How to French Braid

Two Methods:Creating a Classic French BraidCreating a French Lace Braid

The French braid is a beautiful and classic hairstyle. Although its intricate weave may appear complicated, creating your own French braid is a simple process. Once you've gotten the basics of a traditional braid down, try a French or French lace braid on for size.


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Method 1
Creating a Classic French Braid

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    Prep your hair.[1] Brush through your hair to get all the tangles out and make it soft, smooth, and ready to braid. For a single braid going down the back of your head, brush your hair backwards, away from your forehead.
    • You might want a braid down the side of your head instead, or maybe you're making more than one braid. In that case, part your hair and brush it into sections.
    • You can braid your hair when it's dry or when it's wet. But, braiding wet hair gives you soft, pretty waves when you take it out later.
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    Begin sectioning your hair.[2] Start the process by gathering a big chunk (3-4 inches wide) from the top-center of your head. All the hair in this section should come from the same "hair row." You don't want to grab strands from higher up or lower down.
    • If you have bangs, you can bring them into the braid at this point or leave them loose. Choose what you think looks best. To braid them, you'll need to grab hair from the very top-center of your head, right above your forehead.
    • The section you start with has nothing to do with how big your braid will be. You start with a small section, but the braid grows thicker as you add more hair.
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    Separate this first "chunk" into three pieces. Just like traditional braids, French braids use three sections of hair to create their pattern. Separate them out by running your fingers through the chunk you are holding to create three even pieces. Make sure that none of the pieces are larger or smaller than the other two.
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    Begin in a traditional braid. First, you have to get your hand positioning right: hold two strands in one hand, and the third strand in the other. Begin in a traditional braid by crossing the “right” strand over to the center. Then, cross the “left” strand from over to the center. Repeat until you've made a few rows of a traditional braid.
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    Work in new hair.[3] Keep going with this traditional braid pattern, but start bringing in other pieces of hair. Before crossing a section over to center, grab some hair from that side of your head and include it in the cross-over.
    • Every time you cross over, work in another small piece of hair. How much new hair you grab each time doesn't matter, but the less hair you grab, the more intricate the braid will look.
    • For the best-looking French braid, pick up the hair near your face and neck. If you only pick up pieces from the center (near the main strand), they'll get covered up later with strands from the outside.
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    Bring all of your hair into the braid. As you work down your head, you'll start running out of free hair to bring into the braid. By the time you reach the nape of your neck, you should have incorporated all of your hair.
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    Finish the braid.[4] When all of your hair is in the working braid, finish it off as a traditional braid. Keep going until you reach the end of your strands. Then, secure the braid with a ponytail.[5]
    • Avoid using rubber bands, as these rip and break hair when you remove them.[6]

Method 2
Creating a French Lace Braid

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    Prep your hair.[7] Just like you did for the normal French braid, brush through tangles to smooth out your hair. French lace braids can work down either one or both sides of your head, so need to part your hair. Use a center or side part, depending on what look you prefer.
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    Start with a small section.[8]Grab a piece of your hair from one side your part, near the part itself. The size of this section does matter in French lace, as it determines the thickness of the braid. For a larger braid, grab a hefty section of hair, and for a dainty braid, grab a smaller piece. In general, it should be about one inch thick.
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    Split this section into thirds. As with the normal French braid, you need to divide your starting section of hair into three even pieces. Angle these pieces downward to frame your face, rather than pulling them toward the back of your head.[9]
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    Begin braiding. Start the French lace in a traditional braid. Cross the "right" strand over to center, then cross the "left" strand over to center.
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    Start bringing in new hair. In the French braid, you added hair from both sides of your head. In the French lace braid, you should only add hair from one side of the braid.[10]
    • It doesn't matter which side you add new hair from. The important thing is that all new hair comes from the same side of the braid.
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    Continue braiding around your head. As you move further along with your braid, it will start to form a crown or halo shape around your head. You can choose to braid over the top of your ear, or under it.
    • If you are making a single braid, wrap it all the way around your head. You will likely run out of hair near the ear on the other side of your head.
    • If you're making two braids, stop braiding when you reach the nape of your neck. Tie off the first braid with an elastic, then repeat the entire process on the other side of your head to create your second braid.
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    Finish your braid. Eventually, you will run out of loose hair to work into the braid. At this point, keep working in a traditional braid until you reach the ends of your strands. Tie off your hair with an elastic tie to secure your French lace braid.


  • Add the same amount of hair each time, as changing the thickness can make the braid look lopsided. The thickness of sections also affects the style of the braid. Skinnier sections make a braid look more intricate, and fatter sections appear simplified.
  • Keep hair snug, but not too tight, to the head as you braid it. A loose braid might look sloppy or loosen throughout the day.
  • Get a clear chunk of hair to braid so you don't lose the 3 strands while braiding.
  • Stay focused so you don't lose your place.
  • Braid your hair in the mirror so you can see what you're doing.
  • This hairstyle is great for activities like dancing or cheerleading. But you need to start the braid high on your head and secure it with bobby pins as you go.
  • Use the elastic small rubber band to help keep your small middle hair section in place.
  • Never forget hairspray! It gives a proper, settled look to your hair.
  • Try finishing your hair into a bun or ponytail instead of completing the braid.


  • Be careful not to let go of your hair while French-braiding it, or you may have to start over!
  • Your arms may get tired while braiding your hair. Bend forward to release tension or rest your arms on a surface behind you (ex. a headboard or backrest).

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Categories: Braids and Dreadlocks