The ultimate guide to tree braids: From cornrows to weaves

Not sure what tree braids are? Looking for tree braid pictures? Here are the stars who've rocked the trend brilliantly, plus what you need to know about the look!  

Okay, so you’ve tried every braided hairstyle under the sun, but what now? Well, we’ve got a preposition for you: consider trying tree braids. And if you’re wondering what they are and what they look like, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Tree braids hairstyles can be created with cornrows or individual strands of hair, and are partially braided with (or without) hair extensions, leaving part of your hair to flow freely. Think of it like this: the braided parts of your ‘do are the ‘roots’, while the loose hairs become the ‘leaves’ – see where they got the name from?

Okay, so now you have a basic understanding of what tree braids styles are, you’re probably in need of some tree braid pictures. Simply read on for some celebrity-approved tree braid looks, plus the weaving methods you need to know about!

Tree braids: 3 stars who’ve rocked tree braid hair


tree braids styles: the braided bun as shown by Lupita Nyong'o
Lupita Nyong’o tree braid braided bun. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Tree braided bun

All eyes were on Lupita Nyong’o at the SAG awards this year, not just because of her gorgeous outfit, but also because of her tree braid hair, complete with an elegant braided bun. The intricate woven style of her hairdo made for a show-stopping look, while also helping to draw attention to her stunning face shape!

alicia keys with tree braids and curly hair
Alica Key’s curly tree braid hairstyle. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Curly tree braid hair

Looking for curly tree braids styles? Then prepare to fall in love with the curly ponytail that we spotted on Alicia Keys. This pretty and protective look is great for when you want to give your tresses a break, but also need to show off your voluminous, bouncy coils. Talk about having the best of both worlds!

tree braid pictures: joan small with cornrow braid and lob haircut at fenty puma
Joan Small with tree braid hair and lob cut. Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

Tree braids with a lob

When it comes to modern tree braids hairstyles, the best place to look for inspiration is the runway. Don’t believe us? Just one look at Joan Smalls‘ elegant, yet edgy tree braid mane will convince you otherwise. And we’re sure you’ll agree, Joan looks every bit the supermodel she is!

As you can see, all these tree braids styles are different, working for each wearer’s hair type and needs – which is partly why we love them so much. You also have the freedom to play around with a wealth of braiding styles, enabling you to tailor your look to suit your personality and style!

Tree braids: Methods to know about


tree braids hairstyles: black woman with pick and drop micro braids with curly ends
Pick and drop tree braids.

Pick and drop tree braid hair

Now you’ve seen our favourite celebrity tree braid pictures, it’s time to know how the look is created. If you’re thinking about getting individual strands of your hair tree braided with extensions, this trendsetter’s mane should give you an idea of what it could possibly look like.

As you can see, a few very short braids (about half an inch) sit along the front of the hair line, while the extensions (the unbraided part) flow freely to create the look of long, curly hair.

Psst! This technique is usually referred to as ‘pick and drop’, as you or your stylist will literally pick and drop your tresses to create this head-turning, micro-braided look.

tree braid hair: woman with invisible tree braids with straight weave
Invisible tree braids are a naturalistas BFF!

Invisible tree braided hairstyles

You may be suprised to learn that weave hairstyles also fall under the tree braid category! Wondering why? Well, tresses are cornrowed, then wefts of hair are sewn onto the braided hair.

When the look is complete, the wefts of hair conceal the the cornrows, creating the illusion of naturally straight, wavy or curly hair, depending on the texture of the extensions!

Editor’s tip: With a fabulous tree braid hairstyle, it’s often easy to forget to take care of the braided part. So keep your mane in tip-top shape by using the Dove Intensive Repair Shampoo and Conditioner. This wash and care system moisturises, conditions and helps to restore your hair’s strength against breakage. And for on the go moisture, grab a bottle of the TIGI S Factor Papaya Leave-In Moisture Spray.


Loved learning about tree braid hairstyles? We knew you would, which is why we think you’ll benefit from the other expert styling pieces on our Braids page! With handy how-to guides and neat tricks to try, you’ll be a dab hand at braiding in no time.

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