Personal Care

How to braid hair

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru,

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woman with braid
Braiding is a hair styling technique you can do at home.
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Braid your hair for a stylish new look

Hair braiding involves a learning process. But once you know how to braid hair, you can transform your own or someone else's hair into a cute new style in just a few minutes.

Braided hair is excellent for playing sports, swimming, riding motorcycles and traveling. It keeps hair neat, untangled and stylish.

Here are some easy instructions on how to braid hair.

To braid another person's hair or do the front of your own head

The hair should be clean and dry. If it is wavy or curly, you may want to blow dry it straight first so the braid has a more even texture. Add some styling gel to smooth any flyaways and make the hair more manageable. Comb the hair to remove tangles.

Divide the hair into three even sections. Place the left section between your left index finger and thumb, let the middle section hang free and place the right section between your right index finger and thumb.

Hold the middle section with your right middle finger and pull it so it passes behind the right section. Extend your right thumb and index finger so the right portion of hair becomes the new middle section.

Using the left middle finger, pull the middle section behind the left section. Extend or straighten the left index finger and thumb to move the left section into the middle.

Shift the portion of hair hooked in the right middle finger so it sits between the right index finger and thumb. Repeat the process. Then shift the portion of the hair hooked in the left middle finger so it sits between the left index finger and thumb.

Continue until the braid is the desired length. For a tighter, more compact braid, pull the middle section into a horizontal line as you move it to the right or left. If you prefer a loose, elongated braid, simply shift the middle section to the right or left, letting it remain in a vertical line.

Secure the end of the braid with a covered rubber band. Add a bow or barrette as desired. Be sure to pull the portions of hair as evenly as possible so the tension remains consistent. If the tension is tighter on one side, your braid will twist to one side instead of lying flat. Avoid pulling too hard, as this may lead to hair damage.

Braiding the back of your own hair

Comb your hair before you begin and remove any tangles. Divide the hair into three even sections. Some people have found that if you braid your hair when it's damp, say 30 minutes to an hour after a shower or bath, it does not get frizzy and is easier to work with.

Lift your left elbow to shoulder height and make a thumbs down fist around the left portion of hair. Do the same on the right side, letting the middle portion lie against your spine.

Extend your left index finger and hook the right section of hair. Pull it in front of the middle section, letting it slip completely out of the right hand. Take the middle section of hair with your right hand, pull it to the right side, and then resume the thumbs down fist position with both hands.

Extending your right index finger, hook the far left portion of hair and let it slip completely out of the left hand. Shift the portion of hair in your left hand into a thumbs down fist and then release the left index finger. Make a thumbs down fist with your right hand and then use your left index finger to hook the far right section.

Continue the process until the braid is complete. To braid very long hair, you may have to free a hand to pull the sections through. Secure the developing braid by pressing your knuckles into it as you shift your hands for the next cross. Use a covered elastic to secure the braid at the end and decorate as desired.

Experiment with using different hand positions. You may discover a technique that works better for you.

Practice leads to success

The first time you try to braid hair, it will go slowly. Practice your technique and be patient until you know how to braid hair. It may take some time to discover your rhythm. Braiding will become much easier with continued practice.

If you're braiding a young child's hair, ask that she keep her head still. Give her a hand mirror so she can watch you do the braiding. If her hair is too thin and fine for an elastic to hold the braid, use pipe cleaners. These come in many colors and children usually have them readily available.

When you're learning how to braid hair, it might be beneficial to visit a hair salon where they do braiding and watch the stylists braid their clients' hair. Another good practice technique is to braid the hair of a doll or hair mannequin.

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