A loose ponytail, while often considered to be casual and a little messy, looks best when some effort is put into the style. Start with hair that has some texture, as this will help to keep everything in place without making the ponytail too tight, and then gather your hair back towards the center of your head or lower; generally, it is difficult to make a high ponytail that is still loose. Tie it back with an elastic and use your fingers or a rat tail comb to loosen the hair between the elastic and the back of your head. Finish by pulling out some face framing pieces to complete the look.
Clean hair or locks that are straight tend to be slippery and, while a loose ponytail is supposed to look effortless, you don’t want to have to keep redoing it throughout the day. It is usually best, therefore, to start with second- or third-day hair that is either slightly wavy or curly. This will provide you with the loose ponytail that look you want while still giving you the control of a tighter style. If you must start with clean hair, use a texturizing product when it is wet and blow dry it with a diffuser, scrunching it up towards your scalp to create waves.
Loosely pull your dry hair towards the back of your head, keeping your fingers slightly away from the scalp to maintain softness and lift at the roots. It can also be a good idea to keep your bangs or any shorter pieces by your face out of the ponytail. In most cases, a loose ponytail should be in line with your eyebrows or lower. The closer a ponytail comes to the crown of your head, the more awkward it will look when loose.
Once you have your hair in place, wrap an elastic around the ponytail a few times so that it is secure. Avoid tightening the ponytail to the head; instead, use your fingers to pull the elastic towards the center of your locks gently until it is loose yet still secure. If this process creates any lumps, use your fingers, a rat tail comb, or even a bobby pin to even out the hair that is close to your head by carefully pulling the hairs on either side of the lump upwards to even everything out.
After the ponytail is loose yet secure, it’s time to pay attention to the hair by your face. If you don’t have any bangs, use your fingers or the end of a comb to pull out any shorter, wispier pieces to soften the look; in most cases, a loose ponytail looks best when the hair by your face is loose as well. You can create faux bangs by pulling out a larger section of hair near your face and styling it so that it sweeps over your forehead and to the side, and then using a bobby pin to secure it into the ponytail.