How to Get a Messy Ponytail in 7 Easy Steps

Bed hair never looked so chic...  
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Haven’t you heard? Normal ponytails are so old school. This year, it’s time to amp up the volume with a modern, messy ponytail. Translation: we’re lusting after a lived-in, beach-inspired hairstyle that looks effortlessly cool.

Because the bedhead is in and, as attested by Beyoncé, it’s totally acceptable to go around singing ‘I woke up like this’, we can promise you that the messier, the better it will look.

So, want to try out the messy ponytail for yourself? Of course, you do! Follow our step-by-step tutorial below and watch the video above to learn how to recreate the look in minutes. Bedhead hair = our new must-have mane look.

Step 1

Prep Your Hair.

Start with hair that has been loosely waved, the messier, the better. 

Spray the TIGI Bed Head Oh Bee Hive! Dry Shampoo from roots to ends. This will give your ponytail the textured finish that helps it look relaxed and undone.

Messy ponytail girl with blonde hair using dry shampoo
Step 2

Backcomb Your Roots.

Using a tail comb, create a middle parting from your hairline to the centre of your crown.

Then, take sections of hair from the crown of your head and gently tease to create volume.

Messy ponytail blonde girl backcombing hair with comb
Step 3

Tease the Mid-Lengths of Your Hair.

Add more texture to the hair by using your fingers to backcomb random strands.

Hold end of the hair between two fingers and use your other hand to tug the hair upwards to create a bump.

Messy ponytail blonde girl teasing hair with hands
Step 4

Create a Ponytail.

Using your fingers (no brushes allowed here), rake your hair back into a loose ponytail.

Missed any bits? Leave them! The beauty of this look is that it’s far from polished.

a blonde woman lifting up her ponytail hair
Step 5

Conceal the Hairband.

Next, take a small section of hair from the underside of your ponytail and wrap it around your hairband to hide it. 

Secure in place with a pin and wrap an extra piece of hair around the base of your ponytail if you need more coverage.

Messy ponytail blonde girl using hair pin to tie ponytail
Step 6

Pull out Loose Tendrils.

Add to the overall messy vibe of this look by gently pulling out small, random sections of hair around the front of your face.

If needed, backcomb them slightly with your fingers to add more volume.

Messy ponytail blonde girl with hair up pulling strands out around her face
Step 7

Set the Style.

This style might look best when it’s on the more relaxed side, but you don’t want it to completely unravel throughout the day, so use a hairspray to seal all your hard work in place.

Spray some hairspray (like the VO5 Flexible Hold Hairspray) all over your ponytail and along the front of your hair to set the look.

And that’s it! Worried about this style’s lasting power? Feel free to gently finger comb your ponytail throughout the day if it’s looking a little flat. The more volume, the better.

Messy ponytail girl with blonde hair

5 Messy Ponytail Hairstyles to Try

So, now that you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get playful with your pony! Stuck for inspiration? Don’t fret. We’ve put together a few of our favourite A-list-approved messy ponytail hairstyles below, so there’s no excuse for boring hair!

Braided Ponytail

pretty little liars actress ashley benson with a low braided messy ponytail
Braids make everything better! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

PLL star Ashley Benson always has amazing hair, but this pretty braided ponytail has to be one of our fave styles of hers.

Teaming her voluminous, messy ponytail with a braided wrap detail at the base, this look gets the balance between edgy and feminine just right. Keep up the good work, Ashley!

Side Ponytail

kirsten dunst with a messy side ponytail and side bangs
Style it to the side! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

If you like ponytails, but still want to be able to see your hair from the front, take note of Kirsten Dunst’s stylish side ponytail. With its undone texture and face-framing strands, the look brings a subtle feminine charm that would suit just about anyone!

Bouffant Ponytail

lucy hale with a bouffant messy ponytail style
Give your ‘do a retro twist. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Looking for something with a vintage edge? Then why not try recreating a style from the swinging sixties with a voluminous bouffant ponytail, like Lucy Hale? With sky-high volume and masses of texture, this look has prom hair written all over it!

Ponytail with Bangs

paula abdul with her brunette hair in a messy ponytail with bangs
Just add bangs! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Already rocking bangs or thinking of getting them cut in? No problem! As Paula Abdul shows, a soft, full fringe looks fabulous paired with a flowing messy ponytail – and it’s a great one for women of all ages!

Half and Half

actress zendaya with her hair in a sleek and messy low ponytail
Nail 2 trends in 1! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Torn between going for a look that’s sleek or messy? Well, why choose just one?! Make like Zendaya with this sleek-on-top, messy-underneath style and you’ll always be ready for whatever the night throws your way!

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