How to Put Hair in a Ponytail

Girl wearing her hair in a ponytail
Photo: Maryna Kulchytska/Shutterstock
Q: I am trying to teach my daughter to brush her own hair and put into a ponytail. She will only wear it in a ponytail. I have tried to explain and show her, but her coordination seems to make it difficult for her. I was wondering if you have any tips on how to put hair in a ponytail. I have short hair and can't show her on my own hair.
A: Creating a perfect ponytail is actually harder than it looks. Not only do you have to gather all the hair together and confine it neatly in a holder or elastic band, but you also have to be sure of correct placement on the scalp to avoid looking off-centered. The plus side of this is that with practice it becomes much easier.
For your daughter, I suggest you have her start out by creating ponytails at the nape of the neck. This is much simpler and easier to manage than binding the hair up higher on the head. Creating a ponytail is usually easier if the hair is slightly damp, so spray the hair with a detangler spray or other leave-in conditioner before making the attempt.
Once your daughter is able to create the ponytail low on her scalp, have her begin trying to create ponytails higher up. You can have her do this over a period of days and weeks, or she could simply spend some time practicing until she can get as far as her ability takes her. The more accustomed she becomes to performing the actions, the better her results will be.
As in everything else in life, styling your hair takes practice. Some people have a more natural aptitude and may find certain things easier, but I believe that anyone can learn to be competent. Be sure to be encouraging, and always couch your criticisms carefully. Watch how she does it and make suggestions that might make it easier for her if you see her struggling.
Make sure that she has the right tools as well. Give her a wide-toothed comb, a spray detangler, and snag-free elastic bands that are sized so that she can use to secure her ponytail without having to double it over more than once. Show her how to hook the elastic band over her middle finger and thumb of her dominant hand.
This way, once she has combed the sprayed hair and gathered it in her off hand, she can slide the gathered hair between her thumb and middle finger. Next, grasp the hair between them and pull one side of the band down, and holding the band in place with the fingers of her off hand, pull the hair through. Finishing the ponytail then becomes a matter of holding the hair while you pull the elastic band taut, twist it and pull the tail back through the second loop.
I also suggest that you look for small hinged combs in your local drugstore or department store. You can often find circular combs that make creating a ponytail a breeze. The combs hold the hair and have hooks on the unhinged ends that secure them in place. These can be used to create a ponytail style on their own or used to hold the hair while an elastic band is put into place.
See also:
Ponytails, pigtails and topknots
How to fix ponytails
How to do a poof ponytail
How to keep a high ponytail up all day long