Asking for a friend: Ever get jealous of girls who just know all the braids in the book? There, there—we’re right here with you. All this talk about braids can get overwhelming, and these super dextrous, social media superstars who seem to have been born with a plait in their hands aren’t really helping much. What about us real-world, non-digital natives who skated on the surface of hairstyling with as little as a hairbrush and a scrunchie? Us kindreds, my friend, are what all these easy braided hairstyles are for.
Not all of us have the time, patience or sad to say, skill level, of these advanced higher beings. That’s not to say it cannot be done however: What we mortals lack in skill level, we make up for in frustration tolerance! Group hug! Easy braids styles make up one of the most important sections of every woman’s hairstyle arsenal. Learning how to create styles that seem like you spent a lot of time on them when they really took you less than five minutes to create, is a rite of passage for alarm clock snoozers of the world and early risers alike.
As a gift to you, fellow entry-levelers, we present this compendium, which shortlists all the easy braided styles you need to weather you through the current season at home. It’s important to keep in mind that even the simplest braided styles take some time to master and that now is the perfect time to start practicing. Usher in the warmer months with expertly braided strands and embrace the feeling of a fresh start.
10 Easy Braided Hairstyles
1. Regular Three-Strand Braid
What you may—or may not, no judgments—have discovered on your lonesome ownsome, during a particularly boring day in History class. The three-strand braid is one of the easiest, most basic braid styles to learn, primarily because it’s a free-form weave that doesn’t need to be attached to your scalp to form (unlike a French or waterfall). It’s also the starting point for other more intermediate braid looks. The vanilla of braids, and no shade on vanilla because, we all heart vanilla, don’t lie. For extra sheen, coat the plait with a light dusting of shine spray for that “wow” factor.
2. French Braid
Big in the ’80s and ’90s, simply because we’re assuming all things preppy were big during the ’80s and ’90s. The French braid is a regular three-strand braid that incorporates alternating sections on each side into the main weave. Doing this continuously in a downward motion—from your crown to your neckline—anchors the entire plait onto your head, effectively keeping your hair secure and neatly out of your face for cheerleading, tennis and other country-clubby, preppy ’90s sports. Oh, and it was super popular on this year’s runways as well, because of its aforementioned versatility. Also not as hard as it looks.
3. Dutch Braid
Nickname: The reverse French. Social media handle: @boxerbraids2016. This style, which has been a.k.a.-d since forever as the cornrow, snowballed towards a fever pitch this year due to many a celebrity showing off the pigtail version online. Where French braids feature the sections being crossed under each other, Dutch braid sections are crossed over each other—resulting, weirdly enough, in that fun, superimposed bump on your head. Done in twos on the top left and right sections of your head—Dutch pigtails, or “Double Dutches”—they earned the “boxer braids” moniker by being the style of choice on the heads of female athletes and martial arts fighters everywhere, as these snug-wearing banana braids really keep those strands in place. Also a nifty choice for festivals, pool parties, b-boying and other more recent millennially pursuits.
4. Fishtail Braided Hairstyle
The fishtail braid is the fashionista of the bunch and beauty blogger braid du jour. Feminine yet still kinda cutting edge—because let’s face it, not everyone knows to get on it—it’s a stylish look, that, like all braids, has been around since the dawn of time. It’s also relatively easy to learn once you pay attention. That telltale herringbone plait is so cute it hurts, especially when pancaked!
To achieve, hair is split into two sections, and a tiny sliver from one outer section is incorporated into the entire opposite section. Form a fishtail-looking weave when done till the ends. If you want it a bit more volumized at the base, spritz on a texturizing spray for a fun, sexy bump up top. First-timers might need a mirror to aid in their finger-memory. Takes 60 seconds when fully mastered though. (If it’s worth it, then flip it and reverse it.)
5. Waterfall Braid
A waterfall braid is one of those easy romantic braids and resembles a French braid worn horizontally. Loose waterfalls leave the bottom chain link, well, loose. This look is best worn on hair that’s left down, and as recently discovered, is super fabulous on ombrés, as the color gradation can blend seamlessly into where the braid “falls” into the rest of your hair. Updos can get some love too: Simply start the French braid at your partline near your bang area, and move across, incorporating hair from your crown and finishing near the ear. Tie the rest of your hair into a bun and you’re ready to go.
6. French Braid/Dutch Braid Combo
Mix up your braid styles with a French braid/Dutch braid combo. Rows of Dutch braids surround a center French braid that has loads of volume.
7. Three-Strand Braid
We remember learning to create a braid for the first time, as well as the moment we finally mastered the simple three-strand braid. Opting for a deep side part and creating two three-strand plaits instead of one is a sweet and demure way of taking advantage of this well-known style. Choose bright hair ties to draw extra attention to your braids, or go with clear ponytail holders to take this style into a more mature setting.
8. Side Braid
If you’re looking for easy braided hairstyles to do, opt for simple braid styles like this side braided ‘do. To create the look, use a small dab of Bed Head by TIGI Manipulator Matte Cream to twist a one-inch front section of your hair from your partline to the top of your ear. Weave that section into a basic three-strand braid and secure the end with a hair tie that’s the same color as your hair. Consider this style as a work-appropriate way to keep your hair away from your face.
9. Small Braids
This style focuses on the very front section of your hair and lets you show off your natural texture.
10. Braid with a Floral Crown
Want to try your hand at a fancier style? Opt for cool braids with accessories. To begin this look, create a regular three-strand braid down the back of your head. Hold it in place with your hand while you spray on some hairspray, like TRESemmé Tres Two Freeze Hold Hairspray, all over the braid to lock it into place. Concentrate an extra-long spray at the end of the braid to hold it into place. Add a flower crown or headband for an extra dose of visual interest, which is pretty fitting for the upcoming music festival season.
Bonus Braided Hairstyle
Once you’ve nailed all of the simple braids above, every braid hairstyle that once seemed difficult comes easy. Try your hand at this funky and easy braid style below with our simple mini-tutorial:
Step 1: Refresh your hair.
Refresh your hair if needed with a dry shampoo to soak up excess oil before styling. Opt for a dry shampoo with a formula, like Dove Style+Care Volume And Fullness Dry Shampoo, which also helps create volume. When creating styles like this, you want to create cool easy braids that are anything but limp.
Step 2: Create your sections.
Part your hair down the center, then bring two sections from your hairline towards the back.
Step 3: Begin your funky braided hairstyle.
Begin braiding your hair as if you’re creating a cornrow or French braid. Gradually pinch new sections of hair into the braid as you go along. When you get to the ends, backcomb or secure with a clear hair elastic.
Step 4: Finish your funky braided hairstyle.
Finish your funky braid with some shine and lots of movement by setting it with Bed Head by TIGI Masterpiece Shine Hairspray.