How to Braid Hair: 10 Braided Hairstyles for Beginners to Learn

Learning how to braid hair is simpler said than done. Even the braids that are supposed to be "easy" (whether spotted on celebrities or social media tutorials) seem to require some sort of hair sorcery or superhuman hand strength. Sarah Potempa is here to help fix that.

If you're not already familiar with Potempa, she's a celebrity hairstylist and founder of the Beachwaver, the famous self-curling iron. She's also a braid expert. Potempa once completed a 365 Days of Braids challenge in which she wore a different braid every single day for an entire year. If that's not proof of her talent and dedication, we don't know what is.

On that note, we asked Potempa to teach Glamour staffers her favorite techniques based on our hair length and textures. The levels of difficulty vary from a 1—something you probably mastered at summer camp—to a 5, meaning you've got your braid game on lock. Here she shares her best advice on how to braid hair—along with braid tutorials for short hair, fine hair, curly hair, and more.

How to Do a Fishtail Braid
Level of difficulty: 1

Time to complete: 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how fancy you want to get
Step 1: Brush out your hair and decide which side you want your braid, then split it into two even sections.

Step 2: A fishtail is much easier than it looks; essentially you’re just bringing a piece of hair from one section over into the other. Start by taking a small piece of hair from one side and bringing it over and adding it to the inside of the other side. Repeat on the other side, grabbing from the outside part of the section each time, and continue all the way down your braid. Potempa recommends keeping your hands right above where you’re braiding to keep it clean, and to not let go of your hair, using only your pointer fingers to move the hair across.

Step 3: Continue all the way down your hair and secure with a hair tie. Once the braid is secured, “pancake” it by tugging at small pieces of your braid so they loosen up and create more volume.

Step 4: Using the Beachwaver, curl any shorter layers or bangs.

Step 5: If you have any longer layers that didn't make it into the fishtail, braid them into a three-strand braid, and tuck and pin it into the fishtail.

Editor tip: "The only braid I can confidently do is a standard three-strand, so even this simple braid felt like a challenge. I had a rough start at first, but once I stopped thinking so hard and just repeated Sarah's mantra, 'little piece here, over to the side,' in my head, it was easy to jet through the braid." —Bella

How to Do a Dutch Braid
Level of difficulty: 5

Time to complete: 10 minutes
Step 1: Separate your hair into three even sections.

Step 2: Create a Dutch braid by braiding the sections in a "left under, right under" pattern, weaving the left piece of hair under the center piece, then right piece under the center, grabbing and adding small sections of hair each time as you go. (Think of it like an inverse French braid.)

Step 3: Add hair from your roots as you continue down the back of your head. Secure with an elastic.

Step 4: If any pieces from the bottom don't fit into the braid, simply clip them up toward the middle to make it look cohesive.

Editor tip: "As a woman with short hair, I never really thought wearing braids was an option for me. I do other stuff, like dye my hair purple, instead. Which, fun fact, this braid really brought the color out more than a traditional three-strand or French-braid style." —Danielle

How to Do a Front Crown Braid
Level of difficulty: 3

Time to complete: 5 minutes
Step 1: Divide your hair into three sections by creating a clean part at the arch of each eyebrow. Clip all the hair on either side of the middle section away.

Step 2: Brush out the middle section and prep it with Beachwaver Braid Balm to tame flyaways, and then starting at the back, Dutch-braid (directions above) the section toward your face. Don't braid all the way down—stop when you get to your forehead.

Step 3: Divide the unbraided hair into two sections, and clip one off to the side behind your ear. Braid the loose section by using a three-strand braid, and pin it behind your ear.

Step 4: Repeat on the other side.

Step 5: Prep the rest of your hair with the Braid Balm, and do a three-strand braid (all your hair should be braided at this point). Twist and pin the braid into a bun, either on the back or side of your head.

Step 6: Make sure all pins are secure and hidden. Loosen the two braids in the front to create the cool peekaboo effect.

Editor tip: "I'm not a super-strong braider, so I've always had someone else braid my hair for me. But how have I never considered braiding my own hair forward, and then creating a mini crown? The small Dutch braid is tricky to get right, but after trying this at home a few times, I mastered it enough to add this braid to my weekly protective-style rotation." —Brionna

How to Do a Headband Braid
Level of difficulty: 3.5

Time to complete: 5 to 7 minutes
Step 1: Separate your hair down the middle into two equal parts.

Step 2: Starting with the left side, take a handful of hair and separate it into three pieces.

Step 3: Following the Dutch-braid mantra, "left under, right under," adding small sections of hair as you go.

Step 4: Continue braiding around your hairline and secure it at the top of your head.

Step 5: On the right side, create a second Dutch braid (following steps 2 through 4 above) and wrap it around your head on the opposite side, making sure the two meet.

Step 6: Wrap the end around the first braid and pin it in place.

Editor tip: "Figuring out the sectioning and what to put where was definitely a struggle for me. But Sarah told me to keep repeating my 'braid mantra,' which is basically weaving directions, and that helped me find my groove. From there, it was easy." —Julianne

How to Do a Braided Ponytail
Level of difficulty: 4

Time to complete: 10 minutes
Step 1: Do a deep side part.

Step 2: Taking the right section, separate your hair into three strands and create a Dutch braid (remember "left under, right under") along your ear.

Step 3: Pancake the braid.

Step 4: Take a two-inch section at the middle of your head (this will be your "Mohawk" part) and do a standard three-strand French braid (right over, left over, grabbing pieces as you go) down the middle, stopping at the curve of your head.

Step 5: Now, on the other side, create a two-strand twist and secure with a clear elastic.

Step 6: Pull all your hair up into a high ponytail and secure with an elastic.

Editor tip: "This is such a badass take on your typical ponytail braid. Just be sure not to 'pancake' too much, unless you don't care about your shorter pieces sticking out all over the place." —Margo

How to Do a Half-Up Crown Braid
Level of difficulty: 1

Time to complete: 2 minutes
Step 1: Part your hair in the center. Taking a one-inch strand from the right side, create a classic three-strand braid. Secure with an elastic.

Step 2: Do the same thing on the left side.

Step 3: Pull the two braids behind your head and crisscross them.

Step 4: Pin the braids into place underneath one another.

Editor tip: "While this braid was easy, it was pinning the two braids that took some work. Just be patient, and maybe recruit a friend to help if you're having trouble." —Jessica

How to Do a Half-Up Braided Bun
Level of difficulty: 4

Time to complete: 10 minutes
Step 1: Part your hair into three small sections at the top of your head.

Step 2: Clip the right two sections down, and focus on the remaining left piece first.

Step 3: Create a small braid, angling it toward the back, but stopping at the curve of your head.

Step 4: Do the same thing with the remaining two sections.

Step 5: Pull the braids into a half-up ponytail and style it into a bun. Secure with an elastic.

Step 6: Take any pieces sticking out and wrap them around the bun, securing with pins.

Editor tip: "It's tough to braid my hair because my curls are so spirally. But going slow and pulling the braids taught helped. I love this as a way to spruce up a bun or ponytail." —Concepcion

How to Do a Low Ponytail Braid
Level of difficulty: 5

Time to complete: 15 minutes
Step 1: Part your hair into three sections.

Step 2: Taking the middle section (the "Mohawk" section) first, start a Dutch braid (refer to "The Dutch Braid," above).

Step 3: Continue braiding down the back of your head, making sure everything is tight.

Step 4: As you continue down the braid, add in extra pieces from the middle section to create a thicker plait.

Step 5: Secure with an elastic.

Step 6: Take the remaining hair from the left and the right, and start a second French braid on top of the first one.

Step 7: Continue grabbing more pieces and finish the braid.

Step 8: Secure with an elastic.

Editor tip: "French-braiding the back of your head is hard! Try setting up a mirror that allows you to see the braid at all angles. I think this look is especially great for a night out when you're not wearing much makeup—the wow factor of the braid makes up for a clean face." —Lauren

How to Do a Double Side Braid
Level of difficulty: 2

Time to complete: 2 minutes
Step 1: Take a one-inch section at your hairline and separate into three smaller sections.

Step 2: Create a French braid: right over, left over, adding hair from the root as you braid along your hair line.

Step 3: Secure with an elastic.

Step 4: Next, add a second French braid about an inch behind the first.

Step 5: Secure with an elastic.

Step 6: Pin back any flyaways or shorter pieces that are sticking up.

Editor tip: "This is no-joke actually easy. Try hiding the little nubs of hair that poke out when they're too short by covering them up with some surrounding hair and pinning them down. It looks a lot more polished." —Erin

How to Do an Upside-Down Braid
Level of difficulty: 4

Time to complete: 7 minutes

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