The Random Writings of Rachel: How to Achieve a Better Ponytail

How to Achieve a Better Ponytail

Ponytails are pretty awesome. Easy to do, work on most hair types, and perfect for reducing heat during the long, humid days of summer (or...the year-round tropical heat in Malaysia). But they get a bad rap for being the quintessential symbol of no-effort hair. In reality, though, there's no reason why anyone can't look great with her hair up in a ponytail, and here are my tips on how to feel more confident about the ponytail you rock when the temperatures are blazing.


First of all, let's start with a really bad ponytail so that we can get it out of our system:


The parted-in-the-middle, completely unstyled ponytail resting on the middle of the nape of the neck. This low ponytail is nearly universally unflattering, but remains popular simply because it's easy. However, it's just as easy to create much more flattering ponytail just by changing the position:


And look at that! We've achieve a bouncier, spunkier look that shows off the natural volume in her hair simply by raising the ponytail. If you are completely opposed to a high ponytail--perhaps your hair is naturally very heavy, or else you want a less sporty look, then opt for a low side ponytail, as in the picture below:


This is a low, sleek, comfortable ponytail, but looks ever so much more interesting than the nape-of-the-neck ponytail just because we've added a flattering angle to the position of the ponytail by placing it off center. So that's what basic ponytails look like on my mini-model, who has very thick hair, all one length, with a wavy texture.


A ponytail looks pretty different on me, with my short, heavily layered hair with loose curls. If your hair is short and layered--do not be afraid, a ponytail may yet be within your grasp! Use the magic of hairpins and/or a headband. I prefer soft plastic headbands. Notice that even though my hair is quite short, I keep the ponytail significantly higher than the nape of the neck for a better look.

But what should we do about bangs?


 Often, you're wearing a ponytail for practical reasons and don't want bangs hanging in your face. The true athlete's solution is usually to pull them straight back from the face with a wide stretchy headband. For someone with a high forehead like myself, that look is quite unflattering. A softer, prettier option is to pull the bangs to the side somehow--braiding, twisting, adding a pin or a clip. This is more flattering for most face shapes, so if you're not actually in the midst of playing a really hardcore sport, I recommend this as a better option for keeping your bangs out of your face.

MaryGrace has very heavy, thick, long, curly locks. She naturally has a lot of volume at the ends of her ponytail, but less at the base, because of how heavy her hair is. A great trick for making the base of your ponytail a little thickier and spunkier is to add a butterfly clip somewhere inside the ponytail base, under a top layer of hair that will fall and cover it. This will help create a ponytail that's more balanced--not one where all the volume is at the ends of the hair.


You'll notice that I also did a twist with MaryGrace's bangs, to add more interest and create a more flattering ponytail style.

Now, ponytails can become quite elaborate. You can add cornrows, teasing for volume, hair falls, pretty clips, or all sorts of interesting extras. I recommend that you do when it suits your style and the occasion. Here, I have just endeavored to show you simple ponytails that take no more time than the average "throw your hair up" 'do, but just use positioning and bang-styling strategies that result in a prettier look, one which wouldn't be out of place either at the gym or at the mall.

Here's a few more tips for achieving your best ponytail:

- For a really sleek look, without the wet-and-stuck-to-your-head effect, spray hairspray on your fine toothed comb and use that to brush your hair up into a ponytail.

- Use a straightener or a curling iron to add polish to the length of your ponytail.It's MUCH faster to curl your hair after it's already in the ponytail than to do it before and then gather it into a ponytail.

- On the same note, if you have naturally curly hair and live in a humid climate, probably don't bother with a straightener on your ponytail unless you're only spending time in air-con--the straight look won't last.

- Use a cloth-covered elastic instead of anything like a rubber band to put your hair up, this will help minimize breakage. Pick out a color that blends well with your hair, or else a favorite color. I detest orange so I'll just be depressed if I put an orange hairband in my hair. Don't choose colors that you don't actually like!

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What techniques do you use to make sure you feel confident, even when your hair is just in a ponytail?

18 comments:

  1. I love a good ponytail. My hair texture has changed due to thyroid issues so I've had to start styling differently and am thankful for hair pins!!

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  2. oh the hairspray trick sounds nice. my hair is super fine so my ponytails always look "wet and stuck to my head" which is just blah.

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  3. I aways struggle with my bangs when I do a pony. I have full bangs and when it's hot out (and I'm sweaty) they just look...ick!

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  4. My hair is in a pony most of the summer because it's long and curly and it gets HOT under there! These are great styles. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. Great tips! I am a huge pony tail fan but my frizzy hair makes it difficult.I usually end up going with a messy bun.

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  6. lovely tips! I only ever put my hair in a pony tail when I'm working out so I usually don't care how it looks haha. I do braids or leave it down more than anything else :) I just try to make sure it's combed and somewhat smooth. :P

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  7. These are great ideas! I love the low, sleek pony!!

    hugs, Christina

    Christina | Fashion & Frills

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  8. I love a good pony tail, easy and flattering!

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  9. I'm all for the ponytail! I think ponytails can look great!

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  10. Love this! My hair's been up in ponytails quite a bit these days. It's so hot this time of year!

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  11. I need to change up my ponytail! I've been wanting to try to braid the sides into one but have been valuing sleep more lately...one of these days though! I love what you did with your bangs! :O

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  12. I live in ponytails, so this is great! I personally love when I do a little something fun with one side of my hair like a braid or a twist in the front just to change things up.

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  13. Yes! a way to make the ponytail even classier! this is my go-to up-do. ;)

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  14. Love this! Like you, I think ponytails can be cute if you put a little effort (although you don't have to do much) to make it more attractive. I love a side ponytail, because it's quick and easy but looks nice. I actually wore my hair like that today and my mom said she always likes it when I do that. I also like to pull it off to the side and do a topsy tail type thing with it to add a little something extra. :) And then I also like to do the high ponytail and add some braids into the mix just to add some decorative details. Great post!

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  15. My hair is in a ponytail or braid most of the summer just to keep it off my neck. I am definitely a big fan of the high pony. I don't have bangs at all because my hair is all so long so I can't really do the cutesy braid at the front, but when I had shorter hair, I would always do that and loved the way it looked with a ponytail! :)

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  16. Cute ideas! My hair is at a really weird length, so pony tails don't look that great. I usually throw it in a bun, because it's super easy and are perfect for a workout or for work. All I have to do is change a little up, depending on the look I'm going for.

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  17. Love this! Since starting my new job and having to get up earlier than I'm used to, I've been sporting a lot of ponytails. I always try to at least do something fun with my bangs though.

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