The ponytail is the epitome of a classic, easy hairstyle. Whether you're in the mood for a workout or just feelin' a bit lazy, throwing your hair into the perfect ponytail is a simple, quick solution. But what if I were to tell you that slicking your hair back could have some dangerous repercussions?
Yup, it's true. When the hair is pulled tightly and wrapped in an elastic, it's prone to breakage. And when you're constantly placing the pony in the same spot? You're asking for trouble. A few loose hairs each day surely adds up over time.
So what's a woman who loves to get her hair out of her face to do? Not to worry. We recently spoke with Mark Garrison, owner of NYC's Mark Garrison salon with more than 30 years of experience, and got his fabulous tips for the perfect stress-free ponytail. And whaddyaknow -- it's easier than we thought.
Check out Mark's expert tips, here:
1. Mix up the placement: Make sure you're not constantly placing your pony in the same exact spot on your head. This way, the strands that get the most stressed won't constantly be the same.
2. When in doubt, go low: "A low ponytail is going to be the least stressful because you don't have the gravity of the hair pulling down," according to Garrison. "It's the easiest to manage, and simple to style with a side or middle part."
3. Choose the right elastic: Dozens of retailers are selling ribbon elastics these days. Ribbon elastics, which are made of fabric, are much less harsh on your hair.
"What breaks the hair is that rough edge of the typical elastics," says Garrison. "It rubs every time you move your head, and the hair starts to break down."
Our go-to choice for great elastics? Ribbon hair ties from Sephora ($9, sephora.com). With eight ties in each pack, you can choose a colorful or neutral palette depending on your mood.
4. Avoid unnecessary treatments: No surprise here -- any hair that has been put through the ringer (of the style spectrum, anyway) isn't exactly the strongest. If you're a major fan of the updo, beware about excessive dyeing.
"Finer hair, hair that's heavily highlighted or bleached, women who have chemically treated hair -- all of these hair types break down quicker. It's something that's important to remember," says Mark.
5. Avoid metal: Metal barrettes and other clamps can cause serious damage on your strands. "That clamping action can act like a saw," says Garrison. Use plastic bobby pins instead, which are MUCH more forgiving.
6. Style it correctly: To put together the perfect ponytail, you want to make sure you give your strands some spray gel or mousse at the front to get some hold off of the face. Then, comb through your strands to evenly distribute the product. Blow dry using a round brush and then gather the hair in your desired location.
Have you ever noticed breakage from pulling your hair back? Is that something you worry about as you get older?
Image via Whitemann/Corbis