The Basics of Braids: Part 1, Challah Braids

If you've got long hair, you know the daily struggle of trying to keep it in check. And, with autumn on the horizon, we're going to start to see more of those drizzly, grey days that love to ruin our up-do's. So, on those rainy days when even a straightener won't keep away the frizz, why not try a braid? Not only do they look cute and take a few minutes to do, but they keep that damp air away so you won't end the day wondering where your hard work went.

This is the first in a short series I'm calling "The Basics of Braids," posts all about different types of braids, how to customize them, tips, tricks, and more. This is part one: the Challah Braid. Each will take less than five minutes one you grasp it, and even the newbies can be done within ten.

The Right Ingredients

  1. Hair Ties -- I recommend the small, clear, plastic ones you can find at most beauty supply stores or your local pharmacy. They're relatively cheap, nearly invisible, and the size of your pinkie finger, so you won't end up with a thick bump at the bottom of your  braid.

  2. Bobby Pins -- you don't realize how much of a lifesaver these are until you run out. Highly recommended for anyone who struggles with fly-aways... and everyone else. Seriously, they're haircare gold.

  3. Holder Product -- aka something to lock in your look. Hair clay, gel, mousse, putty, hairspray, etc. There's pro's and con's to each (an article for another time) but you know what's best for your hair. This one's optional, but highly recommended so the braid stays perfect all day.

  4. Hair Pins/Jewelry -- to customize your look, think about getting some cute accessories. You can hide pins in the braid to make it look like you have diamonds dotting your hair, weave gold/silver chains or ribbons in it, and more.

  5. Brush and/or comb -- I think this one goes without saying.

Now, let’s get to the fun part!

The Challah Braid

Also known as the standard, three-piece braid. I call it the Challah braid after those braided loaves of bread (aka Challah) you can find in most grocery stores. This one's pretty simple: separate the hair into three sections. Take the left strand, move it to the middle. Take the right, move it to the middle. Repeat. When you can't braid anymore, secure it with a hair tie. If you have any bumps or fly-aways, bobby pin them down. Add holder. Boom. Done.

PERSONALIZED TIPS: This is a favorite of mine to add jeweled pins in. The braid will hide the pin part if you do it at the correct angle so it’ll look like you have rhinestones, pearls, etc. floating in your hair.

The Side Challah Braid

This is a personal favorite. Take a hairbrush or comb and move all your hair to one side. Yes, I mean all of it. Braid it up and throw it in front of your shoulder exactly the same as in #1.

PERSONALIZED TIPS: Sometimes I'll move the hair that naturally comes out of the braid back to the braid-less side before I add my hold product and use a 1.5-inch curling iron to style it and throw it over my ear.

The Milkmaid Braid -- Headband (traditional)

Separate your hair into two equal halves. Challah braid both sides. Take one braid and lift it over the head so the tail of the braid is just below your opposite ear. Bobby pin in place. Repeat for the other side. It should look like you're wearing a headband of braids. Add holder.

The Milkmaid Braid -- Crown

Separate your hair into two equal halves. Challah braid both sides. Take one braid and pull it back so the braid hits the back of your head, where a ponytail would go. Bobby pin in place, right in the center. Don't worry if there's a tail hanging down. Repeat for the other side. The braid should part in the middle of your forehead and wrap around the back like a crown. Now, if you have tails, tuck them under the opposite braid so they're hidden from view and bobby pin in place. Add holder.

The Milkmaid Braid -- Tiara

This is virtually the same as a Crown Milkmaid braid, except you only use the top layer of hair and thus don't need to hide the tails. HIGHLY recommended for those who need to keep hair away from their faces but don't want their hair completely back.

PERSONALIZED TIPS: I wear this style braid almost every day. After the braids are secure, I'll sometimes take a tiny bit of the hair left hanging down and turn it into a half-pony, usually with a barrette or clip, which hides the tails better than my hair alone.

Stay tuned for more!

Come Through, Growth!

By Melody Rose