When you have long hair, you welcome any way to conveniently—and stylishly—keep it neat and protected, especially during winter when it can get tangled up in extra layers. A solution I’ve been leaning into for much of quarantine, virtually glued to my couch while working from home, has been a set of grown-up pigtails. “When you’re lounging on a sofa or bed more, the excessive friction against these materials could cause more damage to your strands,” cautioned my hairstylist, Treehouse Social Club founder Mischa G during the early days of lockdown. So rather than pulling my mop top of curls back into a top knot or ponytail, which can place tension on strands, I’ve been keeping it tied back in pigtails worn loose or in plaits.
Over the past few months, I’ve become a proud pigtail convert—and I’m not alone in the virtual Vogue office, either. My colleague, senior living and beauty editor Ella Riley-Adams has taken to them too. “I’ve been struggling with my hair lately—despite my varied efforts, it lies limp and flat, and I’m reminded of the issue every time I see myself on Zoom,” she tells me. “While I continue searching for solutions, pigtails have offered a sweet alternative to a severe ponytail.” What’s more: With a little zhooshing, they can add volume to the crown—no teasing required, she says.
Beyond Vogue’s beauty team, there have also been a slew of stars embracing the childhood hairstyle: While social distancing at home, Lizzo wore a duet of low pigtails that had Instagram buzzing, Tracee Ellis Ross recently complemented a deep red lip with a double-French braid set, and new mom Gigi Hadid has continued to wear a pair of middle-parted, waist-grazing plaits. Easy enough to do in a pinch while helping you feel fresh and put-together, pigtails have the added benefit of being beneficial to your haircare routine, too. “It’s an element of being able to give back to your hair, back to yourself,” says hairstylist Johnnie Sapong, whose clients include Naomi Campbell, Dakota Johnson, and Lily Rose Depp, of benefiting from the process as much as the final result. “Even something as simple as a pigtail braid is something that’s succinct and stylish. It gives you a multitude of pleasures.”
If you want to incorporate a restorative element into your pigtail look, Sapong recommends a rich, yet lightweight conditioning treatment, such as French favorite Leonor Greyl Masque à L’Orchidée or Briogeo’s Don’t Despair, Repair! treatment oil, to help nourish and strengthen hair. If you’re hoping to wear it and go, considering finger-combing a styling product through before plaiting your hair. “You can braid it when it’s wet and when you take it out, there’s a lovely little texture to the hair as well,” says Sapong. Another pro tip: Use thin, yet sturdy snag-free fasteners, like pro favorite Blax’s elastics, which glide on the hair and won’t pull or damage it. If you want to add an accent, he recommends adding an accessory like a grosgrain ribbon for a “flash of color.”
All to say, pigtails are not something to be overthought or overly labored over. “Pigtails are a statement in and of their own,” says Sapong. “They’re a celebration of youth that’s very DIY. Just have fun with it!”