The ponytail might just be the greatest creation in the history of hair. The simple act of getting your hair up and out of your face can totally save your butt when you're running late, making you appear more pulled together when, really, you're a hot mess. It can even manage to keep you looking sleek on the most humid of days. Plus, a pony is totally timeless.
"Ponytails are like the LBDs [little black dresses] of hair — they never go out of style," says San Diego-based hairstylist Jet Rhys.
There is one thing we don't give the pony enough credit for: its ability to flatter your face shape when it's placed in just the right spot or styled a certain way. Here, find your prescription for the perfect ponytail, whether your face is round, square, oval or heart-shaped:
The higher, the better. Extra height creates the illusion of a longer and slimmer face. If a top-of-the-head ponytail feels a little too cheerleader-y for you, go lower, but backcomb (a.k.a. gently tease) the hair at the crown area to create lift, says Rhys.
To balance out the extra volume, create a low side part (sweeping your bangs to the side, if you have them) and pull your hair into a side ponytail. Anchor mid-neck with an elastic band.
This face shape — with its wide, squared-off jaw and broad forehead — calls for a soft style to offset all those enviable angles. A loose pony with volume at the crown works well. Placement isn't so important here. What is: surrounding your angular face with soft bangs or wispy, face-framing pieces, says Rhys.
"This is the most coveted face shape," says Rhys. "Everything is in balance."
What does that mean for your ponytail? High, low or off to the side — it all works. When in doubt, try a polished pony, says Rhys. Gather all your hair at the center of the back of your head and secure with an elastic band. Then wrap just the ends with a curling iron to give them a slight bend. This gives the tail some swing and smoothness. Lock in the look with a flexible hold hairspray, such as Kérastase Laque Dentelle.
Your forehead and cheeks are wide, while your chin is narrow and usually prominent. A neutral pony placement, just below the crown of your head, won't draw too much attention to either spot, says Rhys. Side-swept bangs can help downplay a wide forehead. Don't have 'em? Fake the effect with a low, swooping side part.
What's your favorite way to wear a ponytail? Tell us in the comments.