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How to Braid Hair

You’ll be a hit at the next sleepover if you can do a basic braid. Once you’ve mastered a single one down a friend’s back, you can move on to pigtails or even braiding your own hair.


  • Step 1: Comb out tangles Comb any tangles out of your friend’s hair, or let her do it, so you don’t accidentally yank at a knot.
  • Step 2: Gather the hair When her hair is tangle-free, sit or stand behind her and gather it up so that it all hangs down her back—like you would if you were going to put it into a ponytail. Tuck the front strands behind her ears and comb it smooth.
  • TIP: Hair that’s all one length, rather than in different layers, will be easier and neater to braid.
  • Step 3: Divide into parts Divide the hair into three equal sections. Hold the right-hand section with your right hand, and the left-hand section with your left hand. Let the middle section hang down the center of her back.
  • TIP: Run the comb through each section of hair. The braid will be smoother and neater.
  • Step 4: Reach under and around Keeping your right thumb and index finger securely around the right-hand section of hair, use your remaining fingers to reach under and around the middle section. This is a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it it’ll come as naturally as riding your bike without training wheels.
  • Step 5: Grab the middle Making sure to get every strand, grab the middle section of hair with the middle finger of your right hand. Now turn your entire hand over so that the section of hair you’re holding with your thumb and index fingers crosses over the section you’re holding with your middle finger.
  • TIP: Spritz your friend’s hair with water so it’s damp (but not wet). This’ll help the sections of hair stick to each other. If her hair is very fine, you can use a little hairspray.
  • Step 6: Let go of the middle Let go of the section of hair that’s now in the middle. At the same time, hold onto the hair in your left hand with the thumb and index finger of that hand. Use your remaining fingers to reach under and grab the new middle section of hair.
  • TIP: Each time you cross a section of hair over the middle, give it a gentle tug. This will keep the braid even and tight.
  • Step 7: Twist left hand over Just as you did with your right hand, twist your left hand over so that the hair on the far left crosses over the middle section.
  • Step 8: Repeat and alternate Repeat the steps, alternating the left and right sections of hair, until there’re only a couple of inches of hair left. Twist the ponytail holder several times around the end of the braid, and your friend’s new hairstyle is all wrapped up.
  • TIP: For a fun twist, spray a little hairspray on the braid and sleep in it overnight. The next day your hair will be wavy!
  • Step 9: Make it pretty Make it pretty by tying ribbons or bows to your braid, or adding fun barrettes or a scrunchie.
  • FACT: In ancient China, unmarried girls wore their hair braided, while married women wound theirs into a knot at the nape of their necks.

You Will Need

  • A friend whose hair is longer than shoulder-length
  • A wide-tooth comb
  • A ponytail holder
  • A spray bottle of water
  • Hairspray
  • Fun ribbons
  • barrettes
  • bows
  • and scrunchies

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