Master These Braiding Tips For Instant Pinterest Gold

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Is there a hairstyle that's more beloved than the braid? It's high-impact, easy to do, and perfect for basically any situation. There's a reason why this classic style is repeated over and over again on red carpets and in DIY slideshows. But, after a while, your technique can get a little tired. That's where we come in. Welcome to 29 Ways To Braid — a series in which we'll walk you through a ton o' new styles and pro tips for expert weaving. And we wouldn't do this alone. We tapped veteran braid guru Sarah Potempa to show us the ropes — and the rope braids. Click through to see tips and tricks for every skill level — and simple touches that will take your braids from basic to badass. You'll never look at a fishtail the same way again.

Finishing Touches That Will Take Your Braids To The Next Level

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Once you've successfully mastered the perfect braid, you're pretty much done — right? Well, sort of. "There are a few finishing touches that will give your braid that little something extra," Potempa says. Whether it's not using an elastic to tie your plait or fluffing it up to make it look bigger, these tips are what you want for an extra-special look. Consider them the cherry on top of your braid sundae.

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Tip 25: The Big-Time Braid
While ladies with lots o' hair may have no trouble achieving high-octane styles, some of us aren't all that lucky. But an oversized 'do is easy to achieve. All you have to do is gently pull apart the loops of the braid once you've tied it. "This adds serious thickness and texture," Potempa says. It sounds counterintuitive, but start with a tight braid. (The more rotations you have, the bigger it will look.) Then, pull it apart slowly until you reach your desired texture.

"Don't be afraid of pieces falling out or getting fuzzy," Potempa says. We actually prefer that look, which makes this technique clutch for women with layered strands. If there's a spiky layer you're really not feeling, simply tuck it into the braid with hairspray or a small, U-shaped pin.
Tip 26: Give Yourself A Brush-Up
In the world of boho-chic braiding, a plait that's too perfect can be the kiss of death. But you don't necessarily want to redo your entire style. So what's the answer? Muck that stuff up!

"If your braid is too perfect, you can lightly brush it with a clean toothbrush," Potempa says. That's right — pull out one of those brushes you keep stock-piled under your sink from your dentist (or, is that just me?) and lightly run it across the plait in the opposite direction to work out some fuzzies. You've got instant cool-girl twists.
Tip 27: No Hair Tie? No Problemo
Need your hair off your face righthisverysecond, but there's no hair elastic in sight? Potempa's got a 'do for you that had our jaws on the ground the first time she showed it off. Behold: the elastic-less plait.

"The most important thing to remember is, when you separate your hair into three sections, don't separate the bottom," Potempa says. Divide your hair at the top and braid closely, allowing the ends to loop and tangle as you go (this is a lesson in self-control for you braiding freaks). Once you can't braid any further, flip the ends through the last loop like a topsy-tail, Potempa says. The braid will hang securely, and you'll impress your friends with some next-level hair sorcery.
Tip 28: Be A Tease
Already finished your braid and — oops!— can't find a hair tie? (Seriously, where do they go?) Meet your next best solution:

"Once you're done braiding, take a comb and tease the ends," Potempa says. Follow up with a strong-hold hairspray. If your hair is particularly thin, you may even want to spritz a bit before you tease, too. Keep in mind that your braid won't stay ultra-tight with this technique, so it's best to use with a low, loose plait.
Tip 29: Meet The Mini-Braid
Your braid doesn't always have to be the main attraction in your style. In fact, mini-braids look beautiful as accents to other hairstyles. Potempa suggests using a braid to hide the elastic in a ponytail — rather than just a piece of hair. "You can do any type of braid you want," she says. We love the idea of a fishtail accent, but a three-strand braid is the easiest option.


Photographed by Winnie Au, Hair by Sarah Potempa, Makeup by Jamie Dorman / ABTP, Nails by Isadora Rios / ABTP, Styled by Emily Holland, Modeled by Ashley / Wilhelmina, Modeled by Anastasia / Wilhelmina, Modeled by Olga / Wilhelmina, Modeled by Manuela / Wilhelmina.