Pigtails are among the most controversial beauty looks of all time. Some say they're exclusively for the playground, some call them a tool of the patriarchy. Us? We'll just call them a cute hairstyle. We do understand, though, that the business of wearing pigtails as a fully-grown adult can feel...tricky. How do you style them so as to not look like you're in-costume, hitting a rave, or about to pop a pacifier in your mouth?
It's easy to see celebs and influencers wearing elaborate versions of pigtails on their grids and think it's out of reach for us civilians but they're actually far more accessible than you'd think. In our quest to master adult pigtails we spoke to celebrity hairstylist Chris Appleton, who's worked with everyone from the Kardashians to Jennifer Lopez and well-versed in crafting the famous pigtails that pop up on our feeds. Read on for your ultimate guide to rocking pigtails post-adolescence:
It'd be easier to draw up a list of celebrities who haven't been wearing pigtails lately, so widespread is this trend. Hailey Bieber, took a page out of Baby Spice's book, hoisting a pair of pigtails on top of her head in homage to the '90s icon with the help of some stylist-installed extensions. Her buddy Kylie Jenner drew millions of likes this fall for posting her own sexy, ultra-voluminous take on 'tails.
To the delight of the collective internet, Ciara revealed a set of waist-skimming pigtails so long and lush you can see their softness through the screen.
Get the Look
Now that we've determined that pigtails in every form are now officially trending, we can get into how to replicate a more wearable version for yourself. Not everyone feels comfortable with three-foot-long extensions or pastel highlights in their pigtails but rest assured it's actually pretty simple and hassle-free to construct some straightforward pigtails of your own. From there, you can customize with size, shape, and even accessories.
According to Chris Appleton, the key to modern, adult pigtails is in the fullness and volume. "It is really about having weight in the hair and hair being full," he tells to Byrdie exclusively. Prepping the hair before beginning styling is also critical. Appleton readies air with a root-plumping spray to tease out as much volume as possible, like the R+Co. Dallas Thickening Spray ($29).
From there, it's time to brush and style but Appleton has a word of caution: "When you are putting the pigtails in, it's important to keep them snatched and tight," he explains. "So make sure the base is really tight and pulled, which makes it look more severe and fierce and less babyish or costume-like."
"Make sure the hair is pulled up by following the eyeline; go directly above that and put your pigtails on either side," instructs Appleton.
After your hair is pulled high and tight, Appleton suggests slicking the hair down on all sides and tying the tails off with a thin band, like his favorite clear Blax Hair Elastics ($4)—they have a good grip, he tells us.
Get the Products
Once the architecture of your tails are sound, it's time to play around with the products taking pigtails to the next level. In other words, this is almost certainly what your online faves are doing to achieve the perfect pigtails all over your timeline.
One of Appleton's top secrets is a patch-filling root powder that will close any scalp-showing gaps in your hair and give the illusion of even more fullness. "Fill out the hairline with Color Wow Root Cover Up ($25) to thicken the hairline, enhance your color, and truly give you Instagram-worthy hair," he tells us. If you don't have any root powder, a color-matched eyebrow pencil or even some bronzer will give you a rough approximation of the look in a pinch.
You can even go a step further by styling your pigtails with a curling or flat iron. Appleton recommends a 2-inch curling iron for added bounce and fullness, but he suggests a quick coat of styling spray first to extend the life of the style and maximize volume.
If pigtails felt totally outside the realm of possibility before, hopefully, it seems a little more surmountable now. If all else fails, just tie them low. It's a foolproof method to have all the fun of pigtails but with the same effort and "risk" of a low pony. But really, what's life without risk? Your hair is the perfect place to start.