Most hairstyles can make or break your look, but braids will never go out of style. A great thing, they are versatile and can take you from formal parties to casual weekends. More than that, the ways of styling your hair with braids are endless. Think of waterfall braids, fishtail braids, French braids, Dutch braids, and such that will add some personality to your style. So, keep on reading for the beautiful braid hairstyles that will spice up your looks.
Where Do Braid Hairstyles Come From?
Most hairstyle trends come and go, but braids remain a classic for a reason—they are versatile, stylish, and elegant. Do you know that braid hairstyles were used as a symbol of one’s social status, wealth, age, religion, culture, tradition, and ethnicity? Of all the women, African women use their hairstyle to show their rich culture and history.
If you’ll notice, women of color usually wear braids as a protective hairstyle, but it actually rooted from their traditions. In fact, the Black Is Beautiful movement even pushed African women to be proud of their hair by wearing them in braids, cornrows, afros, and such. That’s the reason why black women usually wear box braids, Senegalese twists, cornrow braids, and such.
Do you know that Native Americans used braids to show their tribes’ history and tradition? In fact, some tribes required single women to wear their in braids, while married women wore their hair loose. More than that, their braid hairstyles were passed down to generations, decorating their daughters and granddaughters the same braids they had when they were a kid.
If you think long hair is only for men, think again, as the Plains Indian men sported long braids. On the contrary, women had their hair shorter than the Plains Indian men. Are you familiar with the Chinese “queue” braid that is worn with a hat? It actually originated in the Qing dynasty where men sported the shaved look while leaving a long braided hair behind.
According to the history, braid hairstyles were used to hide seeds, gold and even send maps and messages. In fact, the plaits also served as a number of roads they need to take just to escape.
Unfortunately, slavery of African women in the past made a huge impact on their hair culture, making it more challenging to understand the history of braids. Do you know that the trauma of the slavery also caused an erasure to their culture? In fact, some colonizers shaved their heads just to strip their culture and tradition.
Also, women in the past use shells, beads and jewels as hair accessories, which signify one’s rank in society. Some women even said that their kinky hair was used to be perceived as unattractive, which makes them prove that they can be artistic and creative enough to make their hair look its best.
A great thing, black women did their best to preserve their hair culture by still wearing braid hairstyles. In fact, during the Great Migration, black women wore their braid hairstyles and it became a popular look in several states in U.S. For black women, braid hairstyles are an expression of their love for culture and tradition. A great thing, even women with naturally straight hair began to wear braid hairstyles, making the look more acceptable to the society.
We now know that cornrows started in Africa around 3500 BC, making it the oldest braid hairstyle. In fact, researchers have found a painting of a woman with cornrows, along with a clay sculpture depicting the Nok civilization with cornrows.
Do you know that even the ancient Egyptians used the braid hairstyle along with wigs and jewels to decorate their hair? More than that, braids were also used to style ancient Egyptians beards, which is also a symbol of divinity that’s evident in Tutankhamun’s mask.
Around 79 CE, Julia, the daughter of Roman emperor Titus sported different style of braids. If you’re a big fan of Greek goddess braids, you might know that even the servants in ancient Greece donned the look. In fact, some Greek sculptures show the hairstyles of the ancient Greek women, proving that braid hairstyles were a symbol of one’s social status.
Also, the ancient Celtic men and women wore intricate braid hairstyles, especially the noble class. On the other hand, the working class only wore braid hairstyles just to keep their hair away from their face while working.
You might be attracted to wear hair accessories with your braid hairstyles be it fishtail, French braid, or Dutch braid, but do you know that women in the Middle Ages were required to cover their braid hairstyles with headpieces, or else they will be called as witches?
Braided Hairstyles and Fashion
Do you know that the Mongol Empire is known for its noblewomen with elaborate braid hairstyles? Film makers and other critiques even say that Queen Amidala of Star Wars film got the look from them. You might be familiar from large hair wings of Queen Amidala, and the noblewomen of Mongolia don’t have to be a queen just to don the look.
Do you still remember when Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and other renowned fashion designers sent their models on the runway wearing braided hairstyles? Do you still remember when the actress of the Sounder film wore gravity-defying braids on the the promotion of the Oscar-nominated film? Also, in the 1980s, actresses started wearing braids on the red carpets.
In 2000s, braid hairstyles became popular for music artists, featuring the look on their music videos. In fact, when Alicia Keys sported the braid hairstyle, some black women were really happy, as for them it’s giving the idea that you can be successful with braids.
Do you know that our digital era made the braided hairstyles more creative and elaborate than ever? In fact, social platforms like Instagram and Facebook, along with YouTube tutorials give endless inspirations to get braid hairstyles.
Nowadays, there are lots of braided hairstyles that you can choose from to add some personality to your style and looks. Think of French braids, box braids, Dutch braids, cornrows, fishtail braids, twists and such that are fashion-forward and cool. After all, braid hairstyles will always be in fashion since they’re practical and chic.
Why You Should Try Braided Hairstyles?
Braided hairstyles are great for adding some glam to your simple style, but do you know braids have more than one function? We all now know that braided hairstyles were used to show one’s social standing in the community or to showcase one’s culture and tradition. Yes, even braid patterns were a symbol of one’s identity, and getting your hair braided nowadays will still show your historical culture.
Do you know that in some tribes, especially for Hopi tribe, braid hairstyles are used as a cultural function? In fact, only married women have the right to wear braids. But more than that, braided hairstyles can also be used to keep your hair neat and clean, especially those braided look in cornrows and full-on braids.
In fact, some women don’t have time to wash and fix their naturally curly or even kinky hair on a daily basis, and braids are used as a protective hairstyle. If you’re a woman on the go and got some errands to do, braid hairstyles will keep your hair out of your face, keeping you fresh and chic all day.
Do you know that braid hairstyles are the go-tos of women with natural kinky hair textures because they are practical and low-maintenance? Unlike straight hair that’s easier to wash, style, and manipulate, kinky hair is challenging to style.
That is why black women consider braid hairstyles as a protective hairstyle, as they wouldn’t go for braids, they will literally need heat styling tools just to make their hair look more presentable on a daily basis. Women with kinky hair find braid hairstyles more practical than fashionable, as it will protect their natural kinky hair from heat damage.
Do you know that braid hairstyles were perceived as unsophisticated? Nowadays, braid hairstyles are more of a practical thing since women on the go have lesser time to prepare and style their hair. Braid hairstyles can also make your hair glamorous, make your face shape more proportioned, and add some personality to your looks.
A great thing, you can have different styles of braids every day. Hair experts even say that braid hairstyles can protects your natural hair since it can prevent split ends and damaged hair due to use of heat styling tools.
What You Should Know Before Braiding Your Hair
You should add texture to your hair, or go for second-day hair.
If you’re hair is clean, you can add some texture to it with dry shampoo, hair wax, or pomade to add some grip as too clean hair will be slippery for braids. It might sound unhygienic, but do you know that braid hairstyles will last longer if the hair is two to three days old?
However, you should start with a dry hair, and you should avoid product overload. If you braid your hair while it is wet, then, it will be very heavy for your roots that can cause some falling hair or even damage to your strands. Also, your hair will likely be too stiff if you apply too much product.
A sleek, neat parting is essential for any braid hairstyles.
Do you know that your part whether it’s on center, a straight one, or a zigzag design will affect the overall look of your braids? Yes, you’ll need a rattail comb to make it precise. More than that, you should start with a clean, straight hair. Remember, knotty strands will only cause more tangles while you do the braiding, so it’s better to smoothen your hair out, making the process easier and seamless.
A perfectly structured braid is the perfect foundation of any look.
If you’re aiming for a messy or undone vibe, you might think of going for loose braids that will give a messy look. But according to hair stylists, you should opt for a good structure first before messing it up in the end.
After all, if you have a clean foundation of braids, then it will be easier to manipulate your hair whether you like to loosen your braids a bit, roughen up your hair texture a bit, or add a purposeful flyaway hair. In fact, you can even use a fine-tooth comb to tease your hair and add some volume to your desired part.
Beautiful Braid Hairstyles to Try Now
Side Cornrows Braids
Cornrows used to be a symbol of culture for some, but lately, we’re seeing half-up hairstyles, mixing cornrows with different styles of braids and styled with different types of hair. Whether you got a straight, wavy, curly, or even kinky hair, you can absolutely think of side cornrows braids.
Just like with any hairstyle, you should start with a clean, moisturized, and healthy hair. Before proceeding to the braiding process, you should let your hair dry and detangle all the knots. Some women prefer to use hair creams, hair oil, or even mousse to add some grip to the braiding hair, but remember that a little bit of product goes a long way. After all, you don’t want an oily, greasy hairstyle.
When it comes to create cornrows, you have to part your hair depending on how big or small you want your braids to be. As a rule of thumb, the smaller portion of your hair is good for cornrows. Since you need to make your partings precise and neat, use a rat tail comb, then, secure them with a hair clip, so no stray hair will get in your way while doing the braids.
As a tip for cornrows, you need to use strands of hair, doing the standard braid crossing each section. One good thing about cornrows is you’re free to experiment with your hair, as you can create thick and thin braids, along with zigzag, curvy, and other designs on your partings.
If you’ve got a shorter, blunt haircut, you may go for cornrows and proceed with boxer braids. All you need is to cornrow your hair on the sides, and finish the rest with the traditional braid, section by section.
If you want a more feminine style of braids, go for side swept braids that can take you from weekends to parties. Side swept braids can look casual and laidback, or fancy and glamorous depending on how you’re going to style your look.
If you want to make your braids a bit polished yet not overdone, use a mousse that will give your hair some grip. Do you know that mousse is great for women with thin hair, as it can add some volume to the look? When creating a side part for your side swept braids, keep in mind that the larger section of your hair is for your braids.
It’s up to you which kind of braid you like on your hair. You can go for the simple braid, fishtail braid, Dutch braid, or even French braid. Once you finished braiding your hair on the sides, secure the ends with a hair clip or hair elastic. It’s up to you whether you like to pull your hair together for a ponytail or give with a slightly undone vibe.
We all know that the shorter your hair, the more challenging it is to braid. A great thing, a side swept braid will work for your shorter hair. Don’t fret, simple doesn’t mean boring as it’s up to your personality to and confidence to bring the look. Do you know that some women even go for braided bangs? That only shows that regardless how short your hair is, you can still go for a braid hairstyle.
If you’re aiming for a sleek, simple look, you could never go wrong with a French braid. It’s a classic hairstyle that will never go out of style, and is perfect for dinner dates, weekends, parties, and even for the office. A great thing, French braid will add the illusion of a more voluminous and healthy hair, perfect for women suffering from thinning hair.
To make your French braid pop, add some mousse or hairspray to your hair that will also add some shine and texture to your strands. To take your hairstyle to the next level, you may also think of adding in some hair extensions whether matching it with the color of your natural hair or go bright. As a rule of thumb, you should always make your hair tangle-free and clean before starting on the braiding process.
Start where you would want to place your French braids and split your hair into three parts to prepare it for braiding. Do the traditional braiding method of starting at the left side, crossing the hair over the middle portion, and so on. You can always secure your braids with elastic, but a chic accessory will add some personality to your looks.
If you’re aiming for a sleek, minimalist braid, opt for a top French braid. However, this hairstyle is best when your hair is a bit voluminous and puffy. A great thing, you can add some texture to your straight hair with a texturizing hairspray, giving you that gritty yet polished look.
If you like, you may even go for a Dutch braid updo. All you need is to secure your hair with a clip, so your hairstyle will look polished and neat. Some women even think of getting double Dutch top braids for where even shorter hair lengths will be able to rock the look.
If you want a flirty look for a Sunday brunch with your girls, or a romantic look for your upcoming dinner date, go for a fishtail braid. It can actually dress up your simple outfit of tee and jeans, or a classic little black dress.
However, fishtail braids are best for women with voluminous and fuller hair, so the intricate details of the braids will show. If you need to boost your hair volume, prep your hair with a volumizing hairspray or cream. Fish tail braids are best with ponytails, so start by parting your hair in your desired part and pull your hair into a ponytail, securing the ends with hair elastic.
All you have to do is to divide your ponytail into two sections and start braiding. The fishtail braiding is quite complex, so it would be better to take some practice before going to the actual braiding. Most of the time, you just need to take smaller section from one of the two parts you have, crossing it over the inner section of the other part of your hair.
If you’ve got some highlights, a loose fishtail braid is the best way to show off your hair. If you’ve got a longer hair, you may even think of mermaid braids that will look great when mixed with fishtail braids and even traditional braids. Just finish off the look with a texturizing or even a volume-boosting hairspray, keeping your hairstyle polished and neat.
We all know that pigtails are a favorite hairstyle of ours when we were a kid, but don’t fret as pigtail braids are a more grown-up way of wearing the cute hairstyle. All you need is to create a center part be it straight or zigzag, take your hair into pigtails, and start braiding from there.
Start by dividing one of your pigtails into three parts, and do the braid of your choice. You may go for a traditional three strand braid and put it in a bun, or make things a little bit undone. If you like, you may even braid your hair first before securing them into pigtails, which can take more creativity to do.
If you want a hairstyle that will look stylish for all occasions, think of a sleek braid that can take you from office to cocktail parties. You may think of having a ponytail braid, half-up half down braid, or any hairstyle that will keep your hair out of your face. If you wish to look cool at the gym without looking over the top, a ponytail braid is your way to go.
To get a sleek braid, you should start with clean hair. If you like, you may even use hair products that minimize frizz, so your braid hairstyle will look polished all day.
As a rule of thumb, make sure your hair is free of knots and tangles that will really add to the sleek factor of your look. If you wish to go for a ponytail braid, start braiding the hair whether you wish to go for rope, fishtail, or traditional style. Do you know that hairspray or even a hair serum can make your look sleeker and more polished?
Depending on your style and personality, you can go for a braided headband that looks chic, creative, feminine, or even avant-garde and a bit unexpected. With this look, you’ll be able to wear your hair down or up in a ponytail. However, this look is better suited for women with thicker and medium-length hair, since it will take lots of hair to create a braided headband.
Most of the time, you just need to part your hair in the middle, and grab some hair behind your ear. Start doing the braids as usual, and when you finished the braids secure the ends with hair elastic. You can use your braided hair as a headband that can be placed on the top of your head and secure it with some hair pins and hairspray.
If you have a medium-length hair, think of a Dutch braided headband. All you need is to start braiding near your hairline, so the Dutch braid will be placed across your head. However, this look will look best with a sleek hair, on contrary to messy bohemian braids. If you wish to upgrade your braided headband, think of a fishtail braid. This look is great for women who’ve already mastered the hairstyle. All you need is to keep it in place and secure it with a hair pin.
Messy Bohemian Braids
If you want to add some carefree spirit to your style, go for bohemian braids, giving you a surfer-inspired look. To make the hairstyle a bit undone, you have to start with a hair with a bit of texture, which can be achieved with a texturizing hairspray. Do you know that you can even create braids without the use of hair ties? That might sound impossible, but everything can be achieved with a good hairspray.
Do the braids of your choice whether it’s a French braid, Dutch braid, simple braid and such. A great thing, this messy braid hairstyle will work for women with shorter hair length. After all, you don’t need to weave all your hair till the ends just to create the look. A strong-hold styling hairspray is great if you want to skip hair ties, but you can always go for clear elastics to secure your braids.
Braids are an expression of art and personality that will allow you to show off your creative styling skills, revamp your style, and add some life to your daily looks. By heeding these tricks, you’ll be able to switch between these beautiful braid hairstyles and make your everyday looks fashion-forward and chic.