Gone are the days when ponytails were reserved for bad-hair days, workouts and scrunchie enthusiasts. Since cropping up on countless red carpets and runways, the ponytail is back in a big way. These aren't the unassuming, snooze-button-friendly, plain-Jane ponies we grew up with, though: These sexy styles are so much more. Here are the six hottest ponytail trends you should be flaunting this season. (Sorry, pixie cuts.)
The dominatrix Ponytail
The key to achieving this sexy S&M-inspired look is control. Hair should be slick, smooth and flyaway-free. Gently mist with hair spray and brush hair up into a high, tight ponytail. For hair with lots of texture, you may need to add a coat of moisturizing mousse or silicone-based serum beforehand. Secure with an elastic and wrap a piece of hair around to keep it covered, tucking or pinning it underneath. Spritz the tail with a heat-protective spray and straighten with a flat iron. Finish with hair spray at the crown for extra sleekness and shine.
The Undone Ponytail
One part nonchalance, one part bed-head, this ponytail borrows heavily from the Parisian book of style for a look that, in typical French fashion, is slightly disheveled yet still manages to look chic. Start by blow-drying your hair, teasing around your crown for extra lift and texture. Create a messy part and pull back into a loose, low-slung pony, making sure to keep the volume at the crown. Rub a small amount of texturizing cream on your fingers and gently loosen strands from the ponytail as well as around your face.
Incredibly versatile, this look can be worn in several ways. Experiment with it by combing a different part, pulling it to the side, or wearing it with sideswept bangs.
The Braided Ponytail
A relaxed braided ponytail evokes a sexy, effortless cool, and it's so quick and easy to achieve that even the hairstyling-challenged can pull it off. First, coat wet hair with mousse and lightly blow dry, leaving hair slightly damp. Gently tease to add texture and pull hair to one side; this keeps the look fresh and modern, and makes it easier for you to braid. Separate hair into sections and loosely braid until you're about an inch from the end. Secure with an elastic and spritz with hair spray. Gently pull apart to make the look more tousled.
The Precious Metals Ponytail
Elevate your everyday ponytail with a little heavy metal -- no styling necessary. At recent runway shows, metal barrettes and golden rings used as ponytail holders were sleek and unexpected. Skip the elastic band and secure a low ponytail at the nape of your neck with a flat, unadorned metal barrette instead. (Classic Goody barrettes were all the rage at Prada and Alexander McQueen.) Or take a cue from Dries Van Noten and add rings as gold metal accents. To get the look, scour a craft or jewelry store for a few gold-toned rings. Pull hair back into a low, loose ponytail and secure with an elastic as usual. Twist the tail and thread it through the rings. Slip the rings on and pull them up, fitting snugly over the elastic. If you have trouble finding a ring that fits, try inexpensive adjustable versions.
The Modern Deneuve Ponytail
A nod to the iconic elegance of Catherine Deneuve, this polished pony is a fresh take on the familar 60s-inspired bouffant styles worn high on the head. Apply mousse or a blow-dry gel to wet hair and blow out with a round brush to add body at the roots and a slight curl at the ends. Gently back-comb the crown to create a bit of volume. Pull out two side pieces in front of the ears. Pull back the rest of your hair into a low ponytail and secure, wrapping hair around to hide the elastic. For a final ladylike touch, wrap a thin ribbon over the crown and tie in a bow behind the ponytail's base.
The Soft Rock Ponytail
Romantic and feminine but not overdone, this tousled look is cooler than your average curled updo, thanks to a little rock n'roll edge. Wash and braid your hair the night before. In the morning, gently loosen the waves by finger-combing curl-defining mousse from scalp to ends. Use a one-inch curling iron to curl the middle of one-inch sections, but leave the ends and hair near the scalp untouched to give it a tousled just-rolled-out-of-bed vibe. Part in the center and gently comb through. Pull back into a low, loose ponytail and secure. Finish with a spritz of texturizer and hair spray.