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How to Do a Fishtail Pony

How to Do a Fishtail Pony

Our friend Reagan Baker is a genius when it comes to all things hair. Back by popular demand, she’s here to recommend an easy look for trips. “I want to wash my hair as little as possible when I’m away,” says Reagan. “Instead, I do braids and ponytails to make it last longer.” Here’s how…

How to Do a Fishtail Pony

1. First, prep your hair. A texturizing spray works as both a dry shampoo and a volumizer, adding lift at the root. This way, your hair will have some nice texture when you pull it back. “I love this product so, so much. It really does work better than anything else,” Reagan says. “It’s the difference between when I use a product and pretend it’s doing something, and using this one which does exactly what it says.”

2. Next, put your hair in a high ponytail and tie it with a hair elastic. A good way to find the perfect not-too-high, not-too-low height is to use your chin as a reference point and go up diagonally from there. Using a brush will make the pony really smooth, but Reagan suggests just raking your fingers through your hair to get some volume at the roots. She loves when things are a little imperfect (and we love her for that!).

3. Take a small piece of hair and wrap it around the base of the ponytail to cover the elastic and pin it down. “It makes it look nicer when you can’t see the ponytail holder,” says Reagan.

4. Now, divide the ponytail into two equal sections.

5-6. Take a small strand from the outside of first section and cross it over to join the inside of the second section; then do the same (in reverse) with the second section. If you take too much, it will look like a regular braid, so the smaller the strands, the more fishtail layers you’ll get. “Just continue to do that forever,” says Reagan. “Fishtail braids are really simple to do, but they are a bit of a time commitment. You’ve got to have some patience, and it’s a great arm workout!”

7. Tie the end with a hair elastic.

8. To add a little more texture, rub the hair in front between your fingers and pull a few strands out to frame your face. Lightly tug and pull outward on the braid in a few places to add some movement — but not too many, Reagan cautions, because fishtail braids can get messy really quickly. Once you’re finished, a light mist of flexible hairspray will make your style last.

How to Do a Fishtail Pony

Et voila! Breezy, travel-ready beauty, for wherever life may take you. “For hair, Oribe makes a really awesome travel kit that has smaller sized versions of everything you need,” Reagan adds.

How to Do a Fishtail Pony

Thank you so much, Reagan! For the curious, Reagan is wearing her favorite mascara, highlighter, tinted moisturizer and lip balm.

P.S. More hair tutorials, including three twisted buns and a messy side ponytail.

(Photos by Ana Gambuto for Cup of Jo. Styling and modeling by Reagan Baker. This post is sponsored by Nordstrom, which has an incredible beauty selection, and where shipping and returns are always free. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Why do my braids never look so good? ;)
    Great tutorial x

    -Jacqueline

  2. Melissa says...

    I’m dance class with my daughter and I see at least 2 other attempts of fishtail ponies among the moms. We exchanged grins. COJ readership is strong in Chicago, 😂😂😂!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is awesome, melissa!!!!! wish i could beam myself there :)

  3. I used to read Reagan’s blog and I love her so much! I’m always happy to see her posts here. :)

  4. Gabrielle says...

    I tried this hairstyle today and felt so chic even with my dirty hair ;). What is Reagan’s nail color? I love the sheerness of it – seems perfect for spring and summer!

  5. Katie Larissa says...

    I’m seriously screenshotting a pic of this so I can get that exact earring placement. So gorgeous.

  6. I’m going to practice this. I’m really uncoordinated when it comes to doing my hair, but I need to up my game now that I have daughter who loves having her hair done!

  7. Mel says...

    OMG, that Oribe texturizing spray. Every time I use it my husband tells me, “you smell like a Hollywood star”. It smells so good.
    I’m going to try this braid out–thanks for sharing!

  8. gigi says...

    It was so good to read Reagan’s post . Now Reagan what can we short hair people do on windy days. With short hair,pixie style I can’t wait 3 days to wash my hair.

  9. MK says...

    I recently splurged on the Oribe texturizing spray, and it smells so good and is MAGIC. 46 bucks seems absurd until you try it.
    The travel size would be a good way to try it out if you aren’t sure you want to go for the whole thing.
    (Also, one time I got a haircut from Reagan and she was super nice and amazing! NYCers should go to her salon.)

  10. Sofia says...

    makes me want to grow my hair to try this out!
    and what are the odds me and Reagan have the same exact placement of the 2 earrings in the left ear? 🧐 haha so random

  11. Rebecca Van Handel says...

    I have to say – when I read “sponsored” on a post/instagram/etc I always get a little worried. However, you always manage to seamlessly incorporate the sponsorship into your content and make it seem so genuine which I appreciate more than you know! I never feel like I am reading an advertisement.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      so glad to hear that, rebecca!

    • That’s funny, this time I didn’t even notice it was sponsored!

  12. lauren says...

    This is kinda random but – would you ever consider a series of hair styling options for curly girls? I grew up with curly hair and NO ONE in my family who had the same hair texture so I pretty much had to wing it and learn everything from scratch… there were more than a few bad hair days!

    I’ve also noticed that it’s really hard for me to trust a new stylist – there’s sometimes an element of “your hair is too difficult” that ican be communicated either verbally or nonverbally, from an inexperienced curly stylist, and I think that would be an interesting angle to explore too. There’s a real vulnerability there!

    I actually still walk up to strangers on the street or in an elevator though, and ask where they get their hair cut, and what products they use. And, if any other curly girls ever ask me, I usually stop what I’m doing and write down all the products I use. It’s like a secret society!

    PS – I love Reagan so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      a secret society, i love that! and YES! we’d love to do some of these!!

    • Sylvie says...

      Yes totally agree! I can never relate to these straight hair tutorials and there are tons of women with different hair textures than this.

    • Meg says...

      Lauren, from one curly girl to another, I love this idea! Thanks for suggesting it. We are the secret society with the “curly curse,” as I call it.

    • Yes! Please, please do a post for curly girls. I would live for the comment section of the post! Not saying the actual post won’t be great – but hearing tips and tricks from curly girls in the comment section would life-changing, I’m sure. Every time I learn something new about doing my curly hair, it really changes my world. Curly hair is complicated!!

      In the meantime, I’ve talked about my lifesaving tip here: http://www.heylibi.com/2018/03/01/my-turbie-twist/

      It’s the Turby Twist!! Needs a new name, but it works wonders for curly hair.

    • yes!! I’m mixed and even my mom never knew what to do with my hair. I’d love to know some new styles for my mixed curls. Happy to be a hair model as well, Joanna! I’m moving to NYC in June, and would be delighted to be a style guinea pig :)

    • A Martin says...

      Yes to all of this!!

  13. Cait says...

    Literally the first fishtail braid tutorial I have ever actually understood (and I’ve looked at a lot.) Still don’t think I have the dexterity to do it on myself, but can do it for someone else now. Thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes! we were trying the braid out during lunch at our office yesterday, and it takes a while but is totally doable! (even for a VERY clumsy hair person, like me:)

  14. Jenna says...

    Can we have a safe place to post our hairstyle attempt fails? I really wish Reagan was my mom (and that I was five?) so she could do my hair every morning!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha me too!!!!

  15. Heidi says...

    Oh, I just love a Reagan post… she’s got such great style!

  16. Heather says...

    I think my hair is just long enough to try this!

    Also, does anyone else have jawline envy right now?

    • Yup!

  17. Ursa says...

    Why, oh why did I chop off my long hair… Can you do a tutorial how to style an outgrowing pixie? Mine is currently somewhere between a bob and a ‘Justin Bieber’ and making me mad everytime I look in the mirror. Looking forward to the day I can try this braid 😊.

    • I can soooo relate to this….I’m in the process of growing out very thick bangs and every time i look at my hair i get furious..i just can’t wear my hair down these days..

  18. Laura C. says...

    I’ve never been able to braid my hair that way because I have very thick hair! I’ll give it a try but I’m not good doing it. Oh, the chin tip is nice, thanks Reagan!

    • I”ve found that I can do a fishtail easier on thick hair ( my sister has incredibly thick hair) when it’s wet, because then the smaller strands don’t slip out as easily.

    • Mary says...

      Thanks Katie.

    • Laura C. says...

      Thanks Katie!

  19. Liz says...

    Love her hair but can we talk about her ear piercings?? So cute!

  20. Angela says...

    Love the tip on placing your ponytail-makes so much sense! I am an expert at French braiding my own hair, but the fishtail has always proven elusive. Guess I know what I’m doing tonight…;)

  21. Mer says...

    Any tips on how to wrap the hair around the ponytail to hide the elastic? I love that look but it never works for me. It always comes undone and folds over. My hair is fine and straight. Any advice would be welcome!

  22. Jenny says...

    Thanks for reminding me about my favorite hair style from 4th grade. It’s totally time to whip this look out again!

  23. Stephanie says...

    I love the braid and Megan but I want to know the secret to her hair color. That is seriously the most natural looking blonde I’ve seen (and I know she’s not a natural blonde from previous posts! :) what can I tell my hair dresser to achieve this? Please help!

    • Thank you so much! Whittemore House Hair Paint! Foils leave stripes, but hand painted highlights grow in soft and natural like they would from the sun. Make sure you go to a colorist who knows the painting technique.

  24. Lynn says...

    Please please please tell me HOW to use that texturizing spray. I feel I’m missing something. You cannot be too specific!

    • Shake up the can really well, then lift sections and apply the texture spray all around your crown until it feels nice and gritty at the roots. Massage in with your fingers and enjoy perfectly tousled hair ♥️

    • Catherine says...

      I’m a huge fan of the spray too; I’ve gone through three of the bottles! To use, I rough dry my hair with a hair dryer or let it air dry completely. Then, I lift sections of the top layer of my hair and spray lightly from root to end, focusing more on the root. I let it dry a few seconds, then burrow my hands into my hair against my scalp and scrunch a bit for added volume. If I’m going to add waves with an iron or do further heat styling, I do it now – after applying the spray. Good luck!

      Oh also! Ive found the Oribe is awesome but it’s really pricey. The Kristen Ess texturizing spray at Target is really comparable (maybe as good even?) and it’s less than $15.

  25. A Martin says...

    I loved her beauty uniform! Would love an updated one so we can see her beautiful daughter, Piper! Maybe even how she does Piper’s hair? So pretty!

  26. Meghan says...

    This post does not take any of the mystery out of fishtail braiding for me. Looks lovely though.

    • Astrid says...

      that’s really helpful! thank you

  27. Ashley says...

    Love this look, thanks for the tutorial! Will be great for all the park and beach trips this summer. Here’s what I really need to know, though: Every time I try to bobby pin the little strand of hair around to conceal the elastic, the bobby pin wiggles out shortly after or the hair comes loose leaving a half stuck out bobby pin. Tips? I have no idea how to do this part :/

    • Try prepping the section you wrap with some hair spray to give the pin something to grab onto. It that doesn’t work try stronger Bobby pins, like the YS Park Japanese pins! Amazing hold!

    • Nathalie says...

      Try a hair pin instead of a bobby pin. It’s U-shaped (the ends don’t touch). My daughters often wear buns and have fine, straight hair – the bobby pins wiggle out, but the hair pins stay where I put them!

  28. Yes, yes, the hair is beautiful… but PLEASE tell us more about that blouse situation! 😍

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      it’s from reformation! :)

  29. Maxine says...

    Beautiful! I love Reagan’s tutorials.

    • Thank you so much!

  30. Sarah says...

    oOoo… so pretty!

    I’ve been on the fence about dropping the $$$ on that Oribe spray. Currently using the Kristin Ess texturing spray from Target, which is pretty good! Anyone out there know if the Oribe one is really $30 better?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      reagan was going nuts about it at the shoot — she says it’s the only one she’s tried that really works and really gives volume.

    • Sarah says...

      Okay, sold!!

    • Nora B says...

      I’ve tried at least 6…tresseme, matrix, ess, etc. Oribe is by far the best. And, a little goes a long way.

    • Catherine says...

      I’ve tried both and think the Kristen Ess is identical!

    • Deb says...

      Just to counter this… I have very fine hair and I bought the Oribe spray after everyone raved about it but I’ve found that it just weighs my hair down and it’s flat as a pancake again after 5 minutes. Maybe I was doing it wrong? It smells wonderful, though; I’m determined to finish the can and the smell gets me every time :-). I’ve finally found that what works better for me is Aveda’s Air Control hairspray to add volume and texture because it doesn’t seem to add weight.

  31. Alex says...

    So, I just tried this at my desk and… I did it! My hair is a little short for the style, but my self-braiding confidence has been mega-boosted. Also, damn Reagan – you are radiant!

    • Lily says...

      Impressed!

    • peg says...

      Me too! I started to get a little panicky that someone might walk in my office, and I was too far into the braid to even consider letting go! hahaha. Work can wait!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      hahahaha you guys are awesome.

    • Work can wait, especially on a FRIDAY!

  32. This brings me back to the Lord of the Rings days when everyone wanted to know how to do a fishtail and look like Legolas / an elf!

  33. Sarah says...

    Beautiful!