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5 Ways to Braid Hair - wikiHow

How to Braid Hair


Five Methods:

Traditional

French

Fishtail

Five-Strand

Other Styles

Have you ever wanted to braid hair? Follow these steps and with a bit of
practice, you'll be a braiding pro. Braided hair looks pretty on everyone, and is
a great option for when you want a quick and easy hairstyle that looks like it
required a lot of effort.
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Method 1 of 5: Traditional

Detangle hair with a brush or wide-toothed comb. Braiding goes a lot faster
when your hair is knot-free. The comb should be able to pull easily through the

length of the hair.


If you're working with thick or layered hair, use a bit of water or liquid hair gel to
dampen the hair first. This will make it easier to handle.
You can braid hair when it is wet or dry. If your hair is completely wet, it will
have a very smooth, tight appearance while dry hair will give a more messy
look.
If braiding your hair dry, it is best to do it a few days after washing so that it is
not so clean and slick. Slightly oily hair will hold a braid better than brand "new"
clean hair.
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Start with a secure base (optional). If you tie hair into a ponytail or half ponytail
with a hair tie, your braid will be easier to handle and turn out a little neater. Once

you get the hang of it, try to start braiding loose hair at the nape of the neck.

Divide the hair into three even sections. These will be the three strands of your
braid, so try to make them as even as possible.
Grab the right section with your right hand and the left section with your left
hand, letting the middle section hang free (for now).
In your right and left hands, hold the strands so that you're grasping them
against your palm with your middle, ring and little fingers, keeping your index
fingers and thumbs free.

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Cross the left section over the middle section. If your strands started out as A
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B C, they should now be ordered as B A C.


With the index finger and thumb of your left hand, grab the middle section of
hair.
Using the index finger and thumb of your right hand, grab the left section of hair
that's grasped against your left palm.
The original left-hand section is now the middle section.

Cross the right section over the middle section. Your strands that are now
ordered B A C will become B C A.
In your left hand, shift the strand that's between your index finger and thumb so
that your other fingers are holding it secure against your palm.
Use your left index finger and thumb to grab the section of hair that's being held
against your right palm (but not the one being held by the thumb and index
finger).
The original right-hand section is now the middle section.

Continue braiding. Keep using the "free" index finger and thumb of one hand to
grab the "back" section of hair (held by the other three fingers against the palm)

from the other hand.


Tighten the braid as you go. Any time a strand changes hands, tug gently on
the hair so that the plait moves upward, tightening it. Don't pull too hard, though.
Repeat until you run out of space to braid, leaving about 13 inches (2.5
7.6cm) of unbraided hair at the end.

Secure the braid. Use a non-rubber elastic to tie off the end of the braid. You
might have to wrap it around the hair several times.
Avoid rubber bands. These can damage the hair and be difficult to remove at
the end of the day.
Whenever possible, use a ponytail holder that is the same color as your hair or
that is translucent so that it blends in with your braid.

Set the braid with hairspray (optional). Hairspray or spray gel can help your
braid from developing flyaways as the day goes on.
If you decide to use hairspray, make sure to use it before adding any hair
ornaments.
Use a shine serum along your braid to give it some extra glow. Rub a bit
between your hands and then run along the length of the braid.

Add embellishment to your braid (optional). Tie a colorful ribbon in a bow at the
end of your braid for extra flair.
You can use tulle, grosgrain, or ric rac, all of which can be found in a variety of
colors at your local fabric store.
Use a cute hair pin or brooch to pin near the base of your braid, or to hold back
your bangs.

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Method 2 of 5: French

Comb out any knots. French braiding can be particularly tricky if your hair is

Part out your starter section. For a traditional French braid, this is probably the

tangled, so take a few minutes to remove knots with a brush or wide-toothed comb.

front section of your hair, that's closest to your forehead and temples.
You don't have to start a French braid at the top of your head. It's the easiest
way to learn, but theoretically you could start a French braid anywhere. Just
make sure you're including the hair above your ears in your starter section if you
decide to move down the head.
You can create multiple French braids on your hair using several parts. If you
have short hair, it may be easier to make two medium braids rather than one
large one.

Separate your starter section into three equal sections. These three strands
will make up the beginning of the braid.
The real trick to French braiding is keeping your three sections evenly sized as
you braid. Give yourself a solid head start by making sure your strands are
equal to begin with.
Make sure the strands start from the same row of hair, rather than staggered
areas. Keeping the three strands close together will also be helpful.

Hold the three strands in your hands. Grasping the strands correctly will help
you braid neatly and quickly. Though you might find another way that's more

comfortable for you, here's a basic beginning grip:


Grasp the left strand in your left hand.
Grasp the center strand between the thumb and index finger of your right hand.
Grasp the right strand between your right palm and the last three fingers of your
right hand.

Move the right strand to the center. Here's how to shift the right strand without
completely losing your hold on the braid:
With the last three fingers of your left hand, grip the left strand between your
fingers and your palm. This should free up your left thumb and index finger.
With your left thumb and index finer, reach over the center strand and grab the
right strand. You should now have two strands in your left hand and one in your
right hand.

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Move the left strand to the center. This will be the same process as the previous
step, mirrored.
With the last three fingers of your right hand, grip the right strand between your
fingers and your palm. This should free up your right thumb and index finger.
With your right thumb and index finger, reach over the center strand and grab
the left strand. You should now have two strands in your right hand and one in
your left hand.

Add hair to the right strand. Up until now, you've done a regular braid. This is
where the "French" part of the process comes in. It might take you a few tries to

get it right, but it's easier once you're comfortable with the grip.
Let go of the center strand, and allow it to hang between the left and right
strands. You should be able to tell it apart from the rest of your hair it'll be
slightly elevated above the hair that hasn't been braided yet.
Grip the left strand between the last three fingers of your left hand and your left
palm and grab the right strand with your left thumb and index finger. Your right
hand should now be free.
Using your right hand, pull up a small section of unbraided hair from the right
side of your head. Grab this new section with your left thumb and index finger to
add it to the right strand of the braid.
Pick up the center strand of the braid again. Grab it with your right hand, and
move it to the right, making it your new right strand. The section you added hair
to, between your left thumb and index finger, is the new center strand.

Add hair to the left strand. This process will be just like the previous step, but
using opposite sides:
Let go of the center strand. Again, it will hang between the left and right strands.
Grip the right strand between the last three fingers of your right hand and your
right palm.
Grab the left strand with your right thumb and index finger. Your left hand
should now be free.
Using your left hand, pull up a small section of unbraided hair from the left side
of your head. Grab the new section with your right thumb and index finger to
add it to the left section of the braid.
Pick up the center strand of the braid again. Grab it with your left hand, and
move it to the left, making it your new left strand. The section you added hair to,
between your right thumb and index finger, is the new center strand.

Continue braiding in this pattern. You will run out of new hair to add into the
braid when you reach the nape of your neck, at which point you can finish with a

regular braid. To keep the braid looking as neat as possible, try to add sections that are
about the same size throughout the braid.

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Do a basic braid on the rest of the hair. Continue doing a regular three-

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Secure the braid. Use a hair tie the same color as your hair, or one that is

strand braid with the hair that's still loose.

translucent so that it blends in. Avoid rubber bands, which can damage your

hair and be difficult to remove.

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Set the braid with hairspray (optional). Hairspray or spray gel can help your
French braid from developing flyaways as the day goes on.
If you're going to add extra embellishment to your hair, hairspray it first. This will
prevent flaky residue from getting on your barrettes or ribbons.
Using shine serum will help to keep your hair looking smooth and soft, if it has
the tendency to be rough and dry looking.

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Add embellishment to your braid (optional). For some extra flair, tie a
colorful ribbon in a bow at the end of your braid.
You can use tulle, grosgrain, or ric rac, all of which can be found in a variety of
colors at your local fabric store.
Adding a pretty brooch or multiple hair pins along the braid is a great way to add
a bit of glam to your look.

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Method 3 of 5: Fishtail

Separate your hair into two even sections. A fishtail braid looks like it's made of
several small strands, but surprisingly there are only two primary sections.
For a neat braid, use a fine-toothed comb to make a straight part down the
middle of your head, from forehead to nape.
For a more tousled, Katniss Everdeen-inspired look, just part your hair with your
hands and separate into two sections that seem somewhat even.
You can fishtail your hair when it is either wet or dry.

Pull a small strand of hair from the left section into the right section. Once
you get this grip down, you'll be able to do it for the whole braid.
Hold the right section of hair in your right hand.
Drop the left section and let it hang loose. Because you're only working with two
sections, you don't need to worry about it mixing with another part of the braid.
Using your left hand, pull up a small strand of hair from the leftmost side of the
left section. That is, from the side of the left section of hair that's closest to your
ear.
Grab the small strand of hair from the left section with your right hand,
incorporating it into the right section of the braid.
Hold the left section of hair in your left hand again. As you pick it back up, you
can run your fingers through the section to smooth out any knots and tighten up
the braid.

Pull a small strand of hair from the right section into the left section. This is
just like the previous step, but mirrored.
For a more intricate-looking braid, pull up smaller strands of hair. For a quicker
braid, grab larger sections.

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Hold the left section of hair in your left hand.


Drop the right section and let it hang loose. Again, because you're only working
with two primary sections, there's no need to worry about mixing strands.
Using your right hand, pull up a small strand of hair from the rightmost side of
the right section (or the part closest to your ear).
Grab the small strand of hair from the right section with your left hand,
incorporating it into the left section of the braid.
Hold the right section of hair in your right hand again. As you pick it back up,
you can run your fingers through the section to smooth out any knots and
tighten up the braid.

Repeat this pattern till you run out of hair. Keep alternating sides and adding
strands until you get to the end of your locks. Try to keep the small strands that

you pull into the main sections as evenly sized as possible.

Tie off the braid with a ribbon or non-rubber hair elastic.

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Method 4 of 5: Five-Strand

Separate the hair into five equal sections. A five-strand braid looks a little more
intricate and elegant than a standard three-strand braid, and it's easy to do once

you get the process down.


When you're first learning, consider pulling your hair into a ponytail and starting
the braid there, so you're working with a stable base.
It's easiest to braid a five-strand braid when your hair is wet or greasy from
going a few days of being unwashed. This will help to keep the sections
together, and prevent fly-aways from getting tangled up in other strands.

Hold the strands with both hands. It's easiest if you hold the two leftmost strands
in your left hand, and the two rightmost strands in your right hand, allowing the

center strand to hang loose.


Numbering the strands can help you keep them straight. They should look like 1
2 3 4 5.

Move the leftmost strand to the center. Move it over strand 2, and under stand
3, so that it's now in the center.
You should now have 2 3 1 4 5.
You are essentially weaving your hair, moving the strands from the right to the
left, and the left to the right.

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Weave the rightmost strand to the center. Move it over strand 4 and under
strand 1, so that 5 is now in the center.
You should now have 2 3 5 1 4.

Continue weaving your hair until you run out. Keep alternating outer strands

Tie off the braid. Use a ribbon or non-rubber hair elastic to secure the end of the

and moving them to the center.

braid.

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Method 5 of 5: Other Styles

Learn how to Dutch braid. This is the reverse of a French braid, where instead of
braiding strands over each other you braid them under. It is very simple to do, and

instead of the braid sitting under your hair (as with a French braid), it sits as a 3-D
section above your hair.

Try a waterfall braid. This beautiful style is created by letting strands of hair hang
loose from a French braid, similar to the look of a waterfall. When you feel

comfortable with your skills in French braiding, take the next step to try a waterfall braid.

Create a braided headband. This is a small, thin braid that goes from ear-to-ear
across your forehead, like a headband. It uses the process of French or Dutch

braiding to turn your bangs into a statement piece.

Make a braided braid. Say what? This is a regular three-strand braid, but each
section is pre-braided to create a very intricate, large braid. This style is great with

a bohemian headband or pin, or to give the impression of a lot of work when you didn't
do much at all!

Try a rope braid. This is a pretty braid that looks like a spiraling rope strand,
Although it can be a little difficult to master, it is great for leaving down or twirling

up into a bun.
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Tips
If you're having a hard time French braiding, put your hair into a halfponytail and secure with an elastic. This is your stable center section,
and the elastic should eventually be hidden by the braid.
Never try to take out the braid from the top. It will make dry, coarse and
knotty tangles in your hair. Instead, take the braid out by unbraiding it
from the bottom.
If you've never braided before, learn the pattern with thick yarn, ribbon
or long-haired dolls before you start on somebody's hair. It takes some
practice to get the feel of it.
If you are having a hard time keeping your groups separate, put small
rubber bands towards the end of each section and when you get closer
to the end of the braid take them out and finish the braid.
If you are having trouble braiding your own hair try practicing on a
friend to get the hang of it.
Remember a sequence: outermost- over-under.
For a messy look don't do the braiding tightly.
When doing a five strand braid, forget about the numbers and take the
outermost strand - over-under (alternating the sides)
Gentle tension on the braid, pulling down on the strands, will keep it
snug.
You want to keep adding water or detangler spray to help it be neater.
Don't try it on yourself first, practice on a friend or a doll if you want a
good look.
Try not to braid your hair too tight!
Consider the thickness of the remaining hair when you tie off the braid.
You wouldn't want to use a thick elastic band for that tiny spot of hair!
For a clean braid, try straightening your hair. If you have frizzy hair and
are trying to braid, the flying hairs that aren't part of your braid may get
in the way and it won't turn out looking too great.
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Things You'll Need


A brush or comb
A hair tie
Hairspray or gel
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Ribbon, barrettes, or other ornaments (optional)

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Ribbon, barrettes, or other ornaments (optional)

Article Info

Categories: Featured Articles | Braids and Dreadlocks


In other languages:
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