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The Editors
Updated on May 26, 2021
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Pull all your hair back and up, tie it together with a hair band and walk out of the door, ready to take on a new day! That’s really all it takes to get a messy ponytail right. This, in turn, partly explains the immense popularity of this simple look—it’s so easy to achieve. The other component to its enduring fame is just how versatile it is.

The Showiest Messy Ponytail Hairstyles

A messy pony can be upgraded, updated, and modified to suit all face shapes, hair textures and lengths, as well as any occasion. So here are our 35 picks of the most ingenious ways to sport everyone’s favorite ponytail style.

1. Messy and Teased Gray Pony

gray hair in messy ponytail


It’s amazing how easy you can create this sexy look, whether with your naturally long hair, or with ‘fake’ strands (i.e. a weave). Simply tease all your hair, or air dry without a comb. Put it high up into a ponytail, fasten with an elastic and take a few strands at the hairline out, to complete the look.

2. Low Loose Pony with Side Bangs

This is a low messy ponytail achieved on the base of a long layered haircut, so the one thing that sets it apart from the others is how the bangs have been worked into the look. Strands of different lengths frame the model’s face, while the ponytail itself has been slightly teased, for extra volume at the back.

messy blonde ponytail for long hair


3. Poofy Pony with Face-Framing Strands

We love simple ideas, and this one is definitely a winner. The ponytail rests high on the crown. The model’s hair is not very thick, but it gets plenty of bounce from backcombing. As for the rest of the hair, loose locks at the front make this style seem more effortless and carefree.

messy pony for thin hair


4. Romantically Messy Ponytail

Get a messy-yet-feminine hairdo that looks like it’s straight out of a storybook! Twist the side sections and gather everything into a loose ponytail at the nape of the neck. Wrap the base (or allow excess hair to drape over it).

blonde wavy low ponytail with side twists


5. Fabulous Formal Ponytail

Got a formal affair coming up? Fancy ponytail hairstyles are guaranteed to wow any crowd. This full pony requires keeping the sides of the hair slicked upward, with curls gathered on the top of the head and falling down the back. The results are pure pony magic.

curly mohawk ponytail updo


6. Side-Swept Curly Ponytail

Don’t limit your pony to a straight and narrow path. Go offsides and twist your hair so it gathers at one corner of the nape. And don’t aim for perfection! Stick to a messy style that gives your look some volume.

side wavy blonde ponytail


7. Pumped-Up Messy Ponytail

Wear your ponytail high on your head for a bouncy style that sports natural body. Tease the front of the hair, pull it into a pony sitting high on the crown of the head and wrap the base. Tease and curl the pony and you’re ready to roll!

messy ponytail with a bouffant


8. Fancy and Full Side Ponytail

With this ‘do you will be ready to rock any red carpet! Such ponytail hairstyles are fit for a movie star, really. Part the hair into two sections from ear to ear. Tease and twist the top to achieve messy knots near the ear. Pin the section just under the knots so that all the hair gathers to the side. If you really want to step up your game, add a headband into the mix!

side hairstyle with bouffant, bangs and headband


9. Curled-Up Messy Ponytail

A curly pony is a classic style that should be every girl’s go-to. Simply curl the ends of your long hair and backcomb the crown section for a neat bouffant. Gather the locks into a pony just under the crown of your head. For added bounce, tease the pony and spritz with hairspray for a waved style that packs a punch.

formal curly ponytail


10. Textured Ponytail

When it comes to trendy hairstyles, a bed-head ‘do is the best. Spritz some sea salt spray into your locks prior to styling. Not only does this give your hair some grip, but it lends some natural texture that screams chic and effortless!

long flat ponytail


11. Mohawk Braid and Ponytail

Ponytail hairstyles can go punk rock without getting any razors involved. Create a thick French or Dutch braid along the centre of your head, leaving the hair on the sides loose. Stop braiding just below the crown, and secure with an elastic band. Bring the rest of the hair to the braided piece and tie together into one, complete pony. Be sure to pull at the braid making it fuller up top and lending it a “mohawk-like” effect.

braid into ponytail hairstyle


12. Retro Glam Ponytail

A throwback hairstyle from yesteryear is ideal for dressing up any ensemble. Creating a large, rolled-up pompadour up top and a cascading ponytail in the back strikes the perfect balance of elegant and funky. Try it!

long wavy ponytail with a bouffant


13. Low-Hanging Ponytail

Low ponies are all the rage this year and are actually one of the easiest hairstyles to try on for size. All that’s required is a quick twist and a few pins. Spray the rolled-up area with some flexible-hold hairspray to ensure it’s not going anywhere.

low twisted ponytail


14. Messy Ponytail with a Dutch Braid

Why should simple French and Dutch braids get all the glory in the hair world? Go for a slightly more complex braided look with a fishtailed messy ponytail. This look is ideal for second- or third-day hair!

long tousled braided ponytail


15. Braided and Knotted Ponytail

Braided ponytails typically involve braids stopping at the base of the pony. For the sake of variety, we think it’s important to encourage a statement braid that continues throughout the hairstyle. All you have to do is to braid a piece of the hair completely to the ends and include it into the pony. Leave the end loose and apply some hair wax to it to keep it from unraveling.

messy blonde ponytail


16. Princess Ponytail

We love a hairstyle fit for royalty, and side-swept curly ponies do the job perfectly. Loosely curled hair looks lush and lovely when rolled to the side. For some added magic, feel free to loosely braid the front.

side curly ponytail with a loose braid


17. Pony with Wrap Around Braid For Short Hair

Braids always add a romantic note to your hairstyle, and you don’t need super long hair to enjoy them. Simply take a thick section of the hair, right from the front, at your parting. Start braiding it loosely and keep working smaller strands at the hairline into it. Go all the way to the back and tie everything into a small, wavy pony.

side French braid into low pony for medium hair


18. Simple Side Messy Ponytail

Never underestimate the power of super-simple ponytails. They are quick, cute and effortless-looking. What else do you need when in a rush? This looks especially pretty with long, side-swept bangs!

side ponytail with bangs


19. Lively and Lovely Low Ponytail

Nothing shows off hair color and dimension like a low tousled pony. The textured, slightly teased look will bring out any lighter shades instantly and really make them stand out!

long curly messy ponytail


20. Mid-Length Wavy Messy Ponytail

Don’t feel you have to choose between a high and low pony to get the ideal messy ponytail. There’s definitely some middle ground, and it’s pretty fabulous! Try a mid-length pony that’s wrapped at the base. This is a perfect way to keep your thick hair under control while showing it off at the same time! It’s a cute and comfortable hairstyle for a pretty workout look or even for work and school.

blonde wavy ponytail for balayage hair


21. Wrapped-Up Ponytail

Give that low pony an upgrade by adding a fun (and surprisingly fancy) twist. All you need to do is to separate two sections at the front of the head and wrap them around a low pony gathered at the neck.

long low wavy ponytail


22. Messy Ponytail with Side Dutch Braid

With a braid added to your ponytail hairstyle you can quickly and easily lend some oomph to your ‘do and give it a rockstar edge. Try sprinkling some texturizing powder over the crown and fluffing up the hair for a full and fabulous ponytail.

blonde tousled ponytail with a bouffant and braid


23. Twisted and Tousled Ponytail

Who says ponytails need to be perfect to be pretty? Try messing things up a bit with a French twisted knot that extends down the neck into a ponytail. Make sure to pull gently here and there on your twisted style to get a full and slightly undone look.

messy french twist with a low pony


24. Messy Pony for Medium Hair with Bangs

Most messy ponytails featured here require you to tease your hair a little, or simply wear it naturally, freshly washed, without brushing or any styling products. This look is no exception, but it suggests heavy backcombing. Make sure your blunt drape bangs are in tip-top shape and you’ll be good to go!

messy ponytail for shorter hair


25. Half-Up Curly Look

As its name suggests, a half-up is just that: a half of your hair is pulled up and tied back. This particular variant includes two twisted strands, one on each side. It also throws a naturally curled mane into the mix, left to flow freely down the model’s back. We like how the ombre and sun-kissed balayage work with the hippie style that the model is showcasing.

curly long ponytail for ombre hair


26. Stylish Low Pony with Bump

Just because it’s messy, it doesn’t mean this kind of ponytail can’t be elegant enough to wear to prom, or some other snazzy event. Here’s how to get this model’s look. First, use a flat iron to style the lower half of your hair into big, loose curls or waves. Keep the upper half straight. Tease the frontal part of the hair, then spray it with your favorite product for hold. Tie your hair back into a ponytail and wrap it by a wide section of hair.

sleek into messy pony with a bouffant


27. Low Twisted Pony for Ombre Hair

This look features a small bump, a twisted wrap and straight messy strands in the pony. To achieve it, first create a central parting in your hair. Leave a big section on one side out and make a low pony with the remaining hair. Fix with an elastic. Twist the section you left around the pony base for an interesting twisted detail that looks particularly stunning on ombre hair.

low messy pony for straight ombre hair


28. Fancy Side Ponytail

Wondering how to make a messy ponytail that looks sophisticated and classy? Shift your pony to a side and incorporate a braided element. This pony, for instance, is gathered as a fishtail. It’s a great alternative to complex updos and sophisticated half up styles.

side fishtail into pony


29. Pretty Messy Pony with Braided Section

If you’re not an expert in braiding, you might need a tutorial to teach you how to create the Dutch braid (or inverted French braid featured here). If you have already mastered this skill, simply braid a section of your hair starting at the hairline, down the whole length of the hair. Then put all your hair up in a ponytail. This is a great style for hair that’s been partially bleached or dyed a lighter hue.

messy pony with a side braid


30. Simple Blonde Pony with a Bouffant

This is the kind of look that will beautifully highlight an undercut or darker hair at the nape. It’s easy enough to achieve: part your bangs down the middle and backcomb the crown section for a big bouffant. Note that this model has a layered haircut that can sometimes be difficult to style—but that’s not the case here. Tie the hair into a low ponytail and wrap its base with a strand taken out from the pony itself.

blonde ponytail for layered hair


31. Easy High Pony for Curly Hair

The look featured in this picture can stand on its own, or can work as a good starting point for a loose messy bun. It’s ideal for all naturally curly hair textures, from relaxed waves, to tighter spirals and even afro styles. Gather your hair loosely, leaving some flyaways at the hairline for a boho chic vibe. Also, take out a larger section of the hair from the pony. Twist it and pin above the base of your pony to hide the elastic.

curly pony hairstyle


32. Braided Mohawk with Tight Cornrows

Dare to look different? Then take a cue from both African American and punk culture, with this complex messy ponytail style. The model is sporting a fauxhauk with three tightly braided cornrows on the sides. Note that the braids are not included in the pony, but wrapped around its base. To achieve the mo’ the hair has been teased up and loosely braided or flat twisted up top. Also, the fiery red color of the model’s hair further enhances the funkiness!

braided mohawk into curly pony


33. Curly Pony for Ultra Long Hair

It doesn’t really matter if your natural hair reaches all the way down to the middle of your back, or if you’re sporting the princess look with the aid of a mesh. What matters is that you can easily style your hair into this dreamy look by simply pulling all your locks back—except for two strands at the front, one on each side. Twist these strands around the pony base and attach them with pins. All done!

long curly pony with a bouffant and braid


34. Side Ponytail with Braid

Know how to make a fishtail braid? Then you can easily get this style right. Braid closely and tightly, to achieve the fishtail look. As for the rest of the hair, simply pull it together on one side, tie it with an elastic, and wrap a strand around the base of the ponytail.

side pony with fishtail braid


35. Curly Blonde Ponytail with Weave

This is the perfect upgrade for a more formal event, or a dress party. To achieve the fancy detail at the back you need to work with side strands, beginning at the ear level. Section out one strand, twist it, bring to the opposite side and pin with a bobby pin. Do the same on the other side. Work all the way down to the nape and finish the style with a low pony. If you lack length or thickness, which is a normal thing with this hairstyle, use a weave.

formal curly ponytail for long hair


That’s it for our selection of messy ponytail styles. Got any favorites that didn’t make our list? Don’t hesitate to try them out!

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