How to Wear a Ponytail

I love the ponytail and why not? These days you can wear them to the gym then later that evening to a five-star restaurant. They look adorable on short hair (little kid barrettes are fun, even when you're 30) and sexy on long, layered hair. "Done" hairstyles are so 1980s, thank goodness, because who has time for perfection when there's the Internet to surf, the kids to feed and the beach to walk on? Here, we rundown 10 great ponytails and how to style them.

Side ponytails are very popular right now, according to the August 2007 issue of InStyle magazine. InStyle calls the side ponytail softer and more flattering than your average ponytail. 


The Side Ponytail -- Nicole Richie

To get this look (see Nicole Richie's look to the right), follow these directions:

Step 1: Create waves with a wide-barreled curling iron. To do this, spritz styling spray on 2-inch sections of hair and wrap around the barrel of a curling iron. Alternate directions. 

Step 2: Finger comb waves into a ponytail, securing just a few inches either to the left or the right. 

Step 3: For an even more polished look (see Nicole's hair above), take a pencil-sized piece of hair from the bottom of the ponytail and wrap around elastic. Secure end of hair in the band and hold in place with a bobby pin. 

Step 4: Finish with a spritz of hairspray.

Wear this look to the office or out to a nice dinner. Especially gorgeous when paired with thick, dark sunglasses. (Everyone will think you're famous). My favorite look is the sleek ponytail with thick, heavy bangs, as shown here on actress Salma Hayek. 


The Sleek Ponytail -- Salma Hayek

How to get it:

Step 1: Blowdry hair straight. (Wet ponies are the antithesis of sexy). If you have wave in your hair, straighten hair completely with a flat-iron. 

Step 2: Brush hair back into a ponytail. Secure with elastic. 

Step 3: Tame flyaways with a spritz hairspray on your hairline. 

Step 4: For added polish, run a shine serum (we like Bumble and Bumble's Gloss) through ponytail.


The Polished Ponytail -- Jamie-Lynn Sigler

Volume at the crown can be sexy, as shown here on Jamie-Lynn Sigler. To get this look, follow these directions: 

Step 1: Put your fingers on either side of the front of your ears. run fingers straight up. 

Step 2: Clasp the collected hair in one hand. 

Step 3: Tease the roots with a wide-toothed comb. 

Step 4: Spritz hairspray on teased roots. 

Step 5: Let hair go and smooth back into a ponytail, securing with elastic.


The Hair-Wrapped-Around-The-Elastic-Trick Ponytail

Stylists love the look of hair wrapped around the elastic. To get this look, skip the nasty fake hair ones you can buy in drugstores and department stores (tacky!) and follow these directions instead:p] 

Step 1: Pull hair back into a ponytail. 

Step 2: Pull a pencil-thick piece of hair from the bottom of the pony. 

Step 3: Wrap hair around elastic. Leave two inches to pull down through the elastic. 

Step 4: Secure with a couple bobby pins.


The Cute Ponytail -- Paris Hilton

This look is great for the weekend and works with all lengths of hair. We call this look "cute" because it relies on little kid barrettes or decorative bobby pins to hold back bangs or layers that don't fit in the ponytail. (Check out these funky ones in cool geometric designs).

This look is particularly cute on chin-length hair. The pig's tail curl is super cute. How to get it:

Step 1: Spray volumnizer at the roots, then let hair airdry, scrunching it for a bit of wave. Don't have time? Blowdry hair without brushing, use fingers instead to separate hair. 

Step 2: Rake hair back with your fingers (skip the brush) and secure either at the nape of your neck or just a bit higher. Scrunch pony more for more wave.

Step 3: Pin bangs or unsecured layers with a decorative bobby pin or little kid barrette. We love these France Luxe Long and Skinny Barrettes.


The Rumpled Ponytail

The perfect weekend or after work hairstyle. This look works best with unwashed hair, which we find most manageable. How to get it:

Step 1: Start with unwashed hair or get the messy look by spraying roots with volumizer and airdrying hair, or blowdrying using your fingers instead of a brush. Scrunch hair as you dry. 

Step 2: Part hair slightly off-center (parting in the middle is also trendy). For an extra funky look, create a zig-zag part in your hair with a comb. 

Step 3: Rake hair back at the nape of your neck. Fasten the tail lightly so that it sits slightly below the middle of the back of your head.

Step 4: For more fullness, secure four or five bobby pins just above the elastic. This way you get a fuller look. Scrunch the tail once it's in place.


The Dramatic Ponytail -- Tyra Banks

A high, tight ponytail is swingy and totally sexy. It's also wearable at work or at night. If you have a high forehead (like Tyra) you have to be careful with high ponytails -- you don't want to look bald from the front. Your best bet are bangs (I absolutely love my hair in a ponytail now that I have thick bangs) or a sidepart and fastened lower on your head.How to get it:

Step 1: Spritz hair with a volumizing spray like Bumble and Bumble Thickening Spray, then dry hair straight. If you have curly hair, use a diffuser and an anti-frizz productinstead of the volumizer. 

Step 2: Take a section at the top part of the back of your head and tease hair at the root. This will give you needed volume for the dramatic look. 

Step 3: Once hair is sufficiently teased, carefully brush hair back into a pony up high on the back of your head just above your ears. Gently pull hair at the top of the pony out and up for drama. 

Step 4: Run a gloss (we like Bumble and Bumble Gloss, see sleek ponytail above) through ponytail, using extra at the ends. 

Step 5: If you're going out at night, up the drama ante by securing a gorgeous barrette (we love the ones that look like brooches) near the elastic and on the side of your head. If you use a barrette, keep in mind that it's a piece of jewelry, so be careful not to overdo the look with earrings, necklace and a bracelet. The less jewelry you wear, the more oomph your pieces have. Check out these gorgeous barrettes and books on how to make your own.


The Cheerleader Ponytail

A super-high ponytail will take years off your face, but if you have excessive widows' peaks at your crown or if you have a big forehead, this look can be unattractive. To see if you're a bad candidate, pull hair back and look in the mirror, if hairline starts high at the top of your head, this look can bring too much attention to your forehead.

How to get the cheerleader ponytail:

Step 1: Blow-dry hair using mousse or spray for volume, then pull hair high on top of head (above your eyes). The sleeker, the better, so brush out any bumps. 

Step 2: Secure with a thick elastic band. For added bounce, tease the hair right at the elastic. 

Step 3: Skip the bow, but spritz with hairspray. Try a headband for a super-trendy look.


The Half-Up, Half-Down Ponytail -- Emily Blunt

To get this look:

Step 1: Part hair from ear-to-ear into a top and a bottom section.

Step 2: Secure top section with a ponytail holder. 

Step 3: Take the point of a rattail comb and put it under the hair, just at the crown. Gently coax hair up until it's just a bit puffed. 

Step 4: For more drama, wrap a ribbon or a strip of fabric around hair and fasten with a bobby pin.