The Beginner's Guide to Dutch Braids

Dutch braids

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How many times have you started with the intention of creating Dutch braids and halfway through realized you’re actually just French-braiding? While braiding ones own hair can already prove to be difficult, reversing the direction of the three strands poses its own challenges. But with a bit of practice, you can commit the action to muscle memory in no time.

What Are Dutch Braids?

Also known as a reverse braid (or sometimes incorrectly attributed to UFC fighters and referred to as "boxer braids"), Dutch braiding involves crossing the hair underneath sections versus over (as with French braiding).

Woman with dutch braid 

We called in celebrity hairstylist Irinel de Leon to show precisely how to master the Dutch braid—step by step. And we spared no detail. "This hairstyle is really great for any hair type, " she says. "Those with straight or wavy hair can wear it overnight for pretty wearable braids come morning." For those with curly hair, Dutch braids are a great protective style to couple with a treatment or hair oil as well. Plus, though this style works beautifully on dry hair, it can be done on wet hair before sleeping for luscious waves come morning. Scroll through to learn how to Dutch braid.

Meet the Expert

Irinel de Leon is a Los Angeles-based celebrity hair stylist and curly hair expert. Her clients include Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Karlie Kloss, and Chrissy Teigen.

Step one: Start with center-parted hair and brush out any tangles. "It'll make it so much easier to braid and feed hair in as you work your way down if there are no tangles," says de Leon. "You also want to make sure your part is as straight as possible—you can use the bridge of your nose as a guide and follow upwards with a tail comb." It should feel like the part is in the middle of the nape of your neck once you reach the bottom. Place a section of hair over each shoulder.

de Leon recommends prepping the hair before braiding with a gel or pomade to ensure a clean surface to feed the hair in and also to help the Dutch braid maintain its hold. Ouidad's Clear Control Pomade ($26) tames all the hair down for a clean finish without feeling heavy.

Step two: Grab three small pieces (about half an inch or less) at your hairline. The key point to remember with Dutch braids is to weave each piece under rather than over (basically the opposite of a French braid). The piece on the right goes under the middle, and then the piece on the left goes under that.

Step three: Repeat the pattern of crossing the right section under the middle strand, and then the left section under the middle strand. Keep adding more hair (about a half- to three-quarter-inch) from the root each time you weave a new section.

Step four: Once you reach the nape of your neck, switch to a regular three-strand braid.

Step five: Tie it off at the end with a clear hair tie. We love Sephora Collection's Snag-Free Hair Elastics ($4). Repeat the process on the other side.

Maintain tension as you braid—the tighter the better. If you’re into the loose, feathery dutch braids, you can always pull the edges of the braid out slowly for a wider and feathery finish when you're done.

For a messier Dutch braid, pull the loops to open them up. If you're prone to frizz on your braids, spritzing on an anti-frizz hair serum—like the Josh Rosebrook Serum Spray ($28)—after braiding will help tame them.

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