I thought ponytails were supposed to be easy. Grab an elastic, gather up your hair, and be done in two seconds, right?
Not anymore. Leave it to the beauty experts to make something as simple as the elastic-wrapped pony into a high-falutin' hairstyle. Your go-to gym 'do is now turning up on the red carpet, at award shows, and even on the runways.
The reason? Celebrity hairstylist Jenny Cho says wearing a stylized pony can help balance the angles of your face and create the illusion of a more oval shape, which is ideal. The key is finding the right ponytail for your face shape.
Don't know your face shape? Figure out your face shape here.
The best part is that you only have to figure out how to do your most flattering ponytail once, since your face shape won't change. (Unless you're Heidi Montag. Sorry, I had to.) Which ponytail flatters your face shape best?
Since the jawline and hairline are so chiseled in these face types, it's important to soften the square shape with bits of hair. "Leaving out a few of the front pieces creates a flowing effect around the edges," says Hagiwara. "Plus, adding waves and wispy bangs will help camouflage the harsh angles." This face-framing layer effect (à la Brigitte Bardot) can be best achieved with a center part; if your face-framing bits of hair are balanced on both sides, it'll help soften an angular jaw line and hide width in the cheeks. As for the ponytail's ends, Cho says adding a hint of bend with a curling iron -- whether flipped out or in -- also helps balance angles.
A wide forehead and narrow chin create a too-large top in heart-shaped faces. The solution: side-swept bangs, which can conceal this imbalance. "The layers help hide the wide forehead, pulling attention down to the cheek area, which adds length to the face," says Hagiwara. A mid-height ponytail -- right at the crown -- looks best because it pulls backward, opening up the face without bringing the attention upward, says Cho. If you're looking for a more sophisticated texture in the back, Cho suggests running a flatiron through your hair to smooth ends.
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If you're lucky enough to be genetically gifted with an oval face shape, you can pretty much wear any ponytail style, says Hagiwara. Sleek, messy, high, low -- since anything goes, why not try a daring side ponytail? Before you cringe, hear us out: We promise the side pony has come a long way since the '80s. But to be sure you don't look like you're trying to channel Madonna, French braid the front of your hair to one side before securing ends at the nape of your neck, just behind the ear. This gives the look a modern twist. Just be sure to boost texture with waves or polished curls, so your ends look voluminous but not wild.
Diamond faces are very similar to oval faces, but with a slightly more pointy chin, cheekbones, and hairline. While chiseled cheekbones are never a bad feature, Cho says the key is to "be sure the top of your head is softly rounded so that you don't have a cone-head effect." To create an illusion of fullness at the crown, backcomb the roots of your hair to boost volume, then smooth hair back into a neat ponytail. If you're looking for an extra sleek effect, "after securing hair into a ponytail, wrap one small section -- about an inch of hair -- around the base, covering the elastic. Tuck the ends of the small piece underneath the elastic to hold it in place.
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