Nicely styled braids not only look beautiful, but they can also actually help your hair to grow. You might think that this is just one of those silly myths, but there are sound reasons why braiding your hair can help you to keep your hair strong and healthy. A braid is a protective hairstyle. Other protective styles include buns and French twists.
- 1 How Does A Protective Hairstyle Work?
- 2 Before You Braid
- 3 Make Sure That Your Hair Is Clean
- 4 Condition
- 5 Taking Care of Your Braid
- 6 Traditional Three Strand Braid
- 7 French Braid
- 8 Dutch Braid/Inverted French Braid
- 9 Rope Braid
- 10 Fishtail Braid
- 11 Dual Texture Braid
- 12 Halo Braid
- 13 Braided Bun
- 14 Chainlink Braid
- 15 Five Strand Braid
- 16 Spiral Braid
- 17 Pigtail Buns
- 18 Multi Strand Braid
- 19 Twist Crown Braid
- 20 Snake Braids
- 21 Milkmaid Braid
- 22 Side Braids
- 23 French Twist
- 24 Chignon
How Does A Protective Hairstyle Work?
Braids and other protective styles strengthen your hair by immobilizing strands within the braid. This protects your hair from day-to-day contact with fabrics, people and objects that can cause breaks.
Hair that is braided is combed and brushed less frequently which reduces breaking, and hair that is kept tidy within a braid has no opportunity to tangle up, so you won’t damage your hair by dragging a comb through it to detangle it.
Braids are a centuries old hair care method for bedtime wear because the protected hair in the braid won’t fracture or tangle as you move around in bed.
Protective hairstyles prevent hair loss that is caused by friction, so you’ll have a thicker head of hair, and they protect against breaks, allowing your hair to grow longer.
The ends of your hair strands are the oldest parts of your hair and they are the most prone to damage, breaks and splits. By keeping them tucked away inside a braid you prevent damage to these delicate ends.
Hair that is woven into a braid is also able to hold onto its moisture more effectively than loose hair and this extra hydration prevents breakages.
When you wear your hair in braids, you also give your hair a break from the stresses of styling. Hot styling tools and all of the gels, mousses and sprays used to create many hairstyles, take a really destructive toll on hair condition.
When you braid you just need clean, combed out hair, a few pins and a few elastics. No hot straighteners, curling irons, rollers, crimpers, blow drying, moussing, gelling or spraying.
Because braids are usually worn for several days or more, you can wash your hair less frequently. Shampoos are drying, and this is a major cause of hair becoming brittle and parched. It doesn’t matter how much conditioner you apply, once the hair shaft has been stripped of its internal moisture it’s damaged.
When you shampoo your hair, the detergent in the shampoo causes your protective hair cuticle to open up. This means that the harsh detergent can get inside your hair shaft and strip the moisture from the inside. For healthy, strong hair you should use shampoo as infrequently as you can.
The longer that you leave a braid in, or re-braid without shampooing, the better condition your hair will be ultimately in.
There is an alternative to shampoo which gets your hair clean and leaves it soft and shiny without stripping it. All you need is vinegar and water, or lemon juice and water hair rinse.
This mild cleanser doesn’t rough up your cuticle and damages the inner structure of your hair shaft, it just cleanses excess oil and dirt from the surface. Even dry hair that is normally a pain to comb through after washing responds well to this hair rinse. Combing after using diluted vinegar or lemon juice, is as easy as running a hot knife through butter.
When it comes to protective hairstyles, it’s more accurate to say that not braiding your hair causes it to break off, rather than the braiding itself causes it to grow.
If you find that you tend to lose a lot of hair each time that you brush, or you wake up with a covering of hair on your pillow then you might need to increase your hydration levels or improve your levels of vitamins and minerals.
Your hair is made from a protein called keratin. Keratin is assembled from various amino acids in your body and that process requires good levels of vitamins and minerals. Your hair follicles also need to be well nourished so that they can grow your hair at their maximum rate, and so that the hair they produce is strong and healthy.
Braiding your hair will only give you longer healthier hair if you braid it properly. Braiding it too tightly can lead to breakage as can weaving braids that are too tiny.
You also need to take care of your hair and your scalp while you’re wearing your braid.
Before You Braid
Make Sure That Your Hair Is Clean
Use a clarifying shampoo to remove all traces of hair styling product buildup. Regular shampoo won’t completely cleanse that build up from your hair. You can purchase clarifying shampoo or you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to a regular amount of your normal shampoo. Massage into your hair and allow it to work for a couple minutes, then rinse out. Wash once more with regular shampoo.
Before you braid, it’s best to use a deep conditioning hair treatment to get as much moisture into the hair shaft as you can. Use a natural oil like coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil or argan oil. Apply the oil to your hair and massage it into your scalp, then work it all the way along your hair shafts from root to tip. Pop a shower cap over your hair and wrap a warm towel (fresh from the clothes dryer) over the top. Leave for at least a couple of hours before rinsing and washing.
The trick to getting the most benefit from a deep conditioning treatment is to remove the oil without stripping the hair with damaging shampoo again.
To do this, you can use an egg wash.
- eggs cut through oil & grease
- eggs have abundant protein to strengthen and thicken your hair
- eggs contain vitamins A, D, & E which help to add shine to your hair
Mix one large egg with 2 tablespoons of water and whip it up with a fork to get a good mix.
Massage into your hair and scalp, leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse with lukewarm to cool water. Don’t use hot or you’ll have cooked egg in your hair.
Run your fingers through your hair and see how it feels. You may need to follow up with just a few drops of shampoo or a pure liquid castille soap.
You can give a final rinse with a very weak lemon or vinegar solution if you want to.
Mix one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar into two cups of warm water and pour over your hair, massaging it through your hair as you go. Let it sit for two minutes then rinse with clean water.
Blot your hair with a towel, don’t rub, then comb it out with a wide toothed comb. Leave it to air dry so that you don’t damage your hair with any heat.
Once your hair is dry, brush or comb through to remove any trace of tangles.
Taking Care of Your Braid
Once your hair is braided, you still need to take care of it. You can leave your braids in just for sleeping or you can leave them in for weeks at a time.
For longer term braids you will need to keep your hair clean and conditioned. Aim to wash your hair once every 7-10 days.
To wash braided hair, use a watered-down shampoo in the shower. Concentrate on your root zone and just let the residual shampoo run down your braid. As you rinse your hair, the soapy water will wash over your braid to clean it. You don’t need to rub at your hair or try to work the shampoo into the braid. It’s not necessary.
Apply a watered-down conditioner over your braid and to your roots. Leave the conditioner in for 5 to 10 minutes then rinse gently. Carefully squeeze the moisture out of your braid with a clean towel. Be very gentle so that you don’t pull hairs from the weave. Allow your hair to dry naturally if possible or use a blow dryer on a low heat setting and hold it away from your hair.
In between washes you can spritz your hair with clean water a couple of times a day to stop it from drying out. You can also apply a light oil to your hair while it’s in a braid. Choose oils like argan oil or rice bran oil that are fully absorbed and don’t leave any greasy residue behind. Pour a little oil into your palm and rub your hands together to coat both palms and your fingers. Then smooth your hands over your braid to apply the oil.
To prevent wear and tear on your hair invest in some quality elastics. I love the ones made by BLAX. They cost a little more, but they slide in and out without any friction or pulling. And each band lasts practically forever.
Traditional Three Strand Braid
Brush your hair back and separate it into three equal sections.
Hold all three strands, bring the right section over the top of the middle section. Then bring the left section over the new middle strand. Continue all the way to the end and secure with an elastic.
The French braid is a classic hairstyle. Although it looks complicated, it’s actually quite simple to create this braid.
Begin by brushing your hair back with a paddle brush so that it is smooth. Then, use a comb or your fingers to gather a wide section of your hair from your temples to the crown of your head.
Separate this first section into three equal lengths. Just like simple braids, French braids use three sections of hair to form the braid. Make sure that none of the sections are larger or smaller than the other two.
Hold two strands with one hand, and the third strand with the other. Begin by crossing the right strand over the center strand. Then, cross the left strand over the new center strand. Continue this traditional braid for a few rows.
Keep braiding in this traditional pattern but begin to bring in other pieces of hair as you go. Each time that you go to cross a section of the braid over the center grab some hair from that side of your head and include it in the crossover.
By the time that you reach the nape of your neck, you should have incorporated all of your hair. Finish the braid by continuing with a traditional 3 strand braiding pattern, then secure the end to finish.
Dutch Braid/Inverted French Braid
The Dutch braid is an inside out French braid. Again, it looks complicated, but it isn’t, especially if you’ve already mastered the French braid.
Brush your hair back so that there is no part to your hair.
Gather a section from the top of your hair and separate it into 3 equal strands.
Cross the right strand under the center strand. Then cross the left strand under the center strand. Keep repeating this crossover pattern while gathering in hair from the sides.
Continue the Dutch braid until you reach the nape of your neck and then finish off the length with a traditional braid pattern and secure with an elastic.
Brush your hair back and put your hair into a ponytail. Split the ponytail into two sections
Twist the hair in each section of the ponytail in the same direction. Once you’ve twisted for about 3 inches begin to cross the two sections over one another, then keep twisting and crossing all the way along the length of your hair. Secure it at the ends with an elastic band.
Divide your hair into two even sections. Take a half inch strand of hair from the outside of the left section. Pull this strand up and over the rest of the left section towards the right one.
Tuck that thin strand underneath the right section. It will now become part of the right section. Tug on both sections to tighten them. The tighter you make your braid, the better.
Next take a half inch strand from the outside of the right section. Pull this strand up and over the rest of the right section towards the left one.
Tuck it underneath the left section. It is now part of the left section.
Continue to alternate the sides until you reach the end of your hair.
Leave an inch of your hair unbraided so that you can tie it off.
Dual Texture Braid
Create a deep part on the right or left side of your head and pull your hair over to the opposite side. Begin by creating a French braid, pulling pieces from your hairline each time, and braid past your ear. Secure the braid so it doesn’t unravel. Then, begin at your right temple and French braid the second section of hair, following the nape of your neck until it meets the first braid.
Combine the hair where the two braids meet and then make a fishtail braid down to the end.
Part your hair down the center. Start at the nape of your neck on your left side and begin creating an inverted French braid following your hairline.
Continue the braid all the way around your head until you’ve braiding all your hair. Secure the ends and tuck them underneath the braid.
Tie your hair in a ponytail at the nape of your neck.
Braid your ponytail in a traditional three strand braid all the way down to the tips of your hair.
Use your fingers to create an opening in the area of your hair just above the ponytail holder. Reach your thumb and index finger up and underneath your ponytail holder so they poke through the opening.
Lift your braid up with your free hand and pass it to the two fingers poking out through the hole. Hook the braid with your fingers and pull it through the hole.
Pass your braid through the hole a second time, but this time don’t pull it all the way through, leave the bulkiest part of the braid outside the hole. Use a couple of pins to secure.
Make a low ponytail and separate it into four sections.
To begin, take the third section and cross it over the second, then take the fourth section and cross it under the second and third sections, and then up and back over the third section.
Now bring the first section underneath the third and fourth sections. Continue this sequence until you’ve reached the ends.
Five Strand Braid
A five-strand braid is a little more intricate and interesting than a standard three strand braid.
Secure your hair into a ponytail and separate the hair into five equal sections.
Hold the two leftmost strands in your left hand, and the two rightmost strands in your right hand, allow the center strand to hang loose.
Move the leftmost strand (number 1) to the center by crossing it over strand 2, and under strand 3, so that it’s the new center strand.
Move the rightmost strand to the center by crossing it over strand 4 and under strand 1, so that it’s the new center strand.
Keep alternating like this until you have reached the end of your hair. Secure with an elastic.
Brush your hair back and gather it at the crown. Start French braiding counterclockwise across the front of your hairline, continue braiding around your head, across the nape and back up the right side. Finish off by concealing the ends of your hair in the braid.
Create a center parting running from the front of your hairline to the nape of your neck.
Pull each side of your hair into a pigtail in the position you would like your buns to sit. Secure each one with an elastic.
Create a traditional 3 strand braid in the first pigtail.
Keep a firm grasp of the end of your hair and wrap the braid back around the base of the pigtail and tuck the end in under itself. Fix with bobby pins to hold the braid securely in place.
Repeat on the other side but this time wrap the braid around the base of the ponytail in the opposite direction, so that one pigtail is wrapped clockwise, and the other is wrapped counterclockwise.
Multi Strand Braid
Split your hair into three sections.
Braid each section until you reach the ends and secure with elastics.
Use these three braids to create one larger braid.
Twist Crown Braid
Start by separating your hair. If you want your braid to go left, take a section of hair starting at the left of your part, if you want it to go right, take a section of hair from the right side. Split this section of hair in two, so that you have one section on your hairline, and the other just behind it.
Twist the top strand around the back strand while you hold the back section of hair still. Bring the top section behind it and then back around to the front.
Take some new hair from your hairline and make it part of the front section. The section that you separate from your hairline should be a similar size to the main section that you’re working with.
Do the same thing to the back section. Cross the back section behind the front section and twist it around to hang in front.
Continue braiding until you reach the nape of your neck. Secure with bobby pins.
You can make one large braid or several smaller ones.
Take a section of your hair and divide it into 3 strands. Make a traditional braid all the way along to the end.
With one hand hold the center strand of hair from the braid and grip the ends of the other two strands with your other hand.
Carefully push the other two strands along the center strand of the braid with your other hand.
Spread the braid back out a little so that you can clearly see the strands spiraling around the center. Secure with an elastic.
Use a tail comb to create a straight center part all the way from your forehead to the nape of your neck. Take each side and make a ponytail. Tie off the bases of the two ponytails with elastics.
Make either a traditional 3 strand braid, rope braid, or fishtail braid on each side and secure the ends with elastics.
Bring one finished braid up around the side of your head and up onto the top. Use a pin to secure it behind your ear. Tuck the loose end into your hair and secure it with another pin.
Repeat with the other braid on the opposite side of your head.
Part your hair to the left or right and gather all your hair over to the opposite side. If your part is on the right side, make sure your hair is on the left side and vice versa.
Split the hair into three sections and starting underneath your ear, braid as you normally would to the end of the hair and secure with an elastic.
Sweep your hair off to one side, just slightly off center. Insert a bobby pin in the center where you will make the twist to secure the hair.
Working from the bottom, insert several more bobby pins, crisscrossing them to hold the hair in place. Finish by pushing in the last one facing downward. Gather hair in one hand and brush it to tidy it up before you twist
Twist tightly, pulling up. Place more pins horizontally at the base of the twist to hold the style. Carefully tuck the ends of your hair inside the twist to finish.
Brush your hair back and gather in one hand. Secure the base with an elastic. Twist in a clockwise direction all the way along the length of your hair. Hold your hair with one hand and keep the twist in place as you wrap the spiral around the base. Place the index finger of your other hand in the center of the base to keep the bun in place as you wrap. Tuck the tips into the bun. Secure with pins.
Updated: October 15, 2018 by Dr. Kimberly Langdon M.D. All medical facts and points stated on this page are correct as of this date. Please be aware that new content and additional references were added in this last update. All the content and media has been uploaded by Lily Greene our webmaster, who is also in charge of page design.