Neat and tasteful or loose and messy? French, fishtail or classic? Braids are timeless, feminine and truly versatile - regardless of the type. Check things you still don't know about them!
A braid has a simple definition - it is a form of a hairdo that is usually made up of three hair strands, coming with accessories to hold them in place e.g. an elastic, a ribbon or tie. Currently, there are lots of braid variations.
Braids in various cultures
Where does the style come from? Braids have been present in many different cultures. Known and worn practically since forever.
Egyptian women braided their long hair because it was the comfiest hairstyle. After all, Ancient hairstyles, above all, had to be practical. In the Middle Ages, the braid worked when women had to hide their hair under hats and scarves. On the other hand, in the Indian culture, braids of the enemies were cut off and treated as the war trophies.
It's a fun fact that braids were the symbol of virginity in the Slavic culture. Girls would wear a braid or two until they got married. They would say goodbye to the plaits during the unbraiding the day before the wedding or while cutting the braid off during the wedding to bid farewell to maidhood.
Braid: trendy, universal, timeless
Are braids making a comeback? Today, there's not much symbolic value left. Still, a braid has gained the name of the timeless hairdo you can always wear because it is very unlikely to go out of style (similarly to buns in different versions).
Various braids have been present on catwalks continuously for years. They are adored by Alexander Wang, Valentino Garavani and Fatima Lopes – world-famous designers.
We also like to braid our hair as they are comfy, womanly and fit for every occasion. A braid-enriched hairstyle works for everyday shopping, work, gym, date, family dinner or special occasions e.g. a wedding. It goes along with every style - boho, empire, glamour or even rock.
The outcome depends on the braid type you choose.
Types of braids - classic knots
Here are the easiest and most classic braids you can use for creating a gorgeous style.
- English braid - a traditional plait you make picking up three even strands and crossing them over (the right strand over the middle one, the left strand over the middle one, then again the right strand over the middle...etc.).
- French braid - it is made similarly to a regular braid crossing the left and right strands over the middle one yet you add in extra strands while braiding.
- Dutch braid - it is an inverted French braid - you cross the strands under the middle strand, not above it.
- Fishtail braid - it has a really characteristic pattern you make by dividing the hair into two sections and interweaving thin right and left strands by turns.
- French fishtail braid - in this version of the fishtail braid, you start at the top of the head dividing the hair into two sections and then you cross over the strands adding next thin strands from the left and right by turns.
Types of braids - modern variations
What we call a braid today is something more than a classic plait. We have lots of variations to choose from. Take a look at the most mesmerising ones.
- Rope braid is made up of two strands without adding more strands. It looks like a thick rope and you get the effect by twisting two strands of hair and wrapping them together.
- Pipe braid resembles a tube and it is quite challenging: pick up the middle strand of hair on the top of the head - it is the base of your style. Then, cross the left strand under the central part and go back with this very strand on the left side and then take it to the right side again. Repeat the steps with the right strand.
- Waterfall braid is a stunning delicate knot that combines a braid with loose hair. It is based on three strands. Start braiding near the temples. Cross the bottom strand over the middle one and add a strand to the top strand and cross it over the middle one as well. Next, leave the lower strand out and add a new strand from the loose hair crossing it over the central strand.
- Bubble braid is a little bit bogus and you don't need any extra skills to do it. You don't braid your hair - you put it in a ponytail, wrap the tail with a tie, spacing out the ties.
- Infinity braid is based on two strands with an extra thin strand crossed between them, making the infinity sign - crossing it above and under the rest of hair alternately. You can use more strands to create the infinity braid - in this case, you cross additional strands above and under the rest.
- DNA braid is a truly extraordinary do - an original knot resembling twisted DNA strands. It is based on the infinity braid - you do it on a ponytail and twist it around. Fix the style with a hair spray.
- Loose fishtail braid resembles a tale of fish, it is based on a traditional fish braid - you use the thinnest sections possible; after braiding, you loosen the braid for increased volume.
- Zipper braid is one of the most complicated braids and you won't do it without a tutorial. It involves working on several strands at the same time - you pick up the strands on the top of the head, cross them over, put aside...Then, you cross them with other strands, which really requires some skill.
- Chinese braid is a mesmerising braid that you start by making a ponytail. Next, take the outermost thin strand from the tail and knot it around the ponytail. Then, take another thin strand and do the same. Repeat until creating the braid.
- Chain braid is a mix of two braids resembling the ropes. To make it, pull back the hair in a ponytail, divide it into four strands - twist each one to the left, take two of them and twist them together in the opposite direction. Finally, wrap both braids together - again to the left.
- Pull through braid is another faux braid which needs no real braiding. Pick up a section of hair on the top and divide it into two ponytails. Divide the upper tail in half and tie it under the lower ponytail. Repeat the same with the loose hair - divided in half and tie under the lower ponytail (in the meantime, add new strands from both sides).
- Four strand braid is an extended version of a standard plait - you make it out of four even hair sections, start from the left side, crossing the first strand over the second one, the second one over the third, the third one over the fourth one. Next, you do the same starting on the right.
- Five strand braid is the maximally extended version you make using as many as five hair sections - take the first strand on the left and cross it over the second one and under the next strand. Repeat on the right side. Carry on until getting the full braid.
- Knot braid is a little bit similar to a pipe braid but the procedure is different. You make a high ponytail and pick up two thin strands from the left and right and tie them tight on top. Then, you pick up next two strands and tie them up as well. Repeat the same step.
Obviously, there are even more kinds of plaits. It would be truly demanding to describe all types of braids and their numerous variations.
How to make braids fuller looking and amp up the volume?
To finish off - a few tips for a voluminous braid.
If you want to make a braid look fuller, you must above all keep your hair healthy. If your hair is thin, limp and brittle, you will never magic out a gorgeous thick braid. Hair oil treatment turns out to be a saver again - it can restore vitality, smooth out the braid and ensure easy combing. The oils making the best choice include:
- castor oil which prevents hair loss, speeds up growth and consequently increases volume
- cottonseed oil which shields hair ends from splitting and smoothes plaits out
Applying some dry shampoo to roots or gently backcombing hair before the braiding might be helpful while trying to add some body to hair. Thanks to these simple tricks, you get volume which lasts long.
Another thing you can do is slightly pull out the sides of the braid - looser knot and messy flyaways give a far better result.