10 Chic Braids That Are Actually Easy (We Swear)
I hate to admit it, especially as a beauty editor, but I completely suck at braiding. I blame my mother, who never french-braided my hair when I was a kid. (I also blame her for my addiction to dark chocolate and tendency to use big words when I’m mad—hi, mom!)
Now my profession requires me to scroll longingly through gorgeous braid styles on Pinterest and YouTube, unable to master them no matter how many times I scrutinize the step-by-step instructions. Let’s just say if “braiding” were a section on the SATs, I would not have gotten into college.
So, as you can imagine, it really makes me feel like a dunce when braid tutorials promise to be “ridiculously simple” and “perfect for beginners” and yet I’m still unable to wrap my mind (and fingers) around their execution. Maybe I’m wrong, but a triple-fishtail-upside-down-waterfall-plaited-topknot does not sound simple to me.
Fortunately, easy braids (like, actually easy) do indeed exist. And I’ve gathered the best ones here. No french braids, no triple fishtails. Just pretty, deceptively simple braids that even I, the world’s worst braider, can manage.
If you can’t braid, have no fear. Keep scrolling for 10 ridiculously easy tutorials!
This voluminous side braid may seem fancy, but look again, and you’ll see that it’s actually just two regular braids smashed together. (Told you these would be easy!) Visit Top Inspired for step-by-step photos.
1. Start with unwashed hair sprayed throughout with dry shampoo. (This is generally the best hair texture to braid with, as it provides the most grip.) We recommend DryBar Detox Dry Shampoo ($23).
2. Gather all of your hair to the side, and divide it into two equal sections.
3. Braid one section regularly, and secure with an elastic.
4. Next, braid the second section of hair.
5. When you get to the very end of the second braid, remove the elastic from the first braid, and layer the end of one braid over the end of the other to seamlessly combine them.
6. Secure both braids together with an elastic. Gently tug the loops of the braids outward to make them fuller. (You can even sneak a bobby pin in there to make sure the braids stick together.) Tada! Now everyone thinks you’re fancy.
Maven Beverly Hills
This braided updo looks posh enough to wear to a wedding or ritzy dinner event. Little will your fellow guests know the style takes no more than five minutes and a kindergartner’s skill level. (Check out this video, where Lindsay from Maven Beverly Hills breaks down each step.)
1. Part your hair in the middle, then divide it into two even sections.
2. Braid each section regularly, and secure the ends with a clear elastic. Lightly tug the loops of the braids outward to make them fatter.
3. Next, flip the braids up and over the top of your head, and secure them there with bobby pins. (You’ll need a couple right on top of your ahead to pin the ends, and a few along the rest of each braid.)
4 Free a few strands of hair so they fall around your face for a softer, messier look.
I know, it looks Pinterest-y and hard. But don’t freak just yet. This style doesn’t actually require you to braid at all—it’s a twist! You only have to handle two strands of hair at a time. And for the braid-challenged, less hair involved = less confusion. (Watch Stephanie Brinkerhoff's video of the tutorial.)
1. Starting on the left side, grab a two-inch section of hair about six inches back from your hairline, and split it in two.
2. Cross the piece nearest to your face over the other piece. Then, drop that other piece, and pick up a new piece of hair in its place.
3. Now, just like you did in the previous step, cross the new piece on the bottom over that top piece. Then, drop the top piece. This is the start to your waterfall twist.
4. Repeat these same steps, continuing your waterfall twist until you reach the back of your head. There, pin the end of the twist aside.
5. Repeat steps 1-4 on the right side of your head to create the same design.
6. Once you reach the back of your head on the right, combine the ends of both twists with a small elastic. Optional: Disguise the elastic by wrapping a small strand of hair around it and pinning underneath.
7. Finish off with a mist of hairspray, such as R+Co Outer Space Flexible Hairspray ($29).
Fishtail braids are like computer programming to me: I just don’t speak the language. Luckily, this gorgeous style gives that same bohemian effect, no genius necessary. (Click over to Free People to find more photos of the tutorial).
1. Pull your hair back into a low pony, and secure with a small clear elastic (or a thin elastic that matches your hair color).
2. Split the hair in half just above the elastic to create a little vertical opening. Then, grab your pony, and flip it up and through that opening, so it loops back around.
3. A few inches below that first elastic, wrap another elastic around the ponytail, and create another opening just above it, like you did in step 2.
5. Repeat the rest of step 2 with this new section of the ponytail, looping the pony up and through the vertical opening.
6. Use one last elastic to section off the end of the ponytail, a few inches below the second elastic. Voilà—the look of a fishtail, minus all the braiding.
A Beautiful Mess
Most updos this romantic and pretty involve way more delicate handiwork than a beginner braider has to offer. But not this one. Don’t believe us? Check out this minute-long video version of the tutorial.
1. Start by grabbing a small section of hair from one side of your head, close to your part, and braiding it. You can leave that small braid hanging for now.
2. Take another section of hair a few inches below that braid (say, from just above your ear), and create a simple twist.
3. Repeat step 2, creating one braid and one twist, on the other side of your head.
4. Gather all the braids and the twists to the back of your head, and secure with a small elastic.
5. Flip the remaining hair up, and tuck it into the band created by your braids and twists. Secure with bobby pins, and behold.
Cup of Jo
This half-up braided crown screams Pinterest, except it doesn’t require any black magic to recreate. (Head over to A Cup of Jo for more photos of the tutorial).
1. Create a center part. Then, grab a four or five-inch section of hair on one side of your head. You’ll use this to create half of your braid. (Leave a few strands of hair in front for a messier, more boho look)
2. Braid this section of hair, starting loosely at the top, and braiding backwards toward the back of your head (instead of braiding straight down), so the braid is at a slight slant. Secure the end with an elastic.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 on the other side of your head.
4. Cross the first braid behind your head, so that it swoops down toward the nape of your neck. (This creates a more flattering, effortless look.) Pin it to the back of your head with bobby pins, making sure to tuck in the tail.
5. Repeat step 4 on the other side.
Do you know how to tie your shoes? This braid-esque hairstyle is even easier than that. No joke. (Find step-by-step photos at Camille Styles.)
1. This unique style works best best with clean hair and minimal flyaways, so start by applying a smoothing serum, like Living Proof Satin Hair Serum ($29).
2. Gather all of your hair to one side, and split it into two equal sections.
3. Keeping the hair nice and neat, tie the two sections into a knot, just as you’d tie a piece of string. (We know, it sounds weird, but trust us.)
4. Grab the two tail ends of the knot, and tie another.
5. Continue tying knots until you run out of length. Secure at the bottom with a clear elastic. Gently tug on the knots to make them look looser and fuller. Mist all over with a shine-enhancing hairspray, such as Tigi Bed Head Masterpiece Shine Hairspray ($23).
Nope, you don’t even need fancy braiding skills for this adorable updo from Lulu's blog.
1. Lightly backcomb the hair at your crown to create volume.
2. Divide hair into three even sections, and braid them regularly. Gently yank the braids outward to make them fuller.
3. Coil each braid into a knot at the nape of your neck, and secure to your head with bobby pins.
Twist Me Pretty
Another breathtaking braid that requires zero braiding. Think of this as your first baby step to learning how to French braid. (That whole “adding more hair to the braid as you go” thing still boggles my mind.) Watch a video version of the tutorial or even more clarity.
1. Gather two small sections of hair near one side of your part, and twist the front piece of hair over the one behind it.
2. Add a new section of hair to the front piece, as well as a new section of hair to the back piece.
3. Twist the sections as you did before with the front piece going over the back piece.
4. Continue twisting this way, adding new sections of hair to each of the two pieces as you twist.
5. Once you reach the back of your head, stop adding in new sections of hair. Simply twist the two sections normally until you reach the end, and secure with a clear elastic.
6. Repeat steps 1-5 on the other side of your head.
7. With both twists at the back of your head, make a little opening above the elastic of one twist. Then take the other twist, and pull it through the opening.
8. Finish off by securing the style to your head with a few bobby pins. Once it’s secure you can remove the elastics.
1. Gather your hair into a side ponytail, and secure with a clear elastic.
2. Separate your pony into two even sections. Unlike a regular braid, a fishtail braid only involves two sections of hair. (You can do this.)
3. Take a small piece of hair from the outermost edge of one of those two sections, bring it over its original section, and combine it with the opposite section of hair.
4. Repeat step 3 for the other section (the one you’ve just brought that small piece of hair to). Remember to direct the small piece over its original section before combining it with the opposite one. Grab a piece, cross, combine. This is the motion you’ll repeat all the way down.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until you get to the end of your hair, always keeping the braid tight by firmly pulling the two sections outward and away from one another.
6. Once finished, place another elastic around the end of the braid to keep it together.
7. Cut away the original elastic band at the top of the braid to release the ponytail.
8. To create a messier look, gently yank the braid outward, starting at the top.
9. Finish with the Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray ($39) for added texture and shine.
Looking for more braid-spiration? Check out our big, badass braid guide.