Braids make a big, yet subtle comeback

GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Whether it’s an elegant braided updo or a simple side braid, plaits have been seen everywhere from the runway to the red carpet, to the office. And, many brides are choosing to incorporate the trend for their walk down the aisle.

Tara Nelson, a hairstylist at Jo Jo’s Hair Boutique in Grand Forks, N.D., said at least 50 percent of her clients who come in for an updo ask her to incorporate some kind of braid.

Mandi Smith, a hair and nail stylist at Jo Jo’s, said she thinks Pinterest is responsible for the growing popularity.

“It’s huge,” she said. “There’s so many different styles.”

Nelson agreed. “If you get people in for updos and ask what they’re thinking, they pull out their phones and go, ‘Well, I saw this on Pinterest,’” she said.

She added that most of her clients just incorporate a French braid or a German braid, but there are many different types and ways to include the style.

Types of braids

Some different types of braids include waterfall braids, fishtail braids and German braids.

For a waterfall braid, one starts braiding from the temple to the back of the head. The waterfall braid is similar to the French braid, but each third strand is left loose to create the waterfall effect.

“You just braid it normal, but you always leave some out,” Smith said. “I would start from one side and pin it in the back, and then start from the other side and pin it in the back, and then make it look kind of fancy in the back.”

For the fishtail braid, one starts with two large sections of hair. Smith said you take a small section from one side and move it to the other side. Do the same with the opposite section, and repeat until you reach the end of your hair.

“Fishtail braids are pretty common,” Nelson said. “I’ve seen it where you fishtail it in the back, and then down at the bottom you pin everything up.”

Smith added that another thing people can do to make their braids a little different is pull the hair out a little after the braid is complete. She said it creates a loose, slightly messy look that’s still cute.

Prep and hold

Before beginning a braid, Nelson said she always uses a bit of product.

“Mine, I always spray with hair spray because it’s slippery,” she said. “I’ll spray it and brush it through because it gives you a little tack.”

Smith agreed, saying it’s always good to use some type of product beforehand.

To hold the braids in place for updos, one can use bobby pins. But, Nelson uses an alternate method, sewing the braids in place.

“You’ll use a thread that matches their hair, so you don’t ever see it,” she said. Nelson learned the technique after school and said she prefers the method over using bobby pins.

“It’s more comfortable for the client, and it lasts longer,” she said.

But whether she uses her needle and thread to sew the braid tight, she said “I usually always put a band on the end just to make sure it’s not going to come out.”

She also always finishes it off with some hair spray.

Beginner braids

For someone with little experience braiding hair, the stylists recommend starting with something simple.

“A lot of people will do like a braid in their bang,” Nelson said. “I’ve seen a lot just braiding their hair off to the side. Usually, if you do that, you’ll do a French braid.”

She said that almost any length of hair can incorporate braids somewhere, but if someone wants a full braid, the longer the hair the easier it’ll be. Once someone learns the basics, Nelson and Smith said it just takes practice to master the style. Nelson said she taught herself how to French braid because her mom was never good with braids.

“It helps to section it off and get that hair out of the way,” she said.

Smith added, “You just have to sit down and practice.”

Tips for braiding hair

Use hair spray and brush through beforehand to keep hair from slipping.

Section hair off and pin back excess, so it doesn’t get in the way.

For updos, use bobby pins along the way to hold braids.

Use a small clear rubber band to secure the braid.

Apply ample amount of hair spray to finish and hold the braid.

Add ribbon or beads to braids to create a new look.

Pull hair to loosen the braid and create a messy look.