Most Indian women have thick, long, usually black hair that they pride and spend hours fussing over with natural products such as oil and henna. They rarely cut their waist-long hair, but only trim the ends to prevent their tresses from splitting. Popular styles with longhair Indian women includes the traditional braid or bun that prevents loose hair from coming in the way of household chores to the more modern layered cuts.
Braids or plaits are popular with urban and rural Indian women alike. School girls tie their hair in a single brain or two, more out of discipline than fashion, and older women prefer this style because it gives a neat appearance and is easy to manage during housework. In the past it signified a girl’s marital status--one braid for a married girl and two for a one who is single.
To make a braid, divide the hair into three equal portions right from the scalp. Weave the portions together—cross and extend the left towards the right, and insert the right in the centre to form a neatly intertwined hairstyle. Continue weaving until the entire length is neatly braided, and stop two inches from the tips of the hair. Secure with plain or decorative elastic several times so it does not slip off.
For two plaits, separate the hair right in the middle into two sections. Weave each section the same way as a single plait, each in turn. Secure with two lengths of elastic, one for each.
The ponytail is another common hairstyle with school-going girls and younger women who proudly display silky hair.
To make a ponytail, gather the hair firmly at the nape of the neck and secure it with elastic or cloth band, or to a side, just below the ear lobe so the hair cascades in the front for added beauty. Curl smaller sections of the hair coming out of the pony for appealing contrast.
Similar to other cultures, many Indian women prefer to tie their long hair into a convenient bun instead of a braid because it may take less time. This type of hairstyle also allows air to reach the back of the neck, preventing prickly heat that is common in the hot, humid summer.
Brush the hair back into a firm ponytail and secure with an elastic band. Depending on personal taste, make the ponytail at the nape of the neck or higher to accentuate prominent cheekbones. Gather the ponytail and twist it around the elastic band in a circular motion. Secure it by placing a decorative elastic band around the twisted portion or inserting hair clips that hold it in place.
Many young girls get layered cuts to imitate their local actors who set the parameters for style and fashion. Depending on personal taste, the front portion of the hair around the face is cut slightly or drastically shorter than the remaining hair in the back.
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