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How to Make a Ponytail that Looks Like a Pro Did It

By Wendy Rodewald-Sulz / January 24, 2014
What’s the difference between a Saturday morning “running errands” ponytail and a Saturday night “ready to party” ponytail? It’s not a trick question, but the answer is subtle. To find out how a pro does a ponytail (and why hers always looks better than our DIY version), we headed to the chair of Isabel Guillen, stylist at John Barrett Salon in NYC, who showed us a few of her tricks.

Photos by: Klaudia Tirico; Design by: Taylor Cox
Step 1: Rub a couple drops of oil between your palms and run your hands through the top section of your hair to give strands a shiny, sleek look. Optional: If your hair is straight, create random waves from the mid-lengths down using a curling iron; run your fingers through the waves to break up the texture. Use hairspray on the waves for hold and grip.
Step 2: The secret to a successful ponytail is making sure the hair at the nape of the neck is pulled tight, says Guillen. Use a brush there (and only there) to flatten out the hair. Use your fingers to pull back the rest of the hair and secure with an elastic. Using fingers instead of a brush will preserve some of the texture and keep the hair from looking too plastered against your scalp.
Step 3: Rough up the hair at the crown to create a more flattering shape.
Step 4: Take a strand of hair from the underside of your ponytail and wrap it around the base; secure with a bobby pin tucked into the elastic.
Step 5: Add a barrette, clipping it just above the (now hidden) elastic. We love these cool, minimalist metal clips from Sylvain le Hen, as seen on the Jason Wu Spring/Summer 2014 runway. Now that's a ponytail.