I've been a ponytail enthusiast ever since I can remember. For me, the simple style checks all the boxes. It's quick, easy, and I can switch it up depending on my mood. But as avid ponytail-wearers are likely aware, this five-minute style can get boring after a while. At a certain point, it can start to feel like throwing your hair up into the same style you wear to the gym just isn't sophisticated enough for work. Not to mention the potential damage from constantly using hair ties. To this, my friends, I say that all you need is a little education.
Red carpets are one place where ponytails get dressed up in ways we don't often see. From long, flowing 'dos to messy, effortless looks, hairstylists come up with some truly imaginative (and truly chic) iterations of this classic style. That's why I called in celebrity hairstylist and OGX brand ambassador Jesus Guerrero and celebrity hairstylist and Maui Moisture brand ambassador Nikki Nelms to walk us through some of the most iconic ponytails they've whipped up for their A-list clientele. Each of these stylists has portfolios filled with the most enviably snatched ponies, so you know they've got endless knowledge for taking your looks from basic to beautiful in no time at all.
Ahead, check out their top tips for creating the easiest, most professional-looking ponytails to show up and show out at your next Zoom meeting.
How to Style It: Guerrero says that above all, gel and firm-hold hair spray are the keys to sleek ponytails. You'll need them every step of the way, even after you've secured your tresses. "Once hair is secured, use an unused toothbrush to lay down any unwanted flyways," he says. Another option you might consider is a hairpiece to add a little something extra. "Ponytail hairpieces are a great addition to your pony. They thicken the hair and provide a full-bodied look that really levels up your pony game," he adds.
How to Style It: "Make sure that your curls are nice and moisturized first," Guerrero says of creating effortless-looking ponytails on curly hair types. "Don’t use hair spray. It can make your curls look a little dry. The OGX Locking + Coconut Curls Finishing Mist is a great alternative to keep your curls nice and healthy-looking." Guerrero also says that choosing your elastic is an important consideration to make. "I prefer to use elastic cord rather than hair ties," he says. "The key is not too much effort."
How to Style It: For this funky take on a classic ponytail, Guerrero recommends pre-styling your hair rather than going in with heat tools at the end. "I would recommend using a three-barrel crimper," he says. After your hair is sufficiently crimped, Guerrero says to use your fingers to finish off the style. "Use your fingers to pull your hair up instead of a brush or a comb. When you use your fingers, it keeps the style looking more natural." And don't forget to add extra volume! "A little backcombing will help you get that extra lift," he says.
How to Style It: While creating tension is certainly important when sweeping your hair into the perfect ponytail, Nelms says that pulling your hair too tight is not the move. "Rely more on product and tools to create tension. Don't sacrifice the integrity of your hair by making your ponytail too tight," she instructs. "Sanek Wrap Strips to tie around the hairline are great for reinforcing a sleek ponytail." You can also make your ponytail sleeker by spraying a rattail comb with hair spray and running it along the outside of your style. "This look is fun to use extensions so that you can play with length, shape, and precision," she adds. If you're into the blunt edge she created here for Solange Knowles, you can get there using scissors or even barber's clippers.
How to Style It: "Start with cornrowing your hair straight back, leaving your ends loose," Nelms explains. "You can also customize your braids and make your sections thinner or wider." Then, gather each of the braids' ends and fasten them low ponytail or bun. If you want to get crafty like Nelms did here, you can wind some craft wire through your hair or adorn the plaits with your favorite hair clips and accessories.
How to Style It: This curly updo is all about putting your natural texture on display. "First, diffuse your curls as if you're going to wear your hair down," says Nelms. "Then, put half of your hair in a pony and pin the rest up loosely to create an organic, cool shape." One rule of thumb Nelms imparted was to be very selective about your choice of tools, namely hair combs. "If you want a messy ponytail, avoid using a comb with closer teeth. The closer the teeth, the slicker your hair will look," she says.
How to Style It: This look has two main components: the swoop bang and the ponytail itself. "First, section off enough hair to make a bang and make a ponytail with the rest," Nelms instructs. "Then, create a swoop with the front piece for bangs and bring that section to the back to wrap around the ponytail." To minimize static as you manipulate the hair, Nelms says you can use a dryer sheet (yes, the kind you use to soften your laundry) to smooth down frizz without the risk of mechanical damage from overusing your comb or brush.