How to Make a Waterfall Braid

Rebecca Wiseman
Waterfall braid

The waterfall braid is a variation of the French braid. It looks complicated, but this beautiful braid is quite easy to create. You can finish if off as a casual style or dress it up for something a little more elegant.

How to Prep the Hair for Braiding

Second day hair works best for this braid. Braids can be done on freshly washed hair, but without some kind of product in it the hair will be too slick and may fall out of the braid. If you do plan on braiding freshly washed hair, use a lightweight or flexible hold hairspray or styling spray to give the hair some grip so that it is easier to braid. Lightly spray the section of hair you plan to braid. It is not necessary to spray all the hair.

The Basic Waterfall Braid

The waterfall braid gets its name from the hair that cascades down from the braid. The basic waterfall braid is not twisted.

1. Brush hair free of tangles and make a deep side part to whichever side you choose to create the braid.

2. Gather a small triangular section of hair at the front hairline next to the part.

3. Divide this section into three pieces: top (closest to the back of the head), center, and bottom (closest to the forehead).

Waterfall braid sectioning
Sectioning the hair.

4. Start like a regular French braid by crossing the top over the center and then the bottom over the center.

5. Pick up a small section from the hair above the top side of the braid. Add this to the piece that is now the top piece, cross the top over the center, and under the bottom piece.

Adding to the top
Adding to the top.

6. Drop what is now the bottom piece of hair and pick up a small piece of hair directly behind the piece that was dropped. Cross the bottom piece of hair over the center.

Dropping and adding bottom piece of braid
Dropping and adding bottom piece of braid.

7. Repeat this pattern until you run out of hair to add at the crown of your head, or wrap the braid around to the hairline at the opposite ear.

8. From this point, if you stopped at the crown area, finish the braid as a normal three-strand braid. Fasten the ends with a small elastic band.

9. If you wrapped the braid around your head, fasten the ends with an elastic band just behind the ear.

The Twisted Waterfall Variation

The twisted waterfall variation is not much different from the basic waterfall. The only difference is that with the twisted version you twist the upper two strands once after dropping each bottom piece.

Finishing the Style

This braid can be worn as a small side braid to hold hair out of your face, or wrap around to the opposite side of the head. Then you can opt to finish it off in several ways.

  • If you stopped at the crown and finished the braid, you can pin the braid underneath part of your hair with bobby pins to hide the ends.
  • If you have long hair and took the braid to the opposite side of your head, you can bring all the cascading hair from the braid around to finish it in a side ponytail or a bun behind your ear.
  • For a semi-formal hairstyle, leave the braid down and curl the cascading hair along with the rest of your hair.

Play With Your Hair

This is an elegant braid perfect for a prom hairstyle. Whether you braid it yourself or have it done in a salon, a waterfall braid can be a great addition to your style arsenal. Play with different braids and finishes to find the looks you love best.

How to Make a Waterfall Braid