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How to French Braid

How to French Braid

How to French braid your hair

Believe it or not, the name "French braid" is a little misleading. In fact, this hairstyle originated in North Africa and is first documented in Northern Algeria. From there, it expanded around the world, and it has been championed by everyone from Celtic warriors to Chinese royalty. This style has been popular for centuries, which made us wonder—what keeps it popular? The answer probably lies in its versatility. Once you master a basic French braid, there are so many ways you can use it. Follow these steps for a basic single French braid down the center of your head. Once you master that, you’ll have so many hairstyles at your fingertips.

Step 1: Prep damp or dry hair

How much moisture? For a tighter braid, you’ll want to go with damp hair. For a looser, more styled look, go for dry hair. Either way, make sure it’s completely brushed so you avoid painful snarls. A little leave-in conditioner can help if your hair is especially prone to tangles.

Step 2: Divide hair at crown of head into 3 sections

Ready, set, separate! Gently gather the hair at the top of your head into one hand. Make sure it’s centered, then separate it into three equal sections. You’re off to a great start. Tip: Hold each section between your fingers to keep them apart.

Step 3: Cross an outer section into the center

Isolate one of the side sections from the other two. Then, cross it into the center. Hold this new arrangement, pulling it tight. Got it? Go ahead and repeat on the other side.

Step 4: Repeat, this time adding more hair

Feeling déjà vu? You should be back to the side where you started. Before continuing, add more hair to the section you’re about to cross. Do this by running your finger in a horizontal line on your scalp, starting from the outside and finally joining it with your section. Once the new hair is added, cross the now-larger section into the center. Repeat on the other side.

Step 5: Stick with it all the way down the head

Now you’re getting the hang of the braid. Keep repeating step 4 over and over, adding to your sections evenly as you go down. Make sure you’re keeping everything tight. It might be a little uncomfortable, but it will make your braid stronger. If you’re going for a looser look, you can ease up.

Step 6: Finish off with a hair tie

Once you’re done braiding, secure all your hair with a hair tie. If you can, make sure the tie is the right one for your hair, using a larger tie for thicker hair or a smaller size for thinner hair. Tip: Tuck flyaways into the braid when you’re all finished.

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