A Foolproof Guide to French Braiding

French Braid Ideas

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Timeless, sophisticated, chic…nope I’m not talking about an LBD, I’m referring to the one, the only the French braid. And while it’s a stretch to say it made a comeback since it one hundred percent never left, the braided style is popping up everywhere from your best friend’s wedding to the red carpet.

“French braids are one of the classics,” explains natural hairstylist and braider, Kamilah (@MsHairandHumor). “Some people commonly refer to it as the ‘inverted braid’ or ‘inside braid,’ which differs from a cornrow, or Dutch braid, because the criss-cross pattern of the braid is not visible. Basically, the inverted stitch makes the braid flatter.”

Classification aside, most of us just want to know if it’s easy. “On a scale of one to ten, I’d say French braids are a level four in difficulty, because while it is just a regular three-strand braid, adding hair from the scalp as you move along can take some practice,” explains hairstylist Hailee Fortuin. “This is a great braid for beginners because once the French braid is understood, it is easy to make variations,” she adds.

All to say creating a sleek French braid is much less intimidating than it looks. To help, we are pairing five of our favorite tutorials with expert commentary to get your braiding skills plait perfect. Keep on reading for tips.

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Best French-Braid Tutorial For Thin or Fine Hair

The thing I love most about French braids are their versatility…especially on various hair textures. “For my clients with thin or fine hair, I tell them rough up the hair first,” explains hairstylist Becca Means. “To give your style even more texture, spray it with some Un.Done Volume and Matte Texture Spray and pull the braid out a little bit to get a grungy, effortless style.”


Best French-Braid Tutorial For Natural Hair

While we understand the desire for a snatched braid—especially on thicker, denser hair—the actual tension on your head should be pretty minimal. “You can give the appearance of a snatched braid by brushing down the roots and using a gel or hairspray for sleekness,” explains Kamilah. “You definitely do not need a lot of tension for a braid to be secure.”

Her arsenal of braiding must-haves are pretty minimal, think a rattail comb (to part), a gel (to slick down flyaways), a small rubber band or hair pins (to secure the ends) and finishing spray (for hold).


Best French-Braid Tutorial For Thick, Straight Hair

For thicker, fuller textures, Kamilah suggests starting with clean, dry hair. “Clean hair is the best foundation for any style. And I prefer braiding on dry hair because if the client has naturally curly hair you can see what needs to be smoothed or brushed to make neater.”

Means also advises those with denser hair “ to make sure the sections are even so that you don’t get a lopsided braid.” She’s also a fan of using smoothing product like a serum “to keep the hair sleek and together.”


Best French-Braid Tutorial For Curly Hair

All of our experts agree that French braids are a great solution for second or third day hair; however curly girls may find more control braiding on slightly damp or wet hair.

After shampooing and conditioning, you can add a curl cream or a leave-in spray to lock-in extra moisture.


Best French-Braid Tutorial For Short Hair

One of the more common questions about French braids is: how long does your hair need to be?

“An ideal hair length for a French braid can vary but you want to make sure the hair is long enough to tuck under itself without popping out,” explains Fortuin. “If the hair is too short, your braid will not hold.” (That’s why super-short, choppy layers can be a challenge.)

Of course, if you want to add in extensions that’s also an option. “When braiding short hair, you need to make sure you maintain enough tension so the braid doesn’t fall out,” adds Means. “Keep your sections clean and hold each strand with your fingers for best results.”

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