Different Styles of Braiding Hair

Braiding hair is weaving various numbers of strands of hair in a pattern to form a hairstyle. Braids can be made with differing numbers of strands, with three being the most common. Different styles of braids are named based on how the braids themselves are formed (French, Dutch, etc.) and on how the braids are styled on the head.

  1. Three Strand Braids and Variations

    • A simple braid is made from three equal strands of hair. The hair strand on the outside right passes over the top of the hair next to it and becomes the middle strand. Then the hair strand on the outside left passes over the hair next to it to become the middle strand. This braiding action is continued along the length of the hair, then secured with a rubber band or covered elastic.

      A French braid is made using the simple three-strand technique except that it begins with a small section of hair, and additional strands are added to the outside strands as the braid progresses along the length of the hair. A French braid lies flat against the head. This is the same technique used for cornrows except that instead of dividing the entire head into one or two sections which essentially follow a straight path, the hair is divided into a number of different sections, some of which may form complex patterns.

      A lace braid is made in the same fashion as a French braid except that hair is only added to one side, not both. A perimeter braid is similar to a lace braid. The hair is divided vertically into two even sections, and loose lace braid is made near the ear. Then the two lace braids are brought together in the middle back and fastened together.

      A Dutch braid is similar to a French braid in that it uses three strands of hair, begins at one point and gathers in more hair until reaching the end. The difference is how the strands are braided. In a French braid, the hair strand comes over the top and down into the center. In a Dutch braid, the hair comes from the outside and up into the center. This results in a braid that sits on top of the hair.

    Two Strand Braids and Variations

    • A twist uses two strands of hair. The two strands are twisted one over another to form an attractive style. Like the French or Dutch braid, they can begin at one point on the head and travel along the length of hair to the end.

      A herringbone or fishtail braid begins with two primary strands of hair. An additional strand of hair is picked up on the outside right, crosses over the right primary strand and is added to the left primary strand. Then an additional strand of hair is picked up on the outside left and passed over the primary left strand to become part of the right primary strand. When there is no more hair to be added, a section of hair from the back of each primary strand passes to the outside and over the primary strand to join the hair on the opposite side. This continues along the length of the hair.

    Multiple Strands

    • Braids can also be made using four strands of hair, five strands, even nine or more. These styles may require more than one stylist and a considerable amount of experience.

    Braiding Styles

    • When braids encircle the head like a crown, the style is called a crown braid; if only part of the hair is used to form the crown and the remaining hair is left loose, the style is called a cascading crown. When two braids are joined and braided together, the style is called a combo braid. When two braided strands are pinned together, the resulting style is called a rose stem if one end is pinned and a classic if both ends are pinned. Braids may be accented with additional smaller braids, ribbons, bows and flowers.

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