You're never too old to play with your hair
If Michelle Obama can still get a kick out of cutting her hair into bangs, the rest of us shouldn't be denied the pleasure of experimenting with a deconstructed fishtail or a tousled milkmaid. It's fun—not to mention totally Pin-able!
It's awesome for dirty hair
Talk to any hairstylist worth his wind machine, and he'll tell you: Braids, like updos, work much better on day-old hair. The grittier texture makes your hair more workable.
It's a major statement
Whether you're thinking Grecian goddess or '70s boho, a well-executed braid can really make an outfit. And it costs a lot less than a stack of designer arm candy.
1. Spritz hair with texturizing spray or dry shampoo, and rake it to the side with your fingers. Gather into a low side pony, and secure it with a clear elastic.
2. Divide into two sections. Begin by grabbing a thin portion of hair from the outside of the right section and cross it all the way over to the left side. Repeat this step, bringing another thin segment from the outside of the left section all the way over to the right side. Continue doing this, tightening the braid as you go and stuffing stray pieces into the braid until you're at the tip. Tie the end with a clear elastic.
3. Deconstruct. That's hairdresser speak for "mess it up a bit so it doesn't look prissy."
4. Snip off the top elastic. This will loosen the braid, making it seem even more undone. If the hair on the other side starts coming out, just fasten it with a few bobby pins.
(John Frieda Frizz-Ease Spiral Style Curl-Defining spray gel, $6;
1.Make an extreme side part, using your fingers to create a casual look. (Combs form a severe line that screams prom!)
2. French braid your hair, keeping as close to your part as possible. Guide the section you're working with around the side of your head to the back. When you reach the end of the braid, wrap it with a clear elastic. Twist hair on the other side of the part, bringing it to the back of the head; secure with bobby pins.
3. Fashion a loose chignon by twisting all the hair in back three or four times. Tuck in the ends; hold them in place with U-shaped pins.
4. Tease hair around the crown, and hide ends by tucking them into the nest. Spritz the whole bird sanctuary with Teflon-strength hairspray.
5. Rub your hands lightly over the braid. You're going for a "medieval princess galloping through the countryside" vibe, so your hair shouldn't appear too tidy.
(Ricky Care Black U Pins Invisipins, $2/30;