How To Dutch Braid Your Hair: A Step-by-Step Guide

Watch as we show you how to Dutch braid your hair quickly and easily.

leona lewis

Getty Images / Design by Zackary Angeline

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. Keep reading for a step-by-step guide on how to dutch braid your hair.

What Is a Dutch Braid?

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).

We called in celebrity hairstylist Irinel de Leon and Mahisha Dellinger, CEO of CURLS 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, " de Leon 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 upon waking up.

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.
  • Mahisha Dellinger is the founder and CEO of CURLS, a natural hair care brand.

What You'll Need

  • Hair gel or pomade
  • Edge control
  • Detangler
  • Clear hair ties
  • Rat tail Comb
  • Detangling brush
  • Anti-frizz serum

Dellinger recommends the CURLS Blueberry Bliss Control Jelly ($20) for definition and shine. Similarly, 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.

How to Dutch Braid Your Hair

Step One

Dellinger says, "Section a small square of hair on yourself, a model or mannequin. It is recommended that you do this on a separate entity, rather than braiding your own hair. It is imperative that you master the concept, before applying it to your own body."

Step Two

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.

Step Three

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 Four

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 Five

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

Step Six

Tie it off at the end with a clear hair tie. We love Kitch's Clear No-Snag Elastics ($3). Repeat the process on the other side.

Don't worry if you can't get the hang of it on the first try. As Dellinger says, "Practice makes perfect. Commit to practicing this braid technique at least two hours a week until you perfect it."

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 finish when you're done.

For a messier Dutch braid, pull the loops to open them up. If you're prone to frizz, spritzing with an anti-frizz hair serum—like the Josh Rosebrook Serum Spray ($30)—after braiding will help tame the plaits.

Woman with dutch braid 

Shop Our Favorite Braiding Products

Ready to give Dutch braids a try? Check out our product recommendations below.

Design Essentials Honey and Shea Edge Tamer
Design Essentials Natural Honey & Shea Edge Tamer $12.00
Curls Blueberry Bliss Curl Control Paste
CURLS Blueberry Bliss Control Paste $12.00
Aunt Jackie's Curls & Coils Knot On My Watch Instant Detangling Therapy
Aunt Jackie's Curls & Coils Knot On My Watch Instant Detangling Therapy $6.00
Josh Rosenbrook Serum Spray
Josh Rosenbrook Serum Spray $28.00
Ouidad Clear Control Pomade
Ouidad Clear Control Pomade $26.00
Kitsch No Snag Elastic
Kitsch Clear No-Show Elastics $3.00

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