As a bonafide natural girl, I wear my curly hair out all of the time. The sleek high ponytail you’ve seen so many of your favorite celebs rocking seemed unachievable for my lifestyle. I rarely straighten my hair because it reverts at the first sign of humidity and all the work is undone the minute I take a hot shower (and I love a good hot shower). Nevertheless, I wanted a look that I could keep in for about a week, that was chic and would show off my face.
While in New Orleans (where the average temperature feels like 90 degrees), I linked up with celebrity hairstylist Tater Pazon who confidently let me know that as a natural girl, I could get that look. I was hesitant: “maybe I should just go for a Diana Ross full curly ponytail type of look?” He looked at my face and my hair and told me envisioned a chic ponytail, with some braids. I was sold. The braided ponytail is great for naturals because even if your hair reverts, the braids help hold the look and it can hide when it’s not so straight.
Always one to share information, here’s a step by step on how you can get the look yourself!
Start with clean hair.
Shampoo and condition your hair with your favorite products. Currently, I’m using Creme Of Nature Moisturizing Dry Defense Shampoo ($6.79, SallyBeauty.com) and the matching conditioner ($6.79, SallyBeauty.com). Tater used Joico Shampoo and Conditioner in my hair. You can get similar products: Joico Curl Cleansing Shampoo ($6.33, Walmart.com) and Joico Curl Nourished Conditioner ($11.58, Amazon.com). Tater explained, “It’s one of the best shampoos for moisturizing and hydration. It’s also sulfate free.”
Blow dry your hair.
After you are done washing and shampooing your hair, you have to blow dry your hair. Place a heat protectant in your hair. You should try TRESemme Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray ($4.92, Walmart.com).
For blow drying your hair, my favorite blowdryer is the Dyson Super Sonic Hair Dryer ($399.99, BestBuy.com). Part it in 3 sections, it makes it more easy to manage. Tater gave Hello Beautiful a pro tip on how to blow dry natural hair, “Comb through the hair first, then hold it firmly and blow dry on top. Essentially you are stretching your hair and blow drying at the same time.”
Part your hair.
You have to part and separate your hair so you know where the braids are going. Do your parts near your temple, you want your braids to be around the same size. Before braiding my hair, Tater took a hot comb to my edges (which I never touch). I was nervous about this, but he didn’t do it in a super high heat and it was really quick.
Now for the braids.
When you are braiding our hair add a little curl wax and hairspray for hold. Tater explained, “the curl wax is going to help your hair stay straight.” He added, “curl wax is an old school trick. Marcel Wax (the wax he used on my hair) was used for spiral curls, pretty much any style with a curling iron. It’s used to mold.” I looked up this product and was pleasantly surprised that it was under $5 AND has no alcohol, parabens or sulfates ($4.88, Walmart.com). Braid the hair and secure the three braids in a rubber band when done and braid those together.
The kind of hair you buy for the sleek ponytail matters.
Tater suggested getting Milky Way Pure ($55.99, SamsBeauty.com). I walked into the beauty supply store and balked to know it was almost $90 for one bundle. If you plan a little in advance, you can get it for under $60 a bundle (link above). While some beauties may not mind paying $180 for a ponytail, it was a little too expensive for a style I wasn’t even sure would last me a week.
So instead, I picked up some off brand hair that cost about $17.00. I got two bundles. I was slightly mortified when Tater was like, “What is this?” I figured that if it said 100% human hair, that it was. Tater took the flat iron and showed me how it started to fall out the minute it got some heat on it. He kindly explained, “I know it said 100% but it’s not all the same. You can always tell with this little trick.” We ended up compromising and I used Que by Milky Way, which was $32.00 a bundle in the beauty supply store. Again, plan in advance and you can get it online for less ($13.95, Ebonyline.com). I bought two bundles and only used one and about 1/8th of the other one. If you’re on a budget, you can probably get away with just one, if using Que. It has a lot of hair on the weft. If you have thinner bundles, use two. The 1/8 was to wrap around the ponytail to make it look more natural.
Sleek ya edges.
Before putting in the ponytail, slick down your edges. I personally never do my edges (that’s a whole other post for another day), so Tater kept it simple for me. After he slicked my edges, he held them down with setting paper so they could get a good hold.
Put in the ponytail (here’s how to not have your ponytail look bulky).
Now for actually putting in the ponytail, the first thing he did was double the bundle at the weft to give the hair a fuller look. He then flat ironed the fake hair to secure it. Then he sewed it in. His pro-tip is to start sowing from the bottom of your braid. Y’all this is the most important step. If you don’t sew from the bottom of the braid and instead try to wrap it, you will have a bulky ponytail (and no one wants that).
After you sew in the ponytail, straighten it again so it’s super sleek.
As someone who doesn’t regularly wear weaves (and for damn sure can’t take my own out), I was a little bit nervous about removing this. He assured me, “just have someone snip the threads. The threads only!” I’m gonna have my co-worker do it for me later this week (the benefits of being a beauty editor: it won’t look weird in-office to be snipping out hair). If you’re not a beauty editor, have your friend do it for you in the comforts of your home.
Voila! Your ponytail is done. I really love this style. If any of my natural sisters (or any of my girls, really) try this style, tag @HelloBeautiful and/or @TheIslanDiva. I wanna see!