If you don't know Ariana Grande, you probably at least know her ponytail. It's gone through tons of changes throughout her career and this post will dig into that.
First, though, we're going to touch up on The Origins of Ariana Grande's Ponytail, and it all starts under the cut.
Aritail Origins, Part I
Ariana's breakthrough began in 2010 through Nickelodeon's teen sitcom Victorious. The show was set in a performing arts school and Ari played the adorably dimwitted character, Cat Valentine.
Turns out, all the main ladies that were cast were dark-haired and Nick's executives tackled that by adding in a bit of color. Victoria Justice and Daniella Monet got to keep their natural hair, while Liz Gillies and Ariana Grande (whose characters had stand-out personalities) had to adjust. Liz had some colored extensions put in, but Ariana had to literally sign away the rights to her hair and full-on dye it a very vibrant red. The upkeep continued on for Victorious' 4-season run.
How often did Ariana have to dye her hair? "Every other week." —Ari (2011)
But it didn't end there.
In 2012, Nickelodeon announced a spin-off series titled, Sam & Cat. Ari's team found a healthier way to dye her hair by ditching the bleach and opting for a low-peroxide dye. However, by this point, the damage was already very thoroughly done. Luckily, Sam & Cat would be the prelude to Ari's retirement of the 'Cat hair', since the show didn't make it passed its first season.
Aritail Origins, Part II
While Ariana agreed that the red hair suited Cat's taste and zany personality, Ariana herself did not love it, despite claiming/implying to in earlier interviews.
ClevverTV: "Do you like it? Do you feel like it's part of you now?"
Ariana Grande: "Um, I dunno, it took a second for me to, like, really, really, really get used to it, but I'm not opposed to it and I think it's fun.
Ariana Grande for Teen.com (2011): "You know, I like this color. I like it. But I like it more for my character than I do for me."
Some time before 2013, Ariana took to her Youtube channel to post a hair tutorial. In the video, she explains her early way of dealing with her damaged pieces/bangs "that don't really know what they are" and shows viewers how she pins them down. Throughout the tutorial, she refers to her way of doing her hair as "really weird", but admits to it being a "security blanket that I have to wear my hair the same way of, like, every second of my life."
"I put it in a half-up pony like this and I tie it every single day. I can't wear it any way else. I try to wear it down and it just makes me wanna... jump off a cliff. And there's, like, [makes a whooshing motion, referring to her damaged pieces], I can't wear it down. Ever. And then I put little pins in the shorter pieces."
ABOVE: Shorter pieces and damage in the first year
ABOVE: Ari's strategy
In 2015, she told Zach Sang that, during her first single 'Put Your Hearts Up' (2011), she didn't feel like herself with red hair, and couldn't feel like herself until she moved on from everything Cat Valentine.
ABOVE: The Ariana Grande signature ponytail (original)
As a woman, expectations to keep things interesting are high, so it didn't take long for Ariana Grande to be met with some flack about her unwavering hairstyle. On January 19, 2014, Ari wrote a Facebook post explaining her hair situation and the different things she's tried before finally finding a hairstyle she felt comfortable in. Later that week, she sat down with Mix 104.1 (Radio.com) where she stated that, "for four years, I had a character's hair, which was very uncomfortable, and I cried about it all the time because I didn't like it."
Even after dyeing her hair back to brown, Ari continued to talk down on the current (at the time) state of her natural hair, referring to it as "little pieces of hay" that made her look like a "scarecrow" whenever she wore it down.
A year later, Ariana posted a photo of her healthier hair and natural curls on Instagram with the caption, "long time no see."
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During her Cat days, Ariana was all about that 50s housewife aesthetic. She loved florals and pastels and 50s silhouettes. She was usually seen with curly hair and often decorated it with bows, especially when her hair was red. After that, she grew to favor ribbons in her ponytail.
ABOVE: "Girly, throwback, retro 50s pin-up; floral, anything feminine." -Ari describing her style, 2013
...as in pussy, not Valentine.
"I feel like I'm not the only one who does the cat ear thing though?" - Ariana, 2014.
Ari frequently spoke about wanting to change up her look, but would stress the fact that it couldn't be done until it grew out into a healthy length that she'd be content with. She retired the hair ribbon and when Halloween of 2013 hit, she clung onto cat ears. She loved the look so much that she would continue to post photos of her sexy/cute cat costume even weeks after October ended. When she was in Tokyo in early 2014, she found a bunch of headbands and cat ears that she would wear frequently. The ears quickly became her "thing" that fans all over would copy.
ABOVE: Ariana embraced other types of animal ear headbands, such as antlers during Christmas performances and bunny ears for Dangerous Woman. All, of course, with variations of her ponytail.
During her 'Focus' promo, Ariana moved on from constant cat ears and began to "channel Carrie Fisher" with her double knots and buns. When asked about it, she referred to herself as a "big Star Wars fan" and simply "wanted to do something fun" with her updo.
Sisanie (On Air With Ryan Seacrest): "Is it 'cause you like wearing cat ears all the time?"
Ariana Grande: "I mean, I guess - that might be the similar vibe, but I don't really know."
ABOVE: It started with braided knots in Tokyo, Japan.
ABOVE: Evolving into what Ryan Seacrest describes as, "two top-knots that are sideways."
She would revisit the knots her 'Everyday' music video and Dangerous Woman tour.
Speaking of 'Focus', Ariana wore a white wig for the music video, inspired by her grandmother's (called Nonna) hair. The wig brought back the original form of the Ariana Grande ponytail, but with the 'bangs' falling passed her face, rather than being pinned up.
ABOVE: White wigs. Not long after 'Focus', Ari sported a very light - almost white - blonde wig in Sing's music video for 'Faith', ft. Stevie Wonder.
KISS FM UK: "Is it coming back?"
Ariana Grande (2015): "Maybe! I think it was a really fun thing for the song, but I worked so hard to get my hair healthy after filming Victorious. Then they gave me a wig for a couple of years 'cause it had a lot of bleach to get that red colour, you know? Um, so yeah, I dunno! Maybe in the future."
She's rocked a bang before, but these ones were the real deal. In 2016, Ariana made her first big step into some form of hair change with a fringe bang. Ariana took selfie after selfie with her new hairstyle, but she wouldn't always fully commit to them in public appearances, which gave a lot of people a reason to believe they weren't real to begin with. Ariana Grande's bangs were real, she just became some kind of a pro at twisting up and hiding smaller pieces of her hair.
ABOVE: A 'big' hair change (in the context of Ariana Grande), but she still styled it the same. Every time.
ABOVE: Sometimes she'd get a little WILD and tackle that ponytail with a crimping iron.
Be All White
Celebrity hair stylist Chris Appleton gave many women grey locks, and Ariana was one of them. She kept the ponytail, but lowered it significantly and left it incredibly long. This was a look she seemed to have the most fun with in terms of colour; she experimented with lavender, different shades of grey, dark roots, solid colour, etc.
ABOVE: Ariana Grande in the future (see: Dangerous Nonna section).
ABOVE: History of a long ponytail.
Presently, though, she is back to brunette and high ponytails. Chris Appleton tends to accessorize her hair with rings, pearls, braids, and all sorts of other shenanigans, at least.
Either way, that ponytail is going nowhere. Ariana loves the way she looks and feels with a ponytail, and it becoming her signature only fuels that, naturally.
ABOVE: She's been a fan of the hair rings for quite some time, but has recently clung onto them in similar ways she seems to cling on to SNL scraps.
- Sources -
(Instagram) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
(Youtube) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9