6 Slick Back Ponytail Hairstyles To Try This Season

By Charlie Colville

1 month ago

Plus, how to master the sleek hair look at home

How do you get from the gym to work to dinner with friends, all while keeping your hair in the best condition possible? Rather than spend the time between events hurriedly pulling and tugging your hair into some semblance of order, opt for a simple slick back ponytail. Lauded by celebs, this hairstyle will take you from day to night all while keeping the flyaways at bay. And lucky for you, we’ve already got a list of hair experts onboard to share their tips, tricks and ideas for recreating the look at home – and they did not disappoint.

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What Is A Slick Back Ponytail?

‘A slick back ponytail is a sleek, polished hairstyle where the hair is brushed back from the forehead and secured at the crown or nape of the neck,’ explains Jason Crozier, Art Director at Neville Hair & Beauty. ‘This style emphasises a clean, uncluttered look and is versatile enough to be worn both casually and in formal settings.’

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This sleek style has only grown in popularity over the last few years, with many big name celebrities giving it the seal of approval. ‘Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande, and Gigi Hadid have been seen rocking this look on various occasions,’ confirms Jason. ‘Their adoption of the style showcases its versatility and timeless appeal in both casual and red-carpet events.’

The same appeal rings true amongst us non-celebs – as we can see on TikTok, where there are currently 272.6 million posts listed under the #slickbackponytail tag. But what is it about the look that draws us in? ‘The popularity of the slick back ponytail stems from its simplicity and elegance,’ suggest Jason. ‘It’s a style that can effortlessly transition from day to night, making it ideal for modern lifestyles. It’s also incredibly flattering for most face shapes as it elongates the face and highlights the facial features.’

‘What makes it so popular is the fact that it can be seen as seriously chic – we’ve seen it on the red carpets and at fashion shows – as well as fairly casual,’ adds Neil Moodie, stylist and founder of Neil Moodie Studio. ‘It has that uniqueness of being able to cross over from one to the other. Brushed back off the face, and pulled tight, and can be placed in numerous positions from the crown to the nape. ‘

How To Ask For A Slick Back Ponytail In The Salon

There are hundreds of versions of the slick back ponytail out there, so it’s important that you communicate the specifics of the style you’d like to try when talking to your stylist. ‘The trick with this is about finding the best position for your ponytail that will be the most flattering for your face,’ says Neil. ‘With your stylist, figure out which position suits you best. Slicking your hair back can be very severe so the ponytail position is key.’

‘When requesting a slick back ponytail in the salon, it’s helpful to specify the exact placement of the ponytail, as it can significantly affect your look,’ adds Jason. ‘Mention if you prefer it high, mid, or low. Arriving with clean, dry hair can also save time and allows for immediate styling.’

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How To Recreate The Look At Home

‘To achieve a good slick back ponytail at home, start with damp hair and apply a smoothing serum or gel to control frizz and add shine,’ advises Jason. ‘Use a fine-tooth comb to pull your hair back smoothly and secure with a band. For a more polished look, wrap a small section of hair around the base of the ponytail to cover the hairband.’

‘If your hair is naturally straight, make sure you start styling while it’s slightly damp,’ adds Neil. ‘This means you can then pull the ponytail a little tighter, so when it dries it’s still slick. You should also make sure your hair is completely detangled before you start, and, if you have coarse, frizzy hair, blow dry your hair out smooth first.

‘You can also spray hairspray onto the hairbrush as you’re brushing it into the ponytail,’ he continues. ‘And use a serum if you want extra shine or smoothness. If you have any fly aways, take a bamboo toothbrush, spray the bristles with hair spray and then run over the fly aways.’

The Future Of The Slick Back Ponytail

It’s a sleek, minimal style, but our hair experts see the slick back ponytail evolving with more experimental elements in the future. ‘I think we’ll start incorporating braids, textured waves, or using statement accessories like bold scrunchies or decorative clips to add a personal touch to the classic style,’ says Jason.

Neil, however, doesn’t see this classic taking on too dramatic a transformation in the future. ‘All that will probably change is the positioning of the slick back ponytail,’ he says. ‘Take Ariana Grande, for example. For her “yes, and?” music video it was much lower than how she usually wears it, right on the crown; it was lower, just above her occipital bone, making it a bit more sporty looking.’

Hair Inspiration


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1. Classic High Pony

‘Ideal for formal events, this style pulls all the hair up to the crown, creating a dramatic and elegant look,’ says Jason. ‘It pairs beautifully with evening wear and can be recreated by smoothing hair with gel and securing it high with a strong hair tie.’


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2. Low Pony

‘More understated and suitable for office settings or casual outings, this style positions the ponytail at the nape of the neck,’ highlights Jason. ‘Using a bit of hair wax can tame flyaways, and a chic ribbon or leather tie can add a sophisticated touch.’


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3. Braids

Jason describes this one as being, ‘perfect for adding a bit of flair to your outfit, whether it’s for a festival or a fun night out. Start with a slick back base and braid the ponytail for a textured look. This style is playful yet neat and can be enhanced with colourful hair ties or temporary hair colours.’


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4. Bubbles

‘This is a trendy and youthful version where the ponytail is sectioned off into several “bubbles” with hair bands,’ explains Jason. ‘It’s great for parties or when you want to stand out. Use hair elastics along the length of the ponytail and gently tug at each section to form bubbles.’


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5. Curly

‘This is one for our curly girls,’ says Safaya Kneafcy, a stylist at Blue Tit East Village. ‘This hairstyle can be worn in any parting, and is great for incorporating your natural texture. This hairstyle is elegant, understated and will suit every look.’

As for how to recreate the look: ‘Start by choosing your parting, you can use a wet look gel or a serum to stop the hair from drying out too much, keeping the hair more natural,’ advises Safaya. ‘Scoop the hair into a low pony and fan the base to create more volume. To finish this look you can take some small sections of hair and tong it to create some defined curls, finish with a light hairspray.’


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6. 90s Style

Throwback styles are also on the cards for a slick back ponytail, says Safaya. ‘This cute 90s style pony is perfect for a day or night look, and works best for straight or wavy hair,’ she highlights. ‘Create a diagonal section at the front in a triangle and clip this out the way. Slick all of your hair into a high pony at your crown and spray with hairspray, leaving out a section of hair from the pony to wrap around the base. Take out your section at the front and slick back and pin it at the nape.’

Featured image: AW24 Copenhagen Fashion Week Streestyle (c) Noor-u-Nisa