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.

Prepare Yourself For Killer Braids

Photographed by Winnie Au.
Fact: Braiding starts before your nimble fingers ever grab hold of your strands. "Prep is such an important part of your braid," Potempa says. "What you do before you braid affects the way it's going to look." This is especially true if you're talking messy versus sleek. Here, her top three prep steps.
Photographed by Winnie Au.
Tip 1: Get Tousled
When you wake up with a three-day-old blowout, a textured braid is a godsend. But what do you do when your hair is super-smooth, with not a flyaway in sight? (#firstworldproblems.) Muck it up on your own, says Potempa. "A heavy mist of dry shampoo will help you achieve the perfect tousled braid," she explains. Lift up your hair in sections and generously coat from roots to end, and then shake or brush out any excess powder.
Tip 2: Tame That Mane
Your brush may be collecting dust in your bathroom drawer since rumpled "French-girl hair" became a thing. But Potempa says that brushing is a step you should never skip — regardless of the braid type. "Even if you want a textured braid, you want to brush your hair before you get going," she says. "It will remove any knots and just make the braid easier to do."

Note: Curly girls who never take a brush to their mane will want to skip this step. But everyone else can and should detangle as they normally would.
Tip 3: Slick Yo' Strands
Not feeling the tousled look? Potempa says to bust out the gel. "Work a water-based gel from root to tip before you start braiding," she says. "This will keep your braid looking sleek." We also suggest gel for ultra-layered strands, since it helps the hairs stick together. Choosing a water-based formula means your hair will be less likely to get crispy or break. Because a crunchy braid ain't all that cute.

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 / Whilhelmina, Modeled by Anastasia / Whilhelmina, Modeled by Olga / Whilhelmina, Modeled by Manuela / Wilhelmina.