Ponytails 101

By Amalah

(You guys asked for more hair demos, so God help me, I’ll give you more hair demos. At least until I’ve demo’ed the whole three hairstyles I know how to do.)
Oh Amazing Amalah,
Recently, in your Root Booster Price Tag Cage Match, you mentioned that the secret of a cute ponytail is volume at the crown of your head. And I was all, “Of Course!” Except that I really have no idea what that means. My ponytails are never really cute – they’re flat and make me look like I’m 10.
So how do I obtain volume at my crown and make a really really cute ponytail?? Just please tell me it’s not difficult, because I still can’t even manage that blow-drying my hair with a round brush thing.
Thanks ever so much!

Would you believe it’s the same basic concept as the beehive? Because it is — especially for us volume-challenged, limp-haired girls.
Products like the Pureology Root Booster or BedHead Small Talk help with volume throughout your hair, but for a really face-flattering ponytail? You gotta get in there and tease a little bit.
But this time, I really mean “teasing.” No ends-to-roots hardcore backbrushing here — you don’t really want your hair to look teased or poufed. You just want a little…oomph. (To put it technically, I mean.)
So. Here’s my hair. Air-dried, no product, totally blah.
I will now demonstrate the most basic of basic ponytails. Nothing too fancy, and therefore something you can easily do. Yes, you! You, with the round-brush-blow-drying problem! Trust me.
First I tease. I start just a couple inches from my scalp and brush backwards a few times. It’s not a really precise process, and you’ll probably need to experiment a few times before you figure out how much teasing you need to achieve the best shape for your face.
Start teasing as close to your crown as your hair will cover. If you want a Gwen-Stefani modern-conehead look, just tease the hair on the top on your head. For something more natural-looking, tease a little down the sides of your head.
You’ll have long strands of unteased hair sticking out in a most-attractive fashion.
Now just like the beehive, pull or brush the hair along your crown backwards to cover the teased part, along with the unteased ends and hold onto this loosely about where you want your ponytail to sit. (LOOSELY. If you pull it back too hard, you’ll just flatten the teasing.)
With your other hand, brush the rest of your hair, section by section, up into the ponytail. Smooth it out (as best you can, one-handed, obviously) and secure with a rubber band.
Doesn’t look like I did anything? Well, here’s a photo of me with an unteased, just brushed-and-banded ponytail.
I just love that sexy, I’ve-just-come-from-the-gym look, don’t you?
Oh, and one last finishing touch — grab a little hair from the middle of your ponytail (about a centimeter wide) and wrap it around to cover your rubber band. Secure the end with a bobby pin shoved back into the ponytail.
Ta-da! Bonus cute.
Unless your hair is super-long and all one length, I like ponytails to be a little on the messy side. So it doesn’t have to be perfect. Play around with the teased section — try some bobby pins and stray pieces and whatever. Ponytails can be really cute — just master the art of teasing your roots and you’ll never look like a 10-year-old gym rat again.
(Actually, I believe Tyra Banks would probably go ahead and say that I “photograph old.” Jeez. Could I be more woefully scowly in these pictures?)

Published May 18, 2007. Last updated May 18, 2007.
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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