Braids are one of the most popular hairstyles, especially among black women. Everyone loves braids because of their versatility and how you can explore different styles. Simple braid styles are also most people’s favorites because they last a reasonable amount of time and take out the stress of daily hair styling.
Braids are never going out of style; more braiders, new easy braided hairstyles, and techniques are emerging daily. This article will explore different braiding techniques, hacks, and tips useful for professional braiders, self-braiders, and everyone wanting to learn more about braiding.
Essential Tools and Products Every Braider Should Have
To achieve the best braiding results, having some essential tools and products in your stash makes the braiding process easier, faster, and neater.
- Wide-toothed comb/ detangling brush: hair prep is essential before getting braids, and using a wide-toothed comb or detangling brush would ensure that the long hair is tangle free and ready for different braid styles.
- Hair clips: while braiding, hair clips help to keep the undone hair in place.
- Braiding gel: braiding gel helps the parts come out extra neat.
- Sharp-mouthed parting comb: this would make parting easier and more precise.
- Braiding rack: If you do not have someone to assist with passing out pre-stretched braiding hair, you can use a braiding rack to prepare the braiding hair beforehand to make the process easier and faster.
- Mousse: using a mousse is a great way to finish your braids. It is a foam-like textured product that helps to keep flyaways down and make the braids neat.
2 Braiding Techniques
There are various braiding techniques; the two are overhand and underhand.
Underhand Braiding Technique
For individual braids, the underhand technique is applied by wrapping the outer strand of the three braiding strands and wrapping it around the back of the braid, switching hands as the braid goes down. Secure the middle with your thumb and index finger each time you wrap the sides.
This underhand technique is really helpful when tucking the natural hair under braids. For cornrows, the underhand braiding technique is usually called Dutch braid. The process involves crossing the outer strands of hair under the middle strand and adding more hair on each side as you go.
Overhand Braiding Technique
For individual braids, the overhand braiding technique involves braiding the outer strands of the three braiding strands and using your index and thumb to cross them over the middle strand. This technique makes braiding with nails easier, as your nails would not be clashing over each other.
For cornrows, the overhand braiding technique is usually called French braids. The classic French braid process involves crossing the outer strands over the middle strand and adding more hair on each side as you go. The overhand braiding technique results in a flat cornrow braid.
Overhand vs underhand Individual braids
Overhand vs underhand cornrow braids
Hacks and Tips for Different Braid Hairstyles
1. Individual braids
- If you have difficulty gripping the roots of a braid, you can use the crochet method. All you have to do is braid the natural hair about four or five times, then insert the braiding hair through the roots of the natural hair with a crochet pin. With this, the braiding hair is already secured to the natural hair, and you can quickly start braiding.
- If you want to add length to your braids, take a small piece of braiding hair and place it under the middle and third strand
- Instead of scissors, use a blade or an eyebrow trimmer to slightly trim off excess hair to achieve flawless feathered ends.
- To make your braids look silky, add some mousse to the hot water before dipping them into it.
- If you use braiding gel, always mold each equal sections of the hair you want to braid to the middle and start the braid from the middle section. This would ensure that the braids are firm and help them last longer.
- If you want full braids, go for small and bigger braids; if you wish for scanty or flat braids, go for bigger and smaller braids.
2. Twist Braids
- If you cannot grip the roots of the braids or would like a knotless root, use a small rubber band to hold the section you want to braid. Then, use a crochet pin to insert the braiding hair underneath the rubber band. Once the braiding hair is secured, split the natural hair into two and start twisting with the braiding hair.
- If you are using any hair extensions with a kinky texture, twist to the direction of the right with your left hand as the dominant hand for twisting to achieve fluffy and bouncy twists. If you want tight twists, twist to the direction of the left with your right hand as the dominant hand for twisting. See the images below for visual reference.
The image above shows twists done in the direction of the left with the right hand as the dominant hand for twisting. These twists look firm and in one place.
The image above shows twists made in the direction of the left with the right hand as the dominant hand for twisting. These twists look more curly, fluffy, and bouncy.
3. French Curl Braids
- French curl extensions are prone to tangling if not correctly taken care of. To avoid tangling, apply a little oil to your fingers and gently separate the hair.
- French curl extensions are usually silky and may unravel if you leave the end of your hair untied. To avoid this, use a small piece of hair and make a knot at the point where the braids stop.
4. Curly Braids
- If you want different curl patterns, use this rule: the smaller the flexi rods, the tighter the curls. This means that bigger flexi rods give loose curls, and small flexi rods give tighter, more defined curls.
- If you cannot access any curling tool, roll the part you want to curl and twist it as you wrap it upward. You can use a rubber band or a spiral hair tie to secure it before putting it in hot water. This method would give you lovely toned curls for your braids.
5. Feed In Braids
- To ensure a flat and natural-looking feed in braid, add only small pieces of braiding hair and increase as you progress, but do not add too much. This will help to avoid any lumps or bulkiness.
- Always start the cornrow with natural hair and start adding hair when you get a good grip. You can braid the natural hair about three to four times. This will also help to reduce tension and avoid bumps at the beginning of the cornrows.
- Add the braiding hair gradually and give intervals to achieve natural-looking braids.
Tips for Braiding Different Hair Types
As a professional braider, you need to be able to cater to different hair types, and here are a braiding techniques and tips to help you create perfect braids.
- Curly hair: curly hair types range from 2a to 4c, requiring adequate preparation before braiding. It is essential to detangle curly hair before braiding, and blow-drying it properly can make the hair braiding process easier and help the braids last longer. You may have to use more products to get the best results when working with thicker hair textures.
- Straight or silky hair: Avoid using too much product when braiding straight or smooth hair because the hair will get too slippery and may become difficult to grip. Also, avoid putting too much tension, and do not braid too tightly.
- Thin or thick hair type: the trick to a classic braid on thin hair types is to make larger parts and avoid using too much braiding hair so that the braids do not pull down the natural hair. While for thick hair types, ensure you properly detangle and prep the hair before braiding and use a good holding gel to mold and slick the hair before braiding. Also, use only small pieces of hair to prevent the braids from being too heavy.
These tips and hacks provided are helpful for both professional and self-braiders. They can help save time and make work easier. Also, experiment with braiding techniques and pick the most suitable and comfortable.
Taiwo is a website content writer and a hairstylist specializing in protective hairstyles. She owns a hairstyling business based in Lagos, where she creates content and markets through social media. Check out her Youtube channel, Stylistondutyng, where you can see her passion for braids in her videos.