The newbie's guide to crafting the *perfect* ponytail
Because what other style serves whether it's Sweatpants Sunday or a special occasion (hi dinner with bae's parents)? We've got the expert lowdown on upping your 'do.
PREP MAKES PERFECT
Applying the right product at the beginning makes the whole process way easier. “Use a flex-hold hairspray to add control without making your hair stiff,” says hairstylist and L’Oréal ambassador Nick Stenson. Gently mist your hair before pulling it back to create some structure, then finish off with another light layer to lock the pony in place.
PICK YOUR PLACEMENT
Where you place your pony depends on the vibe you’re going for. Feeling fierce? Go low. “Keep everything super sleek and add a dramatic part,” says Michelle Sultan, creative director for Imbue Curls. Want to go girly? Add altitude. “Generally, the higher the pony, the bouncier it will look,” Sultan says. “Position the hair in line with your temples.” Long hair weighing you down? Bend the ends with a flat iron for extra movement.
TAME YOUR TRESSES
The tools you need depend a lot on your texture. For fine hair, “use a bristle brush for a smooth finish,” advises Sultan. Then, tie it off with a spiral holder that won’t snag, like the Invisibobble Original ($5, invisibobbleus.com). If you have curly hair and want to keep your natural texture, skip the brush and use your fingers to gently pull back your hair, securing it with a silk or satin scrunchie to avoid crushing your curls.
SMOOTH YOUR STRANDS
Creating the most gorg pony, only to spot a giant bump, is the worst. The secret to smooth strands? First, pull back the bottom half of your hair, then focus on the top half, ensuring every hair is lying flat. Slow and steady wins the race. Flyaways ruining your day? Mist an old toothbrush with hairspray, then lightly brush them into place.
FRESH ‘N’ FULL FRINGE
Don’t let flat bangs ruin your look. To combat greasiness that can deflate your ’do, spray them with some dry shampoo before heading out the door, advises Stenson.
COMFORT IS OUR CREDO
The ultimate updo can’t be too loose or too tight—it’s got to be just right. Plus, too-taut tails can lead to breakage and split ends. Try this fix: “Pinch the hair at the crown of your head and lightly lift it up,” says Stenson. Your scalp will thank you (and, bonus, you get a li’l extra volume).
For your exact hair type
“Mist a texturizing spray all over and brush it out to create an airy effect,” suggests Stenson (try Matrix Total Results Miss Mess Dry Finishing Spray, $18, ulta.com). Then, slick hair back and smooth it with a wide-tooth comb before securing with a hair tie for serious Ariana Grande vibes.
“Waves look great when worn up in a looser, softer pony with tendrils left out to frame face and ears,” says Sultan. Add a soft-hold hairspray like Pacifica Big Waves Soft Hold & Volume Hairspray ($12, pacificabeauty.com) to keep your texture intact.
Ensure your hair is as bouncy and defined as possible by starting your curl routine off right, says Sultan. Apply a cream like Imbue Curl Empowering Crème Gel ($13, imbuecurls.com) to sopping wet hair and scrunch with a microfiber towel before air-drying or using a diffuser.
Wear your pony high and let those spirals take center stage! Sultan recommends applying a leave-in conditioner to really amp ringlets (and avoid frizz). Then, add an oil like Melanin Haircare Multi-Use Pure Oil Blend ($18, melaninhaircare.com) to the ends of your hair to lock in hydration and shine.
Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our October/November 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.