How to French Braid

French braids are classically feminine.

Learning how to French braid takes practice and patience, but it's an art form that's well worth the effort. If you've ever spotted a glamorous celebrity on the red carpet sporting this look, you know there's more to it than meets the eye! It's surprisingly versatile and offers plenty of options.

The Beauty of Braids

Its complex look is enough to scare anyone off, yet French braids, for all their intricacy and detail, aren't half as difficult to pull off as they might appear to be at first glance. Sure, a helping hand or two wouldn't go amiss, but there's no reason you can't champion this look with a few helpful tips to set you off on the right foot.

It might come as a surprise to learn that French braids are actually rather multifaceted. Whether you're headed out for an early morning jog or dressing up for a New Year's Eve bash, you can count on a French braid to see you through in total style. And before you question why it would be important to look stylish while working out, remember just how annoying it can be to constantly readjust a fussy ponytail that keeps flopping out of its holder; a French braid gives you style and control.

Similarly, you probably don't want to spend half your time in the ladies room fiddling with your hair while your friends dance the night away. A dressy French braid is a smart alternative to the traditional updo or classic mane of cascading curls. It combines the best of both worlds - and keeps you situated right where you want to be all night long.

A Few Tips

Before you get started learning how to French braid, take a moment to review these basic tips. They'll make the braiding process easier and the end result more satisfying:

  • Be sure to read through the directions from start to finish before you start to braid.
  • Have a seat! It's easier to French braid your hair when you're not on your feet.
  • Practice makes perfect - be patient.
  • Suffering from the dreaded achy arms? You're not alone - this is all too common, especially for beginners. Take a breather by clipping your braid tightly to your head (a claw works well) and shaking your limbs loose.
  • Your braid should be pulled taught against your head. A looser braid will likely come undone.

Teach Yourself How to French Braid

As with so many things in life, going into your first French braiding session with confidence will serve you well. Here are a few different styles of French braids and how to achieve them. Don't worry if it's not pristine from the word go - a little practice will have you looking model-perfect in no time.

The Classic

Timeless and elegant, the classic French braid will forever remain a hairstyle staple. Pull it out of your bag of beauty tricks when you want something smart and feminine at once. It's ideal for everything from workouts to dinner with your girlfriends.

  1. Starting at the crown of the head, divide the hair into three small sections.
  2. Comb each section until it lies smooth and pull the hair in the right section over the middle section (now the right section is the middle section).
  3. Pull the left section over the middle section (now the left section is the middle section).
  4. Gently pull the hair away to tighten the braid.
  5. Then lift a small section of hair on the right side of the braid and add this new section to the existing right section on the braid you've just created.
  6. Pull the entire right section over the middle section (now the existing right section and the new hair you lifted are the middle section).
  7. Gently pull the hair taught to keep it snug against the head.
  8. Lift a small section of hair on the left side of the braid and add this section to the existing left section of the braid.
  9. Pull the entire left section over the middle section (now the existing left section and the new hair you lifted are the middle section).
  10. Continue the process, working your way down and alternating right and left before reaching the point where you want your braid to end. Secure it with an elastic.

Go Glam

Achieve a slightly dressier look with this unique take on the French braid. Simply dry your hair into loose waves (use a diffuser and volumizing mousse to achieve ample body). Use a medium-barrel curling iron to create a few loose curls. Then, starting at the front left or right section of the hair, create a French braid with just a small section of hair. Essentially, you're creating a half ponytail of sorts. Wind it from the top to the side and finally toward the back of the neck before securing with a jeweled clip. Your braid should blend in with your curls and leave a polished look behind.


Classic and elegant, French braids are a versatile style. Learning how to French braid can give you control over this stylish beauty staple, and once you know the basics, don't be afraid to add your own personal twists to create new fabulous looks from this old favorite.

Was this page useful?
How to French Braid