I have a love-hate relationship with my hair. I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world, but boy is it a struggle sometimes. When you have long, fine-dense curly hair like mine nailing down the perfect hair tie to sweep it all back is a serious priority. There are a lot of pain points to consider with my hair: despite having lots of hair, my individual strands are quite thin and fine, so my hair is fragile and prone to breakage. Plus, because it’s fine I have zero volume to speak of.
Considering all that, it goes without saying that I’m always on the lookout for new problem-solving hair styling tools and accessories. So, when I saw the viral videos of the mysterious-looking Pony-O hairbands I knew I had to try it. But are these Instagram-famous bands as awesome as they seem? I put them to the test to see if they really work.
Growing up with fine-dense curly hair was quite a journey. Besides the joy of breaking almost every hair tie that dared try to tame my wild locks I also had to endure the pain of getting hair ties stuck in my hair or suffering the dreaded ponytail headache when it was tied up for too long. And, because I have no volume at my roots, I look like a teenage boy with slick-backed hair when my hair is tied up.
In my mid-twenties I discovered the incredible Invisibobble (yes, that hair tie that resembles an old school phone cord) and it changed my life. It was the only hair elastic that was able to keep my hair tied up without causing breakage and without the struggle of headaches after long periods of wear.
But, as much as I love the Invisibobble it still didn’t solve the issue of volume when wearing a ponytail. That’s where the Pony-O first blew me away. This little thing is a true gem on the volume front. Whether it’s getting that perfectly perky ponytail or creating a look with plenty of volume at the roots, the Pony-O has the Invisibobble beat.
Not only does the Pony-O help you achieve enviable volume at the roots as well as at the base of your ponytail, but it also boasts many of the same benefits I found in the Invisibobble. These unique hair accessories are designed to hold every hair type and thickness, without tension on the follicle (which means, bye-bye tension headaches). When you feed your hair through the Pony-O and shape it, there’s no constriction on your ponytail, so you don’t get that annoying crease that many hair ties create and there’s no breakage.
The accessory offers a secure ponytail that doesn’t budge or slide down thanks to a grip texture on the inside of the band. Plus, when opening the Pony-O to let down your hair, the accessory slides out without damaging your hair or pulling any of your strands along with it.
The Pony-O comes in various sizes and colours, so there’s bound to be a solution to help you solve specific bugbears with your hair. The range available in South Africa includes the original Pony-O, Pony-O XL, Pony-O 2.0, and Pony-O 2.0 Slim. I’ve been testing the various sizes over the last few weeks and have been pretty impressed with the results. It is super important to note that there is a small learning curve with this product and to get the results you want you will need to choose the right Pony-O for your needs.
Hands-on with the Pony-O
Online tutorials say using the Pony-O is as easy as one-two and that’s pretty accurate. It takes a bit of practice to get the technique down but once you have it right, it’s smooth sailing from there.
First, you pull your hair into a ponytail, just like normal. I like to go a little bit higher with my ponytail than I normally would to allow for a little bit of drop when I’m fiddling with the Pony-O at the base of my ponytail. Then, put two fingers through the Pony-O and feed your hair through the circle, keeping the Pony-O close to your head.
Once your hair is through the accessory, drop your hair and hold the Pony-O with two hands before squashing it flat against your hair. Lastly, give the Pony-O two bends and squash. Around your thumb, bend one side of the Pony-O down and under, then, around your other thumb, bend the other side of the Pony-O down and under. The tighter you squash here the more secure your ponytail will be. Sound complicated? Watch this quick video to see how it’s done.
It took a few tries to get the technique down but after that, I found that picking the right size for the job was the biggest hurdle with this accessory. If you’re struggling with getting the wow factor from the Pony-O it’s more than likely that you’re using the wrong size for your hair and the look you want. But fear not, if you’re worried about which size to get you can shoot the Pony-O South Africa team a message on Facebook or Instagram for some guidance on which size would be the most suitable.
The Pony-O classic collection is designed specifically for thin, average and slightly thick hair. If your hair is smaller than the size of a golf ball when you gather it together then the best sizes are the Pony-O Classic and the Pony-O 2.0. The Pony-O Classic has a wide band and is perfect for a voluminous ponytail. It helps to give you a nice stand at the base of your ponytail and more volume.
The Pony-O 2.0, which has a thin band, will give you less stand at the base of your ponytail and less volume. The 2.0 is great for everyday use, half-up styles and small sections of hair as well as for extra-fine, thin hair. The 2.0 Slim is even better for small sections of hair and hairstyles such as braids.
If your hair is larger than the size of a golf ball when you gather your hair together then the Pony-O XL will work best for your hair. Designed specifically for extra thick and heavy hair, the Pony-O XL has a wide band and is perfect for a voluminous ponytail. There’s also a Pony-O 2.O XL which has a thin band and is ideal for half-up styles and small sections of hair.
Is the Pony-O worth the hype?
Listen, I get it, you’ve been let down by gimmicky hair accessories before. For every 5 women I know that adore the Invisibobble there’s at least one who thinks it’s nothing to write home about. It will no doubt be the same for the Pony-O. It’s all about finding the right accessories to complement your lifestyle and needs. For me, the Pony-O is the best thing since sliced bread. It offers everything I want in a hair accessory and more.
I put the accessory to the test while working from home, at the gym, on a run, and even while travelling, and it’s been nothing but amazing at every turn. For my fine-dense hair, I found the Pony-O Classic to be the perfect choice for everyday use when I want a perky ponytail that refuses to quit but if I’m hitting the gym I reach for the Pony-O XL. My hair is quite heavy and the classic Pony-O struggled to keep my hair in place during heavy cardio sessions that involved burpees and lots of jumping.
The Pony-O XL on the other hand keeps my hair in line even through the toughest cardio sessions. I also played around with a few half-up ponytail styles as well as hairstyles that required sectioning and found that the classic Pony-O was ideal for these kinds of styles. The Pony-Classic gives my pony a much more refined look than a standard hair tie, making it brilliant for special occasions.
Wearing the Pony-O, my ponytail stays perky and secure all day long and even in the gym doesn’t require any adjusting, pulling, or tugging to perk it back up again. Bottom line, the Pony-O is incredibly comfortable and feels featherlight in the hair. Even if you only wear your hair in a ponytail, and don’t bother with any fancy half-up style, this little accessory is well worth investing in.
If you buy the right size for your hair thickness and hair type then it’s really a game-changer. It’s one of the most comfortable hair ties I’ve ever worn, and the fact that it offers a secure ponytail without any tension is just amazing to me. The band seems to distribute the weight of my hair a little better than the average hair tie, preventing that limp pony look and headaches. If you’re the type of person who likes the feeling of a stretchy hair tie that you can expand and quickly slip onto your hair then the Pony-O may not be for you as the silicone band is malleable, not stretchy.
I love that it is a healthy alternative for your hair and limits breakage while also helping to increase volume, and it’s officially my new hair favourite accessory. The Original and XL Pony-O retails for R160 each in South Africa. For a Pony-O with designer prints, you’ll have to splash out a little more at R190 per Pony-O.
The price may seem a little steep but, trust me, it’s so worth it. I lose hair ties like it’s my job, so I was a little worried about keeping track of a R135 accessory but so far I’ve been pretty good at keeping tabs on my Pony-O hairbands (it might have something to do with them being bigger and more noticeable compared to your average hair tie, but the jury is still out on that).
Pony-O is available to buy online through the official South African distributor. Click here to visit the online store and shop the range. If you are curious to see more styles using the Pony-O check out their YouTube channel.
After years of working as an Editor and writer for popular websites like Joburg’s Darling, Cape Town’s Darling and Joburg.co.za, Crystal left her sanity and an established career in lifestyle journalism behind to follow her dream of creating a website for the intellectual and discerning woman. Today she spends her time chasing the thrill of being the first to know about ‘the next big thing’. She’ll try anything once and has been known to put her body, hair and health on the line – all in the name of research.