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10 Easy Ponytail Hairstyles for the Perfect Updo

It's updo season! Level up your ponytail with these classic looks.

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The weather is getting warmer and you may think it’s time to say adios to cute hair, but you don’t have to! There are a ton of tips and tricks out there to keep your hair tame over the summer. Everything from the best shampoos and the best conditioners, to scalp massagers and frizzy hair products are out there to help you rock the cutest look. But sometimes you just don’t have time for that, and all you want to do is grab a hair-tie before you run out the door. We’ve rounded up some cute ponytail hairstyles that will work for any hair type, length, and age—yes, these are great hairstyles for women over 40 too! You may even want to wear your hair up all year long.

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The classic low pony

You may have tried this one before, and I wouldn’t blame you if you had put this ponytail hairstyle on the back burner. The real trick for this style is to keep the pony loose to give it that delicate look, rather than a slicked-back George Washington-type of hairdo. Soften the look by pulling a few strands loose to frame the face. The great part about this technique is that it even works for short hair. I know those flowing locks down your back sometimes seem like the way to go, but this ponytail can be just as cute with shorter strands. Matilde Campos, a Los Angeles-based hairstylist, recommends using a styling cream just before gathering your hair back into any of these ponytail hairstyles. “Rub in the styling cream to your hands like lotion,” she explains. “You don’t want it to be at all clumpy, but you want to allow it to disappear into your hands. One of my favorite styling creams I love to use is Maria Nila’s Styling cream.”

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Street Style - Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 : Day FiveEdward Berthelot/Getty Images

Pony with a hair-clip

A slicked-back ponytail is a classic, but adding a colorful hair-clip will make you look like you tried much harder on your hair than you really did. The accessory just takes the pony up a notch while making the updo look a bit more put together. For a sleek pony, Campos likes to use a boar-bristle brush such as the Spornette Little Wonder. “If you’re looking for a sleek pony, this brush helps to tame down all those flyaways, and give you the smooth look for the perfect pony,” she claims. “At the end of your styling process, spray a little finishing spray or hairspray on the brush and smooth out all of those bumps and say goodbye to all the static”

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Curly top

Take your naturally curly hair and scoop it up into a pile on top of your head. The messier the better. This style is playful and takes minimal effort, flaunting your curls while not worrying about having to keep them tame. It may even be easier for those with natural hair because it already has so much volume, you won’t have to worry about it falling flat.

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Street Style - Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 : Day FiveEdward Berthelot/Getty Images


Yes, scrunchies are trendy again! Add a little extra charisma to your ponytail with this cute and comfy accessory. With an endless number of colors, sizes, and patterns, you can find a scrunchie to match any outfit. These are especially great for people with longer hair, as scrunchies will cause less damage than the average elastic that could potentially cause breakage.

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Voluminous ponytail

Grab your hairspray and get ready to channel your inner mid-2000s Snooki! Just kidding, but her notorious bump serves as inspiration for this style. Kate Middleton is going for a more subtle bump, but as you can see, the volume dresses up your average, run-of-the-mill ponytail. You’ll have to tease the crown of your head before tying your hair back and when you think you have enough hairspray, add a little more just in case. You can also curl the ends of the ponytail just to give it a little something extra, just make sure you curl your hair before tying it back. “Curling, waving, or straightening your hair will always be a better idea than trying to do so once the hair is in the ponytail,” says professional stylist, Megan Curtain. “Styling it beforehand will be easier and will sit better once put up.”

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Super high ponytail

Pull your hair back as tight as possible for this sleek ponytail. It may help if you flip your head over and begin gathering hair that way before using a brush to pull everything back tightly. The high ponytail lengthens your face, ultimately drawing attention to your cheekbones and making your face look narrow. Throw on a cute sundress and you’ll be comfortable in the hot weather while still looking put together. You may even want to invest in some Utiles Beauty hair ties that hairstylist Josh Liu uses to create Ariana Grande’s signature high ponytail. “These hair ties are a Godsend and will create great styles from low to high ponies and everything in between,” says Campos.

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Bubble ponytail

Frizz is not your friend in the summer and no matter how many anti-frizz products you massage into your hair, sometimes the humidity just wins. The bubble ponytail is perfect to keep the frizz at bay if your hair is prone to puffiness. This style can be worn with a suit or with sweatpants, and most importantly, your hair will stay off of your neck and out of your face. You can even wrap the ponytail around itself and pin it up for a tamed bun.

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Boho ponytail

Level up your ponytail by adding a subtle side braid. While the braid doesn’t have to be as intricate as the one Jennifer Morrison is flaunting here, just a small braid at the front of your hair that you can bobby pin pack will suffice! This look can be as clean or as messy as you would like, depending on the occasion, and it works especially well at keeping overgrown bangs away from your face. Just make sure you have enough bobby pins on hand though, because, in my personal experience, they all eventually go missing. Try adding some dry shampoo to give flat hair a little more texture. “Once your pony is set in place, spray the top part of your ponytail in sections to get it throughout your hair, this will add volume and movement to your pony and it will give it the bounce you’re looking for,” explains Campos.

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Street Style : Paris Fashion Week - Womenswear Spring Summer 2020 : Day NineEdward Berthelot/Getty Images

Braided ponytail

Similar to the bubble ponytail, this braid keeps your frizz tamed, giving your ponytail a sleeker look. All you need are two hair-ties on hand, and you can create this look anywhere, even on the go! Perfect for a nice dinner, picnic in the park, or even lounging at the beach. When you take your hair down at the end of the day, you may even be able to shake out your hair to create that sought-after beachy waves look for the next day.

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Half up, half down

My personal go-to is this half-up, half-down ponytail. You can never go wrong with this look and it works for all lengths, textures, and outfits. Dress it up with a cute clip or scoop it up in a scrunchie for a more casual look. Either way, you’ll stay cool during the hot weather and look cute while doing it. You can also start with a half-up, half-down style and then turn it into a full ponytail later on. “I usually start all ponytail styles by doing a half up-half down style and I perfect every bump and clean up every flaw and fly away and I attain the placement of the pony,” says Campos. “This allows me to not get too overwhelmed with so much hair.  Once this is finished, I gather the remainder of the lower portion of the hair and gather it onto the first pony with an additional hair tie.” Just make sure you aren’t doing these things to your hair that a stylist wouldn’t.


Emma Taubenfeld
Emma Taubenfeld is an assistant editor for Reader’s Digest who focuses on digital lifestyle topics such as memes, social media captions, pick-up lines, and cute pets. When she’s not working, you can find Emma reading corny young adult novels, creating carefully curated playlists, and figuring out how to spice up boxed mac and cheese.