Coachella is the one time of year where we set aside our usual style lineup for something edgier and fresher. Out with the old, and in with the new—T-shirts, bright and funky makeup, and fun hairstyles. We're talking hair chalk, bold accessories, and most importantly, braided styles of all shapes and sizes.
At this point, Coachella is synonymous with braids (as is just about every other music festival out there), and we're not mad about it. It's no wonder why—braids aren't fussy; they're functional and effortlessly cool. They keep your hair off your face and neck while you're dancing and align perfectly with Coachella's boho-chic aesthetic. Want in on the action? We've rounded up 23 eclectic festival-friendly styles for you to try, including picks from stylists Vickie Vidov and Philip Downing.
Meet the Expert
Keep scrolling for our favorite Coachella-worthy braids.
Looking to let your hair down but still crave a braid detail? Hailey Bieber's lil' braids should satisfy you. Even though they're tiny, they make a big impact by adding texture and a fun flair. "Baby braids are making a comeback and make for a fun festival look, as well," notes Vidov.
Regardless of your braiding skills (or lack thereof) and no matter if your hair is coarse and coily or fine and straight, a ponytail braid is festival foolproof. Prep strands with SexyHair Style Hard Up Hard Holding Gel ($19) before styling. And if you're going for that boho aesthetic, be sure to leave ends undone.
Hair accessories are key to amping up a traditional look. Just look at braided beauty Jhene Aiko and her colorful hair scarf as proof. To keep natural braids looking fresh, we recommend applying some moisturizing oil periodically. As for what hair scarf to go with, we think Anthropologie's Curried Myrrh Wrap Headband ($70) is super dreamy.
- Create a ponytail and divide it in two.
- Take a piece from the outside of one section and pull it over and across to the inside of the other section.
- Repeat as necessary until reaching mids.
- Secure with an elastic or a bedazzled clip (even better).
Rope Braid Pigtails
Rope braid pigtails will have you ready to hit the festival grounds in no time. Their appeal comes from being both practical and stylish (not to mention they're the handiwork of celeb stylist Justine Marjan). They not only keep hair up and away from your face and neck, but they allow you to show off a lengthy mane, too.
French Side Braid
Priyanka Chopra's textured waves are only rivaled by her sleek French side braid. It's just as edgy as shaving one side of your head, but it comes without the commitment. And if you've got a cool ear piercing, this style lets you show it off.
This ridged braid is the stuff of Coachella dreams. Use a parting comb to French braid a small section of hair down the middle of your head, then tie it all together at the base of your neck. Finally, run a small amount of John Frieda Frizz Ease Extra Strength Serum ($9) through strands to get that silky-smooth finish.
Thanks to the prevalence of boho braids at festivals, opting for a sporty variety will make you stand out among the crowd. Downing explains how: "Playing with the pony placement and subsequent braid really changes the dimension; for example, the higher the pony, the sportier the overall feeling. Keeping the roots polished and the braid clean for me gives this a real sport-chic feel." Finish with Bed Head Headrush Superfine Shine Spray ($21) for all-over gloss.
Too lazy to do a crown braid? Us too. That's why we were over the moon when we came across these braided headbands ($11). Simply throw one on for an instant festival-ready hairstyle. The neon color might be a nod to the '80s, but the teased crown screams, "I love the '60s."
Middle-Parted Dual Braids
Amandla Stenberg's dual braid action has us convinced to ditch the single plait for good. Meanwhile, her stark middle part proves that Kendall Jenner isn't the only one who knows how to wear center-parted hair.
- Work R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Gel ($28) into strands.
- Part hair down the middle using Diane Ionic Anti-Static Pin Tail Comb ($3) and gather into a high ponytail.
- Use the tail of your comb to slightly lift hair alongside your parting.
- Divide your ponytail into two sections.
- Take one section and braid down, securing with an elastic.
- Repeat for the other section.
Would a compilation of the best music-festival braids be complete without a milkmaid braid? We don't think so. Just braid your hair into pigtails, and then wrap them around the top of your head. To keep braids in place, secure with bobby pins and douse with Kenra Professional Volume Spray 25 ($20).
Here's another music festival–appropriate twist on a traditional hairstyle. While braiding your fishtail pigtails, add neon ribbons for a pop of color. "Adding some ribbon in between the braids makes for a fun festival look," notes Vidov. Finish with texturizing spray.
Knotless and Undone
Make life easier on yourself and make an appointment with your hairstylist before heading out to three days of peace and music (and beauty). When you're in the salon chair, ask for knotless braids. This low-maintenance style will get your natural hair through Coachella—and then some.
Along with messy buns and messy ponytails, messy braids hold a special place in our hearts. To replicate this look, just start with a French braid from roots to mids, and then create a traditional braid using ends. Pull out a few pieces for that intentionally messy finish.
If you rock natural hair, why not opt for a protective style this festival season? Cornrows and whipped baby hairs get our vote since they will have you looking and feeling cool. Enlist the help of a pro to nail this 'do or DIY with our step-by-step guide to braiding cornrows.
Stylist Sarah Potempa reinvents the standard messy bun with this braided iteration on Margot Robbie. It's a major upgrade that requires little to no effort, just the addition of a simple vertical braid detail.
- Divide hair into three sections.
- Take the middle section and begin braiding at the nape of the neck and down, securing with a hair tie.
- Gather the two unbraided sections and work into a loose bun atop your head.
- Take your braid and wrap it underneath your bun using your finger to create a small hole to pull it through toward the front of your head, up, over, and back. Depending on the length of your hair, you may need to wrap it again.
- Once you reach the end of your braid, tuck it underneath your bun and secure it with a bobby pin.
When sectioning hair, the middle section should be the most narrow, however, depending on how thick you'd like your braid to be, adjust as needed.
If you've got fine, straight hair and are looking to add something fun—not to mention a touch of texture to your look—Vidov recommends face-framing braids. "Blowout hair with mousse to add volume and bounce before braiding," she instructs. Then, simply create two braids at the front of your face. "It is playful while being casual at the same time. Be sure to use a product like Oribe’s Freestyle Working Hairspray ($42) as you work and braid your way down, ensuring the braids will look their best," adds Vidov.
Box Braid Bob
While many box braid looks are modeled on long textured tresses, that doesn't mean that those with shorter natural hair can't also pull off the style. One surefire way to do so is à la bob like Jourdan Dunn. Weave in some gold metal hair string ($6) to get that festival fairy effect.
Rita Ora's high, slicked-back ponytail that shows off her killer undercut and incorporates tiny braid details is an eyeful. Make sure to run a little shine serum like Sachajuan Shine Serum ($46) through the lengths and ends for an otherworldly gleam.
Issa Rae's double halo entwined with gold is eye-catching. Rather than go for your standard three-strand braids, she opts for two-strand rope braids instead. Begin each braid by dividing hair into two sections then twisting each section separately before crisscrossing together.
Loose, Textured, and Pink
Nothing says festival-ready like pink hair. "This is a classic festival braid, loose around the root to give a casual feeling," comments Downing. "Breaking up the texture of the braid gives it a ‘lived in’ feel; after all, festival hair was born from having to camp and not have your usual tools and products to style hair." Braids allow you to maintain the hair throughout the festival. Bed Head Oh Bee Hive Volumizing Dry Shampoo ($18) will help, too.
Knotless and Chic
If you like box braids but not the strain that they can cause on your scalp, knotless braids might be your next best hair bet. Not only does this protective style flatter all face shapes, Vidov tells us, but they can last up to six weeks (when cared for correctly). For soft sheen and control, she recommends using a smoothing cream or balm. Qhemet Biologics Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm ($16) makes for a solid choice.
Part '90s nostalgia, part Princess Leia, space buns are making a comeback. Cindy Bruna's braided iteration goes one step further by offering up a whole lot of length and texture.
- Create high pigtails.
- Braid each pigtail.
- For each braided pigtail, begin rotating the top portion around the hair tie once or twice to form a bun.
- Secure each bun with bobby pins.
- Let the middle and end of your braided pigtails hang in front.
- Pull out a couple of face-framing tendrils and curl if desired.