For those of us who missed out on those sleepover years in our youth, we might feel like we lack some crucial, formative braid skills that others seem to have in spades. A quick internet search doesn’t help our self-esteem either: We’re overwhelmed with photos of beautiful, almost unattainably complex looks, whose only purpose appears to be to scare us from even trying. Enter easy braids for long hair, which, as the phrase suggests, ask for nothing more but a few minutes of your time—sleepover skill light to none, even.
We’re going back to the basics, ladies, and needless to say our inner child is super relieved! So, fellow braid novices, late-to-the-gamers or basically anyone who’s fed up with having to live up to unrealistic Pinterest standards in real life, this one’s for you! Read on for our top simple braids for long hair:
1. Medium Accent Braid
Nothing to see here, folks—or is there? A straightforward three-strand plait done in the middle of your mane, to be hidden or not as desired, is as low-key as it gets. To create this stitch, pinch a 2-inch section of hair and divide it into three strips. Cross the left strip over towards the right, then repeat with the right strip. Continue till the ends and secure with a small elastic.
2. Fringe Accent
Similar to the above but done on the fringe or bang hairline, this look is certainly a more stylish option for keeping your hair out of your face—which makes it great for school, work or even working out.
Wrapping a string or ribbon around random sections of hair in a crisscross pattern is something almost everyone can do, and the payoff, as seen here, is a gorgeous cross between boho and West Coast cool.
4. Dutch Pigtails
We’ll let you in on a secret: Those Instagram models repping this look all had to start somewhere—that somewhere being figuring out how to do an inverted braid. It’s not that hard, we promise: Instead of crossing the left over the middle to the right, you cross it under (yep, that’s it.).
Practice on a loose ponytail first, then once you get the hang of it, you can graduate to a built-in braid from behind each temple, pinching new sections from the sides with each new link. Once you run out of scalp, just continue the cross-under motion till the ends, and voilà, a ’gram-worthy look in minutes.
5. Three-Strand Pigtails
If you were ever bored in class and started playing with your hair, you’re halfway there with this look, honey. Start with splitting hair in the back down the middle, then begin a regular three-strand (crossing-over stitch) braid on each section, tying each off with an elastic. Bonus points for pink anything.
The OG of all braids! Granted, this takes a bit of maneuvering—perhaps even between two mirrors—but once you get the hang of it, this skill stays with you for life. Start by grabbing three separate pinches of hair at the hairline, then crossing the left over the right, but grabbing new pinches from each side as you go down the head. After you pass the scalp you can free-braid till the ends. Finish your braid with a shine spray like Bed Head By TIGI Headrush Shine Hairspray to add a glossy effect.
7. Fringe Waterfall
We like to call this the half-French, only in that you pinch new hair only on one side of the head (the back), and leave the forehead side of the link “closed.” Like a regular three-strand braid, you cross the left over the right, and incorporate new hair into the right before it crosses over to the left. Start by creating a side part, and start grabbing hair immediately after the partline, working towards that ear. Free-braid once you pass the temple, and secure with a hair tie. Need more guidance? Peep our waterfall braid tutorial.
8. French Half-Updo
This look starts out as a French braid on the crown, then becomes a free-standing regular plait afterward, in manner of a half-updo. We love the ’90s vibe this look gives!
9. Mermaid Half-Updo
Similar to the French half-updo, easy braided hairstyles for long hair like the mermaid plait start off with a three-strand braid at the hairline, but then the links go on for two or three more chains until you incorporate new hair from alternating sides. Continued downwards, the pattern gives a fishtail-like effect, hence the name.
10. Regular Three-Strand Half-Updo
This is one of those easy braids for long hair to do yourself in like, 30 seconds. Start by gathering hair like you normally would for a half-pony, then begin a regular cross-over weave till the ends. Done!
11. Inverted Fishtail
Don’t panic, it’s just a twisted half-updo, with a kick! The look starts off with a half-ponytail gather that’s pulled through a space in the middle. Next, attempt a fishtail plait: Split hair into two sections, not three. Then take the outermost few strands on the edge of the left section, and pull those towards the right, which includes them into the right section. Then repeat on the right side, taking the outermost strands on the right edge, and pull and incorporate those into the left section.
Takes a bit of visualization, but eventually, you’ll end up with the herringbone-like pattern that all fashionistas and Pinterest experts know and love. Tip: Clip off the top of the ponytail (just below your twist) to help you anchor your braid, or even tie the top off with an elastic as you’re learning this look.
12. Loose Weave
One of those days? We got you, fam. This look is literally easy enough to complete in two subway stops, if that.
13. High French Pigtails
Like #5, this is one of those braids you can do while half paying attention, but you need to take this a bit higher on your head. Start behind each eyeball with a French stitch, then free-braid after the nape. One side at a time, obvi. A light application of shine serum, like TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Shine Serum, helps give darker braided hair more definition.
Gasp, you don’t have eyes at the back of your head? Well, thankfully, this foolproof look, which entails you just tying hair off in a low pony and free-braiding till the ends, ensures you don’t need anything other than two elastics.
15. Regular Three-Strand
The champion of all braid beginners and saver of bad hair days. Welcome to your classic go-to braid for the rest of your life!
16. Scarf Braid
Who needs an expensive scarfed purse when you can achieve the same look on your hair at a fraction of the cost? Tie your fave twilly around your ponytail, then treat it as part of one of your three sections to create this chic, super-Frenchy look.
17. Side Fishtail
For beginners to the fishtail stitch, seeing what you’re actually doing is definitely an easier place to start. Prep hair by removing oil with a dry shampoo like Dove Detox & Purify Dry Shampoo. Tie hair off at the nape in manner of a ponytail, then split the remaining pony in half. Begin your fishtail, grabbing the edge strips of each section and crossing it over to the opposite section, till you reach the ends (it takes a while, but you’ll get there—we promise!).
18. Skinny Accents, Random
Great for festivals, poolside parties and just general chillaxing, this no-brainer of a braid can live solo or in multiples around your head.
19. Skinny Accents, Pigtails
For a more uniformed look, grab two equidistant strips of hair and begin a three-strand plait on each. Leave the ends loose to unravel as they wish, or tie off with an invisible elastic for the full effect.
Basically a standalone cornrow, this look features a Dutch (inverted, or crossing-under) stitch on the entire width of your crown. Finish off at the back of your head with a tiny elastic, then cover with a barrette for more polish.