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Every girl loves a good braid.
I feel like they go in and out of style, but one that you see the most often and is the most classic, at least where I live, is the standard French braid.
I learned to French braid when I was pretty young, probably around 7.
I was big into dolls, and only because I wanted to do their hair. I loved “doing” hair from when I was old enough to figure out how to brush my dolls’ hair.
I even played “beauty shop” with my dad, giving him a beard trim and a shave, using his shoe as a pretend “shaver”.
My mom taught me how to braid. I know, you’re surprised that she taught me, right? I’m being sarcastic here; she taught me a whole lot.
I started by watching her braid her own hair. Then she taught me how to braid with my doll’s hair. My favorite to braid was a doll similar to an American Girl doll that my grandparents gave me for Christmas. I then moved my skills to my own hair, which I was so proud of!
My stepdaughter asks me on the regular to braid her hair. I love it because for the longest time, (I met her when she was almost 2, she’ll be 11 in March) she wouldn’t let me do much to her hair. I’d send her to school with a cute headband or ponytail and by the time we picked her up, her hair would be down and messy. Pretty typical for a child, but now that she’s a little bit older it’s fun to style and braid her hair because she likes to get creative with it.
To my surprise, a lot of people don’t know how to French braid. If you’re one of those people and you’re looking how to learn, you’re in the right place!
First, let me give you a few pointers.
- Practice, practice, practice. If you have some dolls around it’s best to practice on them. Or, if you have a patient child or person to practice on, that works just as well.
- Dry hair works best. You can braid wet or damp hair, but the hair lays the flattest and looks the best if you braid the hair dry.
- Brush the hair thoroughly. You don’t want any snarled parts or knots in the hair you’re braiding.
- If you’re going for a braid for a little wave in the hair like my stepdaughter likes, it’s best to braid the hair damp, not wet, the night before and then sleep in it. Voila! In the morning you will have wavy hair when you take out the braid.
- When you reach the center of the head, make sure you ask the person you’re braiding to look down. I mean look down, not just lower. Like at the feet. This will keep the braid tight and keep the hair there from looking loose or messy.
- You can part the hair down the middle and section off two sections on both side of the head for two braids if you’d like. It’s a touch trickier, so it may be good to get a solid good one down before you move to two.
Okay! Now, on to the French braid!
1. Starting at the crown of the head, brush the hair into a section similar to a “half up” hair style, but less hair and higher up. Like this:
2. This braid is done with three stands, so you want to section off three parts of this section. Like this:
3. Starting at either the right or the left, whichever feels natural for you, cross a section over the middle section. I always start with the right strand and move it over the middle section. The middle section then becomes the outer right section. If you started with the left side, the middle section would then become the outer left section. Like this:
4. Repeat with the opposite side. So if you started with the right, now take the left section and place it over the middle section. Like this:
5. From here, you basically repeat, but you’re going to add hair from the remaining hair below that braid until it is all incorporated into the French braid. You want to be somewhat consistent in the amount of hair you’re adding so the braid looks uniform from top to bottom. I usually gauge it by the first knuckle of my pointer finger. Take some hair from the hair that is down and add it into the strand you will be crossing over the middle.
It will look like this:
6. Keep braiding, but remember to add hair from the bottom hair that isn’t in the braid as you continue. If you’re on the right side going to cross over the center, then you will grab hair from the bottom right side. Same on the opposite side. It will start to look like this:
7. When you reach the half way down point, start asking the person to look down. This will keep the French braid tight and will look better. In the picture, I’ve asked her to look down:
8. When there’s no more hair to add from the bottom, you just continue to braid normally, without adding any more hair. When you’ve come to the bottom of the braid, you fasten it with a pony tail holder (click here for the ones I use and love). Voila! You’ve just created a French braid! Easy right?
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!