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Have you ever wanted to braid hair? Follow these steps and with a bit of practice, you’ll be a braiding pro. Braided hair looks pretty on everyone, and is a great option for when you want a quick and easy hairstyle that looks like it required a lot of effort.

Basic Braid Step-by-Step:

1. Detangle hair with a brush or wide-toothed comb. Braiding goes a lot faster when your hair is knot-free. The comb should be able to pull easily through the length of the hair.

  • If you’re working with thick or layered hair, use a bit of water or liquid hair gel to dampen the hair first. This will make it easier to handle.
  • You can braid hair when it is wet or dry. If your hair is completely wet, it will have a very smooth, tight appearance while dry hair will give a more messy look.
  • If braiding your hair dry, it is best to do it a few days after washing so that it is not so clean and slick. Slightly oily hair will hold a braid better than brand “new” clean hair.

2. Start with a secure base (optional). If you tie hair into a ponytail or half ponytail with a hair tie, your braid will be easier to handle and turn out a little neater. Once you get the hang of it, try to start braiding loose hair at the nape of the neck.

3. Divide the hair into three even sections. These will be the three strands of your braid, so try to make them as even as possible.

  • Grab the right section with your right hand and the left section with your left hand, letting the middle section hang free (for now).
  • In your right and left hands, hold the strands so that you’re grasping them against your palm with your middle, ring and little fingers, keeping your index fingers and thumbs free.

4. Cross the left section over the middle section. If your strands started out as A B C, they should now be ordered as B A C.

  • With the index finger and thumb of your left hand, grab the middle section of hair.
  • Using the index finger and thumb of your right hand, grab the left section of hair that’s grasped against your left palm.
  • The original left-hand section is now the middle section.

5. Cross the right section over the middle section. Your strands that are now ordered B A C will become B C A.

  • In your left hand, shift the strand that’s between your index finger and thumb so that your other fingers are holding it secure against your palm.
  • Use your left index finger and thumb to grab the section of hair that’s being held against your right palm (but not the one being held by the thumb and index finger).
  • The original right-hand section is now the middle section.

6. Continue braiding. Keep using the “free” index finger and thumb of one hand to grab the “back” section of hair (held by the other three fingers against the palm) from the other hand.

  • Tighten the braid as you go. Any time a strand changes hands, tug gently on the hair so that the plait moves upward, tightening it. Don’t pull too hard, though.
  • Repeat until you run out of space to braid, leaving about 1–3 inches (2.5–7.6 cm) of unbraided hair at the end.

7. Secure the braid. Use a non-rubber elastic to tie off the end of the braid. You might have to wrap it around the hair several times.

  • Avoid rubber bands. These can damage the hair and be difficult to remove at the end of the day.
  • Whenever possible, use a ponytail holder that is the same color as your hair or that is translucent so that it blends in with your braid.