I use a ribbon. A lot of people use a large rubber band, but since I have around shoulder length, voluminous, 4c type hair, I need something a bit stronger.
My technique is to brush my hair to prevent flyaways and add gel for extra hold. Then I take the ribbon, hold one end in each hand. I center the ribbon behind my head then tie it loosely in the front. Tighten the ribbon as tight as you like it, and your puff is formed. If any strands remain, you can gel them back as well.