Braids are such a fun protective style because they offer versatility in all their different forms.
"You have endless options when it comes to choosing to accessorize and/or tie them up or down," says celebrity hairstylist Dhairius Thomas. "Buns, ponytails, half up-half down, all down — these are just a few easy styles that are common with braids."
Braider Theola Carbon notes that because braids are often lightweight, they're flexible and easy to manipulate. "Plus, the longer they’re in, the looser they become, making them easier to manage," says Carbone. "But when styling braids, you should keep in mind that too much manipulation can cause the braids to look worn out. Certain styles can cause pulling at your roots or edges, so make sure the style is comfortable and not too tight."
Meet Our Expert
Dhairius Thomas is a celebrity hairstylist who works with stars like Justine Skye and Victoria Monét.
Theola Carbon is a braider based in Brooklyn, New York.
Shayz Enrique is a celebrity hairstylist for stars like Yung Miami and Suki Hana.
Whether you're currently in braids or plotting your next look, browse the options below for styling inspiration.
Goddess Braid Ponytail
Here, Jordyn Woods rocks her goddess braids in a ponytail with the top two front braids left loose for a soft, tendril-y look. For an even more delicate vibe, you can put all the braids up and just pull down two loose curls to frame the face.
Space buns are a super cute and easy style to achieve. "Place your braids in two separate ponytails and wrap each ponytail around to create two buns," says Carbon. "This is a fun look to wear when going out to a concert or a night out."
Thomas styled Justine Skye's hair into these long braided pigtails. "Part hair down the middle and put it into two pigtails, then add braiding hair that matches your hair color," he says. "Proceed to braid each ponytail to your desired length." If your hair is already in a braided style like box braids, you can recreate this style by braiding your braids into pigtails.
"Braids can be accessorized with beads, ribbons, or other embellishments, allowing for further personalization," says celebrity hairstylist Shayz Enrique. This look by content creator Erin King takes that to the next level. King used braiding hair to create small bows that she then pinned to two braided side buns.
Top Knot & Tendrils
"The look is a classy updo," says Carbon. "Place the braids in a high ponytail and wrap the hair around to create a bun. You can choose to wrap all the hair up or leave two braids down in the front. This is the perfect style for people who love their hair away from their face."
For this simple yet elegant look, Tracee Ellis Ross wore her hair slicked back into a ponytail that was then braided down with extensions for a long and sleek look.
Classic Ponytail French Curl
"The classic ponytail is super easy," says Carbon, who is my go-to braider. "Simply pull all your braids into one and secure it with a hair tie. You can choose to rock this ponytail high or low. Wearing your ponytail lower causes less tension on your roots. This style is also perfect for the gym when worn with a headband. Then it transforms into a classy night look!"
For this look, King rolled up the end of her braids into a spiral to add texture and weight to her style. It allows you to rock a short look while still having your hair braided long.
"Remember to give your hair and scalp regular breaks from braiding to prevent tension and promote overall hair health," says Enrique.
Piecey Messy Bun
When you have braids with loose ends like French curls, you can pull the hair into a messy bun and then pull out a few loose ends for a piecey, romantic updo.
Half Up, Half Down
"Half up, half down is one of my favorite looks," says Carbon. "Create a ponytail with the top of your braids. Pull the braids to tighten and spread them out so they lay on the side to give a fuller look. You can also choose to let the ponytail lay straight back. This style is perfect for a date night!"
Braided Bun with Looped Braided Fringe
For this bun, king left out the braids around her edges and then looped them to create a faux bang. The loops are accentuated with super chic gold cowrie shells.
All Down French Curls
As fun as it is to play around with placement, sometimes just keeping it simple is the move. "Wear all the braids down with a middle or side part," says Carbon.
To make my very very grown-out braids look more polished, Thomas took the top section into two pieces and and tied them into a knot. This created lots of volume at the top of my hair and let the curled ends shine.
Long & Loose
For this look, Skye wears a few big intentionally messy braids. Worn long and loose, the style is cool and relaxed.
Side Part French Curl
With these pretty French curls, just parting your hair to the side adds some gorgeous interest to your look.
Tied Back French Curl
"Using two braids from each side, pull them to the back for a super cute style that keeps the braids away from your face," says Carbon. "Add a bow or other accessories to spice it up."
For a peek-a-boo moment, King took her braided hearts and pinned them to her box braids while they were styled down. You miss the braids if you look too fast, as they nearly blend in. But once you see them, they add a ton of whimsy and texture.
To keep her hair away from her face, Ross wears her hair slicked back and styled into a few thick braids.
"This style is a fun and creative way to style larger braids," says Carbon. "Bantu knots are created by wrapping each braid into their individual bun and securing it with a hair tie. This style can be worn for a special occasion if you want a unique and fashionable look!"
Cornrows to Low Bun
Sporting thick cornrows, Skye wears her ends pulled up into a low bun for a super-sleek updo.
All-Up Messy Bun
Woods wears all of her braids piled up into a messy bun, allowing you to really focus on her face. A few loose ends were pulled from the bun just a bit to add texture while keeping the look tight.
Headband & Tendrils
I hardly wear my braids straight down because I love having tons of volume at the top of my head. So if my braids are down, I'll wear a thick headband to add that volume while my ends hang long.
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