Learn How to French Braid Your Hair in 5 Easy Steps
A guide to the classic look.
The French braid is one hairstyle that truly works for everyone.
It can be dressed up for a night out, but can also be worn in a more casual fashion if you just want to be able to leave your hair in plaits for a few days. That's why celebrity hairstylists Kiyah Wright and Monaé Everett are both fans of the style.
"[It] can be so versatile across all hair types and lengths, and it's definitely one of the easiest and standout styles to wear," Wright says. "Created with a simple 'under over, over under' weaving technique, a French braid is an elegant surprise behind your head."
But if you've been admiring French braids for years and have no idea how to create one on your own hair, look no further than this easy tutorial.
Ready to get started? Here are the stylists' quick and easy steps for achieving a French braid.
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1. Prep Your Hair
Before you begin, Wright says it's important to brush or comb out any knots from your hair. "The smoother your strands, the better your French braid will be," she says. Wright recommends using a round brush, like the Wet Brush Pro Epic Super Smooth, to detangle hair and prep it to braid.
2. Section Out Your Hair
Once you have combed out your hair, start by dividing up your hair into as many sections as you want for your braids.
When you're ready to get started weaving the hair, begin by gathering enough hair from the top of your head, starting at the hairline. "Gather and divide the hair into three small sections, holding the right section in your right hand, the left section in your left hand and the middle section between your thumb and forefinger of either hand," Wright says.
TIPS: If you have thick hair, especially natural hair, creating this look should be a breeze. "Having thick hair is awesome for braids," Everett explains. "It will allow you to be able to see the detail within the braid better. If your hair is curly or natural, sometimes it's easier to braid your hair while it's wet." You can also add in a styling cream.
However, if you have fine hair, Wright says it may be a bit difficult to start your braid off at the hairline due to the typically loose texture of hair. "To add some grit, add a small amount of dry shampoo or hair gel — I like to use Eco Style Coconut Oil Styling Gel — so that the strands can hold together at the start of the braid," she says.
3. Start Braiding
This is where the work begins. "Take the right strand of hair over the center strand of hair," Everett explains. "Take the left strand over the center strand of hair. Now pick up hair on the right side of the head and add it to the right strand of hair then cross it over the center strand. Do the same in the left side and continue to the nape of the head, then finish the hair as a regular braid."
Continue the section by adding hair as you go. "With each new stitch, you'll want to add a little more hair to the braid," Wright adds.
TIP: Make sure to be mindful of your edges if you notice they are thinning. "When I work with clients who have fine hair, I avoid starting the braid where the hairline is very fine, thin, or damaged," says Everette. "I start the French braid or cornrow in a fuller section, normally beside the thinning hairline. I then direct the fine hair into the braid, with a small hairline brush. This allows me to add a hairline filler and fibers to make the hairline look thicker."
4. Add in the Finishing Touches
Once you're in the groove, you'll keep braiding and adding hair until you get to the end of your hair. "When there's no more hair to add to your braid, you can simply revert to weaving in that traditional three-strand braid technique we all know and love," Wright says. Secure your French braid with a small elastic band and set the braid with a light hairspray, like Wright's Last Look Hairspray. "Doing this will be helpful especially in the summer heat," Wright says.
TIP: If you want your braids to last for a few days, make sure to have one product handy. "Once I am finished braiding the hair, I add setting foam on top of the braids and tie a scarf around it and allow the hair to dry," Everett shares. "This allows the hairstyle to actually be set in place — similar to a roller set — and helps you to avoid frizz."
5. Accessorize Your Braids
If you want to keep your braid simple, then you're good to go. But if you want to add some flair to your French braid, then Wright recommends using a decorative tie at the end or even braiding in a silk ribbon of your choice.