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Feed-In Braids Are the Seamless Braided Hairstyle You Need to Try

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/Getty Images

When it comes to protective hairstyles for natural hair, you've got a lot of options. You can twirl your hair up into traditional Bantu knots, wrap it into Senegalese twists, or you might opt for a braided hairstyle. If braids are your protective style of choice, consider giving feed-in braids a try next time you visit your hairstylist. This increasingly popular, long-lasting technique creates seamless, natural-looking cornrows in many different shapes and sizes. Below, we'll dive deeper into how feed-in braids are created and how they differ from traditional cornrows. We've also highlighted 14 different looks featuring feed-in braids to use as inspo for your next braided hairstyle.

What are feed-in braids?

"Feed-in cornrows are cornrows done with extensions that are installed in a seamless way," says braiding artist Susy Oludele. With the feed-in technique, hair extensions are gradually woven into your natural hair to create a more natural-looking braid and a smoother hairline. Oludele says she loves feed-in braids because they're "seamless, light on the hair, and they look so natural and painless."

To create feed-in braids, your hairstylist will begin by first creating a small braid using just your natural hair. After the plait has been established, little pieces of hair extensions will start to be incorporated. Then, bigger pieces will be woven in further down. "Feed-in braids are different from regular cornrows with extensions because, with regular cornrows, you don’t build the braid. You just install the extensions one time," Oludele explains. "With feed-ins, you install many pieces of hair as you go."

Feed-in braids range widely in cost depending on how intricate of a design you're going for. Once you find a look you like and a braiding salon you're interested in, peep their pricing and compare what you're looking for to the services list. For example, at Oludele's salon Hair by Susy, 18-20" large layered cornrows will cost about $150. Oludele says feed-in cornrows usually last one to two months with maintenance, usually veering closer to one month.

About the Expert:

Susy Oludele is an NYC-based braiding artist and the founder of Hair By Susy. She has worked with celebrities like Solange, Beyonce, and Zoe Kravitz. See more of her work on her Instagram @hairbysusy.

How to Prep for Feed-in Braids

Before heading to your braiding appointment, you'll want to make sure your natural hair is properly primed and prepped. Oludele suggests washing, moisturizing, and detangling your hair just before your appointment. "Using a water bottle with oils in it to spray your hair and detangle will have your hair ready for feed-in cornrows. Some stylists require you to blow dry your hair straight for cornrows. It really depends on your hair and hair texture and your stylist's preference," she says.

Feed-in Braid Inspo

Looking for an inspo pic to bring into your braid artist? Here are 14 fun ways celebs have recently sported feed-in braids on the red carpet.

1. Fulani Braids

Erica Ash rocking a long, braided hairstyle
Photo by Leon Bennett / Stringer/Getty Images

This stunning braided hairstyle was created centuries ago by the Fula people of West Africa. While there can be a lot of variation with Fulani braids, the hairstyle typically includes thin, tight braids that create a unique, distinct pattern around the crown of the head. A feed-in cornrow braided down the center of the head and a few cornrows braided from back-to-front around the temples are two of the most common characteristics you'll see in this hairstyle—both of which Erica Ash sports here.

2. Goddess Braids

A smiling Storm Reid rocking a goddess braids hairstyle
Photo by Emma McIntyre / Staff/Getty Images

Right now, one of the most popular red carpet hairstyles for natural hair is goddess braids. These chunky braids tend to be raised higher and thicker in size than classic cornrows. They can be braided up into a high pony, but one of the most popular ways to sport the style is just like Storm Reid does here, trailing all the way down the head to the nape of the neck and beyond. This protective hairstyle can be a great option for anyone with transitioning hair.

3. Architectural Updo

Yara Shahidi rocking an architectural, braided hairstyle
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/Getty Images

Ready to turn your hair into a structural showcase? We're obsessed with the way Yara Shaidid's feed-in cornrows transition into a bun that's truly a work of art.

4. Daintily Accessorized Braids

Bianca Lawson sporting a braided hairstyle with golden fine coiled wire
Photo by Rich Fury / Staff/Getty Images

If you typically love accenting your braids with beads, braiding string, or hoops, switch things up by copying Bianca Lawson's eye-catching look. Try weaving tinsel or superfine gold hair wire into your braids to replicate the whimsy golden swirls seen here.

5. Wavy Edges with Braids

Ciara rocking a cornrows hairstye with wavy baby hair
Photo by Kevin Winter / Staff/Getty Images

Break out the toothbrush and your favorite styling product because we're about to put those baby hairs on display. We love the way Ciara's pristinely laid wavy edges frame the face while also drawing attention to the smooth, seamless start of her feed-in cornrows.

6. Braided Blunt Bob

Danai Gurira smiling and rocking a short, braided hairstyle
Photo by Dia Dipasupil / Staff/Getty Images

A lot of braided hairstyles use long extensions that take the hair down to the chest or even the waist. But you tend to prefer short hair over long hair, that's totally doable. Danai Gurira does a stellar job showing off how stunning feed-in braids can look on a shoulder-length cut with blunt ends.

7. Mixed-Size Cornrows

Tessa Thompson rocking a cornrows hairstyle
Photo by Frederick M. Brown / Stringer/Getty Images

Tessa Thompson's cornrow style gets a fresh spin with braids that alternate in size, some medium and other a bit smaller. The modern take on the classic look is a perfect pairing of old and new.

8. Romantic Side Braids

Model Leomie Anderson looking fierce in a side braids hairstyle
Photo by John Phillips / Stringer/Getty Images

Rather than going parallel to the scalp like most cornrow hairstyles, these braids take a center part and feature chunky plaits that come down to the sides of the head. It's a sweet, romantic look that can work flawlessly for both fancy and casual occasions.

9. High Pony

Skai Jackson rocking a braided high ponytail hairstyle
Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer/Getty Images

In the mood for an updo? Skai Jackson's trendy feed-in braids swoop up into a high ponytail that's wrapped with braids for a put-together look that's also totally out of your face.

10. Half-Up Fulani Braids

Issa Rae sporting half-up Fulani braids
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff/Getty Images

Let your natural curls shine with a half-up-half-down combo like Issa Rae sports here. In the front, Rae has opted for diagonal, micro-sized Fulani braids with that classic face-framing strand by the temple. In the back, her natural hair creates volume giving the look some dynamic complexity.

11. Diagonal Cornrows

Damaris Lewis sporting diagonal cornrows
Photo by Jamie McCarthy / Staff/Getty Images

Damaris Lewis gives the classic double cornrow a modern twist by angling one of her thick braids so that it's on a diagonal. As an extra touch, a third mini braid highlights the larger angled braid, drawing attention to the unique parting style.

12. Albaso Braids

Jourdan Dunn rocking Albaso braids hairstyle
Photo by Tim P. Whitby / Stringer/Getty Images

Indigenous to Ethiopian and Eritrean tribal groups in East Africa, Albaso braids are another great way to sport a half-up-half-down braid style. This traditional ancestral hairstyle is characterized by a mix of large braids (which are usually braided over rolled hair tubes) and thin braids. The braids typically stop after the frontal crown, allowing the rest of the curly hair to fly free.

13. Rapunzel-Length Goddess Braids

Tracee Ellis Ross smiling and rocking a very long goddess braids hairstyle
Photo by Jon Kopaloff / Stringer/Getty Images

Ready to bring the drama with your feed-in braids? Tracee Ellis Ross’s hairdo is giving us some serious Rapunzel vibes with these chunky, knee-length goddess braids.

14. Minimal Cornrows

Regina King sporting a three cornrows braided hairstyle
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer / Staff/Getty Images

Here's yet another great option if you want to let your natural hair shine while also sporting braids. Regina King's braided style features three small feed-in cornrows to create interest up top while the rest of her is left free. Do as she's doing here and sweep it back into a low ponytail or let those coily curls down to move all around.

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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated March 18, 2021 12:00 AM