Get a Fishtail Braid in Just 7 Easy Steps

From your basic braiding steps to a fancy updo tutorial, discover how to do a fishtail braid.  

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Fishtail plait brunette girl outside with braid



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A fishtail braid is similar to a basic 3-strand braid, except you divide your hair into two sections that you cross over each other, to eventually create the cool fishtail effect this pretty plait is known for. And, you’ll be seriously surprised to learn a fishtail plait is actually inspired by the herring fish’s skeleton!

At first glance, a fishtail plait style can look like a complicated work of art, but, in reality, it’s one of the simplest braids to create. And, if you’d like to master the look, our easy-to-follow video and step-by-step guide is all you need.

Ready to get started? Just Scroll down to see our simple 7 step fishtail braid tutorial, and get ready to impress all your friends and family with your new-found fishtail prowess…


Prep your hair.

Before you learn how to fishtail braid your hair, it’s important to make sure your locks are fresh and ready to be styled.

Spray some dry shampoo (like the TRESemmé Day 2 Volumising Dry Shampoo) all over your hair, lifting small sections as you go to reach the scalp. Then brush out any excess product and shake your roots if needed.

The goal is to have the product distributed evenly through your hair so take your time while doing this.

Fishtail Braid tutorial: Woman with dark brown hair spraying dry shampoo in her hair in a studio setting

Divide and conquer.

It’s time to form the basis of your fishtail braid. First, make sure your hair parting is where you want it and smooth it down flyaways with a brush.

Then, gather all your hair at the nape of your neck and pull it over your preferred shoulder. Use your fingers to split the hair into two sections and check in a mirror to ensure they are even.


How to fishtail braid: Woman in a studio about to fishtail braid her hair in a studio setting

Begin to fishtail braid.

Take a small amount of hair from the back of the left-hand section of your hair and pull it over the top, to the front of the right-hand section.

Depending on how thick you want your fishtail braid to be, pull in more or less hair into the braid. Thicker sections will leave you with a more undone, romantic finish, while smaller ones will leave you with a more polished fishtail braid.

Fishtail plait brunette girl looking to the side braiding her hair

Continue braiding.

The hard part’s over! Now you’ve got your fishtail plait going, take uniform sections of hair and continue to braid, keeping a grip on any loose ends as you go. 

Editor’s tip: Always try and fishtail plait your hair in front of a mirror so you can easily adjust any messy or uneven sections as you go. 

How to do a fishtail braid: Shot of woman with dark brown hair fishtail plaiting her braid in a studio setting

Apply a texturising product.

Once you’re happy with your fishtail braid, secure it with a hairband and dust it braid with the VO5 Instant Volume Powder. Rub it in gently with your fingers, doing your best to keep the structure of the braid intact. 

Not only will this powder give this fishtail braid style a matt finish, but it will also add a little texture to the braid for extra definition. 

Fishtail braid how-to: Shot of woman with a fishtail braid, sprinkling volumising powder on her braid

Pancake your fishtail braid.

Check if your braid is lying flat over your shoulder. If not, you might need to slightly loosen the plait (AKA pancake it!).

To do this, gently pull at opposite sides of the fishtail plait with your fingers until you feel it become less tight and have more movement. Don’t do this all the way up the plait, instead focus on the middle and end sections.

How to do a fishtail plait: Shot of woman pancaking her dark brown fishtail plait in a studio setting

Secure your fishtail plait.

Happy you’ve learnt how to do a fishtail braid? Great! Secure every strand by using the TRESemmé Freeze Hold Hairspray all over your locks. 

This nifty hairspray will help keep your style in place all day, even in damp or humid conditions – bonus!

How to do a fishtail braid: Shot of woman with a dark brown fishtail plait in a studio setting, spraying hairspray on it

The fishtail braid updo tutorial to try next

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ATH Video

Psst! Since we’re always on the lookout for fresh ways to rock a style, we’ve also included other ways to rock the beautiful fishtail braid. And we’ve even enlisted the help of vlogger Studs and Dreams to show us how to fishtail braid like a pro. But instead of a standard plait, she’s going to teach us how to do a fishtail updo!

Looking for a fresh way to rock your fishtail braid? Vlogger Studs and Dreams shows us how to fishtail braid like a pro. And how to turn it into a fancy fishtail updo.

Just watch the video (above) to learn how to discover how to do a fishtail braid from the comfort of your home.

Fishtail braid hairstyles we love

1. Messy fishtail braids

The side view of a model with a messy fishtail braid at the Alice + Olivia New York Fashion Week Show SS17
Alice + Olivia: Messy fishtail braids. Credit: Suzanne Cohen Photography

As you can imagine that we were pleasantly surprised when we saw that messy, fishtail braids were the hairstyle of the day at the Alice + Olivia spring/summer show at New York Fashion Week.

Missed the show? Don’t worry you can learn how to create the look with our easy, step-by-step.

2. Fishtail plait for curly hair

Fishtail braid: A young black woman with curly brown hair with a fishtail plait
Curly hair? The fishtail plait looks great on curly hair too!

The fishtail plait also works a treat on curly, black hair too. Just check out our 3 easy hairstyles for curly hair perfect for back-to-school, if you still need convincing.

3. Fishtail milkmaid braid

A young redhead woman wearing a white dress and with a fishtail milkmaid braid
Your go-to wedding ‘do? The fishtail milkmaid braid.

Looking for a fishtail plait hairstyle that’s perfect for prom, a wedding or even just a party? This elegant milkmaid style not only looks great but also rather simple to create. Just check out our take on a classic fishtail braid tutorial!

4. The side fishtail braided bun

A young woman with blonde highlighted hair with a side fishtail braided bun
We heart this side fishtail braided bun.

The side fishtail braid bun is fast becoming one of our favourite updos. Discover how to do this pretty braided bun with our step-by-step tutorial.

5. French fishtail braid half updo

the back view of a young woman with pink coloured hair wearing a French fishtail braid half updo
Fancy this French fishtail braid half-updo?

Can’t figure out whether you want to rock an updo or wear your tresses down? Get the best of both styles with our how to make a french fishtail braid half updo tutorial. Kind of like a Dutch fishtail braid mixed with a fish plait, this style is a multitasking mane essential.


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