There are many types of braids for many types and styles of hair. But which one is best? And what do they look like? Read on to see our favorite braid types and things to consider with each.
What Are the Types of Braids?
Braids are one of our favorite year-round styles. In fact, they’re one of the most versatile styles out there! Think about it. Braids can be casual or formal. You can make them as thick or as thin as you want.
Braid all or just part of your hair. You can choose a simple braid or an intricate braid. You can even work in some of your favorite accessories to dress them up!
Something I’ve noticed about braids over the years is that, while there are tons of different types of braids out there, most of us only learn to do one or two simple types.
Why limit yourself when there are so many unique braid options? Braiding can be intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it seems. Learning a new braid is like learning a new pattern. Once you memorize that pattern, your hands seem to go on auto-pilot and finish the braid.
With Practice, Braids Aren’t That Hard
Think about how quickly you can race through a simple 3-strand braid. You’ll be able to get that same level of mastery with more intricate braids, too – it just takes practice.
And you’re going to have a lot of gorgeous new braids to practice once you peep these unique types of braids. We found some amazing examples you’re going to love, from simple and casual to stunningly intricate.
Some you may have seen before, and others you might discover for the first time. You might find your new favorite type of braid in this list. If you’re ready to see some gorgeous braids, plaits, and twists that deserve to be worked into your style repertoire, keep reading!
30 Unique Types of Braids
Bored with the standard 3-strand braid? It’s time to broaden your braiding horizons by checking out several different types of braids. We’ve included all the old favorites.
Below, you’ll see French and Dutch braids, 3-strand hanging braid, and fishtail braid, but we’ve also found some unique braid types you’ll want to try, like the Chinese ladder braid and faux braids.
Sporty Double Dutch Braid
The Dutch braid is an inverted version of the French braid, so it sits on top of the hair. Dutch braids give you a great way to show off variations in hair color (like in this example), and when done in doubles, they make a sporty style that is as cute as it is functional.
Phat French Side Braid
Ladies with thin or super-fine hair, this kind of “pulled-out” braid is exactly what you need to visually add thickness to your braid. Here, a French braid is done diagonally across the back. Then, each section is tugged on lightly to pull the hair out and fluff the braid.
Can’t decide on a braid? No worries, just do them all! This boho look combines 3-strand braids of different thicknesses and a faux braid using inverted ponytails for a fun, maximalist look.
Half Back 3-Strand Braids
Who says braided styles have to be fancy? This is a quick, everyday style that looks great on short and medium-length hair. Just pull a good tendril of hair from each side of your head, braid it in a 3-strand braid, and secure it at the back for a casual look.
Royal Dutch Crown Braid
The crown braid is always a head-turner! Here, a simple Dutch braid (inverted French braid) is wrapped around the head like a royal crown. It’s a historic, strong, feminine look.
5-Strand Side Braid
The 5-strand braid is harder to do than the standard 3-strand, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be choosing this braid every time. Prepare to get tons of compliments and questions about how you did this beautiful braid!
Dreads and Box Braids
We love the idea of twisted-back dreadlocks on top and flowing, long box braids hanging down. The hint of purple in the box braids adds a touch of fun to this low-key, casual look. This style keeps your hair protected while allowing you to style the braids and locks however you like.
Messy Mega Fishtail Braid
What’s better than a fishtail braid? A MEGA fishtail braid. This braid starts at the crown and is pulled out a bit to thicken it up and give it a more casual, slightly messy vibe.
Waterfall braids are very much like French braids, but part of the hair is left out of the braid to create a waterfall-like cascade of hair. Starting a waterfall braid at the hairline and bringing it around to the back is a great casual look.
Double Waterfall Into Fishtail Bridal Braid
Brides-to-be, this is a beautiful style option for the big day! It’s intricate and polished enough to be appropriate for a wedding but doesn’t look stuffy or business-like to keep your special day feeling like a fairy tale.
Long Lemonade Braids
Beyonce-inspired lemonade braids are always a beautiful choice if you have long locks (or long extensions). These long braids can be worn and styled like unbraided hair – wear them up, down, half-up, in a bun, twisted, etc.
Double French Braids
This is a classic, youthful braid that can be worn in any casual setting. A middle part gives you equal sections to braid on each side. Doing a French braid keeps the braid tight to your head, letting just the ends hang free.
Growing out bangs sucks, but braiding them during their awkward phase helps a lot! In this example, the bangs are braided along the hairline and secured with a clear elastic. Tug on the braid to fill it out more and add volume.
Serpentine Fishtail Bun
This is one of those cool braids that looks a lot more complex than it really is. Start with two fishtail braids (one on each side) and pin them in a serpentine, curving pattern across the back of the head to create this polished style.
Long Pulled-Out Dutch Braid
When you’re going for a more casual vibe, a pulled-out braid is always appropriate. Here, a Dutch braid is done down the back. After the braid is secured, each section is slightly tugged on to loosen the hair and fluff the braid out a bit.
Quadruple French Braids
If you have super-thick hair, this style is for you! It involves two “twin” French braids on each side. The twin braids on each side are allowed to hang down together and almost look like one giant 6-strand braid on each side!
Accessorized Inverted Pony Faux Braid
Braiding just not your forte? That’s okay! Faux braids are just a series of inverted ponytails stacked on top of each other to create the braid look. We love the way this girl accessorizes her faux braid with a minimalist triangle clip!
There’s always a way to sneak some braids into any hairstyle, and we adore the micro braided bangs in this example! Three-strand braids and rope braids look great running through the front and add a little interest to this hairstyle.
Spiral French Crown Braid
If you liked the Dutch crown braid, this is a pretty twist on that style! Here, a French braid is wrapped around the head in a spiral toward the center. This braid is perfect for any formal event or party.
Long Rope Braids
Rope braids are the easiest type of braid to do. Seriously! Just twist two sections of your hair in the same direction, then once both pieces are twisted fully, twist the two sections together in the opposite direction you twisted them. This locks the pieces together in a gorgeous rope braid.
Swooping Micro Braid Ponytail
Intricate, tiny braids create so much detail and interest in this style. Here, the braids are pulled into a high pony, and the base is wrapped with a few micro braids for height. We love the eye-catching teal color in this style!
Giant Side Braid
Sick of the standard side braid? Try the giant version, where you pull outward on the finished braid to puff it up and give it mega volume. This breathes new life into an old favorite!
Cornrows Into Low Ponytail
Cornrow braids keep the front of the hair secure and lead back to a low ponytail. For extra detail, try wrapping a strand of your hair around the elastic to conceal it.
Topsy Fishtail Braid
Remember the “topsy tail” inverted ponytails from the 90s? This is what they grew up (glow-up?) to be. A fishtail braid paired with a quick topsy tail looks like it took an hour to do, but only takes about 15 minutes.
Upside Down Dutch Braid Buns
This adorable style starts with a middle part, then two Dutch braids (inverted French braids) are done upside down (from the bottom up). At the top of the head, the braids are wound into braided buns.
Box Braids With Undercut
Here’s a pretty twist on the classic box braids – pair them with an undercut for an edgy style that will keep you cool. Opt for bigger box braids that run toward the back of the head to copy this look.
Braided Faux Hawk Ponytail
A big, voluminous French braid at the front creates the effect of a faux hawk with lots of height. Pull the remaining hair into a low ponytail and add waves for a low-key yet professional vibe.
Faux 4-Strand Braid
Love the look of a 4-strand braid but lack the skills? Just do two separate French braids and secure them together at the bottom for a faux 4-strand braid!
Double Down, Double Crossed Braid
This might be the one-time double crossing is a good idea! Four small hanging 3-strand braids are started in the front. Two run straight back, then two on the sides cross in the middle and run behind the middle braids.
Double Chinese Ladder Braid
10 Things to Consider Before Braiding
Before you start warming up your fingers for a braiding marathon, there are a few tips and tricks you should know to make it easier and give you better results. Here’s what you should know before you try one of these unique types of braids:
- Make sure your hair is long enough. Ultra-short hair can be braided, but only by real experts. To comfortably braid your hair, it should be at least 4 inches long. Even then, it may be a challenge to do certain types of braids. Check with a local stylist if you think your hair is too short for you to braid yourself.
- Start with dirty hair. Squeaky clean hair doesn’t hold as well in a braid as day 2+ hair. If you just washed your hair, you can mimic dirty hair by spraying some dry shampoo in for texture and grip. You can also try spraying your hair with hairspray then brushing through before braiding.
- Prep and secure with the right products. You should prep and/or finish your braid with dry shampoo, hairspray, gel, mousse, or curl cream – whatever products you’d normally use to make your hair “behave.” Dab a little extra gel or curl cream on your finished braids to help them hold. This can help your braid(s) stay secure for longer.
- Wait ‘til the end to make it messy. Messy braids are definitely on-trend, but you have to go about it the right way to ensure it’s messy-cute, not messy-sad. Finish the full braid, then go through and tug lightly on pieces to loosen and fill out the braid. Try to keep each side roughly symmetrical as you pull pieces out and create more texture.
- Tighter braids last longer. It’s probably obvious, but the tighter your braid is, the longer it’ll stay put. Loose braids aren’t going to hold for longer than a day. If you want an easy multi-day braid, make it as tight as you can. It will gradually loosen up over the next few days.
- Start with some texture. Stick-straight hair creates flat, almost two-dimensional braids. If you want fluffy, voluminous braids, you need to start with some texture. Curls, waves, or even a hefty dose of texturizing powder or mousse can help you start off with some oomph.
- Find someone to practice on. Braiding your own hair is a little different from braiding others’, and many find it easier to learn a new braid by practicing on someone else. Find a friend or family member willing to be your braiding guinea pig, and you’ll master new braids faster. Then, you can learn to do them on yourself!
- Watch videos to learn new braids. Everyone has a different learning style, but it’s always hard to learn a new braid by looking at pictures or text instructions. You might find it easier to watch step-by-step videos that teach you different braiding techniques. The best part: You can start and pause the video as needed until you get the technique down!
- Work braids into other styles. Your braid doesn’t have to be the focal point of your hairstyle. We love working smaller braids into other hairstyles for added interest! Try a small braid woven into straight hair, braiding a section of your bangs, adding a braid to a ponytail, or braiding a bun.
- Don’t worry about perfection. Braids can be as polished or as messy as you want, but don’t get caught up in trying to make your braids perfect. Imperfections make braids beautiful! So if you have some asymmetry, random hairs sticking out, looser areas, or uneven sections, don’t sweat it. When you wear braided styles, it’ll all look like it was done on purpose.
So there you have it — various types of braids to help inspire your next hairstyle. Be sure to let us know which ones are your favorites!