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5 Easy Steps to Master French Braiding


French braids are the easiest way to add glam to your look in seconds. Whether you’re hunting for a replacement for your reliable ponytail, or you’ve gone down a rabbit hole of Insta braid hairstyles and have no idea where to start, we’ve got all the simple steps you need to nail this look. Scroll on for a hair tutorial that won’t let you down!

A profile image of a model with loose braids having a rose gold eyeshadow look and dark berry lipstick

What You’ll Need

Ready to create this classic hairstyle? Load up on these hair essentials and prepare to wow your friends with your braiding technique.

  1. A Comb or Brush: Save yourself time by detangling your hair before you get started on your French braid. If you’ve got curly hair, then you’ll want to reach for a long-tail comb that won’t damage or disrupt your natural curl patterns. We’re huge fans of the CURLISTO Curlisto Finger Comb thanks to its wide plastic teeth, which accommodate all hair types. Got straight locks? Use a regular brush to knock out any tangles, smooth out any frizz, and separate sections of your hair. As an added bonus, brushing your hair will add a hint of natural shine to your braid.

  2. Hair Ties: The secret to a power braid is having a few hair ties on hand. FOXYBAE’s Top Knotch Hair Ties hold your sections of hair without leaving any creases or accidentally damaging your hair. When you’re done with your hair masterpiece, they’re secure enough to hold your braid in place without causing any breakage.

  3. Detangling Spray (optional): A French braid is an easy way to make day-two (or three… or four) hair look like you’ve spent hours taming and styling it. When even the best combs can’t handle the worst of your tangles, a few spritzes of your fave detangling spray will work wonders. You’ll want a lightweight formula, like R+CO PINSTRIPE Intense Detangling Spray, which conditions your strands and adds moisture without adding extra heavy weight or hold.

An image of a smirking model with her French braid to her side wearing gold jewelry and pulling one side of her bangs behind her ear

How to French Braid, Step-by-Step

Step 1: Brush

Whether your hair is dripping wet or you’ve just blown out and straightened your hair, you’ll want to brush out any knots. This is maybe the most important step before you begin hair braiding. Brushing your hair will also help distribute natural oils, giving you a sleek and shiny canvas for your braids.

Step 2: Section Your Crown + Start Simple

Gather a small section of your hair at the crown of your head and separate it into three sections. To keep things simple, you’ll want to hold the left section with your left hand and the right section with the right hand. Hold the middle section with your dominant hand, between your pointer finger and your thumb, to make braiding easier.

Create a regular braid by crossing the right section of hair over the middle section. Repeat this cross over action on the left side by crossing the left section over the new center section (formerly the right section). 

Step 3: Braid Away

Here’s where your real French braiding begins. Starting with the right side again, add more hair to your section and cross this section over the middle. Again, repeat the add and crossover with the left section, aiming for equally sections of hair to keep things balanced. If your hair tends to have a mind of its own, make sure to smooth out your sections before plaiting. 

Step 4: Repeat + Tie

Repeat the cross over and weaving until your braid reaches the nape of your neck. At that point, you can switch over to regular braiding. Once you’ve reached the ends of your hair, tie your braid off with a snug hair elastic. 

Step 5: Va-Va Volume + Set

For an extra oomph of volume in your hair, gently pull at the links in your braid. Capture any flyaways with bobby pins and top off with a few spritzes of your favorite hairspray along the sides of your head and your hairline to lock your hairstyle in place.

An image of a model wearing gold jewelry, rose gold eyeshadow, and dark berry lipstick smiling big and holding her neck with two fingers

More French Braid Tips

1. Want a boho vibe? Use a texture spray.

Classic French braids can often evoke a prim and proper ballerina aesthetic. If you want to switch things up and bring on a boho vibe, simply reach for a texture spray like CAKE BEAUTY The Wave Maker Texturing Beach Spray. With just a few sprays of this sugar-infused product, you’ll have instant mermaid hair that you can quickly pull together into a unique french braid.

2. Practice makes perfect.

If your first tries at braiding your hair go awry, don’t give up! Sometimes it’s easier to practice on a friend before attempting to do it on your own hair. Invite your BFFs over for a #SelfcareSunday, load up on your fave face masks, and give braiding a try again. Like with most things in life, it’s way easier to do with the moral support of your besties.

3. Use 2 mirrors to French braid your own hair.

While your seventh grade teacher always seemed to have eyes on the back of her head, we can’t say the same thing about us. That’s where a vanity mirror, like the sleek GRACE & STELLA CO. Vanity Mirror can be helpful for crafting your updo. It’s convenient enough to set up on your dresser, and small enough to tote to the office if you’re taking a hair do break. But any extra mirror that lets you see the back of your head will do the trick.



Are you a French braid devotee, or do you swear allegiance to Dutch braids? Want in on all the Glam Bag fun? Take the beauty quiz now to get started. And don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

About the author
Angela Velez
Ipster, Carly Rae Jepsen superfan, pesto lover
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Article Last Updated February 3, 2020 12:00 AM