8 Unique Braids and HOW-TOs!


Level: Easy
Best for: Long, wavy, or curly hair

Step 1: Make a side ponytail at the nape of your neck.
Step 2: Separate it into two sections, leaving out a long 1" piece underneath.
Step 3: Take the 1" piece and wrap it in a figure 8 pattern around each of the two ponytail sections.
Step 4: Each time you pull the 1" piece through the middle, add a bit of hair from the ponytails (similar to how a French braiding technique). This keeps you from running out of hair to wrap around the ponytails.
Step 5: Secure with a clear elastic and shape the braid with your fingers.
Step 6: Set with strong-hold hairspray.


Level: Easy 
Best for: Long, wavy, or curly hair 

Step 1: Imagine your hair separated into four quarters. Grab 2-inch sections from the top, left, and right sides; then pull them back toward the crown of your head to see how the hair best lays against your head. This is the direction in which you'll want to braid it. 
Step 2: Starting 1 inch from your hairline, braid each side back and secure with a clear elastic. Step 3: Cross the braids in the back and tuck the ends under to form a "wreath." Secure ends with bobby pins. 
Step 4 (optional): For a more glamorous look, wrap the rest of your hair into a bun. 
Step 5: Control flyaways by setting with strong-hold hairspray.


Level: Easy 
Best for: Long, wavy, or straight hair
 Step 1: Split hair in half at the nape of your neck, as if you're going to make pigtails. 
Step 2: Braid pigtails. Start from your nape and braid underneath your ears. Secure each braid with a clear elastic. 
Step 3: Pull the braids up over your ears (like a crown) and cross the ends, tucking them underneath each other. 
Step 4: Pin the braids in place. If the braids have bunched up over your ears, that's OK. 
Step 5: Set with strong-hold hairspray.


Level: Intermediate (only because you have to braid sideways!)
Best for: Any length, straight or wavy hair

Step 1: Make a slight side part.
Step 2: Do a tiny (and we mean tiny!) French braid from the scalp down the side of your head. (If it's going awry, start over. This time, find and work with the section of hair that falls naturally where you want the braid. Braid in that direction.)
Step 3: Pin the braid in place a few inches above your ear.


Level: Intermediate
Best for: Any length, straight or wavy hair

Step 1: If you have time, spray your hair with heat protectant and curl all of it with a double-rod curling iron (try the Nalu waver, $179.99). This will give you structured waves sans the frizz.
Step 2: Part hair in the center and identify where you would normally section your hair if you were putting it half up. That's where you'll want to do the braid.
Step 3: On one side of your head, do a tiny side braid starting about an inch from your hairline and moving back toward the center of your head.
Step 4: Pin the braid in place underneath the hair in the back.
Step 5 (optional): Repeat on the other side.


Level: Intermediate
Best for: Long, thick, wavy, or straight hair

Step 1: Tease hair and lightly smooth it out at the crown for height, if necessary.
Step 2: Split hair in two sections, left and right.
Step 3: On each side, reverse French braid the entire section until you get to the spot behind your ear.
Step 4: Switch from a French braid to a regular braid and finish braiding each section away from your head. Secure each side with a clear elastic.
Step 5: Wrap one braid from left to right at the nape of your neck, securing with large hair pins (available at a beauty supply store) or bobby pins as you go. Coil the opposite braid underneath it and secure into a bun.
Step 6: If desired, leave out a few pieces around your face and curl them with a curling iron for a soft, romantic touch.
Step 7: Set with strong-hold hairspray.


Level: Difficult
Best for: Long, wavy, thick hair

Step 1: If you have time, curl all your hair with a double-barrel curling iron.
Step 2: Gather hair behind your left ear.
Step 3: Loosely braid your hair toward the nape of your neck and over your right shoulder. (You can start with a French braid, then switch to a regular braid once you've started braiding away from your head.) Set the braid itself with strong-hold hairspray.
Step 4: Secure with a clear elastic and pull out a few chunks to give it that girly, imperfect look.


Level: Difficult
Best for: Long, wavy, or straight hair

Step 1: Separate hair into four sections (left, right, top, and bottom). Pin all but one side section out of the way.
Step 2: Do a clean but slightly loose French braid down one side, switching to a regular braid once you pass the area behind the ear. Secure with a clear elastic.
Step 3: Repeat on the other side.
Step 4: Repeat on the top section, switching to the regular braid once you reach the crown of your head.
Step 5: Separate the bottom section into five smaller sections and make five regular (non-French) braids. Secure with clear elastics.
Step 6: Wrap each of the five bottom braids from left to right and pin into place.
Step 7: Weave the side braids together in a swirly shape, tucking the ends of the five braids underneath where necessary. Pin the braids in place as you go.
Step 8: Pin the top braid on top of the swirly shape created by the other braids. This will give your hair added height. Set with hairspray.
Step 9: Pat yourself on the back because this one was hard!


If you want to master braiding as badly as I do, follow these tips from Amber, Florido, and Marcus:

• Don't aim for perfection. In fact, braids usually look better when they're a little messy.
• The more texture your hair has, the more likely it is to hold the braid (which is why wavy hair tends to have all the fun). Add texture with a beach spray like Fekkai Tousled Wave Spray, $24.
• If your hair feels too slippery to braid or has lots of flyaways, it's probably too clean. Braids are best done on slightly "dirty" hair, so wait until the second day after you've washed it for the best results.
• If you have layers in your hair, try twisting each piece before you cross another section over it while braiding. This can help keep the layers from popping out.
• Don't stress if you forget which way you're braiding (over vs. under). It doesn't really matter as long as you're wrapping each section smoothly. Plus, if you're pinning, wrapping, or twisting the braid, it will disguise any change in direction.
• Get the most out of your braid. Wear it for one or two days, sleep in it, and unravel it for fun, flirty waves on the last day.


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