Braids are like jewelry for your hair. There isn’t a hairstyle that doesn’t look prettier, more polished or more interesting when it contains a braided embellishment. Whether they’re slicing through straight strands, nestled in a cloud of curls or fashioned into full-on braided hairdos, braids give your look a compelling new twist! There are dozens of types of braids—two-strand twist, three-strand, French braids, Dutch braids, fishtail braids, waterfall braids, box braids, just to name a few. Right now, many of these braids are being fashioned and combined in exciting new ways. For an up-to-the-minute review of the latest braid trends, along with tips for achieving the plaits of your dreams, here’s a report from the hair stylist pros at Matrix.
Breck Csicsai @breckcsicsaihairphd
Dutch Braid and Bun
A Dutch braid is an inverted French braid in which the sections are folded over one another instead of under one another for a 3-D effect. Pair a Dutch braid with a low ponytail and suddenly your “running errands” ponytail is special enough for much more than a stop at the grocery store. Dress up the look even more by curling your hair before creating the style. Braid two sections from the front to the nape of your neck and secure the tail. Gently pull apart the braid on each side for a pleasingly plump effect. (This is called “pancaking.”)
No matter what type of braid you want to end up with, begin with a taut shape. You can always loosen it later, but once it’s secure, it’s difficult to tighten up.
Braid and Bun
Add extra interest to a ballerina bun by encircling it with a braid. Modern buns are high and billowy, so pair it with a hefty, four-strand braid or two, three-strand braids to maintain the correct proportion. Treat your hair with a root lifter spray at the base, and a volumizing spray on the middles and ends. Then backcomb everything a few inches out from the scalp to create a plump cushion. After you form the bun, loosen it with the pointy end of a tail comb to create a more organic shape. Create the braid and wind it around the base, pinning it with bobby pins to keep it in place.
Choose bobby pins that match your hair color for a polished, professional look.
A simple three strand or French braid gets a bit of “punk” treatment when it’s positioned Mohawk-style along the crest of your head. Add the Mohawk braid to loose beach waves, or gather the ends in a ponytail or bun for a formal style…with an edge!
Highlights are a braid’s best friend. The variation of shades adds an interesting visual element to a braided hairstyle. Coddle your colored strands with a shampoo and conditioner created especially for dyed and highlighted hair
Daisy Braid Boho Braid: Constance Robbins @constancerobbins
Daisy Chain Boho Braid
A pancaked braided headband + lazy, beachy waves = casual perfection. Place the braid a few inches behind your front hairline to allow waved tendrils to frame your face. To create the perfect beach wave, mist hair with a texturizing spray, then twirl vertical sections around a styling cone or curling iron, omitting the ends. Use a low heat setting to prevent your hair from curling too tightly.
Don’t worry about creating a braided style that’s too “perfect.” Messy braids are romantic!
Amanda Epstein @amandaepstein_hair
Combine several braid types to add loads of interest to a braided hairstyle. Try creating two, three-strand braids on each side and a fishtail braid down the center back, for example, then gather them all together just beneath the crown. Fishtail braids are done by splitting the hair into two sections, then pulling in thin sections from each side as you create the plait. It’s easiest to do if you pull your hair into a ponytail before you begin braiding.
Spray your hair with light hairspray
, texturizing spray
or dry shampoo
before braiding. This prevents the sections from slipping and keeps shorter ends in place.
Kiera Doyle @hairofthegirl
Access your inner Pippi Longstocking with a pair of pigtail braids. The grown up version combines two types of braids—say a Dutch braid that morphs into a fishtail or a French braid that gradually becomes a three-strand braid. Help keep the top sections close to the head with pins, and switch the braid style at the nape of the neck. Secure the ends with tiny, clear rubber bands.
If you have thin hair, start your braid with a smaller amount of hair; if your hair is thick, start with a larger amount.
Edited by Jackie Summers