The Side French Braid for Every Kinda Gal: Here’s How to Do It

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

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Love the look of that trendy side French braid, but clueless 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, really, you have a full visual of what you’re doing. With a regular French braid done at the back of your head, you’re basically 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:

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. 

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.

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.

4

Secure with hair tie.

Tie off the ends with a neutral hair elastic.

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.

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 the daily):

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

1. The Festi-Gal

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. A frizz-fighting spray, such as Suave Professionals Luxe Style Infusion Anti-Humidity Hair Spray, helps to control and shield your hair from the sweltering elements.

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

2. The Gym Goddess

Never not working out? Relax, we’ve got just the look: A neat, snug side French braid that starts primly at the partline and snakes downwards to the ends keeps your strands outta your face while you’re getting those #gains in, all the while keeping things hundo 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.

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

3. The Beach Bunny

The beachy, slightly messy look will always be a crowdpleaser. 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. A sea salt spray, like Love Beauty Planet Coconut Milk & White Jasmine Salt Spritz Texture Spray, can mimic this oceanside grit while you dry your hair at home.

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

4. The Influencer

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 TRESemmé 24 Hour Body Foaming Mousse, 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.

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

5. The New Romantic

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.