My friend Jessie has been into My Little Pony for a long, long time. She's has quite the collection that goes all the way back to G1, and has been excited to finally see me get involved with her scene. We were discussing styling pony hair, and I mentioned I had managed to tame my Fluttershy's mane and tail with mustache care products, finishing it off with some mustache wax. When I told her this, she made this face.
After which, she wrote a stylin' primer for me, it's a really good read for those of you who want to make your ponies hair look good without having to re-root it. You can give it a read right here, right now! Hope you enjoy it.
"Oooh, Rainbow, you do finally look properly beautiful now that you allowed me to magically style your hair. I must say, your mane is quite dreadful without magic! I don't know how you ever manage."
"Rarity, don't be silly. You don't need magic to look frilly! You can do it with some conditioner and hot water. I'd tell you how, but I've got to go stick my head under a waterfall to wash all this prissy off! Eeee-yuck!"
Fortunately for you, my dear pony fans, I do have time to explain how to obtain these results for any pony in good condition(G1 Perfume Puffs excluded), no curling irons or re-hairing necessary. Here's what you'll need:
Small rubber bands
Human-sized hair curlers
"But Jessie, I don't know what a rat-tail comb is, much less what to do with it!" Obviously, that's what I'm here for. I'll go down the list for you.
Rat-tail comb -- Sounds fancy, isn't. You know those flimsy black plastic combs that cost like, a dollar? And you know the ones next to them with the long pointy handle? Have you ever wondered why they sell them with the handles so dangerously eye-pokinating? It's because it isn't a handle--it's a tool. The pointy part is used to divide and make parts in hair, by running it along the scalp. Because ponies have plugs, it's even easier to use a rat tail to separate the exact section you want, giving clean breaks by color down to the individual hair. You shouldn't have to pay more than $2 for one of these things. Look for one with fine teeth.
Conditioner -- The cheap stuff is perfectly fine. You'll end up using only tiny amounts anyway.
Hot water -- The temperature you'll want depends on how strong you need the curl. I have ponies styled in 2003 that still have perfect Shirley Temple tail curls, thanks to boiling water. For most work, I suggest just cool enough you don't burn yourself.
Paper towels -- Take a few and cut them into strips about an inch wide and a few inches long. You'll be using these to wrap your curls in.
Dexterity -- If you made dexterity your dump stat, I'll wait for you to re-roll. I suggest putting your dud score into charisma instead. If this is still a problem, you can substitute considerable amounts of patience instead.
Small rubber bands -- These are optional in larger ponies, but a very good idea with Friendship is Magic ponies. You'll just use them to hold the paper towels snugly around your curls when needed.
Drinking straws -- Bring some back from the ol' Taco Bell next time you're out. Cut them into strips a few inches long, essentially the length of the curls you'll be making. For a bonus, Carl's Jr. has particularly wide diameter straws if you want a slightly wider curl, or you can try a bubbletea joint for more variety.
Bobby pins -- The things that lived and reproduced like Bushwoolies in all your grandmother's drawers. A single strip of metal folded on itself, flat on one side, ridged on the other. You'll really only need a few, so feel free to borrow a handfull from your mother, but they're so cheap it doesn't hurt to buy a package if you can't find any.
Human-sized hair curlers -- The plastic cylinders people in sitcoms used to wear overnight. I tend not to like to use these on ponies, but as you'll see soon they do have their place. Don't bother buying them if you don't have them around, unless you have a particular style you really want.
Alright, that's all the ingredients. Before we begin though, I'm going to tell you a few things you should NOT do. Don't shampoo the hair if it isn't actually dirty--ponies don't sweat and leak oil like us filthy mammals, and they don't grow it back if you damage it with over-washing. If it is dirty, you can just use a small amount of a gentle soap. Don't use a curling or straightening iron on a pony unless you really know what you're doing and why (such as to salvage a very old and damaged pony's hair)--their hair is PLASTIC and it can MELT. And don't put mustache wax in their hair. You know who you are. Avoid filling the hair with chemical goop in general, because that stuff was not designed for artificial hair in Fruit Loop colors and you never know what will react with it. THE CHEMISTRY, IT BURNS.
Now, the general process:
Make sure the hair is clean, and comb it smooth and free of tangles. To do so, you'll want to start by gently combing just the section near the tip, as this is where most of the tangles will form, and where the hair is most susceptible to damage. When you feel any resistance, slow down and pull very gently. If your comb gets stuck, resist the urge to yank, and remove the comb. Work the knot gently with your fingers until it's free, and then continue even more gently than before. Once the tips are free of tangles, you can work with larger portions of the bottom of the mane and tail until you can pull your comb through the entire length with no resistance, and the hair lies smooth.
Wet the hair thoroughly and apply a small amount of conditioner to it. Work it through all of the hair with your fingers, and then repeat the combing process. Your pony's hair should be transformed into the frictionless surface your physics teacher always told you about.
Rinse the hair by dipping it in your hot water a few times. It should be smooth but not slimy. Then, you guessed it, re-comb.
Choose a style and make it happen. Use the rat tail to divide your mane and tail into whatever sections you want (see Rarity, Figure 2). Then, figure out what kind of curl you want to give it (leaving it straight is generally very stiff-looking, so do so with caution--see Figure 4). What kind, you ask?
NECK CURL -- Want a large, gentle curl that's more apparent at the bottom of the hair than the top? A neck curl is best for that. In larger ponies, it will produce a naturally falling curtain of hair that isn't ramrod straight but isn't fancy either (see figure 3). In smaller ponies you get large, looser curls towards the bottom of the mane. As the name advertises, you can't do this with a tail. In this case, Rainbow Dash's mane (see figures 1 and 2) is done with a neck curl. If you don't know what you want to do with your pony's mane, a neck curl is a very good default.
To produce a neck curl, simply wrap the mane gently all the way around the neck. Don't pull it too tight, leave a gentle curve from the mane to the wrap. Make sure you keep the hair completely smooth and there are no gaps or crumples. If you mess up and it isn't perfect, don't hesitate to dunk it back in water, brush it out, and start again! It usually takes a few tries with each wrap, even with practice. Once the mane is wrapped, you can wind some strips of paper towels around it if you don't think the moisture will keep it in place while it dries, or if you want a particularly tight curl. If you want a looser curl, you can leave it unwrapped and even pry it loose when it's partly dry, and let gravity do its mysterious work. A rubber band around the paper towel can help, but make sure the band doesn't wrap too tight or it'll make a dent in the curl.
LEG CURL -- If the neck curl is the default setting for manes, the leg curl is the default setting for tails. Legs are usually a smaller diameter than the neck and thus make for curls more in proportion with the tail. Remember, though, that because the tail starts above the legs, there will be a lot more curl on the bottom than the top. This can be a great effect sometimes, and it's even more exaggerated when used on a mane (see figure 4). In this case, the rear part of Rarity's mane uses a leg curl (see figures 1 and 2).
To produce a leg curl, use the same process as a neck curl, but on a leg! Be mindful of which leg you choose and which direction you do the wrap, it will affect the results. When you're finished, wrap with a strip of paper towel and secure it with a small rubber band. Leg curls can be particularly difficult to execute due to the small nature of the legs, but if you persevere and start over if you make a mistake, you'll be rewarded with amazing results.
STRAW CURL -- Here's where it gets fancy. Surprisingly, though, it's often easier to execute than a leg curl. Straw curls produce tightly wound, uniform Shirley Temple curls. If you want your pony to look like she just stepped out of a hair salon, this is the look you want (see Figure 5). In this case, Rarity's tail is a loosened version of a straw curl (see Figures 1 and 2).
To produce a straw curl, take a short length of straw, and simply wind the desired portion of hair around it in a spiral. Don't overlap the hair for best results, and remember to think about the direction of the curl. Once you have an even, smooth wrap, wind some paper towel around it. Then, slide a few bobby pins over the mess to keep it affixed securely. The bobby pin shouldn't contact the hair, just the paper towel and straw. Put at least one pin on each end of the straw, and don't put the pin too close to the base of the tail or you'll get a funny crease. As with all curls, dunk the hair quickly in boiling water once you have it securely wrapped to make strong, tight, lasting curls, or use warm water and brush the curls afterwards to make looser curls. If you have multiple curls next to each other (see Figure 5), do NOT brush them... you'll end up with a crazy, tangled mess!
HUMAN CURLERS -- These are rarely called for, but sometimes you need just the right diameter curl, In this case, I wanted a loose, natural curl for Rainbow's tail, and she's far too tiny for a tail curl to look natural. The foam roller allowed a wide curl without the flat, artificially neat look of regular curlers or straws. For the fore part of Rarity's mane, I wanted wide but pristine curl, so the plastic-cored curler worked well (see Figures 1 and 2). I would not have purchased these for styling ponies with (or myself, yuck), though! I borrowed these. From my boyfriend.
To use a human curler, first open it (different curlers work in different ways, but you need to get the inside part). Then wrap the hair around the inner portion. You'll still need to use some paper towel to keep the hair neat and in place. If you're using a foam curler, don't wrap the hair too tightly. Then snap the curler back together, that's all. As one final note, you'll notice that Rarity's curler is rubber-banded to her body. That's because I wanted the curve at the top to gently slope into the curve at the bottom, so I didn't want the upper part of the mane drying taut. I positioned the curler higher and then manually adjusted the curve of the hair. You'll want to pay attention to the hair leading up to the curl no matter what kind you decide to do, since those pulls and creases will stay.
Leave your pony alone for a couple days (depending on climate). Seriously, just leave her. Feel free to make fun of her for standing around in curlers if you like though.
Slowly and gently remove any rubber bands, bobby pins, curlers and paper towels, and then GENTLY unstick the hair from neck, legs, and curlers if it doesn't just slide off. You can (and should) brush leg and neck curls, and big human-curler curls, but be careful of brushing straw curls. Brushing will relax curls a bit, making them more natural looking, but straw curls are so tight that you may just tangle them hopelessly and have to start the whole ordeal again! If you have divided your portions of hair into different curls, make sure to brush them separately. Then position them how you like. In this case, I've actually inverted the curl on Rainbow Dash's mane in order to show the green and yellow stripes (see Figure 1).
Accessorize if desired. Ponies always look wonderful with a properly colored tail ribbon, and they are cheaply obtained at craft and fabric stores everywhere. Experiment with lengths and styles (6-8 inches long is a good rule to start). You can obtain short lengths for just a few ponies, or you can mark yourself a real ponyholic by collecting spools of various widths and colors for any occasion. Picture perfect!
[Editor's Note: Thanks to ssjessiechan, our guest writer. If you would like to submit an article for consideration, please Contact MLPNews].