French braid is a timeless hairstyle that never goes out of style, and it’s suitable for any occasion. From the office to a night out on the town, French braids can add elegance, charm, and sophistication to your look. However, despite being an incredibly versatile and beautiful hairstyle, many people find French braiding their hair challenging, with many mistakes along the way.
In this article, we will go over the basics, provide step-by-step guidance, expert opinions, and share 10 tips for mastering the French braid technique, once and for all.
A Step-by-Step Guide
Before we begin, it’s important to note that French braiding is all about muscle memory. It takes practice to become an expert, but we’ll guide you through the journey to mastery. Follow these instructions, and you’ll be a French-braiding pro in no time:
- Brush your hair to ensure all knots are out. Then, grab a small section of hair from the top of your head and divide it into three equal parts.
- Cross the right strand over the center strand. Next, cross the left strand over the center strand.
- Pick up a small section of hair from the right side and add it to the right strand. Then, cross this strand over the center strand.
- Pick up a small section of hair from the left side and add it to the left strand. Then, cross this strand over the center strand.
- Repeat these steps from left to right until you reach the nape of your neck, remembering to add strands of hair consistently.
- Once you can no longer add more hair, continue braiding as a regular three-strand braid until the end of the hair, securing it with an elastic band.
It is essential to evenly divide hair sections, and rather than pulling too tight, keep a firm grip and ensure that the braid falls nicely. You want the braid aligned on your head, not pulled out to the side.
A Listicle: 10 Tips for Mastering the French Braid
The following tips will make your French braiding journey easier and more enjoyable:
- Start with damp hair rather than freshly washed, but make sure it is fully dry before you braid.
- Use a different grip instead of holding the strands of hair tightly between your fingers. Try using your palm’s side instead of fingertips, as this can make it easier to distinguish between sections and avoid tangling the hair.
- Section hair with clips before you start braiding. Start by sectioning the top half at the crown, leaving the bottom half loose, then work downwards when braiding each section. An organized layout results in better overall finishing.
- Keep practicing, even if it gets frustrating. It’s impossible to get it right at first go, but with time, you’ll gain the muscle memory and find French braiding much more comfortable.
- If you find it challenging to grasp the French braiding technique, try braiding in smaller sections, reducing the number of strands. Three-strand braids spread across your head’s width instead of a French braid to learn how to hold the hair together seamlessly.
- Braid loosely rather than tightly. This makes the French braid less bulky and gives it an airy, gentle look. Once you have completed the braid, use your fingers to flatten it slightly to give it an on-trend, relaxed appearance.
- Use a lubricating product on your hair before braiding. This can significantly reduce the risk of knotting and help the hair strands slide together for a smoother braid.
- Consider specific hair textures when braiding. Straight, curly, or wavy hair all require various techniques. For example, if you have curly hair, brush sections before braiding for a well-structured look. If you have straight hair, texturize it for a better grip during French braiding.
- Use hair accessories that suit your style, such as a flower on the side of your head or a scarf wrapped around your braid. Adorning your braid with hair clips, bobby pins, or flowers will make your style unique and sophisticated.
- Don’t be afraid to play around with different hairstyles. You can try a Dutch braid or a French fishtail braid, just to name a few. Once you master the basics, you can explore other styles, and you may be surprised by how many variations you can create.
A Video Tutorial
For those who are more visual learners, watching a video tutorial can make learning how to French braid easier and quicker. In this video tutorial, you’ll learn the fundamentals of French braiding while receiving step-by-step guidance.
When watching the video, note that the braiding process should be relatively gentle, and you shouldn’t tug the hair forcefully and approximately. French braids work best when braided carefully into the hair rather than being pulled strongly.
A Hair Type-Specific Guide
The braid type you choose and how well it holds in your hair is significantly influenced by your hair type. Here are some hair type-specific tips to ensure your French braid looks great:
Straight haired individuals can French braid their hair best when it has some level of texture already. A volumizing mousse or some dry shampoo sprayed throughout the hair will add some more texture to grip onto. When you start the braid, always pull the hair strands back toward your head. Twist the hair on top of the head, rather than twisted at the back of the head, to secure it in place. Finish the braid off in a simple, controlling fashion.
If you are braiding curly hair, first brush it out before you begin. Brushing curly hair is important because it allows for texture and makes the French braid less bulky. If your hair is prone to tangling, apply some leave-in conditioner to make brushing out knots much easier. Add hair gel or applying a diffused hairdryer if you need to smooth out any frizz or flyaway hair strands.
Wavy hair is the easiest hair type to braid but requires extra care. Start with damp hair, but ensure it’s thoroughly brushed out. Direct the strands as they hit the neck to avoid discomfort or itchiness on the neck area. Loose waves, on the other hand, make the braid look much more organic and fashionable. Use bobby pins to keep small portions of your hair tucked and neat while braiding.
An Expert Opinion
We talked to expert stylists to get some advice on French braiding. They shared the following tips:
- “Start small, and braid small portions of your hair first. Keep adding little amounts as you go, and within no time, you will have braided your hair entirely,” Said Ricky Knowles.
- “Be confident when braiding. You will make mistakes, but as long as you believe in yourself, you will keep getting better,” added Irene Perkins.
- “Take care of your hair. Use hair products that nourish and strengthen your hair if you intend to braid it. If braiding done frequently, it is advisable to go for regular haircuts to keep the hair healthy,” clarified Angela Johnson.
- “Never try to braid wet hair. It weakens the hair follicles and can cause breakage. Dry hair holds up much better when braiding,” said Eric Chukwuma.
- “Practice on others who have a hair texture similar to yours. After understanding how to braid their hair, you can proceed to learn how to braid your hair,” concluded Blessing Adekunle.
Now that you’ve read through this comprehensive guide on how to French braid hair, you are equipped with the knowledge and skills you need to achieve a perfect French braid hairstyle. Remember, it takes time, effort, and patience to master the French braid, but putting in the effort will be worth it. So, take it slowly, practice regularly, and before you know it, you’ll be able to create stunning and sophisticated French braid hairstyles.
Don’t forget that practice makes perfect and the more you do it, the easier it will become. You can always switch it up with different styles when you’ve mastered the basic French braid, so don’t be afraid to take risks and get creative with your hair.