Mastering the art of braiding your hair opens up countless stylish options from everyday to formal events. At its essence, all braids begin with separating hair into three equal sections and weaving them over-under-over in a pattern down the length. Variations like the classic French braid add dimension by incorporating small pieces of hair into the braid as you go, whereas the Dutch braid adds hair under rather than over each section. More intricate styles like fishtail, waterfall and rope braids rely on this basic three-strand technique but add interesting textures through alternation of where hair is pulled from. Taking the time to learn braiding opens your hair world beyond simple ponytails and buns, allowing you to get endless compliments on your versatile, polished hairdos. Table of Contents First Step: Basic Braid The basic braid is the foundation for all other braided hairstyles. To start, gather all of your hair to one side or both sides and divide it into three equal sections. Cross the right section over the middle, then the left section over the new middle section. Continue this over-under pattern all the way down to the bottom of your hairline to finish off the basic braid. Pro tip: For smooth, defined sections, run your fingers along the scalp as you braid.

For Beginners: Dutch Braid The Dutch braid is similar to the French braid but incorporates hair in the opposite direction. Start with three sections but when lifting new pieces of hair from the side parts, braid them under the middle section rather than over. This creates a braid that lies close to the head rather than sticking out. The Dutch braid creates a chic pulled-back look that’s perfect for every day. To review, for a French braid incorporate new hair pieces over the middle section, whereas a Dutch braid adds hair by braiding it under the center piece. Both are must-learn styles for hair mastery. For Compliments: Pull-Through Braid The pull-through braid has a looser, beachy texture that looks effortless but still polished. Start with a three-strand basic braid at the top of the head. Instead of crossing sections over each other, pull each strand forward through the braid before adding in the next piece. Repeat all the way down, gently tugging out the braid afterward for extra fullness and swing. A few key tips for the pull-through braid: – Use your finger to guide each section forward through the braid as you go instead of crossing over – Add in small chunks of hair at a time rather than lifting individual strands – Tug and fluff out the finished braid for maximum volume The undone appearance of a pull-through braid makes it perfect to show off your features. Wear it down or pulled half-back for a fresh daytime look. For Mermaid Vibes: Fishtail Braid Created using the same weaving technique as a basic braid, the fishtail variation results in a fuller, rope-like braid with gorgeous texture. Start by dividing hair into two equal sections. Pull a small section of hair from the outer edge of one side and add it to the inner part of the other side. Repeat on the opposite side, alternating which section you add hair to as you work your way down. Secure with an elastic for enchanting mermaid hair

For Fancy Occasions: Waterfall Braid The waterfall braid is sophisticated enough for weddings and grown-up affairs. Start with a French braid on one side of the head, adding hair as usual. Once the braid meets the crown, begin another braid going in the opposite direction, weaving the two braids together as you go down. Alternate braiding directions section by section to create cascading tendrils, like a waterfall, down the length of hair. Pin the ends under for an elegant updo. Some tips for mastering the waterfall braid: – Practice the weaving motion with two separate braids laying side by side first – Go slowly, concentrating on alternating the braid direction with each new section – Use bobby pins to secure braids that are too short to continue the over-under weaving With its intricate design, the waterfall braid makes a statement. Partners well with special occasion dresses and sparkling accessories for a look that will dazzle.