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Types Of Hair Braids For The Curl Community

Looking for an easy way to change up your look for the day of the week while still protecting your beautiful curls? Braids are where it’s at. These beautiful protective styles will shake up your whole look while offering an easy way to get ready in the morning. Give your hair a break from over-styling while still rocking an amazing look.

GIF braiding curly hair

Choose the type of braids natural hair loves

Braids have been used around the world for centuries as a way to style hair. From the simple, 3-strand braid to more complex experiments with plaiting hair, there are tons of ways to explore a braided style. When it comes to hair braids, coily hair offers some of the most versatility. There are countless ways to style natural hair into braids. Box braids are one of the most common looks today, and they make a great protective style. You can even style the box braids once you have them, crafting buns, ponytails, or even braiding together the braids. You can also try cornrows or feed-in braids for a tighter style and timeless look. Ask your stylist about the different types of box braids, cornrows, and feed-in braids you can try.

There are about as many different kinds of braids as there are different cultures, but we’re going to focus on five main types: the classic 3-strand, French/Dutch, fishtail, lace, and ladder. These are some of the best types of braids for natural hair, but you can always explore different techniques. Ask your stylist for braid recommendations or look up some fun tutorials on YouTube to expand your braiding repertoire.


How do I pick between the different types of hair braids?

Some types of braids look good with most hair types. Others need a little more consideration for your specific type of hair. The way your braid looks can be affected by your hair’s length, volume, and texture. The types of braids for short hair are much different than the options you have if you have more hair to work with. Very full, coarse hair is often the easiest to style, but there are plenty of options for thinner or finer hair as well. When we go through our styles, we’ll let you know whose hair will work best with each look.

close up of blonde curly hair with braid

Best type of braiding hair styles for you

We’re exploring 5 types of braided hair style for curly hair: 3-strand, French/Dutch, fishtail, lace, and ladder. While each braid style can be achieved on any kind of hair, the styles do work better with some hair types than others. Choose your style based on your hair!


Classic 3-strand braid

Best hair type: fine/medium/coarse, wavy/curly/coils
Why you’d wear it: The easiest of the braids, good for daily wear.

The classic 3-strand is really the workhorse of all the braids. If you had long hair in elementary school, it’s probably the braid you learned on the playground or from whoever did your hair. It works well with all kinds of hair and it’s the building block for pretty much every other kind of braid.

To do the basic 3-strand braid, separate your hair into three sections (strands A, B, and C), making sure to keep them separate from each other. Starting with strand A on the left, pass it over strand B in the middle. Strand A is now the middle strand. Pass strand C on the right over strand A in the middle. Strand C is now the middle strand. Continue altering, passing the left strand over the middle, then the right strand over the middle, until the braid is as long as you want it (or you run out of hair). Tie it off with a hair tie.

Spice it up: Do two braids for a youthful, braided pigtails look. If you have a lot of very long hair, you can do three braids, then braid the braids together for a very full and textured look. Willing to spend hours in a salon chair? Micro braids are in, which are just dozens of simple braids in a style that resembles box braids. They’re especially good for coily hair.


French/Dutch braid

Best hair type: fine/medium, wavy/curly/coils
Why you’d wear it: A simple, yet versatile look that can be worn with jeans or on the red carpet.

These elegant styles are perfect for wearing just about anywhere. They take a little bit longer to complete than a standard braid, but the time spent really pays off.

Start by sectioning off a small amount of hair at the front of your hairline. Begin with a classic 3-strand braid, but every time you move a section of hair over the middle strand, add a little bit of loose hair from the sides of your head to the strand. Braid to the ends and secure with a hair tie. For the tight, inward-falling look of a French braid, pass the strands over each other. For the pop-up effect of a Dutch braid, pass the strands under each other.

Spice it up: Instead of starting from the front of your head, start from the side, near your temple, and wrap around your head for a side-swept look. You can also start at the nape of your neck and braid upwards, especially with coarse coils. Do a pigtail look by doing two braids or show off your natural texture by stopping the braid at the base of your skull and leaving a long, loose tail (good for long curly/coily hair).


Fishtail braid

Best hair type: fine/medium, wavy/curly
Why you’d wear it: An elegant, interesting look that can add volume to fine or thin curls.

If you’re like me, fishtail braids have long been some mysterious secret that you never thought you could achieve. Worry no more! You can get a fishtail braid even without straight hair. Pulling the braid flatter also helps fine hair look more voluminous.

Part your hair into two sections, bringing all the hair over one shoulder. Pull one small strand from the outside of each section and cross it into the other big section, gathering your hair back into two large strands. Make sure to pull the strands tight. Repeat until you reach the ends of your hair and secure it with a hair tie. Tug lightly on the outside of the braid to flatten the look and make it seem fuller.

Spice it up: Create a milkmaid style look by weaving two fishtail braids on either side of your head, then crossing them over the crown of your head and securing with bobby pins.


Lace braid

Best hair type: fine/medium/coarse, wavy/curly
Why you’d wear it: A loose, summery look that’s slightly less complicated than a French braid.

AKA a half-French braid, the lace braid is a good way to practice your French braiding skills without the commitment of the more complicated style. It’s also a little looser to avoid pulling tight on your roots. Our example showcases a left-side braid, but you can do it on the right side as well.

Start with a deep, left-side part. Pull out a small section of hair, like you’re going to start a French braid. Begin braiding and add small sections of hair as you cross over into the middle, but only to the left-side strand. Braid the right side without adding to the section. You should be adding from the side that faces the back of your head and braiding normally on the side that faces your hairline. Continue adding sections until you reach your jawline (or wherever you want to stop), then continue as a regular 3-strand braid. You will not have gathered all your hair into the braid. Go until you reach the ends, then secure with a hair tie.

Spice it up: Instead of passing the strands over each other as you braid, pass them under for a Dutch look. For an updo look, gather the end of your braid and your remaining loose hair into a bun.


Ladder braid

Best hair type: medium/coarse, wavy
Why you’d wear it: Create a playful look to wear in your daily life.

There are a lot of different ways to create a ladder braid, depending on how you want it to look. The style stays put more easily with medium or coarse hair. We recommend this style for wavy hair since it can be harder to see the ladder pattern against curls or coils.

First, gather your hair into a ponytail and secure it with a hair tie. Take a small section from the top of the ponytail and braid for about an inch. Then, grab a small section of hair from the right side of your loose hair, pass it underneath the ponytail, and add it to the left strand before crossing it over. Do the same for the other side, taking from the left side of loose hair, passing it under the ponytail, and adding it to the right strand before crossing it over. Braid another three turns to create space between the ladder “rungs,” then repeat the process. Go for as long as you like before securing the end with a hair tie.

Spice it up: There are dozens of ways to do a ladder braid. Only add “rungs” to one side of the ponytail. Do two French braids on loose hair and pass the “rungs” between the braids. Combine a ladder braid on loose hair with a waterfall braid.

hand applying product to braided hair

Add an extra layer of rejuvenation to your braids

Part of the appeal of braids is that they make great protective styles, but curl protection doesn’t stop at the style. The best, smoothest braids come from well-cared for hair. Create a good base for your braids by caring for your scalp with Scalp Puri(pH)y™ and Scalp D(pH)ense™. They’re ideal for use with protective styles and formulated with a pH level for a healthy-looking scalp. Buildup Buster® is our go-to scalp and hair reset to start your braids with a clean slate.

Shop Scalp & Hair Reset

If you’re looking to help repair your hair before it goes into a protective style, try Melt Into Moisture® to add nourishing hydration. You can bring your damaged hair back to life with a little extra love and care. Plus, it can make you feel great to put some extra time into your curls.

Tip: If you have curls or coils and you’re looking to have braids installed by a stylist, make sure to cleanse and condition your hair beforehand, and blow-dry with the DevaFuser® to help along your process.

Are you a first-time braider or a lifelong braid devotee? Tag us on social with your favorite braid style and what you’re looking to try next.