Mamas, I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. It’s long, thick and dark, so come summer, it’s basically like wearing a raccoon-fur hat in 100+ degree heat, but when I cut it, I always regret it. And, love ponytails as I do, I have a once-per-week policy on those—I’ve been in ponytail ruts before, and they do tend to give me a bit of a headache by the end of the day. (Or is that from wrangling three boys ages four and under?)
So. Considering I’m always on the hunt for ponytail alternatives to get the Davey Crocket hat off my neck during the dog days, and Weather.com is reporting July 2012 was the hottest month on record, EVER, surpassing even the Dust Bowl in 1936 (don't you feel better now that you know it wasn't just you?), I’ve rounded up a few delish, cool and easy styles for your perusal.
Swiss Miss – It’s Easier Than it Looks
I ran in to Sierra, this adorable non-mom, at a summer festival two weekends ago, and I LOVED her ‘do. I’d already nursed the bub and had a couple of beers, so I had to ask, “Is that as hard as it looks?” No, she reported. To get Sierra’s more coiffed look, use gel or mouse and comb through your hair. Middle part the hair, make regular (not French) braids on either side of your head and secure them with elastics. Resist the urge to tuck any stray strands until you’re done fixing the braids on top of your head—whatever you poke through on this side will show more on the flip side. Bobby pin the braids on top of your head, then tuck and pin the ends and stray strands.
I did this hairstyle in about 2 minutes the first time (shown here), with second-day hair. I like the look and feel of the looser style, which would also benefit from a bit of sea salt spray before braiding.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, try the braided crown at A Beautiful Mess.
Messy Chignon Cheat – It’s Just a Knot (or three)
I kept wondering why I couldn’t get the perfectly beachy/messy chignon look that’s been everywhere for ages—I mean, how difficult can a deliberately messy hairstyle be, right? Then I discovered, through a link I can no longer find (please write in if it’s your technique!) the easiest way I’ve ever found for getting that perfectly messy look. The technique is so simple it’s silly. Start by fastening your hair in a low ponytail. Split it into two ponies, and, rather than looping or twisting it, tie an actual knot with the two strands, as many times as you can (I can tie three knots). Secure with a second hair elastic (I like to avoid pins wherever possible), and run right out the door. Easy peasy.
Three Little Buns – A New Twist on Things
I love this look on S. She was inspired by the three buns post on A Cup of Jo, but instead of creating a looser horizontal version, S. rocks her baby buns vertically. It's like a French twist, but more current and a heck of a lot easier, perfect for second (or third) day hair, and soooo cool in summer. . . Simply give hair a light mist of hair spray, comb it out, section into three parts and twist each portion into individual buns, pinning as you go. Scrunch your fingers through your hair to loosen the style a bit and pull down a few strands.
The Sock Trick – No More Olive Oil
With all this thick, long hair, my low buns tend to veer dangerously into Olive Oil (of Popeye fame) territory. The sock trick, as I’m calling it, is cheap, simple, elegant and easy—not an easy combination. The first step is to make a bun form out of an old (clean) sock. After cutting off the toe of one of Hub’s mismatched work socks, I pulled the sock all the way up my leg and rolled it back down my leg to make a donut-shaped bun form. I used a dark brown sock to match my hair. The beauty here is that, using this one simple sock, you can create a number of gorgeous, super-easy looks that literally take minutes. In this picture, I experimented with a low bun, after watching this fab YouTube tutorial. I’ve been skipping the pins and just fastening a second hair band around the outside of the bun to keep it in place.
I’m also loving this messy side bun and the messy top knot at James White Hair.
The Side Braid – An Oldy but a Goody
After an almost 30-year hiatus, I’ve revisited the side braid at least once or twice a week all summer long. It’s not fussy, it works best with dirty hair, and it gets the raccoon hat off my neck (yay!). Spray it a bit if you need to, gather hair into a loose side ponytail and braid normally, pulling down as you go to make sure it doesn't flip out too much to the side.
A Perfect Pony – A Quick Trick for a Perfect Ponytail
If I’m going to do a ponytail, I like to do it right, and it always seems hit or miss. What I meant to be a quick fix to get out the door fast turns into two, maybe three tries at getting the placement right. Not so once I found the right placement of my ponytail by watching this helpful clip that shows how to artfully place a plain old ponytail.
I know I don't have to tell you to stay cool, Mamas!