Not unlike the unicorn, the perfect ponytail is nearly impossible to encounter (come on, guys, one day we'll encounter unicorns). But if you’re one of the lucky ones — who has somehow defied all odds and accomplished a flawless ponytail up do — you probably put a lot more time and effort into it than you originally thought you would. Because let’s face it, without time and effort, we’re just resorting to a messy bun.
But a messy bun doesn’t have the sophisticated, done up look that a ponytail does. Messy buns are for sweatpants and Netflix. Ponytails are for work, meeting your S.O.’s parents, a job interview, and sweatpants and Netflix. It’s the perfect hairdo for almost any occasion. But the catch is its level of difficulty. And if you’ve ever attempted a ponytail (which I’m betting most of us have), you all know it’s as challenging as the expert level of Tetris, also known as the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do in your entire existence.
Seriously, ponytails are not easy. Because once you think you have all your hair gathered in the perfect way, you notice a bump or knot, a strand you missed and forgot about, or you break a scrunchy while tying it all together and have to start anew. If you have short hair, I envy you, because these troubles are nothing but noise to you.
So, in an effort to beat all odds and create the perfect ponytail at every attempt, here are seven tips on how to achieve it according to yours truly — an experienced ponytail enthusiast who has learned many tips and tricks along the way to creating a flawless up do. So take this pony for a ride, would you?
1. Prepare Your Tools Ahead Of Time
There’s nothing more frustrating than having the perfect ponytail in your hand, ready to secure, only to grab a hair tie that snaps at the base, ruining the whole thing and putting you back at square one. Can’t you tell I’m getting upset just thinking about it?
Either way, it has taught me an important lesson: You must have your tools tested and at the ready before any kind of pony gathering begins. Because if you fail to do this, you’re basically setting yourself up to get mad and frustrated and no one wants that when they’re trying to do their hair. So get your tried and true tools ready for action.
2. Check Your Tools
But before you get into any real pony creations, you should also check the state of your tools and ensure they’ll work properly. It's best to stretch out your hair ties, pull out some bobby pins, and clean out your favorite hair brush in preparation for your ponytail. This will anticipate any problems that might arise, preparing your ponytail execution for the utmost success.
3. Know The Look You’re Going For
Finally, we’re getting into the actual process! But before you involve any hair ties, make sure you know the ponytail look you’re going for and can comfortably indicate where it will be on your head — even when your face might be covered with your own hair.
I love the look of a high ponytail. Before securing my hair with a hair tie, I’ll shake my locks out, flip them, and put my thumb and forefinger around what I would like to be my ponytail. That way, I can get a visual of what it will look like before I actually tie it up. This will also help if you’re ever in a situation without a mirror but need your hair up, since you’ll have enough practice to know what kind of ponytail you’re creating.
4. Brush Your Hair Right
Now, this step is crucial. Because we all like to think we know how to brush our hair, but it’s a whole different ball game when you’re making a ponytail.
In order to avoid any bumps or frizz, make sure you’re combing your hair in the direction of where your ponytail will be. No, this isn’t some kind of beauty-geometry trick, it’s just a foolproof way to get your hair looking sleek and close to your skull for the major focus to be on your pony.
So brush your hair according to the direction you want it to go in, and decrease the chances of bumps and frizz by holding your hair up while you’re brushing. Simple!
5. Get It Right, Get It Tight
Arguably the hardest part of the perfect ponytail process is tying a hair tie around your exquisite creation. Depending on whichever kind of hair tie you prefer, the process can be different. But if you’re going for a rather thick hair tie, which I also recommend for keeping your hair put, it can take some extra strength to fasten it securely.
One tie is easy, the second tie is fine. But it’s either the third or fourth tie that will give you trouble, because that will be the hardest one to get around all of your hair. The trick is to bend the hair that's already in the ponytail tightly, to completely go through the third or fourth loop as easily as possible. It’s definitely tough — like I said, you’re essentially working out your muscles while doing it — but it’s possible.
6. Hair Product Is Your Friend
So once you’ve brushed your hair correctly and gotten it into a tight tie, it’s time for some additional help. Because almost everyone is too familiar with summer humidity, and if you live in The South like I do, it’s probably the bane of your existence. Who am I kidding, it’s everyone’s bane of existence. Who even invented humidity?
Not to get off track, but what I’m trying to say is that hair product can be your friend in helping to fight off nature’s beautiful, wonderful (scoff) summer weather. Products like hairsprays, leave in conditioners, or even mousse can help your hair keep a hold as well as maintain its style the way you want it. So take that, humidity!
7. Add Accessories
Finally! The good news is that you now know how to achieve a perfect ponytail. Bad news is: Now you’re bored with the look. But the great think about a basic ponytail is that it’s extremely easy to accessorize. So whether you’re opting for a gold headband like I did, a few '90s-inspired butterfly clips, or even a cotton headband, everything looks great with a sleek and done ponytail.
At this point, it’s all on you. So take free reign of your new pony-making skills and really own the look with accessories that go along with your unique personal style.
And go own that pony, too!
Images: Melodi Erdogan; Giphy