"The ponytail is always flattering and provides an almost effortless way to look polished," says Jordan Blackmore of Three Squares Studio in New York City. "But the style gets a bad rap when women don't finish the look." Here, Blackmore tells us how to execute the perfect pony - whether you're going black-tie or boardroom.
1. GET DIRTY "A little grease from unwashed hair provides a stay-put base for any updo," says Blackmore. On second- or third-day hair, apply a light styling gel to prevent frizz, or use dry shampoo on clean hair to fake a thicker texture. Avoid oily serums unless your hair is very coarse. Then blow-dry strands or use a straightening iron to smooth hair before putting it up.
MC TIP: Straighten every section, not just the front pieces, to ensure that your ponytail looks good from all angles.
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2. LOCATION SCOUT Downplay your least favorite features with strategic positioning. Low ponytails accentuate jaw- and necklines, while ponytails aligned with the tops of your ears can draw attention to them. For a youthful look, "A ponytail right at the crown can take years off your age because it elongates the line of your torso," says Blackmore.
MC TIP: Use snap-in hair extensions to add volume and length to any lackluster tail.
3. BRUSHING UP When pulling hair into a ponytail, "Don't flip your head over," advises Blackmore. "You don't get that much more volume, and you can't pay attention to centering it." Instead, brush hair into place with a paddle brush and secure the ponytail with a hair bungee elastic. "They don't pull as much as normal elastics, which can cause tension and breakage around the hairline," notes Blackmore.
MC TIP: Spritz your brush with hairspray before brushing it back to smooth would-be wispies.
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4. FINE-TUNING If you want to …
GO SLEEKER: Apply gel or styling cream to damp hair, make a ponytail, then blow-dry on low heat. "This will add enough lift to keep the look from being too severe," explains Blackmore.
GO BIGGER: Elongate wider faces by teasing hair at the crown before proceeding to Step 3. "Brushing over the teased hair tames the base without sacrificing fullness," he adds.
MC TIP: When flaunting fall's more elaborate necklines, steer clear of lower ponytails - they'll get lost in the extra fabric.
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