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Once reserved for the gym or beach, ponytails are now a stylishly casual option, whether you’re headed to work, the mall, coffee with the girls or a hot date with your hubby. But while a messy pony can still work for the gym or beach, most situations require a slightly sleeker style. To achieve a chic and sophisticated ponytail, a little bit of hair gel suited for your style is all you’ll need.
Before selecting the best hair gel for your perfect ponytail, you’ll need to know the texture and elasticity of your hair. Texture is divided into three categories: fine, medium and thick. Choose a styling gel that’s made specifically for your hair texture -- otherwise the product may not be strong enough to support your style throughout the day. Hair gel targeted to thick hair utilizes strong bonds that keep your dense strands from frizzing and fraying in your ponytail. Hair gel made for thin hair, on the other hand, requires a much different consistency. Its hold is just as strong to keep your delicate strands from slipping out of your pony, but its thinner consistency prevents unnecessary bulk. Hair gel made for medium hair covers the middle ground -- it's strong enough to hold your hair and prevent the frizz, yet keeps your locks looking luscious.
Straight hair has no bends or kinks, with a sleek look from roots to ends. Wavy hair has a slight bend, yet remains relatively flat near the roots. Curly hair has definite loops and bends that spring away from the scalp. Choose a hair gel that’s made for your specific hair type. Gels made for straight hair sit on the surface of hair strands, helping you maintain a sleek straight look without those frustrating flyaways. Gels made for wavy hair are able to mold around the hair shaft, maintaining a wavy texture and touch-worthy waves. Curly-haired darlings need a gel that is able to wrap around the curls, defining and supporting their playful shape while they bounce around in your ponytail.
Squeeze, Scoop or Spray
Traditionally, hair gels were only available in squeeze bottles. To style your tresses, a glob of gel was squeezed from the bottle and applied to your strands. These days, hair gel can also be scooped out of jars or sprayed from a pump. If you have wavy, curly or particularly frizzy strands, choose a squeeze or scoop version. Since you have full control of the product, you can apply it to your whole strands. Use this type of hair gel while your hair is down, just before you pull it into a ponytail. If you have relatively straight and sleek hair, spray hair gel might be an easier option. Once you've locked your locks into the pony, lightly mist the top of your head and length of your pony with the gel and smooth with your hands.
Using Gel for Your Pony
While a little bit of styling gel can help you perfect a perky ponytail, too much product will give you the dreaded helmet-head look. To avoid looking like you’ve applied a thick layer of shellac to your strands, go easy with the gel. Once your hair is dry, run a brush or comb through it to eliminate any tangles. Apply a small amount of styling gel to your hands and rub it between your palms. Then, apply it to your silky strands, paying particular attention to the edges and ends. Run a comb through once more and pull your stands into a high or low ponytail. Apply a bit more gel to your palms and lightly run your hands over the top and sides of your head and down the length of the pony -- this helps smooth the look and eliminates those pesky flyaways.
Even if you choose a hair gel that’s targeted to your texture and elasticity, you may find that it still doesn’t work for you. As with any type of beauty product, try a few different brands before you find the best. Start with a brand that you already use, using a styling gel in the same line of products as your shampoo or hairspray. Or turn to your hairstylist for a bit of professional advice.