I have a love-hate relationship with the classic '90s ponytail. I love how versatile it is. It works for every hair type/texture and it fits every occasion from day to night. On the not-so-loving note: It's an addictive style and doing it too much can mean constant tension, eventually wreaking havoc on your roots and edges. If done right though, you can get the sleekness without the damage.
My forever high-ponytail inspo is our Queen Normani. She kills it every time. From the debut of her "Motivation" video to "Wild Side," it has become her aesthetic, and she's bodied every version of the '90s look since. So who better to get tips on creating a high ponytail from than one of her stylists, Ashanti Lation. The master stylist and CEO of VIP Luxury Hair Care sat down with xoNecole to tell us how she got started, her best tips for creating the perfect ponytail, and how to protect your hair while doing it.
xoNecole: What inspired you to become a hairstylist? Where did you start?
Ashanti Lation: I started doing hair in high school because I wanted my hair done all the time. Then, I would try [styles] and it came out good to me, [so] a few other people would ask me to do their hair. About a week later, I started charging my neighbors and other high schools in my city. From that point on, I got popular.
I also have eczema and allergies so because of that the skincare aspect of doing hair was always important to me. I always focused on the hair [and scalp] because I was particular about what my clients used and didn't want it to affect my skin. If you know anyone with eczema, then you know if it breaks out on your hands or neck, it takes a long time to recover. In initially being cautious, my clients would have great results for their hair, and I followed that path with them. I started studying the skin [and] scalp and creating products.
Jerritt Clark via Getty Images
When did you start working with Normani?
I'm the healthy hair guru, and a couple of celebrities and people in other industries have reached out to me asking for hair advice. She [had been] using our products [Greaux Drops] because a frontal had damaged her hair a little bit and the product was helping her hair grow back. She [contacted me] when she was in New Orleans and said, "Let's connect," and so we did and I did my thing. From that moment on, I've been her go-to haircare specialist.
When it comes to styling ponytails and keeping haircare in mind, what recommendations do you have to avoid damage?
It can be trying on the edges and at the top of your head from tension. Some people start to have bald spots at the top because the ponytails are very heavy, so I always tell people:
Avoid too much tension. Some people will make a section then swoop another section on top [to make it sleek and get it in a ponytail] it's too much. Try to get the hair as sleek as possible before you pull it up in a ponytail. So if you have to get a silk press first to smooth it out, then do that first. Prep the hair before you start the ponytail!
Use less product. Use holding spray first because sometimes using excessive gels, puddings, and wax, can become a lot, especially for the finer hair types. It will pull it out then thin it out.
Use the right band. Putting too many bands [on your hair] can damage the crown and cause balding. I like to use thick black rubber bands. Some people like scrunchies but I never try to unwrap them when taking them out. Just cut it out and throw it away! Don't try to keep using it because you'll get it tangled like that.
The base of the ponytail is important. Don't just use one rubber band. Use at least two and the wraps to create a structure like you're building something. It needs to be strong enough to support the hair. If you're doing one band, all that tension falls on your hair trying to hold the ponytail up. You can also do the ponytail on your thickest area so it will be less damaging to your hair.
Be gentle. Haircare is a slow dance, not a fast song.
Noam Galai via Getty Images
What products are needed to achieve a Normani-inspired ponytail?
A pomade like Jam and an edge control like Elite Edge. You can use wax if you want but don't use gel. You'll need the hair of your choice. You can finish with a light-holding spray. You'll also need thick rubber bands and wrapping strips.
Can you walk us through your step-by-step process of creating a ponytail and prepping for it?
For a heat-free process, you'll need more product to sleek it because you're laying it down. For Normani's hair, we don't use any heat at all. We twist it and let it dry overnight. It will be sleek and you'd think we pressed it.
1. Make sure you smooth your ponytail out as much as you can before you put the product on it.
2. Use a pomade like Jam and add the Elite edge control on top of that and smooth it out with your hands.
3. Tie it up with the black hair wraps and let it settle until it's fully dry.
4. When you take it down it holds but it's still soft.
5. Use two bands and then start your top knot.
If you use heat and flat-iron it first, you can pretty much slick it up with a little serum and a holding spray to keep it in place.
What hair would you recommend? We know that some hair can be heavier than others.
There's human hair or braid hair. Try to weigh it out and see what feels better to you. It depends on your texture. Less is always more if you can get hair that's fuller. And avoid using too many bags of hair.
For more hair tips and product recommendations, follow Ashanti Lation on Instagram.
Featured image by Jerritt Clark via Getty Images
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Leos rule the heart in Astrology, and they are no strangers to love. They love big, they love bright, and they love with all they have within them. A Leo's love can be akin to a romantic comedy. They take on this type of dramatic flair in life in general, especially when it comes to matters of the heart. Leo is all about the theatrics, and a relationship with them is full of fireworks. Leo protects, nurtures, and enlivens their relationships, and a Leo in love is a sight to see.
Who Is a Leo Most Compatible With?
When it comes to who Leo is most compatible with, it’s essential to know that Leo is looking for an equal, someone who can match their energy and their loyalty. Leo is a fixed fire sign and takes love very seriously. It might be the area of their life they take the most seriously. They will have their fun and dance the night away, but at the end of the day, a committed partnership is what this sign is looking for. If you can match Leo's drive and excitement for life with their ability to love fiercely, you might be the perfect person to rule alongside this royal.
How a Leo Pairs With Each Sign of the Zodiac
Leos are known for their strong sense of self and are one of the more self-confident signs. They do not like to have their egos bruised and can entertain bouts of jealousy in love if they are not getting the attention they feel they deserve. A Leo gives their all, and if you aren’t giving the same, they will take this personally. If you are willing to pour your entire heart into the relationship and receive this same type of devotion in return, then a Leo is a good match for you.
LEO + ARIES
Leo and Aries make a great match. This is a happy duo and one that can stand the test of time. Both Leo and Aries are on the same wavelength, and they feel this right away from each other. They similarly approach life, and they are the type to make the best out of anything. This type of energy is precious to them to have in their lives, and they create a passionate relationship together. However, these are two people who love hard but fight even harder, so the love will be strong, but if disagreements arise, it could overpower it. This relationship will only work if egos are kept in check and there is unconditional love.
LEO + TAURUS
Leo and Taurus are a unique pairing because you can’t see it at first. Taurus wants to enjoy life at home, and Leo wants to be outside. This is a relationship that grows with time and one where it either works or it doesn’t. From outsiders, this couple seems like an odd pairing, and it’s the type of relationship where they will often tell others, “It works for them.” Where this relationship thrives is in the fact that they are both fixed signs, and once they are in it, they are in it. They are loyal to the relationship and also put each other on a pedestal. However, at the end of the day, their stubbornness may get in the way of what the relationship could be. They will not easily give up on each other, but there also may not be enough to keep them together.
LEO + GEMINI
Leo and Gemini make good friends and lovers. They value each other's perspectives, and at the end of the day, they have each other’s backs. What makes this relationship work is that they are both so different and don’t step on each other's toes or interfere with each other's personalities, which is important to both of them. They let each other be themselves, and there is an underlying energy of unconditional love here. This is a couple that stands out at an event or party due to their cool aesthetic, PDA, and friendly banter between everyone in the building.
LEO + CANCER
Leo and Cancer are an underrated duo. Leo, ruled by the Sun, and Cancer, ruled by the Moon, have a deep respect for each other that is not talked about enough in Astrology. Although very different from each other, they each have their place, their purpose, and this feels good to them. However, this is a more moody relationship than most. Since these two are often on different wavelengths, wanting to do different things, there could be a lot of ups and downs here with emotional storms. Depending on the place these two are at in their lives, this could work if they are both willing to commit.
LEO + LEO
A Leo and Leo combo is more common than you may think. It makes sense, though, a sign that is known for loving themselves and having strong self-confidence, falling in love with someone who is just like them. Leo loves a good mirror, and it’s not hard to fall for someone who reminds them of themselves. This will be a very dramatic relationship, however, and this isn’t for the weak. They will have a lot of fun together but will also push each other’s buttons and may try to take each other's crowns. Power struggles are likely with this pairing, and the only way this will work is if they act on their heart rather than their egos in the relationship.
LEO + VIRGO
Leo and Virgo are like two peas in a pod. This relationship may be better off as a friendship in the long run, but overall, with these two right next to each other on the Zodiac Wheel, they both have a lot to learn from each other. Virgo finds Leo intriguing and even somewhat mysterious. Leo appreciates the way Virgo looks at them, and they have this same type of attraction and interest toward Virgo as well. Virgo is an attentive lover, and this is especially beneficial to Leo, who loves attention. These two often find a perfect place for each other in their lives, but as far as romance and chemistry, that is something that may not come right away here and will be unique to each pairing.
LEO + LIBRA
Leo and Libra are an iconic duo. The love they have for each other is undeniable, and this is a couple that has a lot of fun together. They share similar interests, they are both beautiful, and they both love a little drama in love. Fire and air signs are notorious for being compatible, and Libra is the best air sign match for Leo. This is a social couple who will love to spend time together and to be out on the town. This relationship could be borderline superficial, however, and as long as they are doing the work to build a strong foundation aside from aesthetics and vanity, then this is a pairing that can be an endgame for the both of them.
LEO + SCORPIO
A Leo and Scorpio relationship is not for the faint of heart. Leo and Scorpio are more similar than most fire and water signs, as they both share a passion and zest for life, but this relationship is more so like a volcano exploding than anything. Exciting, once-in-a-lifetime, and terrifying all in one. The strength of this relationship is their sex life, as this is one for the books. Their downfall, however, is that both of these two have an instinctual need for power, and oftentimes this will be at the other’s expense. Leo may be the one who ends up more hurt than anything, and it may be too late before Scorpio realizes the effect they have upon them.
LEO + SAGITTARIUS
Leo and Sagittarius are an adventurous, more progressive couple. This is the type of relationship that is high energy and high reward for both of them. Leo does well with other fire signs as they feel like their energy is reciprocated and not shunned, which is important to them. Leo needs to shine, and Sagittarius does too, and they are willing to share the spotlight here, which they are not willing to do with everyone else. With Sagittarius ruled by Jupiter, the planet of blessings, and Leo, the Sun, the star of vitality, this is a happy couple. They don’t ask too much of each other, and their presence is enough to build a passionate love.
LEO + CAPRICORN
Leo and Capricorn are a power couple that will either rule together or take each other down. This is a relationship where they are both striving for greatness and one where they will try to build a life together from the ground up. They both want the best of the best out of life and will see each other as someone to help them get there. Capricorn, being the devoted and loyal lover they are, is easily respected by Leo, who feels the same way about their relationships in life. However, where other signs don’t mind boosting the confidence of Leo and giving them that attention they crave, Capricorn is no brown-noser and will not feed the ego of Leo. Leo may find Capricorn too emotionally distant, and Capricorn may find Leo as just too much altogether.
LEO + AQUARIUS
Leo and Aquarius are opposite signs in Astrology, otherwise known as sister signs. They are very different from the outside, but once they unpack, they both realize there are many layers to both of them, a lot of them similar to one another. Leo and Aquarius both value authenticity in life, and in a relationship, they will take on this type of energy and will see their pairing as a unique one. Challenges arise, however, when it comes to determining who is going to take the lead. Leo is a leader, and Aquarius is anything but a follower. They can often feel like they are stepping on each other's toes, not knowing where they stand with each other. If they are willing to find balance with one another, this will be a dedicated, lifelong partnership.
LEO + PISCES
Leo and Pisces are an odd pairing and may just be Leos' least compatible match. The problem here is that Leo doesn’t understand Pisces. Pisces, on the other hand, can fall in love with just about anyone. Pisces is more willing to put aside differences to get to know their partner, whereas Leo is looking for that immediate spark they don’t typically get right away with Pisces. The positives to this pairing, though, are that they are both creative, fun, and warm souls who make life a little better. This is a dynamic duo, but at the end of the day, Leo may overpower Pisces, and this can lead to resentment and disparity.
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