Hair Braiding

How to French Braid Your Own Hair – Learn More

Welcome to our easy and foolproof tutorial on how to French braid your own hair. For starters, practice in the mirror until you’ve got it down pat. If you find the steps too confusing, practice on someone with long hair and plenty of patience. Is there a shaggy, relaxed dog nearby? Looks like the dogger just volunteered to get a free French braid.

How to French braid your own hair
How to French braid your own hair / Image by Corey O’Brien from unsplash

How to French braid your own hair — Preparation

Get a hair brush and an elastic band. First, brush out the knots in your hair. You can do the braiding on wet or dry hair. Wet hair has a quirky look when released from a braid.
Touch the top center of your skull, which is called “crown”. Pick up enough hair coming out from the crown until you have what you can comfortably hold. This hair is for your first bunch that will make one third of your first braid. You can also bring over the bangs if you like.

Repeat two more times and you will have three bunches of hair. Hold two of them in one hand and the third in the other. Don’t worry if the bunches seem too small; you can always bring over more hair. Run your fingers down the bunches until they’re smooth and even.

Video Tutorial

The pattern

You will now start the French braiding pattern. Look at the hair in your hands and you’ll see the three bunches:

Remember which is which. Take the right bunch over the center one and under the left one. Take the left bunch and take it over the right bunch and beneath the center one. You can already see the pattern forming so hold all three bunches in place with one hand.
You can see the middle bunch is still middle but the left and right bunches switched places. Your goal is to now alternate and weave left and right bunches with the middle: right with middle, left with middle and so on.

Use your free hand to keep adding more hair from places on the head near each bunch. Try using the hair near the face or the neck to give both those areas a neat, clean look. The smaller the bunches, the nicer the braid will look from all angles in the end.
Carry on with braiding and move down the hair bunches. By the time you reach the neck, you should have all the hair you need. Repeat the same braiding pattern you used above and keep going.

Secure the braid with an elastic hair band but don’t use rubber bands, since they tear the hair. When you want to undo the braid, remove the elastic hair band and lightly tug on the bunches. Don’t comb your hair right after undoing a braid or it will be a mess.

How to make the braids neat

By now, you’ve probably mastered the French braid but it most likely looks messy. There are ways to make the braids neater.
First, work as close to your head as you can. Instead of holding your hands a couple inches away, bring them all the way to the skull.
Second, always be cinching the hair so the braid is neat. There’s no need to pull your hair out. Be gentle and work with smaller bunches of hair at first.

How to properly braid neck hair

Bunching up your neck hair too tightly can be a pain in the neck, literally. Pulling too much on the hair there can also cause gradual hair loss, so be gentle. There is a trick with the neck hair, which is to tilt your head forward as you move past the ear.
The head tilt forward will also help you make a better braid. Newbies most often end up with a bunched up or sagging braid at the neck. Those two problems most often happen when you keep your hands too far away from the skull.

Dealing with silky hair

Silky hair is nice and smooth to the touch, not to mention that it looks fabulous. Still, you might find it’s way too difficult to tame your hair into a braid.
Dab your hair with a damp towel or spritz it with some water using a spray bottle. Making your hair wet will help it stay together and reduce the arm fatigue as you’re sorting out the bunches. Texturizing spray works too but don’t get carried away.

How to French braid your own hair — Final tips and tricks

You can actually add a side bunch before you’ve started the braid. The instructions above are simply to get you started — use your imagination and experiment. The key to a cool French braid is twiddling the bunches with your fingers rather than using the entire hand.

If you find your arms get tired too quickly, turn your head to the side and tilt it. Your hair will fall on your side instead of behind you, making it easier to braid it. In case you can’t find a volunteer for your braiding practice and the mirror confuses you, close your eyes. Working blind will help you develop a feel for braiding and let you figure out what’s going on without looking.

Run your fingers down the bunch whenever you take new hair from the scalp. Every bunch needs to be completely inside the braid instead of partly. This will help you keep the braid nice and smooth instead of saggy and loose.
When you have short hair sections that keep falling out of the braid, you can twist the sections or the hair bunch. Feel free to tie off long hair sections that are bothering you while you’re working on the rest of your scalp.

If your French plaits look thin and lackluster, there is a solution called “pancaking”. Try pulling the braid sections apart just a little bit once you’ve woven a braid. Keep the symmetry going and pull apart the same sections across the entire braid, which will add some volume but minimize the messy look.

There is a good video from EverydayHairInspiration Youtube channel about How To French Braid Your Own Hair!
How to Dutch braid Your Own Hair is our next article!