When it comes to styling hair with a braid, you have a number of options. In addition to making a single braid, two braids or many small braids to cover your head, you can choose between the basic three-strand braid and more elaborate braids such as the fishtail or French braids.
The most simple braid, the English braid, involves weaving three strands of hair together. To make a basic braid, divide all of a person’s hair into three equally sized sections. You’ll have a middle section and sections to the right and left of the center. Start the braid by bringing the left section over the middle section, so that the left is now in the middle and what was the middle section is now on the left. Bring the right section of hair over the middle section, so that it is now in the middle and the middle section is now on the right. Bring the left section over the middle, then the right section over the middle. Continue braiding until only about 2 or 3 inches of hair remains, then tie off the braid with a hair elastic or ribbon.
Divide hair into two sections and divide each section into three equally sized sections to make braided pigtails.
The fishtail braid earns its name because the finished style resembles the texture of a fish’s scales. Unlike the basic braid, the fishtail only uses two sections of hair. Split your hair into two sections, parting it down the center. At the nape of your neck, bring a small amount of hair, no thicker than a 1/2 inch, from the right section over to the left. Bring a 1/2 inch section of hair over from the left to the right. Continue to bring 1/2 inch sections of hair over from right to left and left to right until you have only a few inches of hair left at the bottom. Secure the ends of the braid with a hair elastic.
The French braid starts at the top of the skull and continues down the back. It’s a great option when you want to keep your hair completely off of your face and out of the way. It also works for more formal occasions such as parties. Make a French braid by gathering a small section of hair at the top of the skull and dividing it into three sections. Bring the right section over the center, then the left section over the center. Add a small amount, about a 1/2-inch section of hair, to the section on the right, then bring it over the middle section. Add a 1/2-inch section of hair to the section on the left, then bring it over the middle. Continue braiding, adding 1/2-inch sections of hair to each section until you reach the nape of the neck and all the hair has been divided into the three sections. Braid hair as you would for an English braid, then secure with a hair elastic.
The Dutch braid is the reverse of the French braid. You bring each section of hair under the other sections, instead of over. The Dutch braid is the braid commonly used to make cornrows. To make a single, three-strand Dutch braid, divide a portion of hair in center top of the head into three equal sections. Bring the right section under the middle section, then the left section under the middle. Add a small amount of hair to the section on the right before bringing it under the center section again. Add a small amount of hair to the left section before bringing it under the middle section. Continue braiding down the skull, add small sections as you go, until you reach the base of the skull. Braid the remaining hair by bringing the sections under each other and then tie with a hair elastic at the ends.
References and Resources"Braid Crazy: Simple Steps for Daring 'Dos"; Carla Sinclair; 2003
Allure; How to Fishtail Braid; Tommy Bucket; 2010
Real Simple: How To: French Braid Hair
Dreamweaver Braiding: Dutch Braid