Behold: the best tutorials you’ll ever watch.
French-braiding is one of those things in life that seems more confusing and intimidating than it actually is (kinda like doing your taxes). No, you don’t have to ask your one friend who’s really good at hair to do yours every single time, because all you need is the right products, some patience, and a little (okay, more than a little) practice.
So if you’re looking for another heatless way to style your hair, and a French braid has been on your unofficial bucket list forever, try following one of these YouTube tutorials, below. Regardless of your skill level, each of these how-tos will answer all your burning braiding questions so you’ll never again have to wonder, Wait, what the #^%* am I supposed to do with my fingers?!
What sets a French braid apart from, say, a Dutch braid is that you’re crossing the pieces over the middle section instead of taking them under, which makes the braid appear flatter and not raised. Easy to explain, but how TF do you actually do it?
If you want two French braids, split your hair in half and clip one side out of the way. Then take a two-inch section of hair from either side of your part, separate it into three equal pieces, and start braiding your hair as you usually would: Cross the right piece over the middle piece, then cross the left piece over the middle piece.
But here’s where the ~French~ part comes in—once you’ve started your braid, begin adding a small sliver of hair to each section every time you cross it over the middle. Keep adding little sections as you braid until you reach the ends, then tie it off with an elastic. Congrats! You did it, boo.
So you’ve started your braid and you’ve got a good flow going…but then you realize you have more sections than hands. Cue minor freak-out. Don’t stress! You’re not the only one who’s wanted to give up at this point and throw your hair in a ponytail.
In this tutorial, YouTuber Abby Smith shows you how to transfer all three sections in one hand to free up the other so you can easily grab your additional small sliver of hair. In short, you’ll be using all your fingers as little hooks to hold the three sections as you braid. After you’ve crossed one strip of hair over another strip of hair, you’ll transfer all the sections to the same fingers on the other hand to keep the flow going.
If you still haven’t mastered the perfect French braids, practice at night before bed and wear them to sleep for beach waves in the morning. Since the final look isn’t the braid, it’s okay if you have a few bumps and pieces sticking out. For consistent waves, keep a spray bottle filled with water nearby and continue to lightly dampen the hair as you braid.
Style your hair in two French braids, stopping at the nape of your neck. If your hair thins out toward the bottom, combine the two tails for one big three-strand braid so the waves at the ends of your hair don’t get too tight and crimped-looking. In the morning, unravel the braids for really natural waves, no heat required.
YouTuber Rayann starts with stretched hair, then uses a detangling brush to smooth any knots before braiding. Next, she parts her hair down the middle with the tail of a fine-tooth comb, rakes a dollop of moisturizing hair butter through the lengths of her hair, and smooths a bit of styling gel along her roots and part to keep the braid smooth. Once she’s finished braiding down to the very end of her hair, she lays her edges and boom—all set.
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