The perfect high ponytail and the messy bun appear to land squarely on opposite ends of the style spectrum, but don’t be fooled. Fan girls who’ve struggled to perfect both edgy looks know a DIY secret. Pulling it off is all in the prep. Whether you long for glorious disarray or strive for sleeked-back chic, here are how-to tips that work with every hair type and any length.
Perfect High Ponytail How-tos
Tame your locks.
If you aim for taut perfection, you’ll want to hold hair in place with either a styling gel, a wax or a medium hold hairspray. No product is needed if you want a messy ponytail.
Turn upside down to sweep hair up.
Bend over so that your head is upside down and brush hair from the front to the crown of your head. Taking a downward stance keeps your arms from getting tired while you are perfecting your ponytail placement.
Check the placement.
Gather all the strands with both hands and check the mirror to make sure you’ve achieved a perfectly centered placement.
Lock it in.
Lock in your ponytail with an elastic tie. Avoid using ponytail holders with metal clasps or thin rubber bands that can stress and damage hair.
Separate a small section of hair from the ponytail, wind it around the ponytail holder, and secure it with a bobby pin. You may want to even braid a small section of hair for your coverup. Now you’re ready to style the ponytail. If you prefer to wear it straight, you’re good to go. If you want to add waves or curls or coils, now’s the time.
Messy Bun Basics
Texturize your hair.
Texture is the foundation for a messy bun, so you have a head start if your hair is curly or coiled. If your hair is stick straight and you want some bounce, make waves with a curling iron. All textures benefit from a spritz of texturizing spray all over to keep hair in place and add fullness.
Bun building starts here.
Gather hair into a loose ponytail. Give the ponytail a few twists and anchor it with a hair accessory such as a hair tie or bobby pins. If you choose a hair tie, pull your hair only halfway through before using a bobby pin to secure the ponytail at the base.
Secure short hair stragglers.
If you have short hair, you might have hair at the back of the neck that isn’t long enough to gather into the bun. Secure the stragglers by tying a small clear hair elastic at the end of the section and then bobby pin them under the bun.
Double up on hair ties.
If you have long hair, put your hair into a ponytail before working on the bun. Wrap the hair around the tie at the base of the ponytail. Secure the bun with a second hair tie.