How to Do a French Braid

A French braid looks complicated and intricate but in fact is quite simple. Master the basic braiding technique. French braiding has many styles and creative designs. With a little practice, you can create beautiful hairstyles for both adults and children.

Comb the hair out. Make sure it's free of tangles and knots. Apply a light mist of hairspray over the entire head to add texture and help control fine hair. Comb the hairspray through the hair.

Use a narrow comb and section off the crown of the hair. Draw the tip of the comb from the temple to the crown on both sides of the head. Pull the section tightly into a ponytail at the crown using the hand.

Split the ponytail into sections of three even strands. Gather two strands in the left hand, separating them with the thumb and forefinger. Hold the third strand in the right hand (reverse for left handers).

Begin the braid by rotating the left wrist. Bring the outside strand to the middle. Take the strand on the right into the middle of the two strands in the left hand. Hold all strands tightly.

Continue the braid by picking up additional hair on the left side of the head and adding it to the outside strand. Pick up more hair from the right side of the head and add it to the right strand. Bring the right strand into the middle of the three.

Repeat the process of braiding and joining it tightly into the braid. Work down the braid all the while adding hair.

Finish off with an elastic-rubber band at the nape of the neck. For a longer braid, continue braiding past the nape.


Start braiding adult hair at the crown. When French braiding children's hair, you can begin the braid very high on the head. Vary the amount of hair picked up from each side of the head to create different looks. By picking up fine strands at each side of the head, you can create a "fish bone" effect.

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