A French braid looks elegant and complicated, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out that it isn’t as difficult as it looks. And like so many other things, practice makes perfect. Whether you want to learn how to French-braid your own hair or someone else’s, the technique remains pretty much the same. The difficulty level increases when you’re braiding your own hair, simply because you can’t see what you’re doing from every angle. If you’re up for the challenge, we’re happy to help.
French braids vary in their size, shape, and placement, but all types have some things in common. The traditional French braid uses virtually all of your hair and runs downs the center of the back of your head. That is the style we are focusing on here, but you can apply what you’ve learned to any French-braid style, anywhere on your head.
1. If you know how to make a regular braid, then you’re already on the right track. First, slide a handful of hair from just behind your bangs toward the back of your head, separating it into three even sections. The amount of hair you use to start your braid should be about three inches wide, so that each section is about one-inch wide. Do two rotations of a regular braid to get it started.
2. Grab the left section with your left hand and the right section with your right hand, letting the middle section lie by itself. This time you’re going to add some hair to the section before you braid it. Part a small section of loose hair—about an inch—with your finger and add it to the closest section. You can make the added section larger or smaller than an inch depending on how loose you want your braid to be. (Smaller equals tighter; larger equals looser.)
3. Take the section of hair that you’ve just added the loose hair to and cross it over the section of hair that’s not being held in either one of your hands. Then repeat the process on the other side, always adding about the same amount of hair to each section before you cross it to the middle. Repeat this process over and over until you get to the end.
4. Once you’ve incorporated all your hair into the braid, you’ll need to tie the braid off. You can use plastic-covered bands that are made for hair. You can also add bows or ribbons to embellish your braid. However, the French braid is such a fancy style as it is, it usually looks just beautiful on its own.
Now that you know how to French-braid hair the traditional way, you can begin to experiment with other sizes, shapes, and placements.