Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar: You take your time to pull your hair up in a high ponytail, but somehow the base is off-center, the hair underneath is saggy, and your “slicked” roots are riddled with lumps and bumps. And even when you take the time to use a brush, your hair is crazy..jumping from smooth but too low...high but too bumpy...and that’s not even considering all the flyaways! And the stray hairs! And the drooping! IS ANYONE ELSE FRUSTRATED?!
*Breathes.* Basically, anyone who says ponytails are simple have clearly not attempted the ultra-high, super-sleek, no-bumps-whatsoever ponytail that only celebs with professional hairstylists can pull off. And if you’re like me, you hate when people say, “I dunno, just practice, and you’ll get better!” So instead, I rounded up all the best tips and tricks from the pros to find out the secret (yup, there’s actually more than one) to getting the perfect high ponytail and consolidated them into five easy steps. Keep reading to finally achieve your hair dreams.
Styling tools you need for a high ponytail:
- Boar brush
- Styling gel
How to do a slicked-back high ponytail:
Step 1: Blow-dry your roots straight up.
Chris Appleton, one of Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande’s go-to stylists who’s known for his high ponies, says the key to getting your hair to cooperate is to flip your head over and use a bit of heat and a boar brush to dry your hair in the same direction at the root. If your hair is already dry, dampen it with water, then coat it with a heat protectant spray to protect your hair while you reshape it.
Step 2: Do half of your ponytail first.
Instead of just throwing all your hair on top of your head and hoping for the best, break the style into two parts to get a really smooth, secure ponytail (a trick Kehlani’s hairstylist Kahh Spence swears by).
First, part your hair in half from ear to ear, then tie it up in a half-up ponytail. Use a boar-bristle brush to smooth your hair as you gather it, then position it however high you want the base of your pony to be. (To get a super-sleek ponytail, you can first smooth a little hair gel through your roots before you brush it up). Once all the bumps are gone, secure your half-up ponytail with a small hair tie.
Tip: Don’t know where to position your ponytail? Follow an imaginary diagonal line that extends from the corner of your eye toward the crown of your head for the perfect placement.
Step 3: Then add the second half.
Now that you’ve got your base set, you don’t have to worry about accidentally moving your ponytail off-center or creating bumps on top while you work on the back. To complete the ponytail, brush the rest of your hair up and join it with your already-tied ponytail.
Step 4: Secure the whole thing.
Appleton says the best way to prevent your ponytail from moving off-center as you secure it is to use a bungee elastic (aka a hook elastic, bungee band—whatever you want to call it). Just hold the ponytail in place with one hand, stick the hook securely into the base of your hair, tightly wrap the bungee elastic around the base until you’ve reached the end of the cord, then hook in the other end to secure it. Confused? Watch and learn:
Step 5: Make it pretty.
The easiest way to make a ponytail seem polished? Cover the elastic with a small sliver of hair. Grab a half-inch section of hair from under the ponytail and wrap it around the base until the bungee is completely covered. Use a hair pin to secure it or take a cue from Spence and Appleton and coat the end with hair gel or hairspray, respectively, to lacquer it down.
Now, all you need is an Advil (a ponytail this tight comes with a headache; don’t say I didn’t warn you), and you’re set!
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.