3 braided hairstyles that are actually easy (we promise!)

Simple styles for those who suck at braiding

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / January 31 2019

We’ll never get bored with braids. And for good reason – not only do they look good, but they’re totally versatile and can add a bit of flare to almost any beauty look (just ask Blake Lively and Emily Blunt!). From cornrows to box braids, side braids, half-up half-down braids, the fancy waterfall braid and so many more, there’s a braided hairstyle out there to suit *every* hair type. 

But truth is, braiding hair is no easy feat. And while we can watch a bazillion braiding tutorials on YouTube, it’s always waaay harder trying to do it IRL. Anyone else wishing they had learned how to braid hair back when they were kids?! 

The good news is, it’s never too late to pick it up! To help you get started, we’ve asked two of Australia’s top hairstylists for their expert tips on how to braid your own hair. Whether you have short hair, long hair, curly hair or straight hair, these easy DIY braided hairstyles are about to become your new everyday staples. 

Check out our step-by-step guide for beginners – we’ll have you mastering the braiding game in no time.

The French braid

The classic French braid is a timeless, chic style and it’s probably one of the most popular styles of braid. We love this hairstyle because it looks neat and polished, and is also the perfect everyday option for those who don’t have a lot of time in the morning.

Step 1: Using a paddle brush, start by brushing your hair back so it’s smooth. “If you also want really sleek, smooth braids, apply a smoothing treatment like Evo’s Lockdown Smoothing Treatment to help detangle hair and improve manageability,” says Lauren McCowan, Evo and Cloud Nine Creative Director. 

Step 2: Use your fingers (or a comb) to create a ‘V’ shape from your temples to your crown. Take three pieces of hair from that section and begin braiding them, repeating this mantra: left side over middle, right side over middle. Each time you repeat this motion, you also need to add a small section of hair from either side.

PRO TIP: “It can be tricky to keep this one straight when braiding down the back of your head, so my tip would be to set up a mirror in front of you, and one behind so you can make sure it is neat as you go."
Lauren McCowan
Evo and Cloud Nine
Creative Director

Step 3: Repeat this motion until you reach the ends, then secure with a hair tie.

The Dutch braid

A Dutch braid, also known as an inside-out French braid, looks difficult to create but it’s actually pretty simple. Instead of crossing the sections of hair over one another (like the classic French braid), you cross them underneath each other. This hairstyle is great for keeping your hair locked down and out of your face, so it’s the perfect style to wear while you knock out a HIIT class. Love the look of boxer braids? Before you begin, divide your hair down your part line and create two braids.

Step 1: After brushing out any bumps or knots, use your fingers (or a comb) to create a ‘V’ shape from your temples to your crown and separate your hair into three different sections, concentrating on getting perfect, clean partings. “It’s the secret to pulling off this look,” says celebrity hairstylist and ELEVEN Australia Co-Creative Director Joey Scandizzo. “It’s also really important to get the partings right to flatter your face. Go off how you normally part your hair or what you know will flatter your bone structure and position your braid from there.”

Step 2: Using the three sections, weave the left piece under the middle piece, then the right piece under the middle again (note: this is also how to do cornrows). As you move back to the left section to bring it underneath the middle piece, grab and add a small section of your hair from  your hairline on the left side, and then repeat this action on the right side. “In terms of technique, when you’re doing a multi-strand (like a Dutch braid, cornrows or a French braid) it’s really important to try and keep your hands as close to your head as possible and keep the tension tight the whole time, otherwise it can fall out and you’ll have to start over,” says Scandizzo.

Step 3: Repeat this motion until you reach the ends, then secure with a hair tie.

PRO TIP: “If you’re after that cool, relaxed look you can always go in and soften it later, but you need to get the structure and foundation of the braid right so it will last and look right. To get this look, gently soften and pull the braid with your fingers after you’ve finished; don’t worry if a few pieces fall out, it is meant to look relaxed.”
Joey Scandizzo
ELEVEN Australia
Co-Creative Director and celebrity hairstylist

The fishtail braid 

If you’re looking for the perfect wedding hair style (or just want to look stylish as heck), McCowan says fishtail braids are a popular option for brides. “It’s a beautiful and versatile style that offers a cool alternative to a traditional braid. They look especially nice when they’re a bit loose and relaxed, and decorated with a beautiful flower crown.”

For a low fishtail braid à la Nicole Kidman:

Step 1: Brush your hair to smooth out any bumps or knots, then divide hair into two even sections.

Step 2: Pull out a third, smaller piece from the underside of the right section and cross it over the top of the right section, before adding it to the left section and pulling it tight. 

Step 3: Repeat this on the opposite side, using a small piece from the underside of the left section (start your plait low at the nape of the neck and slightly off-centre). Simply keep alternating between sides, working your way over your shoulder so your plait naturally falls forward. Once you reach the ends, secure with a hair tie.

Just keep in mind that your hair needs to have a slightly rough, thick texture for this style. “Freshly washed hair isn’t always the best for braiding and second day hair actually works better. The natural oils give your hair a bit more grit, making it easier to braid,” says Scandizzo.

PRO TIP: “Styling products can make or break a braid. Pick products based on the texture you want and create that texture first before braiding. If you’re going for a relaxed, effortless braid, build texture with a sea salt spray or texture spray. My go-tos are ELEVEN Australia Sea Salt Texture Spray or I Want Body Texture Spray.”
Joey Scandizzo
ELEVEN Australia
Co-Creative Director and celebrity hairstylist

If you want to add a bit of length to your fishtail braid with hair extensions, McCowan recommends keeping your braid loose and not as tight to the scalp, so you can hide the base of your extensions. One of the biggest issues with braided hair extensions are the attachments – so make sure you’re covering them as you go!

“If you are braiding extensions into your hair, position it so the extensions wrap around your natural hair, so that you can then braid the natural hair and extension seamlessly,” says McCowan.

Look at you go! You’ll be on your way to an upside-down braid in no time!

If you’re looking for some more cute DIYs, check out how to make your own face mask. Hint: Everything you need is in your kitchen! 

Do you have a celebrity braid muse? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: Getty

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.