Add a fancy fishtail to your waves

Steps straight from the expert who created it

Beauty Crew Editor / September 14 2016

Braids and plaits have come a long way from keeping your hair out of your face during your schoolyard days, and there has never been a more exciting time to sport one (or more!) – whether it’s hidden in your ponytail, twisted up into a bun, or simply styled into a messy fishtail, the possibilities are endless. 

We discovered yet another epic way to style a braid when we came across this gorgeous fishtail-braid-meets-causal-waves style Sarah Potempa created for Scream Queens star Lea Michele, and we couldn’t resist asking the celebrity hairstylist and creator of the Beachwaver curling wand to share her tips to copy the look.


Section your hair

An easy first step after you’ve parted your hair: “Start this look by sectioning your hair at the top of your head where you will create your fishtail braid,” says Potempa.


Start your braid

Split your top section in two halves, then “take a small piece of hair from the outside of one section, then cross it over to the inside of the opposite section.” Repeat that technique on the other half. 

If you’re not sure what this movement looks like, you can see our handy fishtail braid tutorial.


Add a French technique

“Start bringing in extra pieces from your scalp (a French braid style) [as you continue the fishtail technique], but then after a few centimetres, you can continue with your fishtail braid.

“Once the braid is secure with a clear hair tie, gently tug at the edges to create a bigger, more texturised braid that looks relaxed and effortless.” 

Use clear elastics that are quite small for a neat finish, like Models Prefer Mini Poly Bands.

Clear hair elastics
TOP TIP: If you want to create more of a halo with your braid instead of leaving it to hang loose, wrap the braid around your head and secure the end with a bobby pin.


Add your curl

When you’ve finished your fishtail braid, section your hair into clean, even sections to curl. Potempa recommends holding your curling wand vertically and taking sections that are about 4cm to curl. 

If you’re using the Beachwaver® Pro, make sure you set the tool to rotate in the same direction as the side you’re curling (so if you’re curling hair to the left of your face, set it to ‘L’, and ‘R’ if you’re working on the right) to ensure the curls frame your face well. 

If you’re using a regular curling wand, like Remington Curls Collective, place your section of hair in front of the tool and wrap your hair around.

curling wand


Wait, brush, and spray

Once you’ve curled all of your sections, Potempa says to wait for your curls to fully cool down before spraying hairspray on a boar bristle brush (we like ghd Oval Dressing Brush) and brush through your curls for smooth, relaxed waves. For extra hold, you can give another light misting of your hairspray.

ghd boar bristle brush

Image credit: @sarahpotempa

Carli was BEAUTYcrew’s Editor from launch in 2016 until May 2020. You can find her words right here on BEAUTYcrew, and previously on beautyheaven.