The French Plait or Braid

There are many variations of French braiding or plaiting, like the whole head plait straight down the centre of the head, placing the braid to one side or both and partial head French braids as in the images below. The difference between this type of plait and the simple three-strand plait is that you are constantly picking up more hair and adding it to the French plait (or 'braid'). To create another hair style plait variation you can reverse the directions below and have an 'inside out' braid. You will need plenty of practice as with any hair plaiting it gets easier and faster as you do, if you are planning to do this to your own hair a few muscles should be gained so that you can hold your arms up for the time needed)!

ideo de cortes de cabelo

A side French braid can be glamourous or for school! This hair style from Paloma Garcia

Rebecca Woloszek has used a French braid here to hold back mass curls in this hair style

Rebecca Woloszek a French braid used to hold back masses of curls in this hair style

Joharn Cuthbert combines a French braid with a top knot for this hair style

Joharn Cuthbert combines a French braid with a top knot for this hair style

Tools and other items you will need:

  • Covered elastic bands
  • Paddle or similar brush to remove tangles
  • A little hair spray
  • A clip to keep hair not being plaited out of the way
  • Possibly a few pins or grips or odd pin if you have layers to secure any stray bits!

Simple French Braid

This is a single braid that follows the curve of the back of the head. Your hair needs to be quite long for this, a few layers won't matter as long as they reach from the side of the head to the centre back and pass it by about 10cm. You will need to know how to do a basic plait to understand the instructions. If you need some help with this first then return to simple plaiting.


  1. Separate the front (including sides) of your hair from the back. Some people prefer to separate the top leaving only the sides to be added in later but this is a little more difficult. Draw the separated hair back to the crown of your head and divide it into 3 equal strands.

  2. Do a quick left over center, right over centre (as in the simple plait) to start.

  3. As you continue, add extra hair taken from directly underneath each new section about to be crossed over. Then go ahead and cross it over. The amount of hair you pick up should be about the same each time.

  4. Your braid will naturally follow the curve of the head as you pick up and include the new hair. Keep going until you reach the nape and all of your hair has been included.

  5. Finish with a simple plait and secure with your covered band when you reach the ends of your hair .


  • Don't try to make the braid too neat to begin with, master the technique then improve on the neatness.
  • Try to keep your tension and section size the same when working on neatness.
  • Use your little finger to section, this will allow you to hold the rest of the hair firmly whilst picking up the new hair.
  • For a variation, you can finish the braid just above the nape and turn it under to form a roll that can be pinned in place.

Side French Plaits (as shown in image at top of page).


  1. Find your normal parting or create a straight down the middle parting (if you have any shorter pieces of hair that may not reach the center back if parted to either side).
  2. From the crown to the nape separate your hair into two halves.
  3. Clip one side out of the way and begin to plait the other.
  4. Divide this side into three sections at the front hair line and plait it as you would for a normal French plait (see above).
  5. When you get as far as the nape, remove the clip from the other side and use it to hold the plait in place whilst you do the second side.
  6. Once you have both sides plaited as far as the nape, combine the hair and plait as you would for a simple plait until you reach the ends. Secure with a band.
  7. If your hair is shorter, then secure with the band at the nape and tuck it under itself, holding it in place with a few pins.

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