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How to Do Every Braid You've Seen on Instagram

Braids are a classic hairstyle that has many variations. Through the years, different styles of braids have gone in and out of vogue—french braids, traditional braids, 

One reason this style has stayed popular throughout the years is that it works on nearly every hairstyle. Whether you have curly, straight, coarse, natural, or thin hair, there is a braid that will work for you!

Some of the braids you see on Instagram, Pinterest, or in magazines might seem complicated and undoable, but most braids are simpler than they look! Once you have the basic technique down, you can master more difficult braids with ease.

General braiding tips

  • Keep your braid tight as you go. You can always loosen once you’re finished to give it a more piecy, natural look.
  • For a more unfinished look, gently pull the braid once you’re finished to loosen it. Pull out a few face-framing pieces. To get that perfectly undone look, add some texture with a spray (this will also help keep your braid in place if you have silky strands that fall out easily).
  • Go slow—there’s no rush! A neat-looking braid that took you 15 minutes will look better than a haphazard one that took 5.
  • Braid damp hair for a heatless style after you shower. The next morning, take out your braids for wavy, second-day hair! Add a spritz of dry shampoo, run your fingers through your hair, and you’re ready to go.

Traditional Braid

traditional braid

There’s nothing better than being able to throw your hair into a brand and run out the door. It’s effortless, chic, and easy. This style is easily mastered, and it serves as the base for all other braiding!

  1. Divide your hair into one or two sections, depending on if you want one or two braids. If you want two braids, tie back one side.
  2. Divide the section that’s not tied back into three equal parts.
  3. Take the strand on the left and cross it over the middle strand, keeping all strands separate.
  4. Take the strand on the right and cross it over the middle strand.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you reach the end of your hair.
  6. Secure the braid with an elastic.
  7. If doing two braids, repeat steps 2–6 for the second section.

French Braid

French braid

Many people struggle to do french braids on themselves, but with a little practice, you can easily do this style on your own. Perfect for whenever you want to look chic but keep your hair out of the way—whether you’ll be out in the humidity or doing a tough workout.

  1. Divide your hair into one or two sections, depending on if you want one or two braids. If you want two braids, tie back one side.
  2. In the section that’s not tied back, grab a small section of hair by your forehead. Divide that section into three strands.
  3. Cross the left strand over the middle strand, keeping all strands separate.
  4. Cross the right strand over the middle strand.
  5. Grab the left strand, and then grab a small chunk of hair next to that strand from the hair that’s free. Combine those pieces into one, and cross that strand over the middle strand.
  6. Grab the right strand, and combine it with a chunk of free hair next to it. Cross that strand over the middle strand.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you run out of free hair. From that point, do a traditional brand until you reach the end of your hair.
  8. Secure with an elastic.
  9. If doing two braids, repeat steps 2–8 for the second section.

Dutch Braid

dutch braid

If you can French braid, you can Dutch braid—there’s only one minor difference in technique. Dutch braids make slightly more of a statement, but still keep your hair out of the way!

  1. Divide your hair into one or two sections, depending on if you want one or two braids. If you want two braids, tie back one side.
  2. In the section that’s not tied back, grab a small section of hair by your forehead. Divide that section into three strands.
  3. Cross the left strand under the middle strand, keeping all strands separate.
  4. Cross the right strand under the middle strand.
  5. Grab the left strand, and then grab a small chunk of hair next to that strand from the hair that’s free. Combine those pieces into one, and cross that strand under the middle strand.
  6. Grab the right strand, and combine it with a chunk of free hair next to it. Cross that strand under the middle strand.
  7. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until you run out of free hair. From that point, do a traditional brand until you reach the end of your hair.
  8. Secure with an elastic.
  9. If doing two braids, repeat steps 2–8 for the second section.

Fishtail Braid

fishtail braid

Think mermaid meets boho—absolutely the most effortless style with almost zero effort! Bonus: there’s only two strands and one technique, so no juggling three strands!

  1. Divide your hair into two sections.
  2. Grab a small piece from the outside of the left section and bring it over to the middle.
  3. Combine that piece with the right section (keeping it on the side of the right section that’s near the middle).
  4. Grab a small piece of hair from the outside of the right section and bring it over to the middle, combing that piece with the left section.
  5. Repeat steps 2–4 until you reach the end of your hair.
  6. Secure with an elastic.

Crown (Halo) Braid

crown braid

If you can French braid, you can do this romantic style! Keep your hair out of your face and still look like the queen you are, whether you’re going to work or a formal event.

  1. Part your hair in the middle and divide into two sections. Secure one side to keep the sections separate.
  2. On the loose section, grab a section of hair near your neck and divide that section into three sections.
  3. Dutch braid around your head—from the back bottom to the front top, creating a crown around half of your head—until you reach the middle part.
  4. Regular braid the rest of your hair and secure with an elastic. Keep it out of the way with a bobby pin or clip.
  5. Remove the other side of your hair from the elastic or clip you used to keep it back.
  6. Starting at the top of that section at the middle of your part by your forehead, dutch braid your hair from top to bottom, creating a crown around the other half of your head.
  7. Remove the clip from the first braid you did, and place the braid over and around your head. (It will overlap the beginning of the other braid on the other side of your head.)
  8. Secure the end of the braid underneath the other braid with a bobby pin.
  9. Bring the end of the loose braid around your head, and secure it underneath the braid on the other side with a bobby pin.

Milkmaid Braid

milkmaid braid

An easier version of the crown braid, the milkmaid braid is slightly trickier than it looks. You might easily end up looking like that chick from 50 First Dates. But with a few stray strands and some pieciness, you’ll look like a boho queen in no time!

  1. Part your hair in the middle. Leave out a few face-framing strands if you’d like.
  2. Secure both sides of your hair with clear elastics into low pigtails at the back of your head.
  3. Regular braid each pigtail, and secure with another clear elastic.
  4. Bring one braid around to the top of your head, and secure it with a bobby pin.
  5. Bring the other braid around to the top, and secure with a bobby pin beneath the other braid.

Waterfall Braid

This romantic style might seem complicated, but it’s just a variation of a French braid. It keeps your hair out of your face but still allows you to wear it down! Curl the free strands for a whimsical, romantic look that’s perfect for date night!

  1. Part your hair as you usually would. On the side with more hair, grab a section at the front of your head, and divide that section into three parts.
  2. Cross the lower strand up over the middle strand.
  3. Cross the upper strand over the middle strand. Drop this strand.
  4. Grab a new strand approximately the same size as the one you dropped from the hair that’s free—like you would in a french braid, but without combining it with the original strand—and cross it up over the middle strand.
  5. Grab the top strand, and combine it with a small chunk of hair that’s free. Cross this combined strand over the middle strand, and then drop it.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.
  7. You can continue around your whole head, finishing the braid with a regular braid, pinning it behind your ear. Or you can stop once you reach the middle of your head, secure with an elastic, repeat the process on the other side of your head, and combine the two sections with an elastic.

Bang Braid

bang braid

This hairstyle is a lifesaver for when you’re growing out your bangs or didn’t have time to wash and style them. Remember to keep the braid tight, since the bang hairs will be smaller and have a tendency to poke out!

  1. Bring all your bang hair to one side. Grab a chunk of hair from one side, and divide it into three equal sections.
  2. French braid your hair along your hairline until you reach the top of your ear.
  3. You can secure with an elastic or bobby pin at the end of the braid, and tuck the hair behind your ear. Or regular braid the rest of the strands together and secure with an elastic.

5-Strand French Braid

If you’re ready to level up your braid game, tackle this more complicated French braid with five strands instead of three. It’s the same concept, just with added strands. The result is an intricate plaiting that looks like weaving!

  1. Grab a chunk of hair at the top of your head (by your forehead) and divide it into five equal sections.
  2. Take the left-most strand and cross it under the strand to the right and then over the next strand to the right.
  3. Take the right-most strand and cross it under the strand to the left and then over the next strand to the left.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3, gathering new hair like you would in a traditional French braid before each time you move a strand.
  5. When you run out of new hair to incorporate, continue the pattern without incorporating new hair until you reach the end.
  6. Secure with an elastic.

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