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Prom Hairstyle: Center Braid


This dressy hairstyle is an elegant downdo that combines a sleek veil of shiny shoulder length hair with one chic center crown braid that is carefully braided close to the head and ends in a softly coiled splayed look at the back of the crown.

This downdo looks best without bangs and when the braid is created in the very center of the head. This unusual do was created on Model Monica by stylist Barbara Lhotan exclusively for and our media partner - Multi Media International.

This style is quick and easy to accomplish. With minimum practice and a good mirror anyone should be able to create this style effortlessly. If you are a hair klutz you might like to request the assistance of a professional stylist or a friend that has hairstyling talents. A stylist or friend can help with the placement of the center braid and the splayed back ends.

If you wish to create this style by yourself but are unsure, ask a stylist or friend to work with you the first time so that you can practice crafting the style until you can do it by yourself. (Photos courtesy of & Barbara Lhotan. Photography by Eric Von Lockhart).

This style generally works best on medium to longer hair since the highlight of the style is the crown area and requires enough hair to create the braid. The style can be modified for shorter lengths if there is enough hair to form the braid. This style is great because it provides an instant dressiness without a lot of muss or fuss.

Hair that is extra long can adopt to the style by adjusting the length and the thickness of the center braid. When in doubt let your stylist guide you about the appropriateness of the style for your hair type and texture. If you wish to try this look on fine hair, be prepared for hair slippage with gel, strong holding spray and extra bobby pins to help anchor the tiny jeweled hair clips.

Step By Step Instructions

This style works best on hair that is not freshly washed. When possible allow your hair to "age" at least 24 hours from your last shampoo. The natural hair oils will help the braid hold tighter and last longer. (Photos courtesy of & Barbara Lhotan. Photography by Eric Von Lockhart. HairLoop available in Marketplace).

Barbara Lhotan did comment that this look can be created on freshly washed and dried hair if desired. However, Barbara explained that it is important to dress newly washed hair with the appropriate styling aides to counterbalance extra soft or slippery strands. Let your stylist determine what type of hair they prefer to work with.

1. Begin by using a soft boar's head brush or similar natural bristle brush on your hair. Make sure that all knots and tangles are completely removed. (All photos are the express copyright of & Multi Media International).

2. Working with individual sections that are about 1-2" in thickness, smooth all of the hair with a hot flat iron. Allow hair to cool completely before proceeding.

3. Using the tail of a rattail comb create two equal parts down the middle of the head that extends from the hairline to the crown area of the head. The two parts should completely separate the hair in the middle of the head from the two sides. If you prefer clip the hair back on either side to keep it separate from the middle hair.

4. Starting at the very front of the hairline of the head create an overhand French braid in the middle section of the hair that is separated by the two parts.

5. Create the French braid by separating the middle section of hair into three equal sized strands. Cross the left strand over the center strand and then pull the strands tight creating a new center strand. Cross the right strand over the newly created center strand. Pull ends tight. Use the back of your fingernail on your index finger to part and lift a new section of hair to the left of the braid. Join the newly lifted strand of hair to the left strand. Cross both over the center strand and pull tightly. Continue on the right side alternating back and forth until you have braided all the way from the front of the hairline to just below the back of the crown area. Leave approximately 2-3 inches of loose hair or "tail hair" at the ends of the braid.

Note: If you have not created a French braid before you may need to practice creating the braid a few times to make sure all the strands are even and symmetrical. Be sure to pull each new section tight after you have crossed the strands over each other. Apply a light gel or setting lotion to each section for hair that is fine, slippery or does not hold styles well. This will help to anchor the hair better.

6. After you have created the braid to just below the back of the crown and have tied off the braid with a few inches of tail hair the next step is to tie the bottom of the braid into one large looped knot. Create a loop and pull the bottom of the braid through. Arrange the knotted braid ends so that it lays to side of the braid in the back of the head. Pin securely into place.

7. Apply a light hair wax or paste to the remaining "tail hair" and use your fingers to "splay" the tail hair into a soft fan shape.

Spray entire braided section with hairspray and then attach a HairLoop at the bottom of the pinned braid. Arrange the rest of the hair so that it flows softly down around the shoulders and back. If desired use a curling iron to add a bit of curve and turn strands under. Note: Always spray hair before applying hair accessories since spray can dull crystals and rhinestones.

Experiment with adding more or less sections of hair for different looks.

If you desire a different look take the bottom half or the remaining hair and use a curling iron or hot curlers to add a slick flick, a few little curls or soft waves to remaining hair.

(Photos courtesy of & Barbara Lhotan. Photography by Eric Von Lockhart).

The possibilities are endless if you take the time to play with different variations of this classic knotted style. This finished style if perfect for any special party, Prom, Wedding or other dressy hair event. Enjoy!


Hairstyles by Barbara Lhotan Make-up by Catherine Raffaele HairLoop Hair Accessories provided by Necklace provided by Photography by Eric von Lockhart Copyright 2002-2003 All rights reserved & MultiMedia International.

Necklace provided by

Barbara Lhotan is known as the "Personal Trainer" for stylists wishing to be experts with long hair. She is the Director of Education for Renaissance Salon in Smithtown, New York and a Senior National Educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems.

Barbara works on all types of hair from short to long and creates spectacular updos and styles for any event. She is also talented with hair extensions and color. Contact Barbara for a consultation at: (631-724-2386)

Eric von Lockhart was born in New York City but spent his early years traveling to exotic locales as a military brat. Sensing from an early age that “some form of art was his destiny”, Eric embraced his early gypsy life. He viewed his constant travels as priceless opportunities to observe life through many angles, ultimately training him to do the same with his beloved cameras. Eric has been perfecting his craft “all his life” which explains why he is one of the most sought after fashion photographers in America.

Over the years Eric’s unique eye, lightening wizardy and brilliant photographic images have been in hot demand appearing in an extensive list of fashion and beauty magazines including Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Elle, Essence, Salon News, Modern Salon, Hype Hair, Inspire, Passion, Blacktress, Hair World, 101 Celebrity Hairstyles, Short Cuts, and

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