How To Master the Perfect Ponytail

The right techniques. The right texturizers. The right hair ties. Here's everything you need to know.

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The number one tip? Wear a ponytail with confidence. See above for a head flip with attitude. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images
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Rule No. 1: Use a Mirror

Variable Lighted Mirror by Conair, $60,
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Sure, sometimes you need to pull your hair into an impromptu pony when you're on the go and can't be bothered with another strand blowing in your face. But if you want the look to seem more polished, celebrity hairstylist Richard Collins recommends using a mirror with a built-in light. Of course, a mirrored light always proves useful when doing your makeup, so it's worth the investment.

Rule No. 2: Mind Your Neck

As someone who has styled ponytails for the likes of Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson, Collins knows the key tricks to keeping hair smooth and free of awkward bumps. "A common mistake is not getting the ponytail tight enough at the nape of the neck when doing a high pony," he says. Be sure to tie an elastic firmly so that gravity doesn't leave your pony looking saggy at its base.

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Rule No. 3: Figure Out the Look for You

Pair your pony with confidence—and a great pair of shoes. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images

Balmain may have popularized the slicked-back, sky-high pony, but the look may not be for everyone. "A little softness around the hairline can be very flattering," says Collins. A high ponytail will help define your cheekbones, but a low pony can evoke a carefree romanticism. And if you want to be a little funky, try an '80s side ponytail.

Rule No. 4: Dip, Pull Back, and Straighten

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Think of it like a three-step dance move that produces the ultimate ponytail. "When securing your ponytail, bend your head back a little," says Collins. "Then, when you straighten your head you'll see that it's very tight at the nape of your neck."

Rule No. 5: Bring in the Products

Texturize that ponytail! Photograph courtesy of Getty Images
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Before you call in the product artillery, ask yourself: what kind of vibe do I want my pony to put out into the world? Want a messy-cool "I woke up like this" look? Add a bit of volume powder before pulling back your hair. If it's a sleek, straight look you're after, use a polishing pomade to brush your hair up, and a shine spray to finish it off.

Rule No. 6: Make Sure the Tie Is Right

Metal Free Ponytail Holders by Smoothies, $4,

Collins swears by Smoothies, the metal-free (and painless) ponytail holders. "They have the best stretch," he says. "If you have thick hair, don't be afraid to use two."

Metal Free Thin Mini by Smoothies, $4,

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