As much as I love a ponytail, I’ll be the first to admit that it’s kindaaa a cop-out hairstyle. Like, sure, they’re perfect for running errands or “going to the gym” (aka running errands in leggings), but taking the time to whip up a ponytail hairstyle that actually looks put together is a struggle. So in the spirit of switching up one of my boring, blah go-tos, I combed through Instagram to find the prettiest (but easiest) ponytail ideas of all time. With cute ’90s-inspired looks and loose and easy loose, low options, I found something for pretty much everyone, ahead. Trust: You’ll never look at ponytails the same way once you’ve seen this lineup.
This High Ponytail with Waves
Yara Shahidi’s Ponytail with Laid Edges
Leave it to Yara Shahidi to totally reinvent the sleek high ponytail. Load up on edge control, comb your edges into a cute design, and set your ponytail at the top of your crown for plenty of volume.
This Low and Loose Ponytail
This Sleek Braided Ponytail
This High Ponytail with Tendrils
IMHO, there’s nothing better (or easier) than a high ponytail with loose, face-framing layers. Fully channel the ’90s vibe by securing your hair with a scrunchie, or go for a more subtle look with a clear elastic.
Jennifer Lopez’s Flipped-Up Ponytail
Pro tip: After combing your hair into a high, J. Lo-worthy ponytail, grab a flat iron and gently flip up your ends. You’ll be left with a sleek-yet-retro look that’ll get you compliments on compliments (trust).
This Pearled Ponytail
Quite possibly the only thing that could make a ladder-braided ponytail look even cooler? A jumbo strand of pearls running right through it.
This Voluminous Ponytail
These big, soft curls perfectly balance the hair slicked back in the front. Play up your natural texture or add extensions for even more volume and impact. IMO, you can never have too much of either.
Poppy Delevingne’s Tied-Up Ponytail
A high ponytail with a bow? Cute but kinda expected. Add a second bow toward the bottom of the tail, though, and you’ve got yourself a lewk.
This Studded Ponytail
Not gonna lie—low ponytails can be, well, a little boring. One way to fix a meh look fast is with an edgy accessory, like this string of pearl studs, down your center part.
This Ponytail With a Braided Base
A hairstyle doesn’t need to be complicated to feel cool. Sometimes an understated detail, like a braid wrapped around the base of a ponytail, adds enough interest without all the fuss.
This Triple Ponytail
If you’re into sleek updos, take your hairstyle to the next level with a stack of slicked ponytails, like this triple threat. Start with a half-up style, create another half-up ponytail right below it, then tie it all off at the nape of your neck to create a long and low pony.
Hailey Bieber’s Scrunchie Ponytail
You don’t need me to tell you how awesome scrunchies are (unless you were born after the ’90s, then, uh, listen up). Wrapping your ponytail with one of these classic fabric-covered hair ties is the easiest way to turn your average ponytail into a statement look.
This Badass Braided Ponytail
Knotted at the base, braided in the middle, and free-flowing at the end. Friends, this is what we call the coolest ponytail in the world.
Ariana Grande’s Super-High Ponytail
Known for his gravity-defying ponytails, hairstylist Chris Appleton swears by bungee elastics for keeping ponytails perfectly positioned without slippage. When you’re working with this much hair, a regular hair elastic just ain’t gonna cut it.
Jennifer Lopez’s Super-Long Ponytail
To get length like this, you’ll most likely need extensions. Another one of Appleton’s tricks is to work in layers when securing the clip-ins to the base of your head. This will keep them from looking too obvious and peeking through once you pull your hair back.
Rihanna’s Pineapple Ponytail
This styling trick for maintaining the springiest curls ever also doubles as a super-cool ponytail look. Loosely tie up your hair with a scrunchie, elastic, or claw clip on the very top of your head, pull your curls forward, and leave them hanging freely around your face.
Shay Mitchell’s Bubble Ponytail
Hairstyles that look difficult to create but are actually crazy-easy are the best kind of styles. To DIY this look, tie your hair into a ponytail, then section off the ends of your hair with equally spaced elastics every few inches. Pouf out each section of hair by pulling gently to create a bubble effect. See? Not so tough.
This Messy Ponytail
To elevate a messy ponytail so it looks intentional rather than last minute, section off a piece of hair and wrap it around the base to hide the elastic. This might be the oldest trick in the book, but it never actually gets old.
This Wrapped Ponytail
Why stop at just a hair tie? Wrap your pony with an expensive-looking material (Justine Marjan used a strip of velvet here) halfway down the tail to really make an impact.
Joan Smalls’ Lush, Long Ponytail
If you want a lush pony like Joan’s but don’t have enough hair to pull it off, just fake it. To create the illusion of a thicker and longer ponytail, scoop and tie the section above your ears into a high half-up ponytail, leaving the rest of your hair loose in back. From the front, you won’t be able to tell it’s technically a half-up style, but you will notice the long and thick result.
This Scrunched Ponytail
There’s a time and a place for a sleek pony, but sometimes what you want is a style that’s a little more undone. Embrace the bumps and your natural texture with a scrunched, just-out-of-the-ocean look like this.
Amandla Stenberg’s Perfectly Parted Ponytail
Add interest to a classic ponytail by experimenting with a cool part, like Amandla’s here. Keep the sections slick with a styling gel to really make the part pop.
This Bow-Tied Ponytail
Bows: cutesy as a kid, cool as an adult. To keep it chic and not the stuff of your two-year-old nightmares, stick with a thin, subtle ribbon in a matte material, like velvet.
Laura Harrier’s Middle-Parted Ponytail
It makes sense that a middle pony (not too high, not too low) would pair so perfectly with a middle part. So why haven’t I thought to try this before? BRB.
Jasmine Sanders’ Long, Braided Ponytail
When you pair two simple styles (a ponytail and a three-strand braid), you get a look that’s far from basic. To keep it super smooth, spritz a clean toothbrush with hairspray and brush it over your hairline to settle flyaways.
This Super-Teased Ponytail
Sometimes, too much tease in one place is not a good thing (lookin’ at you, Bumpits). But with a voluminous updo like this one, the height in the crown is balanced by the tease in the tail.