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French Braids: Perfect For Medium To Super Long Hair

Karen Marie Shelton - Copyright - All Rights Reserved 2000 
Revised Date:  02/08/08 - Original Publication Date: 2/2/2000

Introduction

Just because you have long hair doesn't mean that you are limited in the way that you can wear it.  If your hair is long enough to braid, the French Braid is easy, beautiful and very versatile.

If you have long to super long hair you can play with a basic French braid and create a variety of looks from tucking the ends of the braid underneath the braid to wrapping the leftover tail into a soft bun.  You are only limited by your imagination.

The French Braid

The French Braid is deceptively complex in appearance. It is, in fact, simply an English braid with an additional step.

Instead of beginning with three strands that incorporate all your hair, the French braid begins with a thin ponytail skimmed from the top layer of hair.

As you braid, you gather additional thin sections of hair and add them to the strands of the ponytail, resulting in gracefully draped hair on either side of the braid.

The appearance of the drape varies with the amount of hair you add with each step and the tension you keep on each strand. Experiment to find the look you like best.

Continued below ↓
 

Instructions

These steps were taken from the books, Beautiful Braids & More Beautiful Braids by Patricia Coen.  Fortunately, these great books are just back in print after being temporarily out of print for the past year.

This excellent classic braiding book from Patricia Coen actually includes detailed illustrations that I am not able to include because of copyright restrictions.

  1. Place your thumbs above and slightly behind your ears. Draw them slightly back and upward, gathering hair that meets at your crown into a ponytail. Don't anchor it.
  2. Fashion one English plait, crossing the left strand over the center so that the two strands trade places, then the right strand over the center so that those two strands trade places.
  3. Hold the plait in your right hand, separating the three loose strands below it with your fingers. Place your left thumb above and behind your left ear and use it to draw a strand half as thick as one of the original strands towards the ponytail.
  4. Add the newly gathered hair to the left strand and cross this increased strand over the center, taking the center strand to the left as in ordinary English braiding.
  5. Hold the plait in your left hand, separating the three loose strands below it with your fingers. Place your right thumb above and behind your right ear and use it to draw a strand half as thick as one of the original strands toward the ponytail.
  6. Add the newly gathered hair to the right strand and cross this increased strand over the center, taking the center strand to the right as in ordinary English braiding.
  7. Continue gathering hair from the left and right and adding it to the strands just before you cross them over the center.
  8. After several plaits, there will be no loose hair left to gather.

English-braid the remaining strands and fasten the end of the braid with a covered band.

Alternative French Braid Styles

The French Braid can also be dressed up in a variety of styles. The photo below is from Braids & Updos by Jamie Rines Jones. This dressy version is Frenchbraid5.jpg (2649 bytes)very simple to accomplish.

Braid the hair to the very end and then take the "tail" and carefully tuck it up and under the rest of the hair at the nape of the neck.

Securely pin the tail so that it is hidden under the rest of the braid.

You can dress it up further with a jeweled pin, tiny flowers, beads or other hair accessories.

Another option is to add a gorgeous bow or large flower at the nape of the neck in the middle of the French Braid.  For a wide selection of great braid friendly silk flowers and other hair accessories visit the Karen Marie Hair Accessory Line.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on HairBoutique.com or anywhere else, please post a message on  HairBoutique.com's Hair Talk Forums.

For additional hair care articles, tips and product information check out the following links:

  • Hair Boutique Tips & Articles section.  Check out the over 10,000+ different hair care and styling tips at HairBoutique.com
  • Beautiful Braids by Patricia Coen, Joe Maxwell.Beautiful Braids.gif (11755 bytes)  Note:  This book was temporarily out of print but has been recently reissued and is available from Amazon.com.  Read the review which is linked to the Amazon.com page.  This book is a great price at $4.79.  It is also a hair braiding classic.

 

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