The Ultimate Braid Bible

by BUST Magazine

Sculpt your locks by following these awesome tutorials and insider tips!

Ah, spring: the season for spring cleaning, spring breaks, and best of all, spring fashion. And there’s no better way to accent your new duds than with a new ’do. These four braids will change your whole style game, and we’ve upped the ante by including a bunch of tips and tricks, as well as a list of must-have products that hair gurus are obsessed with. So read these tutorials and plait on, plaiter.


Lately, preppy, tailored clothing has been everywhere, but to keep things mellow, pair your classic trench coat with a soft diagonal fishtail. To get this look, you’ll need a teasing brush or fine-tooth comb, a texturizing spray (like Oribe’s Dry Texturing Spray), and a clear elastic.

This style requires a basic knowledge of the fishtail braid, but that’s not a complicated process, and the instructions are below.

1. For this style, we’ll make an angled braid that starts at the top of one side of your head and crosses diagonally down over the opposite shoulder. First, spritz clean or day-old hair with a texturizing spray, to give it some grip.

2. Now it’s time to do a French fishtail braid. First, gather a small section of hair at the top of the side of your head. Separate it into two sections, 1 & 2 (as in photo A).

3. To do a basic fishtail, grab a small chunk of hair from the outer side of 1, and cross it over to section 2. Then grab a small section of hair from the outer side of section 2, and cross over to section 1. (See photo B.) We’re also adding a French-braid element—you’ll add small sections of hair to the braid (from the unbraided part of your head) as you work.

4. Repeat these steps, continually adding hair as you work down diagonally; pull snugly, so the braid lies flat. (See photo C.)

5. Keep fishtail-French braiding diagonally. When you get to your opposite shoulder and you’ve included all your hair in the braid, continue doing a standard fishtail.

6. Once you’ve finished, tie the braid with a clear elastic. Lightly pull apart the tail to give this ’do an unstructured vibe.




Coral silk robe dress: Electric Feathers; Gold Ear Cuff: Bjørg

Wear the Crown

This romantic style consists of two braids: one that starts at the front of your head, and one that starts at the back. They wrap in different directions and eventually overlap, like a continuous circle. This one’s a bit complicated, so you’ll need a pal’s help. To get this look, you’ll need a comb, bobby pins, hairspray, and clear elastics. Long thick or wavy hair (past your collarbone) works best.

1. Part hair down the middle, from your hairline to the nape of neck; secure one side with an elastic.

2. Grab a section of hair on the untied side, right next to your part, and split into three sections.

3. Start doing a tight inverted French braid, also called a Dutch French braid, down one side of your head—this is done by crossing the left piece of hair under the center (instead of over, like a traditional French), then the right piece under the center. As you work, add pieces of unbraided hair into the braid, and follow the curve of your hairline. (See photo A.) Finish the braid near the ends of your hair, then tie with an elastic. This braid will chill while you work on the other side.

4. Untie the other side and start Dutch French braiding at the nape of your neck (as in photos B and C); work up the side of your head and across the front. Once you hit your middle part and can’t add more hair, continue braiding the traditional way. When you’ve finished, tie with an elastic.

5. Wrap both braid ends around your head, continuing in the direction they were created, and secure with bobby pins.

6. Tuck and pin the tails underneath the braids to hide them, then hit any flyaways with hairspray.




Linen sleeveless ruffle top: Litke; Orchid earrings: stylist’s own

’Hawk Around the Clock

Everybody’s going crazy lately for clothes with an athletic vibe, like track pants, mesh jerseys, and varsity jackets. And this Sporty Spice trend works great with a kick-ass faux-hawk braid that sits on top of the head; it’s perfect for fine, thick, wavy, and African-American hair. To get this look, you’ll need hairspray and a clear elastic. Bonus tip: this style looks extra-sleek done with wet hair.

1. Grab a small section of hair at your hairline, right between your eyes, and divide it into three parts. (See photo A.)

2. Start doing your trusty Dutch French braid (see “Wear the Crown” for instructions) down the middle of your head. (See photo B.)

3. Continue down the back of your head, pulling tightly as you add small sections to the left, right, and center pieces—you’ll be including all your hair in this braid.

4. Finish braiding at whatever length you like, then tie off with a clear elastic. (See photo C.) Spritz with hairspray to achieve maximum sleekness.




Shimmer chiffon dress: Electric feathers; Gold ear cuff and Rose gold pearl/chain earring: Bjørg

Side Dish

To give some edge to your springy pastel duds, try this one-sided, badass cornrow. It’s a braid that works well with fine, thick, curly, and African-American hair. To get this look, you’ll need a tail comb, hairspray, a thickening volumizer (or a powder like Osis Dust It), clear hair elastics, and a few bobby pins. Day-old hair is great for this style, as it’ll have more natural grit and allow for better grip.

1. Grab your tail comb and create a deep side part on whichever side you prefer to part your hair. To make the part, drag the tail comb from your hairline to the crown of your head, and then diagonally down the back of your head—it’ll look a little like you’re drawing the number seven (or a backwards seven if you’re parting on the right side). Now grab the larger section of your hair, and secure it in an elastic.

2. On the side with less hair, grab a small chunk of hair right at the hairline—midway between your part and your ear, or wherever you want it to lie—and split it into three small pieces. Start to do your good ol’ Dutch

French braid, adding unbraided pieces as you work and pulling very tightly.

3. Braid straight back against the head as you move toward your neck. When you reach the area above your ear, start curving the braid down to the nape of your neck. (See photo A.)

4. Keep braiding until all the hair in this section is incorporated into the braid. (See photo B.) Once you get to the end of your hair, tie the braid with a clear elastic. (See photo C.) Hairspray the hell out of your little cornrow, so it looks tidy and tight.

5. Take the larger section of hair out of its elastic, and brush out any knots. Then sprinkle a little volumizing powder in your roots and work it in. This section should look slightly messy juxtaposed against the tight braid.

6. Then pin the end of your little braid against your head to hide it, or let it hang free.




Grey silk jumpsuit from Electric Feathers

Models: Kamari (MSA Models), Camilla Norman, and Liz Kulze.

Wallpaper back drops provided by Farrow and Ball.

Tips, tricks and gadgets:

There are a few Holy Grail items that’ll help you get a perfect plait. Some of the experts’ fave products are:

OSiS Dust It Mattifying Powder: Fine-haired gals, get ready to fall in love. This multitasker adds instant lift to limp roots.

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: A dry-shampoo- -slash-volumizer you can use before teasing, for the perfect amount of texture.

MetaGrip Premium Bob Pins: These Japanese pins—available at Sally Beauty supply in bronze, gold, silver, black, and white—hold every last strand in place.


L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray: Every hairstylist is obsessed with Elnett, which delivers serious hold without the crunchiness or stickiness of lesser sprays.

By Alison Brislin
Photographed by Gavin Christopher, Hair by Damien Monzillo, Makeup by Colby Smith, Styling by Shelby Werschmidt
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2014 issue of BUST.  Subscribe!

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