This article was co-authored by Vanessa Garcia and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger. Vanessa Garcia is a Licensed Cosmetologist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vanessa has over 10 years of experience in styling hair. She has a BA in Business Management from the California State University - East Bay and she received her Cosmetology License specializing in Hair Styling and Hair Design from the Fremont Beauty College.
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The French braid is a beautiful and classic hairstyle and a favorite to many. Although its intricate weave may appear complicated, creating your own French braid is a simple process. The secret is to add a strand of hair to each section before braiding it. Once you've gotten the basics of a traditional braid down, you could try a French lace braid for a fancy twist.
Method 1Method 1 of 2:Creating a Classic French Braid
- 1Prep your hair so it is ready for styling. Brush through your hair to get all the tangles out and make it soft, smooth, and ready to braid. For a single braid going down the back of your head, brush your hair backwards, away from your forehead.
- You might want a braid down the side of your head instead, or maybe you're making more than one braid. In that case, part your hair and brush it into sections depending on how many braids you would like.
- You can braid your hair when it's dry or when it's wet. But, braiding wet hair gives you soft, pretty waves when you take it out later.
- 2Begin sectioning your hair.XResearch source Start the process by gathering a big chunk (3-4 inches wide) from the top-center of your head. All the hair in this section should come from the same "hair row." You don't want to grab strands from higher up or lower down.
- If you have bangs, you can bring them into the braid at this point or leave them loose. Choose what you think looks best. To braid them, you'll need to grab hair from the very top-center of your head, right above your forehead.
- The section you start with has nothing to do with how big your braid will be. You start with a small section, but the braid grows thicker as you add more hair.
- 3Separate this first "chunk" into three pieces. Just like traditional braids, French braids use three sections of hair to create their pattern. Separate them out by running your fingers through the chunk you are holding to create three even pieces. Make sure that none of the pieces are larger or smaller than the other two.
- 4Begin in a traditional braid. First, you have to get your hand positioning right: hold two strands in one hand, and the third strand in the other. Begin in a traditional braid by crossing the "right" strand over to the center. Then, cross the "left" strand from over to the center. Repeat until you've made a few rows of a traditional braid.
- 5Work in new hair. Keep going with this traditional braid pattern, but start bringing in other pieces of hair. Before crossing a section over to center, grab some hair from that side of your head and include it in the cross-over.
- Every time you cross over, work in another small piece of hair. How much new hair you grab each time doesn't matter, but the less hair you grab, the more intricate the braid will look.
- For the best-looking French braid, pick up the hair near your face and neck. If you only pick up pieces from the center (near the main strand), they'll get covered up later with strands from the outside.
- 6Bring all of your hair into the braid. As you work down your head, you'll start running out of free hair to bring into the braid. By the time you reach the nape of your neck, you should have incorporated all of your hair.
- 7Finish the braid. When all of your hair is in the working braid, finish it off as a traditional braid. Keep going until you reach the end of your strands. Then, secure the braid with a ponytail holder.XResearch source
- Avoid using rubber bands, as these rip and break hair when you remove them.XResearch source
Method 2Method 2 of 2:Creating a French Lace Braid
- 1Prep your hair. Just like you did for the normal French braid, brush through tangles to smooth out your hair. French lace braids can work down either one or both sides of your head, so need to part your hair. Use a center or side part, depending on what look you prefer.
- 2Start with a small section.XResearch sourceGrab a piece of your hair from one side your part, near the part itself. The size of this section does matter in French lace, as it determines the thickness of the braid. For a larger braid, grab a hefty section of hair, and for a dainty braid, grab a smaller piece. In general, it should be about one inch thick.
- 3Split this section into thirds. As with the normal French braid, you need to divide your starting section of hair into three even pieces. Angle these pieces downward to frame your face, rather than pulling them toward the back of your head.XResearch source
- 4Begin braiding. Start the French lace in a traditional braid. Cross the "right" strand over to center, then cross the "left" strand over to center.
- 5Start bringing in new hair. In the French braid, you added hair from both sides of your head. In the French lace braid, you should only add hair from one side of the braid.XResearch source
- It doesn't matter which side you add new hair from. The important thing is that all new hair comes from the same side of the braid.
- 6Continue braiding around your head. As you move further along with your braid, it will start to form a crown or halo shape around your head. You can choose to braid over the top of your ear, or under it.
- If you are making a single braid, wrap it all the way around your head. You will likely run out of hair near the ear on the other side of your head.
- If you're making two braids, stop braiding when you reach the nape of your neck. Tie off the first braid with an elastic, then repeat the entire process on the other side of your head to create your second braid.
- 7Finish your braid. Eventually, you will run out of loose hair to work into the braid. At this point, keep working in a traditional braid until you reach the ends of your strands. Tie off your hair with an elastic tie to secure your French lace braid.
- QuestionIs a French braid formal enough for a wedding?Community AnswerYes. A French braid is formal enough for any wedding theme.
- QuestionIs it easy to take out?Community AnswerYes, if you do it correctly. Take the band out and gently pull on the outer edges to loosen it. Continue this until you have taken it out. Whatever you do, do NOT brush or comb it as soon as you take the band out. It will just make the biggest tangle ever.
- QuestionCan I learn to French braid my own hair if I can French braid my friend's hair?Community AnswerYes, you can learn. It will take a little practice getting used to doing it on your own hair, but since you already know how to do it on a friend's, you have a nice head start!
- QuestionHow would I French braid short hair?Community AnswerTry using smaller sections of hair, and pull it in tightly! If it doesn't work out, the lace braid is a better option.
- QuestionWhenever I try doing a French plait, my hair puffs out because I don't do it tightly enough. What should I do?Community AnswerBefore moving on to the next piece make sure that that piece is nice and tight and not puffy. Having a friend braid your hair can be most helpful for avoiding this, or even a sibling or parent.
- QuestionHow can I keep my arms from getting tired? They get so sore that I hate braiding my hair.Community AnswerTry to braid at a slower pace, taking breaks to give your arms a rest. If your hair is especially thick, it can seem like forever, so the breaks can help; just tie off with an elastic temporarily. You could also try to find an elbow support, such as a counter or shelf. Another way is to let your arms rest against your head but make sure to keep your place. Another way is to just take deep breaths and stop braiding for a minute. If you tilt your head to the side you are braiding one it can alleviate the tension in your arms - a mini workout.
- QuestionHow do you work loose hair into the braid? Because then you won't have 3 strands?Community AnswerYou will still have 3 strands. You just incorporate the loose hair into one of the strands each time you cross it over.
- QuestionHow do I do it on someone else?Community AnswerYou braid it the same way, only you can see what you are doing. Your arms won't get as tired from holding them above your head.
- QuestionHow would I keep it all together?Community AnswerMake sure your strands are all tight (ensuring that they don't fall apart) and that you tie it off firmly at the end.
- QuestionIs it easier to have someone do it for you?Community AnswerYes it would be easier if you simply can't do it. As long as they know what they're doing though!
- Braid your hair in the mirror, so that you can see what you're doing.
- It is easier to braid if your hair is wet.
- This hairstyle is great for activities like dancing or cheerleading. You need to remember to start the braid high on your head and secure it with bobby pins as you go.
- Use the elastic small rubber band to help keep your small middle hair section in place.
- Add the same amount of hair in each added section. If you do not, changing the thickness (amount of hair added) can make the braid look lopsided. The thickness of sections also affects the style of the braid. Thinner sections make a braid look more intricate, and larger sections appear simplified.
- Add hair-spray, if you have thin hair.
- Don't change bringing new strands over then going under, like you do in a Dutch braid, or it will end up looking bad and sloppy.
- If your arms get tired when braiding, take a little break by tying a hair tye under the hair that you have braided. When you are ready to continue, take off the hair tie.
- Keep hair snug to the head as you braid it, but not so tight as to cause discomfort. A loose braid can look sloppy or loosen throughout the day.
- Get a clear chunk of hair to braid so you don't lose the 3 strands while braiding.
- Your arms may get tired while braiding your hair. Bend forward to release tension or rest your arms on a surface behind you (ex. a headboard or backrest).You could also temporarily tie it with elastic and give your arms a rest.
- Be careful not to let go of your hair while French-braiding it, or it might undo and you may have to start over.
About This Article
Before beginning your French braid, brush your hair to remove any tangles or knots. Then, grab a 3-inch section of hair at the crown of your head and divide it into three equal pieces. Start your French braid with one row of a traditional braid, which you can do by first crossing the right strand into the center, then crossing the left strand into the center. As you prepare to repeat your braid, grab a small section of new hair from the area of hair you wish to include in your braid, and incorporate it into the next cross. Be sure to gently comb through any bumps to keep a sleek look. Continue braiding so that every time you do a new cross, you’re gathering slightly more hair. Repeat until your braid is finished. Finally, secure the braid and enjoy! For tips from our Beauty reviewer on how to make an alternate French lace braid, keep reading!
Reader Success Stories
- "I can never do a French plait on my hair usually and this really helped!! I was just plaiting my hair wet to make it curly, so it didn't need to be that neat but it's still the best one I've done. I love the simple step-by-step instructions and videos!"..." more