Stylists Are Freaking Out Over This "Pipe Braid" Technique

From floral Afros to rainbow dye jobs, next-level hair has always taken center stage during festival season. And if you ask us, the best styles are the ones that both look cool and feel cool — especially when you're dripping sweat in the scorching Indio heat. That's why we're particularly psyched about the "pipe braids" currently flooding our Instagram, the majority of which are from Oribe Hair Care education ambassador Nicci Welsh, who coined the term.
“I wanted to find a festival style that’s different than what we have seen before and could withstand hours of fun,” says the stylist, who also brought us the Scandi Wave. Welsh looked to sailor knots and methods of tying paracord as the inspiration for a style that is part French braid, part infinity braid, and part twist — all of which have been worn by Black women for centuries.
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Nicci also thought about the longevity that tight-to-the-scalp braids, like cornrows, offer. The result is a technique which pulls sections from either side of the braid and loops them through a center spine, as if a hair wrap were being made with one’s own hair instead of colored string. Check out the video below from Welsh for a step-by-step.
Full disclosure: There’s one thing the above video doesn’t show: This method takes practice — lots of practice. Welsh herself, a bonafide expert, has worked on the technique since November. Not that this should deter you from giving the style a go come Coachella. Welsh’s solution? Text a friend. “I can see from my Instagram [that] a lot of people are writing to each other, asking friends to do their hair or offering to do their friends’ hair,” the stylist says. “It would be great if the pipe braid could be this summer's hang-together hairstyle.”
She also notes that to make this look truly festival-proof, you'll want the right styling products. For coily or curly hair, she suggests working a setting lotion from roots to tips before looping sections into the twist. For straight to wavy strands, mist on a strong-hold hairspray first. For a more undone look, you can also spray on a texturizer and volumizing powder. “These two products give volume and grip to the hair which helps it stay in place and gives it that undone texture,” she says. Coachella street style photographers, watch out.