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Our love for braids runs pretty deep here at Byrdie, but that doesn't mean the braiding process necessarily comes easy. In fact, far from it. Regardless of the length, texture, or overall cooperativeness of our strands, there have been plenty of times when we've thrown our hands up in forfeiture, our hungry, braid-obsessed eyes plowing ahead without the essential tips, tools, and tutorials needed to pave the way for success (plus an absolutely knockout style).
And since protective styles can reduce the need for maintenance, we're even more interested in trying them ourselves. The question: How does someone braid their own hair? For answers, we reached out to three different natural hair gurus to lend their expert intel where advice, products, and yes, even a few gorgeous tutorials are concerned.
Keep reading for their best tips and tricks for how to braid your own hair if you have natural texture.
1. Confidence is Key
Contrary to popular thought, tripping over intimidation might be the most significant hindrance when contemplating how to braid your own hair—not the styling itself.
According to Cantu Global Artist (and all-around hair goddess) Maria Antoinette, confidence is by far the biggest challenge when it comes to braiding your own hair. In fact, she explains that many women tend to give up or tell themselves they can't before they give the style a fair chance. The second biggest challenge in Antoinette's eyes: the hand placement over your head as you braid. (But don't worry, we'll get to that in a minute.)
2. Embrace Protective Styles
Braiding natural hair is an easy way to style and protect your hair, says Carol's Daughter lead hairstylist Stephanie McLemore. "Not only are these types of braids aesthetically beautiful, they're also extremely versatile. You can choose braids for an elegant evening event or simple daytime fun. You can also use synthetic hair to enhance your braid or add ornamentation for that extra touch of flare."
Celebrity hairstylist David Lopez agrees, explaining to us that braids are the ultimate protective style, and they can even serve as a convenient styling option if you're in the process of growing out your bangs (as they typically start right along the hairline).
3. Some tips
According to Antoinette, these are some important pitfalls to try your best to avoid when braiding your own hair:
- Braiding too tightly
- Over-perfecting the root or the base of the braid (Antoinette stipulates a little bit of imperfection goes a long way when it comes to the overall look of the braid.)
- Not using the correct hand placement and positioning on your head as you braid your hair
And a few important dos:
- Do your best to create clean parts with a wide-tooth or rat-tail comb.
- Ensure hair is completely detangled before starting your braided style.
- If hair is especially coarse and thick, try dampening strands so hands can move through and style with ease.
To break it down further (and since braiding is very much dependent on visuals as far as technique is concerned), we've selected two of our favorite tutorials to show you step-by-step how to braid your own hair.
Not only does Antoinette seamlessly break down her box braid look, she also manages to incorporate the lilac ombré color of our unicorn hair dreams. (We swoon.) Plus, mixed in with her easy-to-follow braiding technique, she throws in plenty of helpful styling and preparation hacks. (Like soaking the tips of the hair in apple cider vinegar pre-application to nix unwanted alkaline residue.)
Although it may seem intimidating, Washington's cornrow braid tutorial is a great, uncomplicated way for beginners to dip their toe into the style. Plus, she infuses her her how-to with plenty of pep and must-have product recommendations, which makes it easy (and fun!) to follow along sans confusion or mistake after mistake. One super-important tip: Don't over-condition your hair prior to braiding.