Ponytail Haircut – A How-To

20 Oct

I’ve talked before about how I cut my hair with the “ponytail” method (posts are HERE and HERE).  Which is basically an easy way to give yourself a layered haircut.

I was asked to show a pic of how I cut my hair.  My camera is on the fritz right now, so I can’t do an actual picture, but I thought that I would do a basic digital representation of what I did and give you a how-to.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ponytail Haircut How-To:

How high you place the ponytail will determine how layered your hair is.  If you only want a small amount of layering, then only place your ponytail a few inches above the nape of your neck (at the back of your head).  If you want it really layered, like I did, then you want to place it as close to your forehead as you can get it.  You can place that ponytail anywhere in between those two points to get the cut you desire.  Just as long as you make sure that you get the ponytail in the center of your head (centered between your ears).  I would recommend that you start off farther back then you think you’ll want, so you don’t cut off more then you want.  If you already have layered hair, then play with it to see where your current cut tends to fall, and go from there.  Once you know how it do it, it is really easy, so it’s no big deal to throw it back up and do a re-cut if it isn’t what you want.

I’ll show how I did it so you get the idea.  Remember that you can customize it anyway you like it.



Comb your hair to make sure it is tangle free.



Bend over and comb your hair so that it is coming toward your forehead.



Gather your hair into a ponytail as close to your front hairline as possible (or wherever you chose to place it).  You’ll probably have to take some time to comb it all smooth.  But it’s important that it is as smooth as you can get it.  Make sure that the hair from the nape of your neck is straight over the top of your head (your center part line) and not off to one side.  This pic doesn’t really show it that way, but you will need your nape hair to go along the top of your head and not along the sides.



Locate the hair from the nape of your neck.  Your nape hair will probably end quite a few inches above the rest of your hair (especially if you don’t have layered hair already) so don’t be surprised.  You will want to make a blunt cut so that the rest of your hair matches that length.



Now do the actual cut.  Remember that you want to cut it straight across so that your hair is all one length.  You’ll need to make little sawing motions with your scissors until you are all the way across.  TAKE YOUR TIME!  This isn’t something you want to rush.  Make sure that your scissors stay level so that you don’t end up with a crooked line.
You might want to re-comb your hair into the ponytail to make sure that your cut is even and you don’t end up missing a section.  Even if you do miss a section, or even if you cut it crooked, it isn’t all that big of a deal.  You won’t notice that much once the hair is down.



Now you can take your hair out of the ponytail and comb it down straight.  You will end up with hair that is layered from front to back (also known as a V or U shaped cut) and also layered from top to bottom.


My hair is at my lower back, and my layers start an inch or two below my jawline.  Again, you can place the ponytail anywhere along the top of your head to get the amount of layering you want.




Posted by on October 20, 2008 in Hair Stuff, Misc Stuff


Tags: ,

67 responses to “Ponytail Haircut – A How-To

  1. Aleena

    May 24, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    OMG i really didnt know this!
    itz soooooooooooo kool!

    good job 😛

  2. Ashley

    July 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Great Post!! Ive been looking for ways to be more budget friendly… decided Id try this cut and am really happy with the results!!
    If anyones interested theres a video describing the technique I found on youtube as well.

  3. ericka

    July 20, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    i dont want it so short !! is this posible not to have it so short ??

    • WillowMoon

      July 23, 2009 at 12:53 pm

      The further away from your head you cut the longer it will be. These pictures were just a quick way of showing what the results are. When I did this the first time my hair was mid-back length.
      For the most part by following this method you shouldn’t lose any length on your hair. You just cut even with your nape hair, which should be your longest.
      Remember that the farther forward on your head you place the ponytail the more layering you’ll get.

  4. Samantha

    August 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Just tried this on my long hair. I’m still in awe at how amazing it turned out! Thank you for sharing this.

  5. Loolina

    August 12, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I am not so sure if i should do it.. i want that look but with a side fringe. (side swept fringe) Do you know how i could do that?

    • Monica

      February 19, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      I am a cosmetologist. After following these steps, take your sides and pull them angled forward. Point cut them by cutting little triangles off the ends. The more you take out, the softer the look will be. your hair should fall a little more wispy and forward. but to get the look you want, you maywant to blow dry sides forward with a vent brush.

  6. Jax

    September 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    Hi, my hair is baby fine and if I cut it dry it looks all messy on the ends. Can I do this with wet hair and is the process the same?? Thanks a bunch! Jax

    • WillowMoon

      September 28, 2009 at 9:29 pm

      You should be able to do this cut wet or dry. It might take a little longer to comb your wet hair into a smooth ponytail, but other then that it should be fine. My stick strait hair doesn’t really care one way or the other. But my mom has really curly hair and if she cut hers wet it would be a disaster, and other types do better with a wet cut, whatever works best for you. Good Luck!

  7. Emily

    December 1, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    So what would happen if you put the pony tail at the back of your neck? would it end up like an a-line cut? I’m so tempted to do this, but I’m a bit scared!

    • WillowMoon

      December 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      If you put the ponytail at the base of your neck you would get a slightly scooped, almost strait, cut and almost no layering. But the bad thing is it’s really hard to cut it when it is back there. I think I read someone recommending using a second scrunchy/elastic below the first and sliding that down closer to the end and then bringing it forward over your shoulder (carefully! or else you’ll get a slanted cut!). That only works if you have hair long enough to do that though. Otherwise you’ll need someone to help you, but being that you’re just cutting strait across most people can do that.
      Good Luck!

  8. Danii

    December 10, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Heeey omg this looks quite good.
    but i want to have a side swept bang still, so how doo i cut it ?

    • WillowMoon

      December 11, 2009 at 12:35 am

      You would have to cut them separately. If your hair is longer then shoulder length it shouldn’t be a problem. Just pay attention to where your bangs fall to make sure you’re not cutting them when you don’t want to. Another option is to not even include them in the ponytail, just separate them out from the rest of your hair beforehand.
      Good Luck!

  9. Ellen

    January 4, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I tried this today and it turned out fantastic. I wasn’t sure, with the extreme thickness of my hair, but it did! My cut reminds me of a Jacqueline Smith hairstyle. Very pleased. I used one fastener at the base of the ponytail, pulled it straight up and fastened at the farthest end I could without loosing the ends. Then I cut a straight cut between these two.

  10. Peggy

    March 7, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    oh my oh my, Let me tell you that was the worst haircut I have ever given myself. I sure as hell won’t be doin that again. My ten year old poodle looks better than i do. This lady couldn’t even show us no damn cuttin pictures. I’m going to the beauty shop to fix my mop. Keep on keepin on.

  11. Marinda

    March 16, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Could you please send me a photo of your hair cut like you describe here from both the front and back?

  12. Kristina

    April 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I just did this cut, I have never cut my own hair b4 but I thought I would give this a try. The only thing I did different than the pic is the ponytail wasnt as far up on my head and I didnt cut so close to the ponytail. The cut turned out really well!! Im happy with the results and now I know that if times are hard and I cant afford to go get my hair cut I can do it on my own! Thanks so much for sharing your techniques! I love it!!!

  13. Lesli

    June 5, 2010 at 9:58 am

    i did it today, and it was amazing!!! thank you soooooo much 😛

  14. Rexie

    June 22, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Great! Now I know how to cut v-shape, thanks!!

  15. jessie

    June 23, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    wow that is cool but i am scared i will cut it wrong and it will look funny 😕

  16. HomHip

    June 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Hey, I had a question on this…
    Ive got my bangs layered already by the place I got my hair cut, but the back part of my hair is too long, would I split the bangs and the rest of my hair in order to continue that layered look but not cut the bangs? and, where would I put the ponytail?

    • WillowMoon

      June 30, 2010 at 11:31 am

      I guess it would depend on your bangs, and how long your hair is. If you’re talking more face-framing long bangs, you might want to leave them out if you have shoulder length hair. But if your hair is any longer then shoulder length you shouldn’t have a problem.
      Where you put the ponytail would depend on how layered you want your hair. Experiment by putting your hair in ponytails at different points and see how much you would be cutting off to make it blunt to your nape hair length.
      Good Luck!

  17. gabrielle

    July 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    this hair style is cooooooooooooool ❤

  18. Jenny

    August 14, 2010 at 8:38 am

    I tested this on some Barbies and it was very educational. Looks like the most important bits are the smooth, evenly brushed ponytail, the placement, and the nice, even cut. Looking forward to trying it!

    • S Baillie

      February 21, 2014 at 6:36 am

      Finally – a good use for Barbies! 🙂

    • Amanda

      June 8, 2014 at 12:05 am

      That is awesome, Jenny– Barbie styling for practicing the technique!! Too Funny & SO Practical

  19. Long Hair Styles

    August 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    Very very interesting post..I like this one. gotta bookmark this one.


  20. kukky

    August 23, 2010 at 5:05 am

    i wanna try it but my hair from back is some as compare to side if i try it my maximum hair of back side and side hair not come in front tail which you shown in pic. because i want some pony but not too smal .plz tell me waht should i do.

  21. C_S

    September 4, 2010 at 12:49 am


    It turned out perfect.
    What would happen if i did it at the top of my head?

  22. Maddie

    September 10, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Is there a way to do this backwards, like where the front is longish, and gradually gets shorter at the back? It looks really neat, I might want to try this cut sometime 🙂

    • nicole

      October 2, 2010 at 12:47 pm

      Yes, there is a way to do that but it’s a little more strenuous on your arms when doing it yourself. First, decide how long you want the back to be and make a snip in the center of the nape hair (only big enough to see, not too big that you couldn’t make a change if cut shorter than you wanted). then ad that hair to the pony. The closer the pony is to your nape, the longer the layers and the closer you go to the top of the head, you get a LOT more layers and a more extreme effect. This technique would really only look good if you had your end length no longer than the bottom of your neck or if you have very thick hair. You can also use the points of your scissors to snip into the ends of the pony after you’re done the main cutting so as not to make the haircut choppy looking b/c it is a little more of an extreame cut. Good luck!

  23. nicole

    October 2, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Hi, I have been cutting for five years now and I would just like to recommend that a good way not to get an uneven length would be to cut into the pony tail from bottom to top vs. doing it from left to right. This minor change makes it incredibly difficult to mess up your bottom length and can really look quite professional if done without rushing through the cutting. A few tips to have fun with this cut would be to cut at at a different angle or pull hair in a straight up pony (top of head) and cut into hair using point of scissors (if you do it this way, make sure each snip is not longer than 2 inches of eachother). Hope these extra tips help increase the excitement of this fun do-it-yourself haircut!

    • Sherry

      October 18, 2010 at 11:00 pm

      Could you explain more about cutting into the ponytail from bottom to top vs. left to right? I’m having trouble visualizing this. Also, will this haircut work if my hair is barely shoulder length?

      • Monica

        February 19, 2011 at 7:08 pm

        it could still be done, yes. But, your hair at the nape will probably not go into the ponytail. just put as much of it in as you can then cut with caution. or you can simply put the pontail back farther until the nape hair reaches.

  24. Brianna

    December 22, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I came across your blog and wanted to thank you so much: you saved me a trip to the stylist’s and will save me quite a bit of time and money! I just cut my hair using this technique and am rather happy with the results. The diagrams you gave were very helpful. I cut mine about three inches back from my hairline and there is about a 6″ difference from the longest to the shortest layer: not too dramatic, not too subtle.

  25. Anusha

    January 22, 2011 at 11:24 am

    Hie! this really sounds awesome!! i am excited to try it out on my hair. But i am afraid as my hair is curly. Do you really think it works on my type of hair? And if it does, should i keep my hair wet or dry?

    • Monica

      February 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      It is usually a better idea to cut super curly hair dry, but this also depends on the behavior of the hair and the cut. With this cut you just have to be sure to remembe that you have to put alo of tension on your hair, so when you cut it, you will be cutting off more than i seems. So just start out a little at a time. You can always cut off more. You can never put it back on.

  26. Anusha

    January 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    I am relly excited!! 😀 Credits to u!!!

  27. Ruwani Dasanayake

    February 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    doesnt this method give you any layers on the surface,,,i mean behind your head like??? or is there another way to get layers on the surface or back of your head! thanx

  28. Monica

    February 19, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    I do this same cut. but i put my ponytail at the crown, which makes ;ayers but they dont go from short in the front to long in the back. The whole head has the same initial length, with alot of short layers on top then blending downward. And I use knotted shears so the cut isnt blunt, it blends better. I like choppy, without being able to see every line. then you can take a razor and blend in anything that doesnt match. 🙂

  29. Tina

    March 9, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you so much! I have been broke and desperate to get some weight off of my heavy thick hair. I am just getting ready to write about it on my own blog.

  30. Erik

    April 24, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    I’m a man with long hair…and, this worked great for me too… This is a great thing. Thanks.

  31. reece

    September 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I have been doing this cut for years now and I always play with the layers. The one thing that I do different is put the ponytail on top my head instead of in the front of my forehead. It leaves it shorter in back and longer on the sides with lots of layers. Works great with thin super fine hair.

  32. Kimberly

    October 19, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    I first learned this back in the mid-seventies when shags were popular. I go back to it whenever I get a crappy cut at the salon or just want it cut NOW. Amazing how it keeps getting rediscovered!!

  33. Marilyn

    November 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    Omg! I just tried it and it looks great! Whenever I go to the salon and as for v-layers the girl never actually gives me it! Just a really layered look. Now that I`ve tried it, I`m definately saving 40$ and doing it myself until I desire a new look! Thanks for the pics! They were rly helpful!

  34. Andrea Galyn

    April 17, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    I just tried this for the first time and it is AMAZING! I was afraid because I start a new job tomorrow but I had to do something with this hair! I wound up with soft, long shaggy layers, even on all sides. It falls so pretty around my face! Thank you so much for posting this. I found an illustrated guide to doing it too at .GO FOR IT! It’s really great. I am so happy I was brave enough to do it!

  35. Chloe

    May 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Ok…I’m confused.. Do you cut it from top to bottom or side to side. The picture looks like you would cut it sort of slanted?..

    • Ann

      June 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

      Do it side to side, like if you are right handed, start on the right and cut toward the left. That is the only way you will be able to see what you are doing as the ponytail is most likely hanging right in front of your face, right? At least that is how I did it. I did not stand back up to do the actual cut. I allowed gravity to help me. And besides, my arms would have gotten too tired.

  36. Ann

    June 20, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I tried this last night. My hair is long (mid back) and pretty thick so I worried it might not work too well. I purchased new hair shears to use. Placing my ponytail about one inch back from my mid-forehead hairline, I cut off about 1 inch of the ponytail and then released it to check. It looked pretty much the same. My hair was very difficult to get the shears through (too much hair movement with each open and closing of the shears). So I washed and conditioned my hair to prepare to try this wet. This time, I repositioned the ponytail to right at my forehead hairline. Cutting nearly soaking wet hair was easier. I was able to smash the ponytail into a flat fanned out piece which could be cut more evenly. I don’t think the new shears are sharp enough. Took a few tries to get a totally straight cut. Then I set my hair in soft sponge rollers per usual. This morning my hair looks nice and nothing terrible happened (for those too frightened to give this a shot). Hairdo has a shape now and feels way lighter. This weekend, after I color my hair, I am going to do the ponytail cut again (it’s fun!), placing the ponytail in the middle of the top of my head, which is how I think I can get some of the length off of the back (because more of the nape hair will then be inside the rubber band).

  37. Stephanie

    November 6, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    I cut my hair with this method recently and then made some side bangs by bringing a small section forward, twisting it and then cutting. I like my bangs pretty long, so I start long and then trim shorter as needed. I get waaaay more compliments than when I was going to the salon. And it’s a whole lot cheaper!

  38. Cristina

    December 6, 2012 at 3:57 am

    I once went to a hairdresser when i was like 15 and he did that pony tail cut on me! At the time I was impressed with the simplicity and the result and thought it was a novel technique he learned in paris, but I guess he was just being lazy or pushed for time…haha

  39. Annie Furches

    March 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing this method. I have long, straight, fine hair and this method resulted in beautiful layers. I won’t be going back to the high-priced salon again!!

  40. Roxy

    April 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    Did it – love it!!!! Turned a really bad $100 cut into amazing!!!!! I will never spend another $ on a haircut!

  41. Beverly

    April 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Thanks for the info – I did this and it looks fantastic! I only took off about 2 inches but the layering effect is quite noticeable. I now feel like a brown-haired Farrah Fawcett. 🙂

  42. Lynn

    November 10, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    I have been doing this for 3 years. I have saved a lot of money 🙂

  43. rae

    December 30, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    its lie the crea clip, which is more effective and you will love it

  44. Julie

    January 28, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I wanted a very short bob, with very very light layering starting from mid length.. I have achieved a nice bob (thank you) by putting the ponytail at centre back nape. But where do I put it for the layering? I need to leave the sides long enough to tuck behind ears for working so I am worried about chopping them off during layering! Can you help? Best wishes.

  45. Pamela McKay

    February 17, 2014 at 9:52 am

    I have been trying for years to get this hair cut and nobody could get it right! I am so happy with this cut. Thank You!!!

  46. Bear Kading

    July 18, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Don’t be afraid to try……I did this n it’s awesome. Wish I’d have known this forever. There was someone in earlier comments who said it was bad….can’t figure out why unless she had very curly hair.

  47. Mckinsey

    February 8, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I already had layers in my hair so I went about it a little different. I pulled all my hair up to the top of my head and cut the dead ends then took it out of the tie. I then took only the top half of my hair and did the same thing.
    It turned out amazing! Got all the dead ends off and refreshed my layers! Thanks for the tip!

  48. John

    May 18, 2015 at 7:14 am

    Will this work to get hair cut to the length in the photo?

  49. sunnydaysangel

    November 6, 2015 at 8:33 am

    Reblogged this on sunnydaysangel and commented:
    love this so much!!! a must do!!!

  50. Cindy lester

    April 20, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I did this , and it turned out perfect.. I’m so happy I can get a fast and easy haircut whenever I want and I know it’s gonna look terrific.. soooooo happy

  51. Vaughn Lush

    March 31, 2018 at 11:00 am

    This site is just awesome. I’ve search these informations a whole lot and
    I view it that is good written, easy to comprehend. I congratulate you because of this research that I am going to recommend to people friends.
    I request you to go to the page where
    each scholar or learner can calculate ratings grade point average rating.
    All good!

  52. Laurie

    May 25, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    What a great explanation of this cut. Makes it actually seem possible to try myself.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: