Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Sexy Braids


Ashlee is wearing a simple three strand braid that forms a border on either side of her head.

If your hair is the same length as Ashlee's, a tighter braid may be needed to neatly tuck all the hair in. It is also perfectly OK to cheat a little and use bobby pins the same color as your hair to help hold any strands in place that might pop out.

Braids are sweeping Hollywood and have been seen on Jessica, Paris Hilton and Mandy Moore, to name a few of the celebs adopting the cool summer style.


Start by washing and conditioning your hair with your favorite shampoo and rinse-out conditioner designed to address your specific hair type (normal, dry, oily), texture (straight, curly, wavy) and current condition.

Keep in mind that it's easier to braid hair when it is either newly washed or damp. This allows the braids to dry tighter in place against the scalp.

(Shampoo to try: Paves Professional - FLAWless No Sulfates Allowed Repairing Shine Shampoo For Dry Damaged Hair, Phyto - Phytocitrus - Vital Radience Shampoo for colored hair, Rene Furterer - Fioravanti Silkening Shampoo - 5.1 oz)


Towel blot your hair to remove excess moisture. Apply your favorite leave-in conditioner, detangling product or a styling cream, mousse or gel. Distribute product completely through strands avoiding the root area.

(Products to try: Rene Furterer - Fioravanti No Rinse Detangling Spray, Phyto - Phyto 7 - Daily Hydrating Cream, Paves Professional - FLAWless Red Carpet Firm Hold Repairing Styling Mousse For Dry Damaged Hair)


Use a wide tooth comb to detangle strands. Ashlee has her hair combed completely back off her face and parted on the right side. Note: It's possible to create a similar look that includes bangs. If you desire bangs, use the comb to create at this point. Clip bangs off to one side.


Starting on either side of the part, use your fingers to pick up a section of hair that is approximately 2-2 1/2" inches wide and is even with the hair part.


Pull the new section up and angle it towards the back of your head. Separate the new strand into three equal strands continuing to direct the strand towards the back of the head.


Pull the new section up and towards the back of the head. Separate the new strand into three equal strands continuing to direct the strand towards the back of the head.


Cross the bottom of the three strands that is closest to the ear over the middle strand. The bottom strand, after it is crossed over, becomes the new middle strand. Tighten the braid and then cross the middle strand under the top strand which then becomes the new middle strand. Tighten the new plait.


Continue braiding the entire strand until it gets to the end of the strand. Tie off the braid with a Blax or elastic coated "hair friendly" band that matches the hair color.


Complete the same process on the other side of the head.


Temporarily clip the two new braid to the side. Use a wide tooth comb to smooth the remaining chunk of hair at the back of the head.

Pull the hair up into a small ponytail so that the base of the ponytail is positioned in the middle of the back of the head. Fasten the ponytail with a Blax or pony elastic the same color as your hair.


Unclip the two braids. Pull the ends of the two braids together pin them under the base of the ponytail to help camouflage the bobby pins.

Style any bangs if desired.


Spray with hairspray and add a slight dab of shine serum. Smooth any loose strands with a dab of gel or with a spritz of hairspray.

(Hairsprays to try: Paves Professional - FLAWless Convertible-Proof Firm Hold Repairing Hair Spray for Dry Damaged Hair - 10 fl oz).

(Shine products to try: Paves Professional - FLAWless In The Spotlight Greaseless Essential Oil Shine Serum For Dry Damaged Hair).

Of course I should mention that many cosmo students do everything imaginable to their hair while in school so having their hair temporarily botched by a core student is not as big a tragedy as chopping up a visiting hair client.

Hairstyle Design - Key Elements

Along with scissor drills, mannequin cutting and fellow student cutting cosmo students have theory classes where we are taught the key elements of great hair design. In the world of hairdressing everything starts with the cut. A great cut is the basis for a fabulous hairstyle and a happy customer. Naturally a less then great cut can result in a less than stellar hairstyle and the potential of an unhappy customer.

Although each cosmetology school may teach different hair design techniques, I have attended two completely different styles of cosmo colleges. Both focused on the following key elements of proper hair designs:

1. Outline Of Hairstyle - The outline of the overall hairstyle is the first key element and it consists of the basic form of the hairstyle. The outline of the hairstyle encompasses all angles. The form of the hairstyle design takes into consideration a number of factors such as the overall head, face and body shape, the length and width of the neck, the line of the shoulders and in some cases the chin. The form of the hairstyle changes as it is viewed from front, back and side views. From a practical viewpoint the outline of the hairstyle should flow well and be a simple, pleasing and a clean design.

The ultimate outline of the hairstyle is what the hair client will see first.

2. Line of Hairstyle - Each hairstyle is composed of a series of different lines that include:

a. Horizontal or parallel lines. These lines extend in the same direction. They maintain a constant distance from each other. For example, the lines of a hairstyle are equally distant from the floor or the ceiling. Horizontal lines frame the width of the ultimate hairstyle. They extend from the front of the face to the back of the head.

b. Vertical lines run straight up and down. Visualize these lines running from the bottom edge of the hairstyle up to the top of the head.

c. Diagonal lines call between the horizontal and vertical hair lines. They are deployed to maximize certain facial features. They are also used to add an edge to hair designs. A common diagonal line is used on bob hairstyles.

d. Curved lines helped to soften a design. They can be large or small, full circle or parts of a circle. Curved lines can be placed horizontally, vertically or diagonally. Curved lines repeating in opposite directions create a wave pattern.

3. Color

Many people would be surprised to learn that color plays a key part in overall hair style design from a number of angles. Properly applied color complements a well designed outline and can maximize

Although I learned massive amounts of information about cosmetology, I never felt that I had walked the cosmetology walk. I finally started attending night school at a very well known (and very difficult) cosmetology school in Dallas. The culture shock was overwhelming.

Even though I knew enough about hair to win an updo contest the first week of school, I was stunned by the stamina required to stand on your feet for hours every day constantly using fingers, hands, shoulders, and elbows to shampoo, rinse, blow dry, brush and iron endless heads of hair.

I recently received a hair license allowing me to do specialized hair work in Texas with a specialty in braiding, updos, long hair care and of course hair extensions. I actually attended a second well-known cosmetology college which was originally a CJ Walker school in Oak Cliff.

I feel that I am just starting my journey into the world of cosmetology. I am continuing my cosmetology courses and eventually plan to specialize in color and cut. I am also working as a part time apprentice for a seasoned colorist.

While I was passionate about learning to create updos, apply hair extensions and create a multitude of braids, I was not wild about cutting hair. Since I have always had a hard time cutting a straight line, I could not imagine how I could avoid butchering an innocent customer visiting the school for a bob, shag or other popular hairstyle.

Hair Style Design

Which brings me to the secrets of hair design that I learned at both of the cosmetology colleges I attended. One college was focused on natural hair care for women and men of color and the other college dealt more with Caucasian hair issues. I found that the principles of hairstyling design are basically the same regardless of the type of hair.

Hairstyle design is truly an artistic exercise. Which may explain why some hairdressers are famous for their designs while other hairdressers may not be as celebrated for their hairstyle designs.

Hairstyle design is as much an artistic talent as it is learning technical techniques. Hairstyle design also requires practice, practice, practice.

If you visit my home, my office or see me in my car you will almost always find me with a series of mannequins with a variety of hair lengths, colors and textures. At first it freaked out my family and friends when they would walk into my office to find my latest mannequin mounted on my tripods in various stage of braiding, updos or cuts.

Hair Design Inspirations

Hairstyle design requires a very strong visual orientation. When I interview famous hairdressers such as Ken Paves, Robert Hallowell and Laurent D I always ask what inspires their hair styles. It is interesting what inspires great hair style designers. Some well-known forms of hair design inspiration includes:

  • Hairstyles from the past. Ken Paves and Robert Hallowell both do a tremendous amount of research into past fashion and beauty trends for modern day inspiration. Ken loves to design stunning hairstyles for his celebrity girls based on past movie star goddesses like Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow while Robert is inspired by shapes and colors.
  • Furniture, buildings and architecture provide other forms of hair style inspiration. Kate Hudson's celebrity hairdresser told me in an interview that he is often inspired by a wide range of random objects including security cages at the airport.
  • Flowers, trees and many elements of nature such as wild animals inspire other hair designers. Have you ever wondered why some hairstyles end in feathered ends much like some exotic birds? Why are some hairstyles described as poodle cuts or shaggy mops?
  • Food is another form of inspiration for hairstylists who seek to reinvent the form, color and texture of a variety of food items into fabulous hair designs. I personally designed an updo inspired by a pineapple I bought at Whole Foods Market.
  • Waterfall, rivers, streams and ocean waves provide other great hairstyle inspirations. Cascading curl infused hair designs might have sprung from the hairdresser's fond memories of a trip to the local waterfall.
  • Fashion magazines are great sources of hair design inspiration since hair follows fashion in its evolution.

Of course there are more common hairstyle inspirations such as what the current celebrities are wearing or designs from rock stars, TV news reporters or even what hair salon clients suggest.

Original Hairstyle Designs Versus Formula Hairstyles

While the great hair style designers such as those who are in high demand for runways and red carpets work hard to tap into constant new inspirations for fabulous new hairstyle creations, the majority of hairdressers follow formula hairstyle creation. This means that they have a technical workbook that carefully outlines the most common cuts and they stick to those cuts for the majority of their work.

Is a hairdresser who designs hairstyles based on technical formulas versus inspiration received while on a trip on Safari a hairdresser of less worth? No, not at all. Both types of hairdressers serve a major need for hair consumers.

Just as Ken Paves has a lot of opportunity to design award winning new hairstyles for the covers of major fashion magazines, he also needs to be able to cut a precision bob.

It is however important to understand the difference between a hairdresser who does very creative hair style design versus a hairdresser who cuts according to formula. You most likely will find a hairdresser who cuts in the precision model at fast cutting locations where all the hairdressers do is quick and basic haircuts. You will also most likely find the most inspired hair designers at full service salons, working on models on runways or celebrities on Red Carpets.

Depending on your own personal hair style design needs and budget you may do great with a formula haircutter. If you want a basic bob or shag, it would be overkill to seek out a high end hairstyle designer. A formula hair designer generally charges much less than a high design hairdresser.

Also, many high end hair designers want to have free reign to create a hair work of art. They do not want to be told to only trim 1/2" from the sides and make the fringe choppy. They want to treat your hair like a canvas and design as their inspiration flows. If you are a free spirit wiling to turn the outcome of your hair to a high end hairstyle designer you will have quite a unique hair design experience.

On the other hand, if you are a more into controlling the outcome of your hairstyle, go for a technical hair designer, take a photo of the style you want and be assured that you will have more say in the final design.


Hair style design performed by licensed hairdressers is a true artistic talent which requires a very strong visual orientation. While some hairdressers are inspired by a wide range of items ranging from Mother Nature to food and furniture, other hairdressers work from a technical formula foundation which means that they cut and design hairstyles according to a proven hairstyle formula. The high end hairstyle designers are truly artists who generally charge a lot more then the formula hair designers.

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

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