Here’s a step-by-step on how to do a French braid. Yeah, I know there are a gazillion tutorials for this braid, but I think my site would be incomplete without it.
1. Separate a section of hair where you’d like your french braid to start and divide it into three sections.
2. Cross the right side sections over the middle one.
*Note* Every time I refer to a section as left, right, or middle, I’m referring to the one that is currently left, right, or middle, not where it originally started from.
3. Cross the section on the left side over the one that is now in the middle.
Up ’til now, this has been exactly like starting a regular braid. Here’s where we get to the fun part.
4a. For now, hold the middle section and the left section in one hand. This is the part most people struggle with because you have to hold it snugly. Here’s how I do it– I’m holding the left strand with my ring and pinky finger and the middle section with my middle and index finger (for pianists: 4 and 5 hold left, 2 and 3 hold middle). There’s a clearer picture of how to hold the sections below.
4b. With the index finger of you right hand, swoop up a section to join the right section.
5. Cross this newly enlarged right section over the middle.
6. Repeat on the left side. Hold, swoop,
And cross. Now, you may ask “How is she holding *three* sections in one hand?!” If you hold one side with your pinky and ring finger and the other side section with your middle and index finger, you don’t have to hold the middle section. Really!
Keep adding hair to the side sections and crossing until you run out of hair. At that point, you can either stop and secure the ponytail with your hair thingy of choice or continue with a regular braid like I did.
Commonly asked questions about French braids
- “I tried and I still can’t hold the sections right. What should I do?” — If this is you, stop and go do a regular braid. After you’ve done a few rounds, try to hold two sections in one hand like I describe. When you’re doing a French braid, it’s the exact same hold except close to your head.
- “How big do I make the sections?” — That depends. Most people want their sections to look horizontal like in my picture above. To achieve that look, for thinner hair, make smaller sections. Average and thicker hair should do larger sections. Most hair types require 3-5 sections per side for one big braid down the back of the head like I did. If you want your sections to swoop up, make larger sections than you normally would.
- “How do I keep my hair from tangling while I braid?” — After you cross a section, make sure it is separated from the other sections and the hair you haven’t added. With the a couple fingers of your free hand, grasp the section and gently glide down the length.
- “What happens if I cross the sections under instead of over?” — You’ll get what is know as an Inside-out French braid.