Whether you’re outside this summer in your backyard enjoying the fresh air or making a trip down to the beach, there’s nothing that makes the heat unbearable like having your hair in your face or sticking to your neck. Having it in a headwrap would possibly make the heat stifling, and having it down would not only leave your neck sweaty, but also would dry your hair in the Sun’s rays. When it comes to protective styling, this goes beyond Box Braids or ButterFly Locs. A simple, casual, and fun way to protect your hair and show off your style could be the trusty, classic ponytail.
Ponytails can come in various shapes and sizes, and the good thing for us Naturals is that they’re extremely customizable, making them accessible to styles to anyone of any hair length or texture. Keeping this in mind, creating a ponytail from box braids you’ve installed (instead of using your loose hair) can be beneficial, as it allows those with TWA's to achieve the styles we’re going to cover. Doing ponytails with box braids, or locs, also will make this style a little more protective, especially during the warmer months, where the sun can really fry your hair depending on where you live.
For the styles we cover today, there will be a healthy mix of ones you can achieve with loose hair, with braids/locs/twists, or they will be achievable with either or. Let’s get started…
1. The Pineapple Puff
The most simple to install ponytail for curly and coily hair would have to be the Pineapple. A lot of naturals will use this technique to protect their hair overnight, so you can sport this style no matter the time of day. You have a couple of avenues to go down to achieve this style.
One way is to use a hair ribbon, scarf, or any tool or material that can be tied. You want to also make sure the material is soft, like satin, so it reduces the amount of friction between it and your hair. So say we have a long, straight, thin hair ribbon; You can tie loosely so it fits around your head like a headband; it may be easier for you to have the knot creating the tie at the front of your head, so the two tails of the ribbon will be held by each of your hands, which would be in the front of your head, as opposed to the back. From there, you slowly pull the ribbons further away from your head, tightening the ribbon. This will cause your hair to be pulled together, and as you pull up, tightening the ribbon more and more, you’ll find your hair will be pulled into a little puff, resembling the top of a pineapple. How low or high your pineapple sits is up to you, and depends on where your arms are placed with pulling the ribbon. For a high puff, you want to pull upwards with your hands moving in that direction as they pull. For a low puff, you want to pull your hands downwards. With this, keep in mind that the key difference between a regular ponytail and a pineapple puff is the placement, so your puff should be positioned relatively high on your crown to achieve the look.
The other way to get your puff is to use a hair tie of some kind. Start by tilting your head down and flipping your hair over, so it’s all hanging towards your face. From there, you can either use a small, but comfortable, hair tie (like a silk/soft scrunchie), or you can use a larger, looser hair tie. If using a small hair tie, put it around your wrist and gather your hair in one hand like you were going to pull your hair into a ponytail. Pull the hair tie over your collected hair. The trick to making this a pineapple puff instead of a regular ponytail is to make sure the tie is only wrapped around the hair enough times to make it stay. You don’t want the tie to be looped over the hair many times, which will constrict the flow of your hair, and it will not sit like a pineapple should. Depending on the tie’s tightness and the density of your hair, you may find you don’t need to loop it around your hair multiple times, as just pulling it over the bunch of hair is enough to secure it. Using a larger hair time is the same process, however, it will almost always require you to loop it multiple times around your hair.
This look is best suited for Naturals who have their hair out of any braids, locs, or twists, as they can tend to be heavy, making it hard for them to stay up. If you have locs or twists that are shoulder length or shorter, this look could still work, as they would sit similarly to the way your curls or coils would, instead of hanging down.
Tip: If you’d like to do this style but are worried about your ends, simply gather your ends together and tuck them under your tie, creating the perfect loose bun!
2. The Low Pony
The Low Pony is classic and most importantly, low manipulation. There is little pulling and tugging, as the hair is simply collected by pulling it together at the base of your neck (or higher if your hair is shorter or if you want the tie to be right at the back of your hair).
The tool you use to tie it off can be a scarf, ribbon, or hair tie. There is no need to tie these super tight, as there will be little weight on them since you are not pulling the hair upwards. Instead, you are working with gravity and preventing any tension on the hair and scalp.
Because this style has your hair sitting low, it is the perfect style to have if you do have box braids, locs, or twists. It does lend itself to longer lengths, as if your hair is shoulder length or shorter, it may be difficult to collect the hair so that it is sitting where the neck and the back of your hair meet. If your hair is on the shorter side, you can do this look, the only thing is that it will resemble a regular ponytail.
3. The “Braided” Ponytail
We’re not talking about a ponytail made from collecting your box braids or loose braids into a ponytail, but a ponytail that has your loose hair as the tail and plaits (braids assembled close to the head, hugging the scalp) in the hair outside of the tail. So imagine your loose hair is out and ready to be plaited; you could even substitute the plaits for flat twists if you want lower amounts of manipulation to the hair.
You assemble your plaits or twists in whatever pattern you’d like. Before doing so, it would help you to know if you want to plait the hair all the way down the tips of your hair, or if you’ll stop the plait or twist once it’s long enough for you to be able to collect the unbraiding end in a ponytail. If you’re using braiding hair, it will be easier for you to just stop the braid without tying it off with a rubber band or clip. If you’re plaiting your natural hair, depending on it’s texture, it may unravel if not tied off with a utensil.
The length of the plait will depend on where it is on your head and how high or low you want your pony. With the front of your hair, your plaits will be longer if you want a lower pony and the plaits will be shorter if you intend to tie your pony up high. The reverse will be true for the plaits you have in the back of your hair.
So say all of your plaits are installed; you should have a relatively circular – depending on the pattern of your braids – bunch of loose hair ready to be tied off. Collect that loose hair and tie it as high or low as the plaits will allow. If the bunch of hair is braided at the ends, undo the braids, leaving the hair unbound. You may have a nice braid out effect, which you can make more defined by leaving the ends braided for a longer period of time. You can use either your natural hair, box braids, or twists for this. Locs do not lend itself to this style as it involves having some of your hair loose.
4. The Sleek Pony
Because of the nature of this style, it can only be achieved with your natural hair. However, it doesn’t matter the length of your hair, as the tail portion can be extended with any braiding or water wave hair.
The key to this look is having the hair outside of the pony sleek and laying flat. The sleekness can be achieved by using any strong hold gel. Our Flaxseed Gel Edge Control in Extreme Hold would be a perfect option, as it won’t leave the hair crispy or dry after it dries. You want to apply the gel on the outside of your hair, all along the circumference of your head. Any hair that won’t be in the pony should be slicked down with your gel. Using a fine toothed comb will help keep the hair separated and prevent it from bunching up; it will also help you to make sure your hair is adequately detangled before starting.
Once your hair is all slicked down, tie whatever hair you have left into a ponytail or into a puff if you are using extensions to create your ponytail. You can make this as high or low as you’d like, just keep in mind you’ll want as little tension on your hair as possible. So if you’re using braiding hair or water wave hair, you’ll want your ponytail to be a little shorter, no matter if you’re rocking a high or low pony, since the hair can tend to be heavy and cause tension on the scalp.
5. The Bubble PonyTail
This ponytail is like a regular pony, however, there are little bands or ties placed along the length of the tail, creating the effect of little bubbles created by the spacing of the bands between each other.
To achieve this, you first want to collect your hair into a ponytail positioned as high or low as you want it. For the hair outside of the tail, you can really do whatever you’d like. It could be slicked down, plaited, twisted, etc. This style lends itself to longer hair past the shoulders, as you will need space to create the bubble effect. If your hair is shorter than this, or fairly thin in density, you could simply use a ponytail extension or install braiding or water wave hair.
Once your hair is tied back into your pony, depending on how long your tail is, place another band around below the band that’s holding your pony up. After that tie, repeat the process with another one, moving down the length of the tail. The closer to the previous tie, the smaller the bubbles. The smaller the bubbles, the more you’ll have, hence the greater the effect.
- If using braiding or water wave hair, you don’t have to “install” by braiding it into your actual hair. You can simply thread the hair through your hair tie, or through your natural hair that's not collected in the hair tie (leaving the tie invisible). This last option lends itself to quick assembling and disassembling times, making it easy to maintain and wash your scalp in the event that the hair outside the tail is plaited or twisted down.
- If the hair outside the tail is braided or twisted down, you’ll want to make sure your scalp is properly taken care of during the time you have the style in. If your pony is an attachment or made from extensions and depending on the hair, you may want to take it off/out when washing. Washing will help to avoid buildup and allow you to wear the style longer. Our Hydrating Shampoo is not too stripping, but strong enough to where your scalp is feeling refreshed.
- You also want to make sure your hair is properly moisturized whether it is inside or outside of the tail. This is especially important if a lot of your natural hair will be out and exposed. We recommend our Hydrating Leave-In Conditioner with Avocado and Kiwi for prepping your hair to be tied up and keeping it properly moisturized while exposed to the warm weather this summer.
We hope this gave you all some inspiration! Which ponytail will you be rocking this season?