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.

Skills All Mid-Level Braiders Should Learn

Photographed by Winnie Au.
So you can three-strand, fishtail, and French braid with the best of them. Now, you're ready to move on to the next level. Welcome, grasshopper. Potempa's tricks for intermediate braiders incorporate slightly more difficult techniques, as well as more involved steps to get the weaves you actually want. The results are more intricate, sophisticated styles. Don't be intimidated — we're in this together, guys.
Photographed by Winnie Au.
Tip 12: Go Fishing
Potempa is a huge fan of braids as accents in other styles, and we can see why. "Before you make a top knot or a low bun, fishtail the hair," she says. While we love the idea of a fishtailed top knot, this low-slung chignon is a bit more unexpected.
Tip 13: Pump Up The Volume
Those with thinner strands may lament their flimsy-plait fate. But there's actually a clever workaround. Potempa suggests curling the hair before pulling it into a braid. "The waves will help add some serious volume," she says. If you're looking for an easy iron to use, may we suggest Potempa's brilliant Beachwaver? It pretty much curls your hair for you.
Tip 14: Band Together
Confession: We're still a bit mystified by intricate updos. Luckily for us, braids make things a hell of a lot easier. "For a cool summer-braid look, just add a headband and flip the braids into it," Potempa says. It's similar to that headband chignon that was #trending last summer — but this time, you just add braids. Try braiding two on either side of your head, and then flipping them into the headband together.
Tip 15: Fake It
Ever look at magazine photos or runway snaps and ask yourself, "How the hell do they have so much hair?" Spoiler alert: They don't. Pros rely on hair extensions to get those big-time plaits, and who says you can't do that yourself? "This is especially great if you want to try a braid, but have short hair," says Potempa. Unless you specifically want them to stand out, try extensions that are the same color as your natural hair so they'll blend in.
Tip 16: Get Your Tail Right
Fishtail-braiding is kind of like riding a bike. It's tough as nails to begin with, but then becomes second nature. Potempa has a tweak to make your fishtail braid look the same in the back as it does in the front (great if you're swinging it over one shoulder). "When you're crossing pieces over, pull the strands from the back instead of the sides," she says. How easy is that?
Tip 17: When Three Become One
The funny thing about complicated-looking braids? They don't have to be that complicated. Case in point: the above plait. All Potempa did was make three mini braids, and then braid those together. She executed the style with three-strand braids, but you could weave together any type of plait you want.

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.