Do you need a quick and easy way to tame your hair while still looking cute and polished? Or perhaps you’re looking for a way to minimize the amount of manipulation and heat styling so that your hair can have a break? If so, you should consider braiding your hair!
I personally love wearing braids in my hair. It’s a cute way to protect your curls from tangles, frizz, and breakage! It’s also a great way to alter your curl pattern without additional heat temporarily! In today’s article, we’ll take a deep dive into braids, how to take care of them, and how they can benefit your curly hair routine.
What are Braids?
Braids are a type of hairstyle in which sections of hair are woven together. Braids can range from simple three-strand plaits to more intricate styles. They have been around for thousands of years, and their existence can be observed across many different cultures and societies. The oldest evidence of braided hairstyles was depicted in the Venus of Willendorf, a sculpted figurine of a woman estimated to have been made between 28,000 to 25,000 BCE.
Because braids have been around for thousands of years, so many styles and techniques have developed around the world!
Why Should I Braid My Hair?
Braids are a perfect protective hairstyle for all hair types. However, it is especially beneficial for individuals who have curly or coily hair textures. Braids are a versatile style that will help you keep your hair separated to prevent tangles and matting. It also protects the fragile ends of the hair from splitting or breaking off from too much manipulation, heat styling, or friction against your clothing.
If you’re looking for a cute way to tame your hair that’s low manipulation and easy to do – braids should be the next on your list of hairstyles to master!
What kind of braids are there?
Because braids have been around for thousands of years, there are many braiding styles to choose from. These styles range from simplistic plaits, geometrically inspired designs, to elongating styles with added hair extensions.
Here are some of the most common styles of braids.
The single braid is the most common braid and one of the easiest and quickest looks to achieve! In this type of braid, all your hair is pulled to the back of your head and woven into one singular three-strand braid that falls down the back or hangs over the shoulder.
The three-strand braid is a classic braid style and is extremely popular because it is straightforward to do. To achieve this style, divide the chosen section of hair into three sections. Alternate each section over the other until you’ve reached the end and secure it with an elastic.
The French or Dutch style braid is highly similar to the three-stand braid. The only difference is that the braid starts directly at the scalp. To achieve the style, divide the desired area into three sections. Alternate the strands across each other, adding hair to each section as you go.
French and Dutch style braids are achieved using a similar technique. The difference is that, in the French style, the alternating strands cross over each other. The Dutch style requires the strands to cross under each other. They’re very similar techniques but have a visibly different look when completed!
The lace braid is a beautiful way to style your hair! It’s very similar in technique to the traditional French braid. However, instead of focusing on braiding the hair tightly to the scalp, this technique requires you to weave the ends of your hair together to form a braid that looks a lot like a lace trim. This is an excellent style for individuals struggling to grow out bangs or shorter layers of their hair.
The fishtail braid can be a little more challenging to master, and it can be very time-consuming. However, it’s such a cute style that it is worth taking the extra time to learn how to do it correctly! In the fishtail braid, divide the desired area of hair into two sections. As you braid the hair, take tiny sections from underneath one of the two sections, and pull them across the center of the braid to the opposite side. Pull it tight and continue to the ends!
Box braids are a geometrically inspired braiding style, one of the more intricate long-lasting styles. The look is created by creating “boxy” or square-shaped sections across the head and braiding the hair in that section into a three-strand braid. Because the braids don’t start directly at the scalp, they’re versatile and can be pulled into an updo.
While you can do box braids on your own hair, many individuals who wear box braids weave hair extensions into the braid to elongate their style!
Cornrows, also referred to as “Boxer” braids, are a traditional style in which the hair is braided very close to the scalp. The technique can be challenging to master as you must braid the hair in an underhand, upward pattern. The result is a beautiful, raised braid anchored close to the scalp. While most cornrows are done in a straight line starting from the front of the scalp and leading toward the nape of the neck, they can be more intricately designed in elaborate geometrical and curved designs.
A braid out simply refers to braiding your hair and releasing the braids after a certain amount of time. While it works best on slightly damp with a styling product (gels, mousse, or curl creams), it can also be done on dry hair. It’s an excellent and damage-free way to get beautiful overnight curls. When you do a braid out, it will temporarily alter your curl pattern without any additional heat! You can braid your hair in any style you’d like; however, the resulting curl pattern will differ depending on the chosen type. Experiment with other techniques to discover your perfect overnight curl!
Find your perfect braid!
There are hundreds of types of ways to braid your hair. While many braiding styles follow some of the techniques listed above, how you braid your hair and the direction it is woven can create some unique looks!
You also don’t have to braid your entire head! You can use smaller braids to accentuate your current hairstyle, such as upside-down braids at the back of the head that connect into a big, messy bun at the crown. Super cute!
How long do braids last?
The longevity of braids depends on the style you choose and how well you care for them.
If you’re braiding your natural hair or using a technique that’s a bit looser, you can expect your braids to last up to a week. If you’re choosing a more intricate style, a tightly woven type, or adding extensions, the braids can last up to two weeks or more.
Can braids damage my hair?
Like all things, braids have the potential to damage your hair if you’re not careful. Before braiding your hair, be sure to detangle the sections properly. If you have tangles, braids can worsen them, especially if you leave them in for an extended period.
It is also crucial to ensure that if you’re braiding your hair starting from the scalp, do not make your braids too tight. Too much tugging at the hair follicles can lead to a tender, sensitive scalp and premature hair fall. Suppose the tugging is prolonged over an extended period. In that case, it may also cause a more severe condition called traction alopecia, in which the hair follicle is damaged, and hair does not grow back. Traction alopecia tends to occur most commonly in more fragile areas such as the edges of the hairline and at the nape.
Make sure not to leave your braids in for too long! While it is a great way to keep your hair manageable, if you neglect to moisturize your hair or don’t release them to detangle often enough, you might wind up with breakage or excessive tangles caused by shedding strands that are caught in the braid.
How do I care best for my braids?
If you’re looking for a low manipulation way to style your hair that will last you for a few days, it is best practice to protect them overnight. The best way to prep braids for bed is to secure them with a satin or silk hair band or to wrap and pin them down to your head with bobby pins. Cover your hair with a silk or satin scarf or hood, or sleep with a satin pillowcase to reduce the amount of friction against your hair. Cutting down on the amount of friction that may happen while you sleep will prolong the longevity of the style keeping your braids smooth, shiny, and as frizz-free as possible.
Ready for an effortless style?
I hope that you found this post helpful! Braids are one of my favorite ways to style my hair when I want a low-maintenance style that still looks super cute. It’s also my secret weapon to achieving effortless overnight curls!
I've been a curly girl since I was little. 💝 But it wasn't until I discovered the right curl care for me that I learned to understand my curls. I'm happy to pass all this on to you - so that you too can learn to love your curls.