Braided Hair Styles..
Braided hair styles have been increasingly spotted from the red carpet to the beach, worn by celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Alicia Keys and Jessica Alba.
Regardless of age or hair type, the styles below provide foundations from which numerous variations can be designed.
Suited best to longer hair, braids have evolved significantly from their humble beginnings, worn simply to keep hair out of the way, to being fashion superstars.
Find out a little about each technique, who wears it, and what other styles it promotes.
Long heralded as styles native to West Africa, cornrows have made their way into international fashion. Once worn mainly by those of African ethnicity, they were an instant hit when adorning actress Bo Derek in the classic movie, 10. Often professionally done in salons, here is an idea of how great cornrows, as seen on Cicely Tyson and famous women of color, as well as many others including children and men, are achieved.
Cornrows take their name from fields of corn with neat distinctive rows, as the hair is clearly separated from the scalp in sections that allow it to show.
As cornrows can take on different patterns, it is advisable to devise a plan for how they should look. Then spritzing water or a water-detangling mixture on the hair, it should be combed well, being slightly damp to begin. A section of hair for a cornrow is made, keeping other hair out of the way. Separating the section into three strands, a normal braid of two “stitches” is completed, and with the outer strands held aside, it is then necessary to reach beneath the starter braid and add a little more hair to the middle strand, merging it. From the resultant three strands, a normal braid stitch is done again. The process is continued, each time adding some hair to the middle, until no more hair remains. Each cornrow is secured with a hair clip, barrette or pretty snap bead or bolo tie.
Variations: Cornrows can hang all around the head, or be piled up into a bun, pulled behind the ear or gathered as pony tails. Sometimes diagonal patterns define just the front area of the scalp, allowing for a straighter or more freely hanging back section.
2. French Braids:
These offer a sophisticated look because of the appearance of finer hair strands pulled alongside the braid length. As with cornrows, once hair is French braided, many style possibilities exist. However, French braids can be difficult to do and require some practice, especially when trying to do them on one’s own hair. That is because of the necessary maneuvering of fingers and hands while performing this technique.
A French braid begins with three small hair strands, usually near the crown or top of the head, mid-section sometimes, that are braided toward the nape of the neck. Gradually more hair is added to each section as it crosses to the middle from alternating sides. Switching left to right, every time more hair is added to the furthermost section from the corresponding side of the head, hair from the furthest opposite side is crossed over the middle strand. The end result is a long braid incorporating all of the hair into a woven pattern over the scalp. If all of the hair is parted into two or more sections and kept separate while each is being worked on, multiple braids can be made.
Advantages of French braids are that stray or flyaway hair too short to reach the neck can be caught up neatly in the process; also the tension of the braids is comfortably dispersed over the scalp.
Variations: While French braids appear sleek and sophisticated, they can be incorporated into regular buns or used with a center part and swept back and secured together with a fastener or elastic. Moreover, a twosome can evoke classic pigtails, but with different appeal.
3. Fishtail Braids:
Popularized lately by Rihanna and other fashionable performers, fishtail braids look elaborate while being among the easiest to do. The technique is quite simple and involves first dividing the hair into two large sections, straight down the middle. Then, pulling a thin strand from the outside of the first section directly over itself, it is added to the second section. Repeating for the other side, again taking the hair strand from the outside of the second section, it is pulled over itself and added to the first section. Making it as loose or tight as desired, the process is repeated until a finished braid is ready to be trimmed with ribbon, charms, or elastic. Fishtail braids are simple, yet, when paired with a dressy outfit, add a sensual appeal and softly elegant look.
4. Basic English Braids or Plaits:
While these are, perhaps, the simplest to do, using three equally sized strands and alternately crossing the left and right strands over the middle, they lend themselves to numerous styles. It is easiest to start with a pony tail, then take the right or left of three strands and cross it over the middle one, so it becomes united with the middle one; then do the same with the other side, alternating until completed. Fasten with elastics.
Simple braids can be wrapped around the head for a crown effect as Kirsten Dunst has popularized, or used at the forehead, like Hayden Panettiere, for a headband effect. One large braid may be loosely created under and swept behind one ear. Other nice looks involve mingling tiny braids among loosely falling or waving hair, wrapping them with sparkling twine or chain for an interesting touch. Another is accomplished using a small braid formed from the front section of hair and pinning it back with a pretty barrette, keeping it off the face while offering distinction to a long style.
Rope and Princess Ann braids are other types that work well with longer hair. Overall, whatever type is worn, braided hair styles add everything from the patterned intricacy of cornrows and all their variations to the pizzazz of old fashioned braids highlighting flowing or upswept, hair. While fishtails lend a relaxed carefree neatness to long locks, French braids are conversely a nod to sleek sophistication. Having fun with braids is clearly popular today. From Jada Pinkett Smith to Jennifer Anniston, indeed for anyone with some hair to work with, the perfect braid style will complement it.