By Terez Howard

Braids. The word is the epitome of black hair, both for black women with natural hair and for those without. A simple hair style, braids can be worn on the shortest of natural hair and the longest. Styles can include complex designs with numerous braids or just one simple French braid.

You can create beautiful braid hair styles on your natural hair without the use of weaves or extensions.  All you need is your own natural hair, a wide tooth comb, a rat tail comb for parting and possibly some rubber bands.

Step By Step Guide To Creating Braids

  1. Wash your hair and detangle.  I recommend detangling with a wide tooth comb in the shower while your shampoo or conditioner is in your hair.
  2. Begin parting your hair.  Make your parts as small or as big as you’d like.  I prefer a box pattern.  However, you can also do a diamond shape or just grab the hair and braid.  For short natural hair, making the sections of hair small will make the hair easiest to braid, and most likely the braids will stay in for a long time.
  3. Once you have a parted section of hair, divide it into three sections of strands.  Then, begin to braid right over middle, left over middle, right over middle, left over middle, and so forth.  Continue this pattern until you reach the end of the strands.
  4. Now you have the option of putting rubber bands on the ends or leaving them loose.  If you leave the hair loose, you can twirl the end with your finger to create a little curl on the bottom.

Tip: Always braid straight down.  If you braid out or up, especially if your hair is short, your braids will stick straight out.  However, if you are braiding with the intent of wearing a braid out, then braiding the hair out will make the hair look fuller in a braid out.

After You Braid, You Can…

  1. Wear a braid out after a couple weeks with the braids.  Gently unravel and finger comb your hair.
  2. Create a unique hair style with your braids.  Pull the top half into a ponytail.  Tie a scarf around the edges.  Place a decorative flower on the side.
  3. Twist your braids.  This works especially well when you have created small braids.  You can two strand twist a few at a time and unravel them for a new texture.
  4. Incorporate other hair styles into your braids.  Cornrows, twists, afro puffs, Bantu knots, the list goes on.

What Is A French Braid or Plait?

A French braid or French plait is similar to a cornrow.  But instead of braiding the strands under one another, you braid over, grabbing more hair as you go along and keeping the strands close to the scalp.

Women with long natural hair can create one French braid down the middle of their hair.  Shorter naturals can opt to use French plaits as accents, for instance by placing one across the hairline or placing several along the sides of the head to join into a frohawk.

Unraveling a French braid makes a gorgeous braid out.  Oftentimes, the hair lays down more than it would if just braids were in the hair.

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