A step-by-step guide to the classic look. 

By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
Updated: Jun 11, 2019 @ 2:27 pm
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Few hairstyles are timeless, but if there's one that has staying power through the ages, it's the braid. Whether you favor a fishtail or want to get fancy with the DNA braid, there's truly a braid style for everyone. And if you want to go classic? Kiyah Wright, a celebrity hairstylist and the founder of Muze Hair, says it's all about the French braid.

"[It] can be so versatile across all hair types and lengths, and it's definitely one of the easiest and standout styles to wear," she says. "Created with a simple 'under over, over under' weaving technique, a French braid is an elegant surprise behind your head."

Ready to get started? Here are Wright's quick and easy steps for achieving a French braid.

VIDEO: How To Do A Fishtail Braid

1. First things first.

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. Start at the hairline.

Once you have combed out your hair, Wright says it's time to begin. Start 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," she says.

TIP: Wright says if you have fine hair, then 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. On the other hand, if you have a thicker hair texture, then Wright says, while your braid "should come together seamlessly," but you'll want to use gel to help hold in place any baby hairs along your hairline and give your French braid a finished look.

RELATED: Learn How to Perfect Inverted French Braids with This Step-by-Step GIF

3. Crisscross and weave.

This is where the work begins. Holding each section, Wright says you will want to begin your braid by crossing the right-sided section over the middle section; follow that by crossing the left section over the right section. "This will be your first stitch, which is what will give your French braid that classic woven look," she says.

TIP: "To help maintain the smoothness of your strands as you braid, you can apply a small amount of your gel or dry shampoo by lightly coating the product downward on each section," Wright says. "This will help to prevent any bumps in your braid."

4. Keep going.

Continue the section order in Step 3 by adding hair as you go. "With each new stitch, you'll want to add a little more hair to the braid," Wright says.

5. Add 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: Want a softer, more whimsical French braid? Wright suggests using your fingers to spread open the braid by tugging at each weave on the braid. "If you tug too hard, your braid could unravel, so be sure not to overdo it," she says. "Overall, you want to go for an effortless, undone look."

RELATED: 8 New Ways to Rock a Braid

6. Don't forget to accessorize.

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, adding: "Accessorized braids are totally in this summer — so, go for it!"

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