A Comprehensive Guide to Braids: Exploring Different Styles and Techniques

In many parts of the world, braids have been a cultural tradition and a versatile hairstyle for centuries. Braiding hair is a popular hairstyle among people of all ages due to its artistic appeal, ease of use, and beauty, ranging from basic three-strand plaits to complex poetic justice braids. With the development of braiding techniques, colorful accessories, novel textures, and imaginative patterns have become available for self-expression. There is a vast array of braiding styles to choose from for those who want to experiment. To help you with your next look, this guide will break down some of the most well-liked braiding techniques and sophisticated braided styles.

The Basics: Traditional Three Strand Braiding

Three strand braiding forms the foundation for many other braided hairstyles. It’s the classic technique that many practice first before advancing to more complex braids. To create a basic three strand braid:

1. Start by gathering a section of hair and dividing it into three equal pieces. Make sure the sections aren’t too thick.

2. Cross the right strand over the middle one.

3. Then cross the left strand over the new middle section.

4. Keep alternating crossing the outside strands towards the middle to form the braid.

5. Once you run out of hair, secure the end of the braid with a hair tie.

It helps to work slowly and keep the three sections tight and even as you braid. Remember to cross the outside strands inwards consistently to avoid twisting the braid. Mastering basic three strand braiding gives you the foundation to move onto more elaborate styles.

three strand braiding

Creating Texture with Cornrows

Cornrows are braids that lie flat against the scalp, starting at the hairline and working backwards. They create neat rows that beautifully accentuate the scalp. To cornrow:

1. Work in small sections about a 1/2 inch wide at a time. Part and detangle hair before braiding.

2. Take the section and divide it into three pieces like a regular braid. But instead of crossing pieces over each other, bring the right strand under the middle section.

3. Then take the left strand and cross it under the middle section in the opposite direction.

4. Continue underhand braiding, alternating from right to left while keeping the braid tight to the head.

Varying the direction, size and number of cornrows creates different textures and patterns. Cornrowing works on all hair lengths and textures when done properly. It serves as the foundation for styles like fishtail braids, goddess braids and more. Patience is key, but cornrows result in cool geometric styles.

Creating Romance with French and Dutch Braids

French and Dutch braids add romance and intrigue to braided hairstyles. They appear complicated but simply involve manipulating the direction of a basic three strand braid.

For a French braid:

1. Divide hair into three sections like a regular three strand braid. Cross the outer strands inwards as usual.

2. But instead of crossing the strands straight over the middle section, bring them diagonally towards the middle from under the middle strand.

3. This underhand motion creates the signature ridged appearance of a french braid.

4. Complete braiding to the ends and secure with a tie.

To create a Dutch braid, the only difference is crossing the outer strands over the middle pieces rather than underhand. This forms the braid outwards rather than in towards the head. Both French and Dutch braids look romantic swept across the crown or cascading down the back.

Modernizing with Box Braids

Box braids are a modern classic that remains a popular protective style. They involve braiding hair into uniform, square sections that create a geometric pattern. To box braid:

1. Start by sectioning clean, conditioned hair into square parts. The sections don’t have to be perfect as long as they are neat and even.

2. Take a section and begin regular three strand braiding from root to tip, keeping the braid tight and smooth.

3. Make sure each braid is approximately the same size for consistency.

4. Dip ends of braids in hot water as you finish them to seal and prevent frizzing.

Box braids can be done in varied sizes and lengths to complement different styles and face shapes. Adding beads or cuffs to the ends dresses up the look. For those wanting an on-trend protective style, box braids deliver graphic beauty.

Box Braids

Making Waves with Fishtail Braids

For a boho vibe, fishtail braids are the perfect choice. They are created by manipulating two pieces of hair in a weaving motion rather than three. To fishtail braid:

1. Separate a section of clean, detangled hair into two even pieces instead of three.

2. Take a small strand of hair from the outside of the right section and cross it over to the left section.

3. Repeat on the left side, taking a small piece of hair and crossing it over to the right section.

4. Continue crossing thin strands from side to side. This overlapping motion creates a fluid wave-like pattern resembling a fishtail.

5. Braid all the way down then secure the ends with an elastic.

Fishtail braids work beautifully for hair of all textures and lengths. For second day hair, tousle waves then sweep into a loose fishtail braid for an effortless bohemian vibe. This braid technique creates dreamy movement and dimension.

Amping Up Style with Jumbo Braids

Jumbo braids are a go-to option when looking to make a statement. Jumbo braids, as the name suggests, entail braiding large sections of hair to create a striking appearance. A jumbo braid can be created using any braiding technique. Use larger sections of hair and braid according to your usual three-strand, Dutch, fishtail, or other braiding technique. Big braids add a strikingly bold touch to updos. A dramatic texture and dimension can be achieved by artfully twisting a few sculpture-like jumbo braids into a crown or sweeping them into a bun. These substantial braids are perfect for those who want to add more flair to their look.

Adding Symmetry with Goddess Braids

Goddess braids are stunning braids meant to resemble the hair of African Goddesses. They create elegantly symmetrical and larger braids that frame the face beautifully. To achieve goddess braids:

1. Create two Dutch braid pigtails starting at the crown of the head.

2. Begin with larger sections to form substantial braids.

3. Extend the braids long down the back, finishing with decorative cuffs or ties.

The two evenly sized plaits symmetrically angled resemble the regal braided crowns and headbands of ancient goddesses. For special occasions or a touch of everyday luxury, goddess braids empower with their striking symmetry.

Making a Statement with Poetic Justice Braids

Poetic justice braids are aptly named, as the words evoke the style’s commanding beauty. They involve creating neat, square-shaped braids all over the head for a bold statement. To achieve the look:

1. Part hair into long squared sections going horizontally from ear to ear.

2. Smoothly three strand braid each long row maintaining squared edges as you braid from root to tip.

3. Carefully dip ends of braids in hot water to seal then style as desired.

This braiding technique demands patience to execute the perfectly squared symmetry. But the striking geometry and sleek lines demand attention, living up to the evocative name. For those craving a powerful look, poetic justice braids deliver impact.

poetic justice braids
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Braids offer seemingly limitless creative possibilities, whether you’re a novice looking to refine technique or an experienced braider looking for inspiration. Discovering novel textures, patterns, and braiding techniques expands the possibilities for hairstyles. Anyone can learn to make stunning braided masterpieces with a basic understanding of braiding, some practice, and a little patience. To elevate your styling game, try out some elaborate Dutch lace braids, sparkling goddess braids, or eye-catching poetic justice plaits. Braiding offers a plethora of creative expression opportunities.

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