The Messy Ponytail: Learn How to Create this Undone Updo in 2 Ways

How to rock this perfectly undone updo.

messy ponytail featured image

We are big believers that your go-to casual hairstyle is best worn during those super busy in-between days. You know, those times you’re too busy with things like errands, spin class, and grocery shopping to really worry about your hair. This is when you immediately go on fashion autopilot and bring out your fail-safes. For us, messy ponytail hairdos are our black leggings and LBDs of beauty. The last word in casual chic, they always deliver, and for something quite simple, they are surprisingly never boring.

To help you create a messy ‘do that’s all your own, we are sharing two ways to rock the messy look, including mussed-up hairstyles that were inspired by the Rag & Bone and Jonathan Simkhai shows in NYC. Read on to learn more about how to master this classic hairstyle for this ultimate effortless beauty!

How to Create a Messy Ponytail


Start with clean, middle-parted hair.

Rinse and blow-dry your hair until it is 90% dry, or until just damp. Create a middle part.

messy ponytail hairdos step 1 clean hair middle part

Section off the back.

Using a rat-tail or fishtail comb, create a horizontal part line across your head, separating the two front sections from the crown.

messy ponytail hairdos step 3 rattail section off

Twist the crown section.

Using your fingers, create a twist on the strands at the crown area.

messy ponytail hairdos step 4 twirl

Secure in a bun.

Coil the twist around itself on your crown and secure the bun with a small clamp.

messy ponytail hairdos step 5 half bun

Brush out the remaining hair.

Smoothen out the front sections with a brush, removing any tangles or knots.

messy ponytail hairdos step 6

Gather hair into a temporary low pony.

Gather all the strands into a ponytail at your nape and secure with a hair tie or a clamp. This is temporary; you’ll need your hair away from your face while you work the hair on your crown.

messy ponytail hairdos step 6 gather into pony

Tease the hair at your crown.

To create a mini-bouffant or pouf, backcomb the hair after spraying with a small natural-bristled teasing brush. Be gentle!

messy ponytail hairdos step 10 tease

Loop hair around into a ponytail.

Once you’ve got your pouf, release your temporary clip and gather all your hair back into an actual ponytail, using a hair tie or fabric-covered elastic. Grab one small section from the side and loop it over the ponytail base.

best red hair color complements hawk hair pony

Twirl hair around the pony base.

Conceal the base of the ponytail (and your hair tie) with this lock of hair. Secure with bobby pins.

messy ponytail hairdos step 12 cover


You’re all done and ready for the day!

messy ponytail hairdos step 13 final

How to Create A NYFW-Inspired Messy Ponytail

Hair being styled into a low ponytail
When creating your messy ponytail, keep your base smooth with a boar bristle brush. Photo credit: Suzanne Cohen Photography

Step 1: Start clean or refresh with dry shampoo.

To begin your look, refresh your hair with Love Beauty and Planet Coconut Water & Mimosa Flower Dry Shampoo to soak up any excess oil. While this particular style is best on second-day or lived-in hair, you can absolutely create a messy ponytail on freshly washed hair.

Step 2: Rough-dry with a blow-dryer.

The rough-dry technique helps build texture in your hair while you blow-dry. To do this step, simply prep hair with TRESemmé Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spraythen use your hands to roughly comb through your hair as you dry. Pro tip: Use a medium to low-temperature setting to avoid burning your hands.

Step 3: Create a ponytail.

Gather hair into a messy ponytail as you think of it as an undone look. Secure with a hair tie.

Step 4: Enhance hair texture by backcombing.

Using a fine-tooth comb, backcomb the ends of your hair to enhance texture and create the body. Finish your look with hairspray that gives your messy ponytail hold and lots of movement. We love Dove Style + Care Compressed Flexible Hold Hairspray for the job.

5 Messy Ponytail to Try

1. Tousled

messy ponytail tousled
The messy ponytail is best worn with an extra body.

The mid-to-high level messy ponytail is all about the volume and tousled factor. Use a 1-inch curling iron to add loose curls to your hair before finger-combing through them and gathering your strands up into a ponytail. Pull a few pieces out around your face to recreate this look.

2. Textured

messy ponytail textured
Add some texture to your strands.

Add even more texture to your messy ponytail by misting your strands with Suave Dry Texture Finishing Spray. This texture spray will give your hair added body instantly.

3. Combed Back

messy ponytail roughly combed
Roughly comb your hair back into a ponytail.

Ditch your hairbrush and use your fingers to comb your hair back into a messy ponytail. Use a hair tie that’s the same color as your hair to streamline the look a bit and balance out the messiness.

4. Sleek to Messy

messy ponytail low sleek
Comb your strands back low and sleek and wear your ponytail messy.

Balance out your messy look by working a smooth base into your ponytail style. Use a comb to brush the top of your strands down flat against your head and secure your hair into a low ponytail.

5. Crimped

messy ponytail crimped
Crimp your curls.

Crimped hairstyles are all the rage these days. If you’re looking for an easy way to get in on this style, simply sleep with your hair in a braid and swap the braid for a ponytail in the morning!

Are you thinking about trying out this messy ponytail style? Be sure to grab a picture and tag us over @AllThingsHairUS!


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