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