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How to Give Pigtails a Grown-Up Glow Up

These five tutorials will show you how to put an adult twist on the beloved childhood trend.
March 14, 2022


If you give it some serious thought you probably can’t remember the last time you wore your hair in pigtails. For many of us, the style takes us back to a time of childhood innocence — swinging on the playground, jumping rope, trading candy and passing notes to a crush. But if you’ve started to notice the beloved hairstyle trend showing up on your For You page and other social feeds there’s a logical explanation: Pigtails have officially grown up.


The style is no longer just for kids, in fact, there are so many ways you can sport pigtails as a grown up and still look chic and polished. To show you how to rev up this classic school girl hairstyle for an age-appropriate look, we’re sharing five pretty pigtail hairstyles, from Dutch braid pigtails to fun pigtail space buns with quick tutorials to help you get the look.


Why Are Pigtails Called Pigtails?

Before we break down the styles below, in case you were wondering where this odd name began for such a cute style, let us explain. Pigtails actually started as a name for chewing tobacco leaves that resembled the rear appendage of the animal as their bunches dried. Eventually, people began wearing a hairstyle that mimicked the tobacco. 


At one point, pigtails was used to describe anything bundled together with coiled ends (like one’s hair) — but in popular culture it was the trendy hairdo that became most synonymous with the term. 


5 Pigtail Hairstyles For Adults To Try In 2022

Looking to try pigtails for short hair, long hair and anything in between? Look no further than these five styles below that let you put a grown-up stamp on the throwback kids ‘do.


1. Pigtail French Braids

You might be thinking that pigtail French braids are a little on the plain Jane side, but with the right style know-how, you can learn how to do French braid pigtails that look super-fashionable.


Get the look by following these simple steps:

Step 1. Part your hair down the middle or off to the side — either will work.

Step 2. Create three stitches on each side by dividing each side of your hair into three even sections at the center of your part and weave three traditional braid stitches.

Step 3. Begin to create a French braid on one side of your hair, adding loose hair to the left and right strands as you normally would. After French braiding one side, braid the remaining side.

Step 4. Secure your braids using clear elastics.

Step 5. Finally, take a small section of hair from each pigtail to wrap around your elastic and pin on the underside of your pigtail to conceal the hair ties.


2. Dutch Braid Pigtails

Turn your traditional braids on their head for an inverted look that’s anything but juvenile.


Get the look by following these simple steps:

Step 1. Using a rat tail comb, part your hair straight down the center of your head from your hairline all the way down to the nape of your neck.

Step 2. Grab a small section of hair at your hairline and braid it underhand, gathering new pieces as you go, all the way down to the nape of your neck. Repeat the same process on the other side of your head.

Step 3. Flip the rest of your strands up into a teardrop bun with the ends fanning out to give an edgy finish to a classic milkmaid-inspired look.

Step 4. For your last step, pancake your braids by gently tugging at them to give them more volume at each wave. You can also add volume by giving your roots a spritz with a dry shampoo, like the L’Oréal Paris EverPure Sulfate Free Tinted Dry Shampoo for Brown Hair or Blonde Hair. Of course if your strands are neither brown or blonde, you can opt for a color-neutral option that won’t leave white residue behind — our pick is the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Air Volume Dry Shampoo.


3. Pigtail Space Buns

Instead of choosing your regular go-to ‘do, why not switch it up with these fun, pigtail buns for long hair?

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Get the look by following these simple steps:

Step 1. Split your hair in four sections, down the middle and in top and bottom layers.

Step 2. To keep your hairstyle neat and fuss-free, it’s a good idea to clip one full side (the one you’re not working with) out of the way, as well as the top half of the side you are working with. You can also run a pump or two of hair serum, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In, through your mane to help tame flyaways and frizz. Once you have everything clipped, flip your head over and Dutch braid from the nape of your neck up to the crown of your head, tie it off with a clear mini elastic, and move on to the other underside.

Step 3. For an extra-voluminous ‘do, tease the underside of your top sections of hair for just enough lift to give your look some height.

Step 4. Using a hair-colored elastic, combine your Dutch braided underside with the teased top portion to create one gorgeous pigtail on each side of your head.

Step 5. Using a fine-tooth comb, hold your pigtails straight in the air and tease your pigtails from the ends down to the hair tie.

Step 6. Twist your teased strands around the base of each pigtail and pin them in place to complete your pretty new ‘do.


4. Low Puff Pigtails

It doesn’t get much trendier than puff love this year. This hairstyle is the perfect option for those who want to get in on the pigtails trend without putting heat to their curls and those looking for pigtail ideas for short hair.


Get the look by following these simple steps:

Step 1. Part your hair down the middle.

Step 2. Clip the side you’re not working on out of the way so that you can keep your part precise and get a clean finish. 

Step 3. Add some hair gel to your part and to the roots to help you gather your hair. We love the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Mega Gel because it gives you the hold you need without the crunchy or greasy feel.

Step 4. Pulling your hair down to the nape of your neck, tightly secure your pigtail with a silk hair tie. Repeat the process on the other side.

Step 5. Use a comb to fluff out your puffs on each side. If your curls need a boost you can also grab the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape Leave-in Spray for added hydration and definition.


5. High-Volume Pigtails

When it comes to classic pigtails, the sky-high version reigns with the cool kiddos. For your grown-up take on it, make them high-end and high volume with textured strands and chic accessories. 


Get the look by following these simple steps:

Step 1. Part your hair down the middle. Feel free to give it a trendy zigzag part if you’re feeling a ‘90s vibe. 

Step 2. Clip one section to the side while you work. Grab your first section and bring it high on one side of your head, then secure it with a hair tie. 

Step 3. Flip your hair over and using a hairbrush, tease your lengths to give your hair some texture and fluff. Flip it back and move on to the next side.

Step 4. Once both high pigtails are done, add some fun clips to the base of your ponytails to dress them up. You can never go wrong with gold hair accessories any time of the year.

Step 5. Embrace your flyaways

Instead of grabbing a can of hairspray and patting your flyaways into place, just let them hang free. The beauty of this natural look is embracing a rolled-around hairstyle that’s part playful, part fashionista.


Next: The Mullet Is Back — Here’s How to Give It a Modern Spin


Written and photographed by: Shalwah Evans

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