Braids aren’t just for little girls anymore!

If you have wavy/curly hair like me, the approach of summer means one thing: frizz. At least once a summer I consider chopping off all my hair to escape the heat and the frizzy mess it becomes when exposed to humidity. There are ways to fight frizz (Allure has nine handy tips), but some days you just want that hair off your neck, out of your face, and off your mind. The hot way to handle that hair this summer? Braids. Check out this season’s looks after the jump.

If you want all your hair up and neat, try a ponytail braid (directions at the link):

Blake Lively and Fergie: image courtesy of Stylelist.com

This look is sleek and completely out-of-the-way – great for going out after a day in the pool when you don’t have time to blow-dry and want to look neat and put together. If you still want to have some hair loose, try braiding just half the ponytail like Jennifer Lopez:

Jennifer Lopez: image courtesy of Instyle.com

To give both of these looks some polish, keep a few strands loose to wrap around the ponytail to cover the elastic. Or you can use an elastic made to look like your own hair: Sephora has them and you can also find them in many drug stores (unless, like me, you have red hair, in which case nobody seems to make them).

If you want to wear your hair down but keep the front out of your face, or if you’re growing out bangs, try a small french braid in the front like Jennifer Aniston:

Jennifer Aniston: image courtesy of InStyle.com

When I do this I tend to do a looser version like Alexa Chung (it’s easier and more mistake-friendly):

Alexa Chung: image courtesy of Instyle.com

You can also add a few small braids to otherwise loose hair to add some texture, or try a “peekaboo braid” like Ashley Olsen:

Ashley Olsen: image courtesy of Instyle.com

But one look that keeps popping up everywhere this season is the fishtail braid. Right now the way to wear it is a little undone and off to the side, like Leona Lewis:

Leona Lewis: image courtesy of InStyle.com

YouTube user BeautyByAmy has a great tutorial on how to make a fishtail braid here. For other looks and more instructions, Instyle has a set of galleries (where I got most of the pictures for this post) here and here.

Most tutorials agree that these styles are easiest to create with some texture to the hair. If you have very fine or straight hair it helps to work in a bit of styling cream or mousse and create waves while drying – you can do this either with a curling iron or teasing, but the best damage-free way to create waves is to pull hair into a bun when it’s wet and let it dry. I usually make one bun on each side of my head so that all the waves aren’t going the same direction. If your hair is layered, you can create a few small twists all over your head and pin them with bobby pins or small clips until your hair is dry. (I like Herbal Essences “Totally Twisted” mousse for creating waves that hold well but aren’t sticky or frizzy.) For styles like the ponytail braid, you can even style hair wet and enjoy those waves the next day instead of re-styling.

My favorite thing about the current braid trend is the variety and versatility. You can create formal or casual looks, and there are options for any length or style. And I love having ideas that go beyond the boring ponytail or bun.

What do you think? Are you going to try any of these looks? Let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “Braids aren’t just for little girls anymore!

  1. Nice to see braids are “in.” They’re timeless, really,
    and, as you point out, cool, neat and pretty.

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