Few things exude as much confidence as the slicked-back ponytail. The ultra-sleek hairstyle is ideal for taking you from day to night without giving off prom vibes or looking too over-the-top—plus, it can be styled in mere minutes. This chic updo has had a spot in fashion magazines and red carpets for years, but we predict it will have a moment on the runways this New York Fashion Week in particular.
“A slick ponytail is always trending,” agrees New York City-based hairstylist and Pureology artist Martín Plascencia. “It’s a staple in the arsenal of styles. They can be worn on any occasion [depending on] how you tailor it.”
Whether you have mid-length golden blonde hair or down-to-there red hair color, watch the video below to see how the pro stylist achieves this enviable look on his clients. Then, learn how to recreate the style at home using salon-grade hair products from Hair.com.
How do you slick your hair back in a ponytail?
From high to low to middle-or-side-parted, there are endless ways you can style your slick back ponytail. If you’re looking for a classic option, keep scrolling for the step-by-step guide to nailing this ever-trendy hairstyle.
Before you start styling, prep damp or dry hair with Pureology’s Color Fanatic Multi-Tasking Leave-In Spray For Color-Treated Hair to help reset hair’s texture and protect it from heat. Using a boar bristle paddle brush, blow dry the formula into the hair, directing strands where you want the ponytail to land.
Part and texturize hair.
Here’s arguably the trickiest part of creating a slicked-back ponytail: “How should I part my hair?” While many decide to forego the part altogether and brush all of their hair up and away from their face, you can’t go wrong with a middle part like Plascencia’s or even a side part slicked-back ponytail.
Once you finish answering the tough questions, Plascencia says you’ll want to mist Pureology’s Style + Protect Texture Finishing Spray all over hair to add grit and volume. This is a key step since a texturizing spray will work wonders at manipulating your locks into your slick back ponytail.
Divide hair into sections.
Instead of working with one large ponytail, Plascencia advises splitting the hair into three subsections (around the face, then divide the remaining hair horizontally at the crown of the head) as you work a bit of Pureology’s Style + Protect Shine Bright Taming Serum through hair.
“Subdividing the hair into three large sections not only helps me with control as I am gathering the hair back into the ponytail, but it’s also a way to [direct] how high or low I want the base of the ponytail to land,” he says. “I use the Shine Bright Taming Serum on every sleek ponytail as a base for control and shine.”
Form the base of the ponytail.
Spritz a hairspray like Pureology’s Style + Protect Lock It Down Hairspray onto a boar bristle teasing brush (to control flyaways), then brush the back sections of hair together at the crown of the head. You can use an elastic or a hair tie to secure the base, but Plascencia typically goes for an elastic cording.
“By using an elastic cording rather than a traditional bungee, you are able to control the tension more,” says Plascencia. “The more tension, the better—think mini facelift.”
Sweep back the remaining hair.
Using your teasing brush and hairspray again, incorporate the loose sides of your hair back into your ponytail and tie it into place with a new elastic, hair tie, or cord. Work a small amount of Pureology’s flexible Style + Protect Mess It Up Texture Paste onto your edges and flyaways to keep hair in place. This sulfate-free styler provides soft hold, texture, and shine.
Tease the ponytail.
Use a brush or a comb to tease the ponytail for extra volume, and top off the tail with another liberal mist of Pureology’s finishing spray.
What do you use for a slick back ponytail?
Having professional products in your arsenal is the secret to nailing down a runway-worthy sleek ponytail. If you wonder, “What kind of gel do you use for a slick back ponytail?” Plascencia says the products you opt for ultimately depend on the desired finish of your ponytail (think: matte, semi-sheen, shiny, or wet-looking).
“Saturation and product distribution highly influence the end result,” adds the Pureology pro. Therefore, slicked-back ponytails don’t have to be limited to gels—sprays, serums, and pastes work just as well, as demonstrated in the how-to above.
Now that you’re equipped with Plascencia’s expert tips and tricks, keep this tutorial bookmarked to create a pro-worthy slicked-back ponytail whenever the occasion arises.
Ready to take this look for a spin? Find all the salon products you need to perfect your slicked-back ponytail on Hair.com.