No matter how long or short your hair is, braids always make a major impression. Not only do they highlight your hair's natural texture and color, they can mask any signs of a bad hair day—no washing or heat-styling necessary. They're the ultimate hair dream, allowing us to maximize our manes with minimal effort yet wind up with a finished result that looks like it took more time than it really did.
All this to say, there's a common misconception that braids only work for medium-length to long hair, keeping those of us with short hair via bobs, lobs, pixies, short afros, and curly tapered cuts from fulfilling our full braided potential. We've made it our personal mission to dispel that myth. Below, we've collected some major short hair braid inspiration with the help of celebrity hairstylist Lacy Redway and master braider Niani B. Keep scrolling for 15 inspiring braids for short hair to try ASAP this season.
Crown braids hold a special place in our hearts, and this short braided headband on Kerry Washington is no exception. Niani notes that this look can be done on all hair types using extensions that best match your own hair texture. "To achieve this classic look, braid or mold your short hair down using a gel (we love the Naturalicious Dramatic Definition Gel, $33)," she says. "Use braid extension hair to create braids, then pin them in place to secure the braid in a headband look and camouflage your own hair."
French Side Braid
In the middle of growing out a pixie? Go for a loose French side braid, seen here on Shailene Woodley. It's equal parts boho and fresh, and instantly masks uneven hair growth. Niani notes that this works best on naturally straight, wavy, or blow-dried textured hair. And if you need to fake the volume, we love John Frieda's Luxurious Volume Thickening Mousse ($9).
Front Plait Braid
Show unruly bangs who's boss by taming them with a front plait braid. The braid itself can be made as thick or thin as desired, and the "waterfall" effect it gives is runway-esque yet playful at the same time. Keep the style frizz-free by combing through the hair pre-braiding with Living Proof's No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream ($38).
Ruth Negga's classic cornrows stunned the red carpet at the 2017 Met Gala. Redway, the artist responsible for the look, explains her process: "I started out by sectioning her hair into 1 1/2-inch sections with Harry Josh Pro Tools Carbon Tail Comb ($20). I used a bit of water on each section to add grip on her Type-3 curl pattern, which is also short, along with R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Hair Gel ($28) to make sure the braid would not unravel or loosen."
Achieving box braids can be a lengthy process, but they're oh-so-worth it when they turn out like Amandla Sternberg's. Begin by installing medium-sized box braids with faux braiding hair. "Leave out the front corner section for larger cornrows to give the style some added flair," notes Niani. Then, secure the ends of the braids with these Small Mini Hair Elastics ($5) and cut the hair to your desired length.
Classic French Braid
Ruby Rose stuns in this braided number that proves it is possible to French braid short hair. Ideal for naturally straight or wavy hair types, get the look by first running a pomade through the hair to create grip. Then, make a tight off-centered French braid and secure with bobby pins.
We're all for gold anything, especially when it comes to our hair. This look donned by Lupita Nyong'o is best achieved with a gold string accessory (which can be found in any craft store). "Simply wrap the string around your braids or twists starting at the top of your hair, then tie the string to secure the ends and trim off any excess string," says Niani.
Layered Rock and Roll
Okay, we're all for an edgy look, but this one really takes the cake for being wildly rock and roll. Give your mane a deep side part and create one braid straight back on one side of the head. Pin the end under the rest of the hair to secure. Leave hair straight for a sleeker 'do or add a light bend like Ashley Benson for messy definition.
To fake volume at the front of the bangs, pull them to the desired side and tease ever-so-lightly. Spray with a bit of hair spray and blow-dry for 10 seconds to secure the volume in place.
Issa Rae can do know wrong in our eyes—the constant switch-up of her hair keeps us on our toes, itching to see what trend-setting 'do she dons next. To DIY this elegant updo, part your hair ear to ear, then part the top half into three sections and the under half into two sections. "Braid three cornrows on each side section in the front, then create two braids with your back section, adding the ends from the three front sections into the two back braids," explains Niani. Finish by pinning them up, smoothing out edges with the Eden Coconut Shea Control Edge Gel ($9), and loosely rolling and pinning the front middle section into a pompadour.
Double Bang Braid
Whether it's for a daytime outing or a nighttime affair, these braided bangs are simple enough for even the braid-challenged. Niani says to create one large, center section at the top of your hair. Then, part that section in the middle to create two center sections. "Create one flat twist on each section, leaving the ends loose, and secure the twist with an elastic band, hair pin, or hair clip," says Niani. Spritz in some of Maria Nila's Ocean Spray ($28) for a lived-in look.
Cool Girl Half-Up Braids
Give the standard half-up hairstyle a cool-girl upgrade with this half-up braided topknot. Not only is Kristen Stewart's spellbinding topknot braided but so too are the strands sitting on either side of her pulled-back part. For the perfect dose of roughed-up texture, we recommend a quick hit of texturizing spray à la Drybar Mai Tai Spritzer ($25).
Shaved Sides with Top Braid
Bold has never looked better. This edgy 'do is trend-worthy but shockingly easy to achieve. According to Niani, Jill Scott's two strand twists can be achieved with or without extensions on textured hair. Here's a step-by-step: "First, shave the sides of your hair or cut the sides very short, then take two small strands of hair and twist them around each other. Repeat all over the hair. Then loosely gather all the twists and tuck and pin into place to achieve a pompadour look."
Fishtail braids are a no-fuss style for short hair that can actually fake length. Pair it with a voluminous fringe, pulled-out layers, and a teased crown for a supermodel-esque vibe as seen here on Selena Gomez.
New to fishtailing? Secure your hair loosely into a side ponytail before braiding. When finished braiding, pull the hair tie (that's now sitting at the top of your braid) all the way over your fishtail and off. This gives more control and lets you create the fishtail as tight or as loose as you want it without having to worry about the hair falling apart.
Side Curls and Cornrows
If you have naturally curly hair and are looking to add an element of playfulness, take some inspiration from Alicia Keys, who rocks this classic, easy style that virtually anyone can create (we promise!). The look features perfectly coiled strands paired with a deep side part and cornrows, which should be braided at an upward angle. Use a natural texture hair dryer—like the Conair InfinitiPro Natural Texture Dryer ($50)—to enhance your natural curls and create smooth, frizz-free locks.
Exposed bobby pins have been all the rage among celebs and supermodels alike, and here they play a huge part in making sure Nicole Richie's minimalistic braided bun stays that way. Get the look by making two braids at the side of the head, as messy or tight as you want them. Collect the ends of the braid with the rest of your hair and pull into a low bun. Throw in some bedazzled bobby pins for a fun flake, (we're digging the Kitsch x Justine Marjan Chain & Bow Bobby Pin Stacking Set ($49).
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