Frustrated to tears over your inability to do a simple French braid in your hair?
Have no clue how to hold your hair and what to do with your fingers when braiding?
Wondering what’s wrong with you that you can’t get this?
Sounds like you need these tips.
I’m so excited because even if you can barely put your hair into a pony tail you got this. These video clips all but guarantee that.
So let’s get back to the basics with these super quick yet totally helpful step by step tutorials …
Quick Section Navigation
- VIDEO: Tips On How To French Braid Your Own Hair For Beginners
- VIDEO: Tight French Braid Tips
- VIDEO: More Tips For French Braiding Your Own Hair
- VIDEO: The Ladder – Quirky Take On How To Hold Your Hair While Braiding
- Four Final French Braid Tips And Tricks
Now to get to the bottom of this we binge watched many (too many) videos and read countless comments.
The problem that came up again and again is how and where to put your hands to hold your budding braid. Of the various French braiding techniques this one seemed to be the most elusive. And most frustrating.
To address that we’ve got five video snippets each with a slightly different take on how to do this. (If all else fails do be sure you check out the one that shares “The Ladder”. I believe it’s my favorite.)
The idea is to give you different explanations and approaches to consider and you can decide on the best one for you.
Because not knowing hand placement is a HUGE problem for novice braiders.
Does your AHA Moment await?
Tips On How To French Braid Your Own Hair For Beginners
This quick clip demonstrates in slow motion how to add hair and then move that section over and into the middle.
Pay particular attention to her fingers. If you do you’ll see how she holds it while adding hair AND how close her fingers are to her scalp.
Tip #1: With any braid – detangling is a crucial first step. Hope that wasn’t too obvious.
Best Hand Placement For French Braiding
Tip #2: How you hold the three sections makes all the difference. Some feel it’s the trickiest part and what’s holding them back from being braiding ninjas!
So … if you’re adding hair from the right side, (looking at the back of your head) then hold the three sections with your left hand. If adding from the left then hold the braided strands in your right.
If that’s clear as mud you can see this important trick in slow motion action. In less than 60 seconds you’ll begin to better understand one of the keys to braiding success.
Obviously this isn’t a unique tip but she just does such of good job of simplifying it.
Another Way To Add Hair
Tip #3: Okay so an alternate idea would be to make adding the new hair a two-step process. Explained step by step first move the side section of hair across and over into the middle. Then do the same with the hair you’re adding in.
This clip shows that idea in action.
See? You can either add the new hair before or after you move the outside strand across and over into the middle.
Tip #4: Note too how she gently cinches up the hair snugly each time she adds hair. This is a good way to keep your braid nice and tidy rather than loose and messy – unless loose and messy is what you’re going for.
Anyway maybe this tweak can help you nail a French braid for the first time ever.
Tight French Braid Tips
For those wanting to know how to make your French braid tighter nothing to it really. Just follow this fifth tip.
Tip #5: For tighter plaits keep your hands as close to your head as possible as opposed to working several inches away. That’s demonstrated here:
This is key. Because if your hands are not directly right up against your scalp at the base of the braid when you release it it will immediately go all limp and loose. Not good unless that’s the look you’re going for.
But that’s it! That’s the answer to “Why are my French braids so loose?”
Tip #6: Oh and adding smaller sections of hair also helps create a tighter looking braid. On the other hand larger sections mean the braid will look loose or looser.
Just don’t confuse that, as some do, with pulling the braid super tight.
And I know some feel you have to have a death grip to get a tight looking braid.
Pulling tight is not the key. Smaller sections and working close to the braid as you are braiding are what gives you a tighter looking result.
More Tips For French Braiding Your Own Hair
This how do a single French braid video snippet was included for two reasons:
One it shows another yet approach to adding hair to the braid that some find simplifies the process
Two she explains how she hold the three strands without losing track of what’s where. This is another problem that often trips people up so I thought it might be a good idea to share one person’s method.
She starts her French plait just like anyone else:
- Grab hair from the crown
- Separate that into three more or less equal sections
- Take the right strand over the middle strand then the left over the “new” middle strand
That’s probably how you start your braid. No big deal. Everyone knows that, right?
Tip #7: Now’s the time to add hair. Since this is where people start to have trouble this video shows a different way to do that.
- So your next move in this case is to add a section of hair to the right most strand.
- Then add a new section of hair to the left most strand.
- Then cross each over the middle as you braid those.
Catch the difference? You’re adding the hair in to both outside sections BEFORE braiding. And some find this adding hair to both sides BEFORE braiding the strands is easier.
Tip #8: To get into a rhythm always braid from the same side first. In this case it’s the right side then the left.
How to Hold Your Hair
Obviously you always want hold the braid with the hand that’s not adding hair.
Now pay close attention here if you find your fingers are getting tangled up in the process. We’ll do our best explain how to hold all the strands as shown in the video.
Note initially she’s holding the braid with her left hand using her …
- Pinkie and ring finger to hold the strand closest to her left hand
- Her thumb is around the middle strand
- The middle and index finger hold the remaining strand
Next with her free right hand she adds more hair to the right strand.
To do so she switches hands to hold the braid with her right hand.
With her free left hand she adds more hair to the left strand.
Then she braids from the right side first then the left. She always braids from the right side first then the left to avoid getting confused.
Also you want to keep a somewhat firm grip on the braid to keep the braided hair nice and snug.
Repeat this process until you get to the nape of your neck and run out of hair to add. From there finish off with a three strand braid. (If you hair is long enough do this on the side to save your arms.)
Now with this final clip I know some will accuse me of saving the best for last. Maybe. But it’s different enough from the previous methods that it just might be!
Quirky Answer For How Do You Hold Your Hair While Braiding?
Okay so here’s a novel take on how to hold the hair so you’re in control.
It’s a trick that this YouTuber calls “The Ladder”. I thought it was genius.
Think of it this way. Her thumb and fingers are the rungs on the ladder. And each of the three sections of hair sits on a different rung.
So if moving hair over and into the middle is too confusing maybe this approach makes more sense.
Here’s the deal:
- She rests one strand (the bottom one) between her thumb and index finger.
- She places the middle section between her index and middle finger.
- The section she’s adding hair to is held by her middle and ring finger.
Next she switches hands and takes the bottom piece that was between her thumb and index finger and “lifts it up the ladder”. This moves it between her middle and ring finger. Then she adds new hair to that section.
When she switches hands here’s what happens.
What was the middle piece goes between her thumb and index finger.
What was the top piece goes between her index and middle finger.
That leave the bottom piece which she transfers to her free hand. That the section she’s adding hair to. It’s also what she “lifts up the ladder” sticking it between her middle and ring finger smoothing as she goes.
Explained Another Way
HINT: What you’re doing is taking the pointer finger of your free hand and sliding it down the middle finger of the hand holding all the hair.
What this does is move the middle section to the bottom and what was the top section now becomes the middle one.
Then using your other hand grab the bottom section and move it to the top rung of the ladder i.e. your ring and middle finger. Then add the new hair to that.
How neat is this?
It helps to play the video at half speed so you really see what she’s doing.
Just don’t be surprised if “The Ladder Method” causes the light bulb goes off in your head when nothing else has.
That way maybe for the first time ever you will successfully French braid your hair. All due to a rather off beat method meant to simplify the entire process.
Hopefully if no other tutorials have helped you know how to hold your hair this one will.
Four Final French Braid Tips And Tricks
Let’s wrap this up with four final tricks.
Tip #9: When you’re adding hair make sure you grab all the hair in the next section.
What does that mean?
Well, you see, some people start to section off the hair to add at the hairline just fine. But instead of parting it all the way to the braid, they stop somewhere along the way.
Yet failing to section properly to include all the hair will not give you a clean, neat looking braid.
This video snippet shows what I’m talking about
Just something to keep in mind …
Tip#10: Is for combating super slippery hair.
Truth be told, if your hair is too soft, smooth or silky often it’s just gonna slip right out of the braid.
But then you knew that. Must be like an unwritten rule or something.
To fight back here are four ideas from the styling product aisle.
Some give their strands a spritz of hairspray before braiding.
Others prefer to run in bit of pomade to give just washed strands some grip.
Or you can go with the old standby dry shampoo or your fav texturizing spray.
Tip#11: Covers how to make braids tight at the root or anywhere actually.
The trick here is to maintain enough tension on the strands while you braid so they stay tight.
Then once the braid is complete, you can always go back and pancake it a little. Making sure you’re tugging on hair from the middle of the braid as well as the edges.
If the issue is more lack of compactness then adding smaller sections of hair will solve that.
Tip #12: It all comes down to practice … practice … practice.
Unfortunately there is no one simple trick to braiding success. If just comes down to how much you’re willing to practice to get it.
Anyway … hopefully you now know more about where to put your hands.
Now go practice.
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