How to Do a Waterfall Braid in 7 Easy Steps
Summer is all about the braid. Whether you opt for the classic French braid or add a bit of flair with the fishtail braid, there is truly a style for every occasion. If you're looking for one that screams "hazy summer romance," and keeps your hair out of your face? You'll want to give the waterfall braid a shot.
Half-up, half-down, the waterfall braid is the perfect mashup of braided and updo hairstyles. Each side is swept back and falls into cascading curls, making it the ultra-bohemian summer style you've been waiting for.
Ready for step-by-step instructions for how to DIY? Here's everything you need to know about how to do a waterfall braid, straight from celebrity hairstylist Alicia Henry.
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1. Get prepared.
Before you get started, Henry recommends grabbing all of the products you will need to create the look, including a brush, wide tooth comb, small hair ties, rubber bands, hair pins, hair smoothing serum, and hair spray.
2. Start your sections.
Part your hair down the middle, then take a section of hair at the front of the right side and separate into three strands. "Separate hair by running fingers through the section of hair to make three same-sized pieces of hair," Henry says, noting that the thickness of the sections will depend on how thick you desire your braid to be.
3. Begin braiding.
Henry says you will start by using a three-strand braiding technique to braid the first section of hair. Take the back strand — or the strand closest to the hairline — and cross it over the middle. Then, take the bottom piece — the strand closest to your ear — and cross it over what is now the new middle piece.
4. Keep going.
Once you have completed your first braiding sequence, Henry says to continue to add more hair into the braid by collecting hair from the top of your head (above where the braid is now forming). This is where the waterfall effect comes in:
- Cross the portion of hair closest to your part —now thicker with the new portion of hair added in — over the middle portion, then let it go so it hangs. "This dropped portion of hair is your first 'waterfall' piece of hair," Henry says.
- Now, Henry says you will take the bottom portion of your hair over the new middle portion, allowing the hanging piece to "drop down normally" and not incorporate it into the braid as you would with a classic French braid.
5. Add in more hair.
In order to work in more hair from above and below the braid, Henry says you will use a French braid technique to do so. Here's how that works: Once you have dropped the portion of hair that creates the waterfall effect, you will only have two sections of hair in your hands. You will acquire the third section by taking a portion of hair from the roots right behind the dropped piece.
"Grab a piece of hair approximately the same size as the hair portions you are already using in the braid," Henry says. Cross this new portion of hair over the middle portion of hair, like you would in using a normal three-strand braiding technique. You will then need to add more hair into the section that is closest to the top of your head, at your part. "Do this by sectioning a piece of hair from the top your head, and combine that new portion of hair with the current portion of hair [at the hairline]."
TIP: Henry says you should try to create tension on your hair as you braid it. "Pull your hair back toward your top of head to help create a smooth neat look," she says.
6. And keep braiding.
Continue braiding, crossing this new section of hair over the middle section of hair, and again, letting that portion of hair drop. Take the bottom section over the top section (allowing the dropped section to hang) and repeat steps 4 and 5 until you reach the back of your head, where you will continue with a two strand braid until you reach the end of your hair, then secure with a temporary elastic. Repeat on the opposite side.
7. Add the final touches.
Once you have braided around each side of your head to where you would like the braid to stop, you can remove the elastics holding each section in place and finish the braid by braiding the sections down your back in a standard three-strand braid. Henry says you can secure the bottom of the braid with a small hair tie or elastic band, and use bobby pins if needed.
She added: "Finish spraying top of the braid with a small amount of hairspray to keep strands in place."