36 Cool Braids That Are Actually Easy (We Swear) (2024)

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  • Hair
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By

Amanda Montell,

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Amanda Montell

Amanda Montell has worked as a beauty editor in Los Angeles for over three years covering hair, skin, and more. She previously served as the features editor for Byrdie and currently freelances for Time Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and more.

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Kaitlyn McLintock,

36 Cool Braids That Are Actually Easy (We Swear) (2)

Kaitlyn McLintock

Kaitlyn McClintock contributed to Byrdie for over two years, most recently covering beauty news for the brand.

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and

Erin Mayer

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Erin Mayer

Erin is a journalist and author based in Brooklyn. Her debut novel, Fan Club, is set to publish in October 2021.

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Updated on 05/30/23 03:48PM

Reviewed by

Nigella Miller

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Reviewed byNigella Miller

Nigella Miller is an NYC-based natural hair and grooming expert with over 13 years of experience.

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Fact checked by

Anna Harris

Fact checked byAnna Harris

Anna Harris is an experienced fact-checker and researcher and a beauty writer and editor.

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36 Cool Braids That Are Actually Easy (We Swear) (5)

Hair braiding isn't the easiest skill to pick up. That can be a struggle if you enjoy scrolling through gorgeous braided hairstyles on Pinterest and YouTube, unable to master them no matter how many times you scrutinize the step-by-step instructions.

Fortunately, easy-to-achieve braids do indeed exist, and we’ve gathered the best ones here, with help from several braid experts.

Meet the Expert

  • Millie Morales is a celebrity hairstylist and makeup artist and the founder of the BBella by Millie shop.
  • Justine Marjan is a celebrity hairstylist and beauty influencer based in Los Angeles.

Keep scrolling for 40 cool and deceptively easy braids that just about anyone can manage.

1:26

Watch Now: 3 Easy Braided Styles you Can Actually Do

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Chunky Milkmaid Braid

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While some milkmaid braids have plenty of loose, wavy tendrils, Quinta Brunson keeps the look all about a chunky braid that wraps around the head.

  • Create two low pigtail braids on either side of the head.
  • Wrap each wrap over and on top of the head, securing in place with pins.
  • Use a gel to smooth flyaways and style edges against the scalp.

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Double-Bun Braids

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These braided double buns are perfect for fast-approaching summer days. They're quick, easy, and gentle on natural hair.

  • Part your hair down the middle.
  • Run a moisturizing oil or gel through your hair from root to tip to nourish and slick down your strands for a sleek look.
  • Starting at the front of one side, take a one-inch lock of hair and braid it.
  • Gather the rest of your unbraided hair from the same side, and tie it up with the braid at the back of your head. Let it poof out naturally into a fun, textured bun.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • As you can see on FKA Twigs, this works if you have a full head of braids as well.

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Milkmaid Braid

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Milkmaid braids are a classic for a reason. Not only are they sweet and fresh, but they're also easy. "This is very suitable for people who find it difficult to weave braids," says expert stylist Millie Morales.

  • Using a comb, part your hair in the middle, forming a clean line from your forehead down to the back of your neck.
  • Braid each side into a classic pigtail braid.
  • Wrap one braid over your head, near your forehead, and pin it.
  • Wrap the pigtail braid from the other side under your head, near the nape of your neck, and secure with bobby pins.
  • Add bobby pins along both braids, making sure they feel tight and secure on the rest of your hair.
  • Finish with a quick spritz of medium-hold hair spray like Ouai’s Texturizing Hair Spray ($28).

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Waterfall Twist

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It looks Pinterest-y and hard, but don’t freak just yet. This style doesn’t require you to braid at all—it’s a twist. Follow the steps from our video to achieve:

  • Starting on the left side, grab a two-inch section of hair about six inches back from your hairline, and split it in two.
  • Cross the piece nearest to your face over the other piece. Then, drop that other piece and pick up a new piece of hair in its place.
  • Now, just like you did in the previous step, cross the new piece on the bottom over that top piece. Then, drop the top piece. This is the start of your waterfall twist.
  • Repeat these same steps, continuing your waterfall twist until you reach the back of your head. There, pin the end of the twist aside.
  • Repeat steps one through four on the right side of your head to create the same design.
  • Once you reach the back of your head on the right, combine the ends of both twists with a small elastic. Camouflage the elastic by wrapping a small strand of hair around it and pinning underneath for a more formal look.
  • Finish off with a mist of hair spray such as R+Co Outer Space Flexible Hairspray ($36).

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Simple Crown Braid

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Remember that milkmaid braid we walked through earlier? Here’s a similar crown braid version that looks posh enough to wear to a wedding or ritzy dinner event. Follow these tips from the video above to get the look:

  • Part your hair in the middle, then divide it into two even sections.
  • Braid each section regularly, and secure the ends with a clear elastic. Lightly tug the loops of the braids outward to make them wider.
  • Next, flip the braids up and over the top of your head, and secure them there with bobby pins. (You’ll need a couple right on top of your head to pin the ends and a few along the rest of each braid.)
  • Free a few strands of hair so they fall around your face for a softer, messier look.

Byrdie Tip

"I like to have my hair as detangled as possible, and I recommend it, to make it much easier and take care of it and prevent it from breaking whenbraiding," says Morales.

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French Braid

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Morales is a big fan of the French braid, which she says can be done on pretty much any hair texture, from pin-straight to curly. Create this two-part French braid to impress your friends:

  • Start with unwashed hair sprayed throughout with dry shampoo. (This is generally the best hair texture to braid with, as it provides the most grip.) We recommend Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo ($28).
  • "I always recommend mixing a Leave-in conditioner with an oil and putting it on all the hair. One of my favorites is theGarnier Whole Blends Miracle Nectar Honey Treasures Damage Remedy Leave-In ($8).This productcan be used for all types of hair as well as to help hydrate the strand, repair it, and give it shine," Morales says.
  • Gather all of your hair to the side, and divide it into two equal sections.
  • Braid one section regularly, and secure with an elastic.
  • Next, braid the second section of hair.
  • When you get to the very end of the second braid, remove the elastic from the first braid, and layer the end of one braid over the end of the other to seamlessly combine them.
  • Secure both braids together with an elastic. Gently tug the loops of the braids outward to make them fuller. (You can even sneak a bobby pin in there to make sure the braids stick together.) Ta-da—now everyone thinks you’re fancy.

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Faux Fishtail

Stylist and influencer Justine Marjan considers this faux fishtail bubble ponytail one of the "easiest" styles to pull off. This gorgeous style gives the same bohemian effect as the real thing, no genius necessary.

  • "It looks just like a fishtail braid but is done by putting two elastics in the hair a few inches apart, then looping the hair from the ends through and loosening with your fingers," says Marjan.
  • Pull your hair back into a low pony, and secure with a small, clear elastic (or a thin elastic that matches your hair color).
  • Split the hair in half just above the elastic to create a little vertical opening. Then, grab your pony and flip it up and through that opening, so it loops back around.
  • "The effect is similar to a Topsy Tail ($6)," says Marjan. You can also use the tool, as illustrated in the video above.
  • A few inches below that first elastic, wrap another elastic around the ponytail and create another opening just above it as you did in step two.
  • Repeat the rest of step two with this new section of the ponytail, looping the pony up and through the vertical opening.
  • Use one last elastic to section off the end of the ponytail a few inches below the second elastic. Voilà—the look of a fishtail, minus all the braiding.

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'90s-Inspired Pigtails

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This look is right on trend with the recent ’90s throwback obsession in beauty and fashion. Here's how to do it:

  • Brush your hair from root to tip to detangle snarls while smoothing the hair cuticle.
  • Using a comb, part your hair in the middle, forming a clean line from the forehead to the nape of the neck.
  • Starting with one side, braid down and secure with a clear elastic. "If you have layers in the hair, start with a French braid a little higher up, then work a regular three-strand braid through the ends. This will help secure the layers and prevent the braid from unraveling," Marjan explains.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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Rapunzel Braided Ponytail

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One of the simplest braid styles around is the braided ponytail. To get this sheer amount of length, you may need to employ extensions. But the basic style, as described by Frederic Fekkai stylist April Story, is a breeze:

  • "Slick your hair back with a middle or deep side part, or no part at all, and simply plait your pony." A basic three-strand braid will do.
  • "You can add an extension ponytail and braid it."
  • "If you're skilled enough you can braid in hair extensions and make it long with the feed-in method. This is great for a day out and about or a girls' night out."

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The Hidden Half-Up

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These hidden braids paired with a classic half-up hairstyle are the perfect combination of subtle and playful.

  • This one works best with second-day hair. If your hair is squeaky-clean (aka too silky-slippery to cooperate), spritz a dry shampoo or texturizing spray throughout.
  • Section your hair into a top and a bottom layer, securing the top layer into a half-up ponytail with a clear elastic.
  • On one side, take a small, one-inch section of hair at the nape of your neck and braid down. Then, secure it with a clear elastic.
  • Repeat the sequence on the other side.
  • Bonus points if you finish with a gloss serum for added shine. We love Ouidad’s Shine Glaze Serum ($20) for a light-reflecting finish.

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Plaited Buns

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Once you get the basics down, braids are an easy way to kick your up 'do up a notch, as with these textured double buns. Follow Marjan's tips to get the look:

  • "Start by creating two clean pigtails with a strong hold gel or pomade at the root. I like Tresemmé Extra Hold Gel ($7)."
  • "Then, create a simple three-strand braid through the length of each ponytail."
  • "Secure with an elastic, then loop the braid into a knot. Hold into place, then pin to secure."
  • "Finish with a generous mist of Tresemmé Extra Hold Hairspray ($8)."

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The Volumized Classic

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This laissez-faire, French-inspired look is simple yet très chic, no? Make sure your teasing comb and root-lifting spray are on hand since this classic fishtail is pumped up with a lot of volume at the crown.

  • "If the hair is very curly, I like to do the rope braid in the middle, as it is manageable when braiding and you do not have to have completely detangled hair," Morales says.
  • "I always like to apply a little oil, likeGarnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Anti-Frizz Serum ($6),which is perfect for curls and keeps them hydrated all the time. This product also helps to control frizz and is helpful to use when braiding."
  • Create a deep side part, favoring whichever side you prefer. Lift your hair section by section, spritzing a volume spray at the root.
  • Set your part back in place and comb lightly over the top to make sure the volumizing product is set evenly throughout.
  • Tease the hair at the crown of your head, combing lightly over it, again, to make sure your hair maintains an even silhouette.
  • Gather your hair at the nape of your neck and start to braid, securing your hair with a clear elastic at the end.

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Single Cornrow

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Cornrows are a classic style for natural curls, but you don't have to braid your whole head. "Curly hair looks beautiful with all kinds of braids since it has texture and volume, which makes any braid look fantastic," Morales says.

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Messy Crown Braid

A gorgeous, textured crown braid pairs beautifully with long hair. Follow Marjan's tips to achieve:

  • "This is done by creating a reverse French braid by looping the hair under the braid when adding from the sides."
  • "When finished, spray a texturizing spray throughout. I’ve been using Elaluz Dry Texture Finishing Spray, and it’s great for this kind of texture."
  • "Then use your fingers on either side of the braid to ‘pancake’ out the sides, pulling slightly so the braid looks fuller."

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Formal Braided Bun

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A formal braided chignon is the perfect style to wear for all your fancy events like weddings and co*cktail parties. To replicate a similar look, follow these steps:

  • First, create three sections at the back of the head.
  • Braid each section straight down using three strands.
  • Spiral the three braids up into the scalp in a loose bun formation and secure with pins.
  • Smooth down flyaways and spritz with hairspray.

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Plaited Half-Up/Half-Down

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A Y-shaped half-up/half-down braid is simple and pretty. Before starting any braid, Marjan says: "Make sure hair is detangled before braiding for the cleanest finish. I suggest detangling the length after you add hair from either side to avoid the bottom of the hair braiding in the opposite direction."

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Romantic Fishtail

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Michael Sparks from Tabb & Sparks Salon, breaks the fishtail, as seen on Joan Smalls, down for beginners:

  • Gather your hair into a side ponytail, and secure with a clear elastic.
  • Separate your pony into two even sections. Unlike a regular braid, a fishtail braid only involves two sections of hair. (You can do this!)
  • Take a small piece of hair from the outermost edge of one of those two sections, bring it over its original section, and combine it with the opposite section of hair.
  • Repeat step three for the other section (the one you’ve just brought that small piece of hair to).

Byrdie Tip

Remember to direct the small piece over its original section before combining it with the opposite one. This is the motion you’ll repeat all the way down.

  • Repeat steps three and four until you get to the end of your hair, always keeping the braid tight by firmly pulling the two sections outward and away from one another.
  • Once finished, place another elastic around the end of the braid to keep it together.
  • Cut away the original elastic band at the top of the braid to release the ponytail.
  • To create a messier look, gently yank the braid outward, starting at the top.
  • Finish with the Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray ($44) for added texture and shine.

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Bob Braid

Add a basic three-strand braid to the side of your bob and secure with a cute metallic clip. It doesn't get easier than this.

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Box Braids

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Long-lasting, protective braid styles can be done at home or the salon depending on your skill level. The thing that makes them easy breezy is that you can keep them in for several weeks at a time. Follow Story's tips for keeping box braids in tip-top shape:

  • "For longer-wear braids, like box braids, goddess locs, etc., maintenance is extremely important."
  • "Cleanse your scalp at least once a week."
  • "Take [braids] out within six to eight weeks or less (unbraid fully before removing extensions to avoiddamage)."
  • "Hydrate your scalp (using Fekkai’s Shea Butter Intense Oil, $28)."

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Low Pigtail Braids

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This look is similar to #7 (you can get it following essentially the same steps) with a slightly lower placement on the scalp and longer braids.

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Double Braids

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This is a pretty easy protective style that requires four chunky braids that follow the line of the scalp and go down to the ends of the hair. No extensions or fancy techniques required. Follow Story's tips for braid longevity:

  • "Using gel, some sort of hair cream, or even water allows your braids to stay longer. This method remedies those little hairs that don't want to stay in the braid, allowing for a tighter braid."
  • "When braiding finer or less textured hair, it’s best to use a texture spray or powder.This will allow you a better grip and make your braids last longer."
  • "Last but definitely not least, add in a little extra. Extensions allow your braids to last double the time than with just your natural hair."

22of 36

Wire-Wrapped Chignon

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Braids are well-suited to accessories, which can take the look to a new level. Here, Janelle Monáe's textured crown braid is woven through with flexible wire.

23of 36

Baby Braids

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The key to this hairstyle is loads of texture—whether you're working with natural curls, adding an artificial wave, or simply loading up on sea salt spray.

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Imperfect Braid

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Kerry Washington's mussed-up braided ponytail follows the same guidelines as #8. When you're done braiding, use your fingers to pull apart and loosen the weave in certain spots to create an imperfect, slept-on vibe.

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Braid-ception

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Have a head full of box braids, cornrows, or knotless braids from the salon but want to mix it up before it's time to take them down? Collect them all into one giant over-the-shoulder braid. If you know how to three-strand braid, you can pull this off.

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Pull-Through Braids

Love the braided pigtails look but want to mix it up? Try Marjan's pull-through braids for a relaxed weekend hairstyle that only takes a few minutes:

  • First, divide your hair into two equal sections and place one over each shoulder.
  • Take a front section from one side and secure with a clear elastic.
  • Then, divide the remaining hair on that side in half and wrap it around the pigtail. Secure with another elastic a few inches down from the initial one. Pull the hair on either side for more volume.
  • Continue this process down the length of the braid, securing the base pigtail with a new elastic and wrapping the divided sections around the ponytail.
  • Repeat on the second side.

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Stacked Dutch Braids

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Two diagonal Dutch braids combine to create one show-stopping chignon. "I like to add gel to the roots and then a comb to keep each section clean as I’m working," Marjan says of the Dutch braid.

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Headband Braids

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Two sweet, tiny crown braids create a headband effect on Jessica Alba. Who needs accessories when your hair can be the accessory itself?

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Waterfall Braid

"The waterfall braid is a classic hairstyle that looks absolutely stunning and unique," Morales says. Follow her steps to achieve:

  • "Take a big section of hair at the front and separate it into three strands."
  • "Take the back strand (or the top strand) and cross it over the middle."
  • "Now, take the front strand and cross it over the middle."
  • "Next, from the top, take the back strand and add a little section of hair into it."
  • "Cross this back strand and new section of hair over the middle."
  • "Leave the front strand as is (you can even clip it away so that you don't get confused)."
  • "Take a section of hair behind the front strand. Cross this new section over the middle."
  • "Repeating the same steps—take the back strand and add a new section of hair into it."
  • "Cross that back section and new section of hair over the middle."
  • "Again, leave the front strand as is and take a section behind it to cross over the middle."
  • "Repeat all the same steps to the back of your head and secure it with a clear elastic."

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Scattered Braids

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Take a page from Laverne Cox's style book with a few simple braids scattered throughout your hair. This look works best with loads of texture and length, so don't be shy about pumping up the volume, and be sure not to make the braids too perfect.

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Unraveled Floral Braids

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We love this romantic floral braided style, worthy of the lead in a Jane Austen novel. Follow Marjan's advice to get the look:

  • "Start by adding texture to the hair if needed to support the braid. I like to use the ghd Classic Curl Iron ($205) to create a wave pattern, then spray in Tresemmé Texture Spray ($7)."
  • "Section away the hair you want to braid and create a reverse french braid, only adding hair from the top section."
  • "Then, repeat for the next braided section."
  • "Spray Tresemmé Extra Hold Hairspray ($8), then use your hands to loosen and pin with bobby pins if needed."

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Rope Braids

We've saved the easiest for last. If you're in a rush or truly looking to avoid braiding, try Chris Appleton's four-step rope ponytail:

  • Start by creating your ponytail of choice. Appleton demonstrates the style on two high pigtails, but it works just as well on a single ponytail, too.
  • Divide the ponytail into two equal sections. Twist both halves, moving clockwise.
  • Weave the two twisted sections of hair together, again moving clockwise. This will create one large twist.
  • Secure with a clear elastic.

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Feed-In Braided Ponytail

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This feed-in style sees braids all around the head coming together into a high ponytail. To change up the three-dimensional style, try wearing the hair in a high bun, instead.

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Half-Up and Tousled with French Braids

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We love this look, which pairs French braids on the side of the head with a classic half-up, half-down style. To mimic the look, create two French braids on either side of the head, leaving a gap of hair in between. Then take the middle section of hair and put it into a half-up style, adding the French braids to the updo portion.

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Half-Up Fulani Braids

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If you already have Fulani braids, this look couldn't be easier. Just take a top section of the braids and pull them up and back (like you would for a half-up ponytail). Secure with a rubber band and let the bottom half hang loose. Add beads for a little touch of gleam.

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Box Braid Lob

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We love how this box braid lob offers interest, thanks to an angled cut. But the look itself is also casual, due to the frayed ends.

34 Ponytail Braids for Every Occasion

36 Cool Braids That Are Actually Easy (We Swear) (2024)
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