Pictured: Jasmine Brown
Sometimes I like to tiptoe out into cyberspace to see what some of the latest trends are. When it comes to hair, specifically, I’ve noticed that ponytails are getting a lot of shout-outs right now. Not just any ponytail, though — the super sleek ones.
Thing is, we curly girls know that whenever our hair is chemically-processed straight, achieving this kind of look is absolutely no problem. It’s when we want to make this look happen without permanently altering our natural texture that things can get a bit — pardon the pun — hairy.
That said, if you’d like to rock your own super sleek ponytail every once in a while and you’re wondering how to do it without damaging your tresses in the process, here are a few tips that can hopefully make that pretty easy for you.
1. Start with the right styling tools
Any good hairstyle is going to need some great styling tools. When it comes to a sleek ponytail, you need a wide-tooth comb, a soft bristle brush, an old toothbrush, a satin scarf (silk ones will sometimes stick to your hair after you apply product to it), an elastic hair tie and a fine-tooth comb too (for precision). Also, don’t forget about hair gel, mousse and/or pomade. Oh, and some edge control (check out our article “How to Make Your Own Edge Control”, “5 DIY Edge Control Recipes For Curly Hair” and “How to Lay Down Your Edges the All-Natural Way”). When it comes to whatever product that you choose, just make sure to go with something that results in as little residue as possible once it dries. Remember, it’s going to be hard to remove “white stuff” from your hair once your ponytail is set.
2. Be open to implementing a side part
The more parts that you have in your hair, the easier it will be for your hair to dry (whether you’re choosing to create your ponytail while it’s wet or you’re waiting for the product to dry completely). Plus, there is something that’s both sophisticated and sexy about a sleek ponytail that has a side part to it. For accuracy’s sake, go with a fine-tooth comb to make this happen.
3. Use gel on freshly washed hair. Pomade on towel-dry hair.
As far as product goes, my recommendation would be to apply gel on hair that’s just been washed and is still damp. If you’re trying to make this look happen on mostly dry hair, go with a pomade instead. Gel on wet hair because your tresses are most cooperative when they’re wet (which makes it easier to mold). Plus, gel tends to “set into hair” better when it’s wet (or at least damp). Pomade is great on towel-dried hair because although it is activated by water, a little bit goes a really long way. If you’re wondering what the perks of going with a pomade are, I personally don’t know anything that can tame curly hair and hold a style quite like it does. Plus, it creates a really sleek look along with a level of shine that’s pretty unmatched as well. If you’d like to use a gel that contains no alcohol (alcohol can be drying over time), Sheamoisture Daily Hydration Styling Gel 100% Virgin Coconut Oil Hydrating, Alcohol-Free Hair, Rolda Black Styling Hair Gel Extra Strong Hold and Giovanni LA Natural Styling Gel are good options. There are a few more listed in our article, “6 Best Alcohol-Free Gels for Wavy Curly Hair”. If you need a little bit of assistance as far as pomades go, check out our article, “10 of the Best Pomades for Thick and Curly Hair”.
4. Sleek your hair down in sections and then secure with a ponytail holder
Now that you know what kind of product to use to get this kind of ponytail, it’s really important that you don’t forget this particular point (especially if your hair is really curly or super thick). While it might initially seem easier to just plop a pile of gel or pomade onto your hair and comb it in, that really isn’t going to give you the end result that you’re after. Your best bet is to part your hair into sections, apply some product, comb or brush your hair into place and then “rinse and repeat” with another section. My recommendation would be to put your side part in and then part your hair horizontally in semi-small sections, so that you can distribute your product evenly and get each section of your hair nice and smooth. Then secure your ponytail with a ponytail holder.
5. Focus on your edges and nape
It doesn’t matter how great your ponytail looks if your edges and nape aren’t laid down as flat as possible. So, once you’ve got your ponytail done, it’s time to use your old toothbrush, your fine-tooth comb and some edge control to hone in on these areas of your hair. Actually, this part of the styling process can be a lot of fun because you can even put some tiny design in if you would like. Just make sure that after you’ve finished this part that you use a satin scarf to tie around your edges and nape for about 15-20 minutes, so that your ponytail can really get smooth and sleek (another tip is, if you want to use heat, this would be the time. Turn it on to medium and move the blower around your head. It will help the product to dry even faster!).
6. Tie your hair down at night and…
Unless you only plan on wearing your sleek ponytail for a day or so, this tip doesn’t matter much. But if you want to make it last for a week or more, it is an absolute must that you tie it down when you’re about to go to bed, when you’re about to get into the shower and also if you’re planning on working out. You need to do it at night, so that your ponytail isn’t messed up by you tossing and turning all night long. You need to do it before washing and exercising, so that the humidity won’t cause some of your hair to rise up. Honestly, when it comes to maintaining your sleek ponytail, your scarf should be considered to be its very best friend.
7. Keep some mousse on hand
So, what about if you need to do some touching up? Mousse can be super beneficial, mostly because it’s specifically designed to reduce humidity and hold a hairstyle. Plus, it dries faster than gel. Just make sure to keep in mind that “less is more”. In fact, if you want to some tips for how to avoid product build-up, a naturalista offers up some good insights here.
Enjoy your ponytail!