If you're looking for a neat way to style your hair and keep it out of your face, you can't go wrong with a braid. For many people, though, braids can be difficult to learn. That's why we've put together a helpful go-to guide to make it easier than ever before to have your hair looking like you just left the salon! Here's a look at 10 step-by-step braid tutorials:
Goddess braids are a thicker version of cornrows; they use more hair in each braid, which tends to make them easier and quicker to style by yourself. For a striking yet simple look, part your hair in the center and create just two goddess braids to create a fast, protective style. Here’s how to begin:
- Start with clean, dry hair that you’ve thoroughly detangled. For maximum braiding ease, apply leave-in conditioner.
- Prepare your braiding extensions by tapering the ends to create the illusion of layers and natural-looking hair. To do this, hold the hair a few inches away from the ends, tilt the ends to one side so it looks like a fan and gently pull on various sections of the hair to add various subtle layers. Do this until the ends look natural, tapered, and to your liking!
- Make sure the extensions are thoroughly detangled, then pinch off a third of the hair to create one small section and one larger section.
- Loop the smaller section around the middle of the larger section to create three equally-sized legs for your braid. You will be eyeballing the sizes, but try to make each of these legs as equal as possible for the most flawless braid!
- Decide how many braids you want (it’s popular to do two or five) and part your hair into rows from your hairline to the nape of your neck. Secure each row with a clip. Apply edge-control to your hairline and parts for a sleek look.
- Choose one parted row and section that row even further. Divide a small section from the front of the row at the hairline, which you’ll use to feed in extensions. The smaller the section you create here, the closer the braids will be to your hairline. Part the rest of the row into two sections to make your hair easier to grab.
- Take your prepared braiding extension and set the base of where you wrapped the smaller section to create the third leg in Step 4 underneath the section you made at your hairline in the previous step. For secure braids, make sure the extensions are close to your part (but don’t pull or strain your natural hair!).
- Feed the small section of your natural hair into the third leg of the braiding extension and begin to French braid: Gather some of your natural hair and combine it with a free leg of the extension, then cross it over the the third leg. Repeat this step, adding more hair to a free leg, then crossing it over whichever leg is in the middle. (Tip: Braid tightly, but if you want looser-looking braids, simply gather more hair with each stitch. For smaller, tighter-looking braids, use small sections of natural hair and braiding extensions.)
- Continue to French braid until you reach the nape of your neck, then finish with a regular braid until you reach the end of the extensions.
- Repeat this process for the rest of the rows you parted into your natural hair. The more rows you have, the longer this style will take. (Tip: To make the process go faster, ask a friend or family member to help you! If you’re doing this by yourself, this is a great time to catch up on a favorite TV show or podcast.)
- Once your hair is entirely braided, feel free to touch up the braids by trimming loose hairs and applying a styling gel to smooth flyaways. If a braid is significantly shorter than the others, simply unbraid it to the nape of your neck so you can braid in another section of extensions to it.
- Seal the ends of your braids by dipping them in hot water, and apply more edge control and/or hairspray as needed to achieve the look you want!
Once you get the hang of the basic technique of goddess braids, a whole world of opportunities opens up for amazing protective styles! Try any of these variations:
Goddess Braid Halo
The best thing about this style is that depending on how long your natural hair is, you can do it without buying braiding extensions!
- As with regular goddess braids, start with clean, detangled hair.
- Create a heavy part on one side of your head, curving it in a semicircle to the nape of your neck on the opposite side of your head. This creates two sections of hair: one that’s mostly on the top, front of your head and one that’s on the bottom, back of your head. Secure the bottom section with a hair tie.
- Apply edge-control to your part, then start french braiding as you would for regular, straight back goddess braids, except this time have the braid follow along your hairline around your head.
- French braid until you meet the back of your part, then braid however much hair is left as you would normally.
- Now, repeat this process for the second, bottom section of hair. Follow your hairline in the opposite direction of the last braid so that the ends of both braids meet in the back near the end of your part.
- Cross the free ends of each braid over the other and tuck the ends into the bigger, french-braided sections from underneath to create a seamless look.
- Secure the ends with bobby pins and now you have a beautiful braided halo!
- Tip: If you have longer hair, or wish to add extensions, you can follow Steps 1-5, then twist the braids into a low bun and secure with bobby pins for a classy variation on this look.
This is a super easy way to style straight-back goddess braids, especially on days when you really need to keep your hair off your neck.
- With your goddess braids already completed, take the loose braids at the nape of your neck and twist them together.
- From there, roll them into a bun, making sure the ends of the braids are tucked into the inside of the bun and not showing.
- Secure with bobby pins. It’s that easy!
Goddess Braid Faux Hawk
Achieve that oh-so-trendy faux hawk look with low-maintenance goddess braids that will keep your hair out of the way while still looking fierce.
- The difference for this style is primarily in how you part your hair. Instead of creating rows that go straight from your front hairline to the nape of your neck, start by dividing your hair into two sections down the middle of your head.
- From there, divide each side further into 4-5 equally-sized sections, creating a total of 8-10 small sections. If you’re confident in your skills, create one section in the center back of your head that starts at your crown and ends at the exact nape of your neck.
- Instead of braiding each straight back, create your goddess braids starting from wherever your hairline is at each section. This means you’ll mostly be braiding in reverse from the back of your head toward your center part, which can be tricky if you’re not yet comfortable with braiding!
At this point you have three options:
- If your natural hair is long enough to braid without extensions and still have some length once you’ve finished french braiding, then secure your french braids with pins, leaving your natural hair free for a “fro-hawk.” Use curl defining cream to really play up your cute curls!
- If you have installed extensions, once you reach your part, stop french braiding and start braiding regularly. Then, taking a braid from each side where they meet in the center, twist them together into a small bun. Repeat for all your braids until you have a row of small, braided buns going down the middle of your head.
- Alternatively, you can take the individual braids and french braid them together down the back of your head, creating an even tighter, more intricate faux-hawk.
Play with Parts
Another great way to mix up goddess braids is to change how you part your hair. Try making swirling patterns or creating unevenly sized sections to shake things up! Experiment with styles and don’t be afraid to get creative, but remember to always give your natural hair breaks between braided styles and maintain its health with conditioners and a restoring serum.
Box braids require a bit more patience and skill than goddess braids do, but the results are stunning!
- As with goddess braids, begin by prepping your hair.
- Once your hair is clean, conditioned, and detangled, start by dividing your hair into four even, box-like sections by parting it once down the center of your head and one across from ear to ear. Secure each section with clips until you are ready to use them.
- Starting with one section, divide it further. Part your hair in a straight line about an inch above your ear. If you want small braids, create half-inch sections. If you want jumbo braids, create two inch sections.
- Take a one- to two-inch wide section of the extensions. Taper the ends of your braid extensions in the same way as Step 2 of the Goddess Braids walkthrough.
- Separate the prepped extensions into three small sections, and set aside one of them for use in another braid.
- Similarly to Step 4 of the Goddess Braids walkthrough, loop one section over the other so that they interlock to create 3 legs. Unlike for goddess braids, though, one leg should be larger than the other two.
- Place the loop at the roots of the natural hair you sectioned in step 3, with the middle leg hanging down. Incorporate your sectioned hair into the middle loop and start braiding regularly. Keep a firm, even pressure as you braid, but do not pull too tightly and strain your scalp/natural hair.
- Repeat Steps 3-7 until you have a full head of braids. This will take some time, so be patient! Tip: Feel free to take breaks as needed, remembering to secure the sections of your hair and ends of completed braids with clips or hair ties.
- Clean up your braids by trimming and smoothing flyaways.
- Finish by sealing the ends in hot water and applying edge-control and hairspray as needed.
Box Braid Ponytails
The best thing about box braids is their versatility! Once you have them, they’re so easy to style and re-style over and over again to suit any occasion. Box braid ponytails are especially sleek and stylish, so try any of these variations:
- High Ponytail: Is there anything more high fashion than a high ponytail? Simply sweep your box braids up to the crown of your head and secure either with a scrunchie or a no-pull hair tie. You can also secure the ponytail with a hair tie, then cover that hair tie with either a single box braid that you leave out of the ponytail (which you can then secure with a bobby pin) or a silk/satin scarf.
- Low Ponytail: For a no-fuss, but still decidedly elegant look, secure your braids into a ponytail at the nape of your neck in whichever way you see fit.
Fishtail Pony: This style looks especially stunning if you opted for micro box braids! Start with a high ponytail, then braid the ponytail into a fishtail and secure the ends with a hair tie. To fishtail braid you must:
- Start by dividing the ponytail in two.
- From the far side of the left section, take a small section of braids and cross it over the left section to combine with the right section.
- Now, take a small section of braids from the far side of the right section and cross it over the right section to combine with the left.
- Repeat until you reach your ends or you are satisfied with the length of the fishtail.
Box Braid Knots and Buns
Knots and buns can elevate your box braids to classy, edgy, playful, or sophisticated. Here’s a few style ideas to show you what we mean:
Ballerina Bun: Classy and beautiful, this ballerina bun is simple to execute but makes an awesome statement.
- Start with a high ponytail and divide it into two equal sections.
- Twist the braids of one section together, then start wrapping them around the base of the ponytail, underneath the other section. Tuck the ends into your ponytail base, using pins as needed.
- Do the same for the other section of hair, wrapping it in the same direction as the other section and pinning it underneath in the base of the ponytail.
- Either keep it tight and sleek, or let it be loose and messy for a more relaxed look.
Wrapped Bun: This is another easy bun that starts first with a high ponytail.
- Much like the ballerina bun, divide the ponytail into two equal sections.
- Spin them around each other in opposite directions, allowing them to pile into a tall bun on top of your head.
- Use bobby pins to maintain the height and tuck away the ends of your braids. If some braids come loose or fall a little, let them! This style looks especially cute and charming with a few loose ends.
Mini Bun Crown: Perfect for a formal event or any time you just want to show off your braids, this style is made with several small buns next to each other to create a unique high bun.
- Start with a high ponytail and create about five same-size sections of braids. The more sections you create, the smaller your buns will be.
- Twist a section of braids, then roll that twist into a small knot and secure with pins.
- Do this for every section of braids, working around the ponytail base until you have created a complete circle of mini buns.
- Half-Down Top Knot: The top knot is essential for any boho or hipster look, but it’s versatile enough to work for any mood or occasion. Simply use a small section of braids around the very top of your head and roll them into a bun like you would for either the Ballerina or Wrapped Bun style. Leave the rest of your braids to cascade down your back and you’re done!
Yarn Braids (Genie Locs)
If you want to experiment with your hair but don’t have the budget for it, yarn braids are the perfect way to go. Yarn can be braided into your hair in a similar fashion as braid extensions and synthetic hair, but you’ll find that buying yarn in bulk is usually much cheaper than extensions! Yarn also affords you the opportunity to go wild with colors. When being worn as a protective style, we recommend waiting for cooler weather in the fall and winter to try out this style, since you’re essentially wearing a knitted scarf on your head!
What You Need:
- A large bundle of 100% acrylic yarn (NOT wool). If you’re unsure of how much you need, always buy more rather than less.
- Hair scissors
- Wide tooth comb
- Styling Gel
How to Braid:
- As with every braid so far, start with clean, conditioned, and detangled hair. Shampoos and conditioners that are flake-free are ideal.
- Measure your yarn by holding the end of the strand at your roots and deciding how long you want your braids to be. Grab the yarn with your other hand at that spot. Once you’ve decided the length, add an extra inch, then double that length. Cut the yarn and remeasure against your head to ensure you have the right length.
- Use this first strand of yarn to measure and cut additional strands.
- For one braid, prepare three equal-length strands of yarn.
- Section your natural hair into a piece that is approximately the same width as the three strands of yarn together.
- Fold the strands of yarn in half over the section of hair so that it is looped through the yarn. Twist the yarn just once so that it doesn’t slip while braiding.
- Separate the yarn into three legs, each leg having two strands of yarn because you just folded it on itself in the last step. Combine your hair section with the middle leg and begin braiding as you would for a Box Braid.
- Once you reach the end of the yarn or your desired length, tie the yarn in a knot as tightly as you can. Don’t be afraid to stretch the yarn as you tie it; otherwise it may come undone.
- After tightening the knot as much as possible, trim the excess yarn directly under the knot. Some tutorials may recommend burning the ends of the yarn, but we DO NOT recommend this; it’s not only a safety hazard, but it’s also completely unnecessary! The knot should be secure enough, and yarn braids should only be worn for a maximum of three weeks. If you have concerns about the knot coming undone, dab a bit of clear nail polish onto it to seal it.
- Repeat Steps 2-9 until all of your hair is braided. Trim away loose ends of yarn as needed.
Tip: Yarn braids help your hair hold in plenty of moisture, but they also take a very long time to dry after a shower! Consider using a dry gel shampoo and spray leave-in conditioner while yarn braids are installed.
Faux French Braid Updo
If you’re too impatient or in too much of a rush to style these other braids, we have the perfect protective braided style for you: the striking faux french braid updo.
- You’ll be parting your hair into four sections. The first section is the front-most part of your hair where bangs would be. The second section is from the front of your head, from temple to temple. The part for the third section should be drawn from one ear to the other ear. The fourth section consists of the hair from the ear-to-ear part down to the hairline at your neck.
- For now, twist each section together and secure them with clips. Use styling gel to smooth all of the hair down and keep everything looking sleek.
- Twist each section into a small bantu knot so that you have four knots down the middle of your head. Use edge-control as needed.
- Now, instead of braiding extensions into your hair, leave the elastic on the hair and braid it into its own thick, chunky braid.
- Tie the elastic around your front bantu knot. Fluff the braid and cover the second bantu knot completely, using pins to secure the faux-braid. Repeat for the third and fourth bantu knots. Scrunch the braid slightly between each knot for added volume.
- Use another smaller pack of braiding extensions to create a second braid, which you will wrap around and secure the first bantu knot in a bun to create an elegant updo!
For more protective styling tips and tricks, be sure to explore our blog and how to videos!