Tutorial: How To Do A French Braid for Every Kinda Gal

Want to find out how to do a side French braid? Look no further.

Love the look of that trendy side, a full French braid, but clueless about how to D.I.Y.. We don’t blame you: These super-Pinteresty plaits can definitely intimidate even the most seasoned braid enthusiast.

But… what if we told you that learning how to do a side French braid is even easier than doing it the regular way? It’s not that hard to recreate; you have a full visual of what you’re doing. With a regular French braid done at the back of your head, you’re trusting muscle memory—and years of middle-school practice—to create that perfect stitch. Which, let’s be honest, can be a challenge, particularly during those rushed mornings when you just can’t even. To help you out, we’re sharing a quick tutorial on how to do a French side braid, plus some inspiration for every kind of look. Read on:

Step 1

Start on clean, detangled hair.

Brush out any knots and make sure hair is properly prepped. Separate hair into three sections to begin your braid. 

how to do a side french braid: section hair
Step 2

Begin the weave.

Cross the left section over middle, then right over middle. Then grab hair from each side as you create each a chain to secure it onto your scalp. Move downwards past your ear.

how to do a side french braid: weaving braid
Step 3

Switch to a regular three-strand braid.

Once you’ve gone past the ear (or run out of scalp), switch your weave to a regular three-strand stitch. Continue till the ends.

how to do a side french braid: three-strand braid
Step 4

Secure with hair tie.

Tie off the ends with a neutral hair elastic.

how to a side french braid: secure with elastic
Step 5

Pancake your braid.

Now, the crucial part: pancaking! This is where you can take your basic braid to Instagrammable levels. Making sure your hair tie is securely fastened, carefully tug each chain link apart to fatten it. This step texturizes your entire braid and gives the illusion of fullness.

how to do a side french braid: pancake
Step 6

Set with hairspray.

how to do a side french braid: set with hairspray

This truly versatile style can be tailored to almost any occasion. Scroll down for some of our favorite ways to wear this look (and the girls that we think might favor them on a daily):

1. The Festi-Gal Full French Braid

side french braid for festivals
Weave in some delicate daisy chains for a modern hippie feel.

Festival hair is semi-grungy hair, and if you’re planning to make the circuits this season, going for a side-braided look is a sure winner. This flirty, campy side French braid not only keeps humidity-loving flyaways and frizz from sticking to your forehead, it also unfurls into some sexy waves if you want to switch up your look midday.

2. The Gym Goddess Full French Braid

side french braid for the gym
Keep it simple—and snug. Photo credit: Verity Jane Smith

Never not working out? Relax, we’ve got just the look: A neat, snug side French braid that starts primly at the part line and snakes downwards to the ends keeps your strands out your face while you’re getting those #gains in, all the while keeping things hair on the style front. Opt for a slightly tighter stitch to prevent any loose strands from ruining your flow, or take things a notch further and go for the full-on bun.

3. The Beach Bunny

the beachy side french braid
Leave a few tendrils loose and wispy for a windswept look.

The beachy, slightly messy look will always be a crowd pleaser. It’s hard to argue with its youthful sex appeal, and a side braid that doesn’t seem like it tried too hard (or at all) will always earn its share of street cred.

4. The Influencer

perfect side french braid
Invert the stitch for a unique look.

You’ve got major followers tuning in to your every sartorial move—so what’s a social media bae to do to shake things up? Master that on-trend French side braid and start pancaking like a professional, that’s what. This look is easiest for women with medium-to-thick straight or wavy hair (a volumizing mousse, such as Nexxus Mousse Plus Volumizing Foam, can also help in that department). You can also flip the script on the humble French and go for a Dutch braid, too (as above), which results in an even trendier bumped-up look.

5. The New Romantic

side french braid with curls
A half-updo is less the work, and has twice the flirt factor.

Braids are also a lovely option for more formal events, like weddings, showers, and the like. The flirty, feminine feel of a side braid half-updo, paired with some loose curls and that fashionable, off-shoulder ensemble, is the ideal foil for all your romantic occasions—even date night! A shine spray, like Bed Head by TIGI Masterpiece Hairspray, infuses some polish into the finished look.

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