Women with long hair can play with dozens of braid
styles for a simple—or exotic—new look.
When you have long hair, no style is more fun to experiment with
than braids. If you think braiding is limited to the standard English
style (three strands of equal size, crossed back and forth to form
a simple ponytail-style braid), you haven’t explored the possibilities.
There are dozens of braid styles—some understated, some complex,
Braids can be worn by women of all ages, and even those with
only chin-length hair can pull them off. They keep your hair neat,
off your face when the weather is hot or humid, are perfect if
you engage in sports, and can be worn during the day or evening.
Some of the most common braids perfectly accessorize both tennis
dress and evening gown. Which hairstyle can claim greater versatility?
Once you’ve mastered one style of braid, you’ll have
the skill needed to attempt others. For braiding success, follow
these tips from Patricia Coen and Joe Maxwell, authors of Beautiful
Before trying a braid style, read all instructions,
and imagine performing them. Braid in your mind before braiding
with your hands.
Don’t watch yourself in the mirror.
Close your eyes and concentrate. You’ll work intuitively,
which will produce a better braid.
Work with damp hair, which is more manageable
when you’re braiding.
Don’t use an office-supply–style
rubber band to secure a braid, as it promotes hair breakage.
Choose proper accessories designed to hold hair: coated bands,
clips, barrettes and other ornaments.
Don’t tense up. If you don’t
like the result, you can always try again.
As for braid styles, consider the following:
Create a simple English braid, and coil it
around your finger. Tuck the end of the braid under the coil,
and secure it to the back of your head. This is called an “English
braid with chignon.”
The “Dutch braid” is similar
to an English braid, but the three strands of hair (equal in
size) are crossed under, rather than over, one another.
The classic “French braid” is
one of the most sophisticated—and popular—hairstyles
ever invented. You start with a center section of hair and divide
it into three strands. As you braid, you add new strands gathered
from both sides of your head. The finished braid rests flat
against your head and is secured at the bottom. Check out Dreamweaver
Braiding, an online educational braiding site, for complete
directions, or Coen’s and Maxwell’s book for a step-by-step,
The “invisible French braid”
is constructed like its classic namesake, but the hanging braid
is folded upward and pinned to your scalp.
The “accent braid”—popular
among teenagers—is a single, thin braid that adorns loose
hair, positioned on one side of your head. Select three thin
strands from one side of your hair and braid them. Secure the
braid at the bottom and let it rest against your loose hair.
The “princess braid” was made
famous by Carrie Fisher’s Star Wars character, Princess
Leia. The style actually dates back to the 14th century, when
it was all the rage. You create two English braids—one
on each side of your head, pigtail style—and coil them.
Affix the coils to your scalp with hairpins.
Cornrows are a trendy style among African-American
women, but the very Caucasian Bo Derek immortalized them for
women of all ethnicities in the 1979 film 10. Cornrows tend
to remain in the hair for a protracted period, due to the amount
of time needed to create them. If you want this look, go to
an experienced braider or stylist, as braid evenness is vital.
You can always work ribbon or yarn into any braid to add a splash
of color. Adorn braids with hair jewels or fresh floral buds for
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