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 second 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 two: Outer-Strand braids, aka braids that use the front of the hair in interesting ways. For more traditional three-strand braids, check out part one. Each will take less than five minutes one you grasp it, and even the newbies can be done within ten.
The Right Ingredients
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.
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.
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.
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.
Brush and/or comb -- I think this one goes without saying.
Now, let’s get to the fun part!
The French Braid
Separate the section of hair closest to your ear on each side. Separate the back of the hair into three sections, and challah braid, stopping where the head meets the neck. Then, take a small section from the hair you left in front, add it to the nearest outer strand of the braid, then cross that outer section to the middle like you normally wood. Repeat on the other side, and keep going until you run out of hair.
PERSONALIZED TIPS: I recommend moving the front sections of hair to hang in front of the shoulder rather than clipping it back, because when you remove the clip you could accidentally pull some of the braided hair out of the braid. Also, as the hair thins, it may be easier to switch back to a challah braid.
The Dutch Braid
This is essentially a backwards French braid. It starts the same way: separate the front strands, challah braid the back until the head meets the neck. Add a small section of the front hair to the nearest outer strand of the braid, but, this time, move this outer strand to the middle by crossing under the middle strand rather than above. Repeat on the other side, and keep going until you run out of hair.
PERSONALIZED TIPS: Once again, I recommend moving the front sections of hair to hang in front of the shoulder rather than clipping it back, and, as the hair thins, it may be easier to switch back to a challah braid.
The Waterfall Braid
This one’s a little more intricate than the first two, but well worth the effort. This braid is traditionally done as a side braid, but can be used as a traditional back braid as well. Either way, the process is the same.
Separate your hair into equal thirds, then separate the middle section in the back of the head into thirds again. Tightly challah braid this section for one to three sections, do as few stitches as possible, but enough that the hair is firmly in place. Now, take a small to medium section of the front hair and add it to the middle strand of the three in the back. Stitch the outer strand in the back that’s on the same side of this added hair to the middle to lock it in place. Repeat on the other side, and keep going until you run out of hair.
PERSONALIZED TIPS: The size of each outer strand from the front sections of hair will determine how this braid will look, more so than the French or Dutch braids. The smaller the pieces, the more intricate the “tiara loops,” as I call them, will be at the top of the hair. However, using larger sections will shorten the time this braid takes. I recommend that newer braiders use larger sections for this reason.
Stay tuned for more!
Come Through, Growth!