This Y2K-Inspired Protective Hairstyle Is TikTok's Latest Obsession

Go ahead and call your braider.

This Y2K Protective Hairstyle Is TikTok’s Latest Obsession
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

Trends may come and go, but the Y2K era is the gift that keeps on giving. From fashionable mini-skirts to teeny tiny shoulder bags, it's clear the era is alive and well — and our hair is no exception.

In the past few months, layered braids have made a serious resurgence. Nearly every girl you see is styling their flipped-out ends into updos and ponytails, and influencers are recreating bouncy layers reminiscent of the '90s and '00s.

Drawing from Brandy's dedication to plaits, layered braids in 2022 are a comeback that proves the timelessness of Black culture. From styling to maintenance, here's everything you need to know about layered braids.

What are Layered Braids?

Layered braids are pretty much like regular single braids, but with an extra stylish twist.

"For hairstyles like cornrows and knotless braids, your braids are usually all the same length. Layered braids however are made at different lengths in different sections of the hair, to mimic layers," says Abiola Adedeji, owner and lead hairstylist of Mobile Braids NG.

Another plus is that this hairstyle features various braid lengths, helping to add volume and making it a universally-flattering look. Adedeji adds that layered braids can be recreated with all braid sizes; micro braids, medium-sized braids and large, chunky ones.

VIDEO: 8 Mistakes You Didn't Know You Were Making With Your Protective Style

What's the Best Technique for Creating Layered Braids?

Whether you're going for straight braids with flipped ends, or a more loose, wavy look, layered braids are created using pretty much the same method.

To achieve the look, your hair is divided into horizontal sections, depending on the volume or length you want. The lower sections of hair are done with longer braiding hair than the upper sections to give the "layered" finish.

"Some stylists prefer to braid to a certain point and shear the braiding hair to the desired length. But it's all a matter of what you want for your hair," Adedeji says.

Once the braids are finished, a flat iron, hair rollers or flexi-rods can be used to curl the ends of your braids. Spritz a tiny bit of holding spray on each curl and the job's done.

How Long Do Layered Braids Take?

"Layered braids take an average of four to five hours to complete, depending on the length of the hair and the number of sections or layers," says Adenekan Shalom, stylist and owner of Stylist on Duty.

While five hours may be quite the wait, layered braids are definitely worth the time. So be sure to sit tight, listen to a podcast, and watch your stylist work their magic.

How Long Do Layered Braids Last?

With great braiding skills and an adequately moisturized scalp, your layered braids should last around four to six weeks.

"Some ends may need one or two curling sessions to get them popping once more, depending on how long you plan to wear your braids," Shalom adds.

What's the Best Haircare Routine for Maintaining Layered Braids?

As most protective styles go, layered braids are pretty low maintenance.

For straight braids like the two-layered Fulani braids, a good mousse and oil sheen can do the trick. We're fans of Design Essential's Almond & Avocado Curl Enhancing Mousse as well as Coelho Beauty's L'Huile Sérum.

To protect your ends, consider using a satin bonnet or silk scarf that's big enough to accommodate all your hair when you sleep. Gently crunching up your ends with some hairspray is also a great way to retain curls or tonged tips.

Our Favorite Layered Braid Looks

We're in awe — and a little jealous — of Shalom's braiding skills.

IgboSpice shows us how to create dreamy, bouncy golden layers. Make sure to take a screenshot before heading to your braider.

TikTok star Zahra shares how she styles her shoulder-length black braids in a clipped updo.

You can never go wrong with the half-up-half-down look.

This is All Natural. From the kinkiest coils to loose waves, we're celebrating natural hair in its many forms by sharing expert tips for styling, maintenance, and haircare.

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