The other day, French actress Isabelle Huppert graced the red carpet in Cannes sporting an incredibly high ponytail.
This decidedly pulled-back, pulled-up style is favored by model Bella Hadid, and now a million social media users, as a way to look “ripped”, i.e. create striking bone structure and “lift” the face.
Those of us who have been around the neighborhood may remember it not as the “Cannes facelift”, but the Croydon version.
Croydon native Kate Moss has long championed the pulled-back pony (see box below).
Yet, as Kate, 48, and Isabelle, 69, prove, the look isn’t just for young people. Witness Helen Mirren, 76; Sarah Jessica Parker, 57; Jennifer Lopez, 53 next month; and various Shining Band members from the Netflix show Selling Sunset.
Hannah Betts spoke to celebrity hairstylist George Northwood about how he does a ponytail. He advised styling on dirty hair as it ‘gives courage and holds’ (stock image)
The Cannes lift is sleek but has texture in the roots. Red carpet genius George Northwood, who styled midlife beauties Rachel Weisz and Julianne Moore, tells me: “A ponytail works best on dirty hair – it gives courage and hold, while a little grease on the hairline can make things look more modern, cooler and more avant-garde.
“I hold my head upside down and use my George Northwood Undone Wave Holding Spray (£15, george northwood.com) squirt and scrunch in the mid-lengths and ends,” he adds.
“Then I lift my head and rub some of my Undone Moisturizer (£15) in with my palms. This makes the hair easier to scrape into a tight, bump-free ponytail with my fingers.
“The trick is to tie it up once with a headband, then put a second one back on to cinch it even tighter – a second draft that makes the look more sculptural.”
Of his work with celebrities, he says: “When I’ve done Gwyneth Paltrow and Laura Bailey’s hair in the past, we kept their hair pulled to the sides for lift, but with a teased looser texture. on top for extended height.
“If you don’t like the ponytail – some people’s hair is too thin so it looks insignificant – then just wrap it up and style it into a top knot.”
The advantages of the pulled back pony are also its disadvantages. Without your hair to curl you up, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s no coincidence that stars who favor this look are serious about their skincare, and tend to go with it with a full face slap.
Hannah Betts says celebrities who prefer the pulled-back ponytail are serious about their skincare and tend to accompany the style with a face full of makeup
The trick is less about what you use than how you use it. Perfected complexion; hidden eye caves; accentuated cheekbones; brushed eyebrows; upward sloping liner; mascara ailing the outer corners of the eye.
Whatever else you do from an eye perspective, liquid eyeliner will add the necessary intensity. Clinique’s High Impact Easy Liquid Liner (£20, Clinique.co.uk) is a reliable, non-irritating felt tip that takes the anxiety out of application.
If you’ve ever been tempted by a light contour, now is the time: a faded taupe or greige line under the cheekbone, then a (very light) touch along the jawline.
Everything must be mixed, mixed, mixed so that there is no tide line in sight.
Since you’ll be artfully defining your eyes, you might want to minimize your pout with a sheer lip gloss.
Vieve Sheer Lip Dew (£17, vieve.co.uk) creates an extremely flattering, non-sticky, high-shine finish.
Any gray around the hairline will come into sharp focus. If you don’t like it, darken it with Bumble & Bumble Color Stick for dark hair (£23, bumbleandbumble.co.uk) or Josh Wood Root Marker for blondes (£12, joshwood colour.com).
When it comes to pony placement, beware of anything lurking in the back of the neck. Low ponies can scream sophistication. However, they can cause the face, jaw, and jowls to slip (swallow).
The lens should be halfway up your head and at eye level. Or go even higher, near the temples, if your hair is long and shiny enough. Sneaky hairstylists strive to place the pulled back pony in a diagonal line with the top of their client’s cat eye kohl for even greater lift.
Don’t get addicted to facelifts or you risk traction alopecia (yes, that means your hair might start to fall out).
However, for the occasional foray into the height of glamour, the pulled back pony will be just the ticket.
MAC promises its new Color Excess gel eyeliner will last 24 hours or more on the lid and 12 hours on the waterline. It also comes in 12 stunning shades. Line-lock technology is loved by MAC makeup artists and offers gel-like precision with the simplicity of a pencil.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
Kate, 48, uses products such as AQ Meliority Intensive Regenerating Day Cream for her skin
Kate, 48, is the face of Japanese skincare brand Decorte. “I use AQ Meliority Intensive Replenishing Day Cream (£350, decorte cosmetics.co.uk) with a few drops of Vitality Tincture (£140),” she says. The model also uses La Roche-Posay SPF (from £17.50, boots.com) and Charlotte Tilbury makeup, including Beautiful Skin Foundation (£36, charlottetilbury.com).
Lip balms, like everything else in beauty, have gotten terribly complicated and expensive lately, promising to plump and reshape the mouth. I’m married to Ultrasun Lip Protection SPF50 (£10, ultrasun.co.uk), which seems to both reshape and volumize without making such a fuss. Ultrasun was founded three decades ago by a Swiss chemist, Tazio Tettamanti, who, after his brother’s death from skin cancer, was determined to prevent others from doing the same. This is a boosted version of the brand’s best-selling Factor 30 balm, perfect for the SPF obsessive or poor bluffer who gets cold sores in the sun. It makes a fabulous lipstick base. Yet it also looks hugely appealing on its own, being beautifully plumping and revitalizing.
FATHER’S DAY FAVORITES
Worth over £75, it’s packed with classics from top brands such as Clinique.
Edmond Roudnitska’s 1966 classic is a provocative blend of fresh citrus and manly oak moss.
Even those who hate face creams can be convinced to embrace this effective formula.
Trim unruly brows with nail scissors, then use them to shape them. The waterproof formula will also stay put all day.
Everything he needs to keep his mustaches clean and hydrated, plus a nice boar bristle beard brush.