look how you want them and cover the entire thing with a hefty coat of hairspray.

You’re done, and your hairbow looks magnificent!

This style can look a little overly cute on a grown-ass woman, so I like mine a tiny bit messy. I also usually wear it with all black everything and my toughest sneer.

OK, so maybe I’m not super-tough. But this hair is awesome.

And that’s that! Are you guys psyched for hair bows? What other hair styles should I try to master? Did you guys know that I actually talked about my lack of hairstyling skills when I first pitched to xoVain? In my very first email, I told Marci that one time I tried victory rolls and they turned out more like failure rolls. I feel like I've made so much progress with my hair skillz since then!