By Kelly Hushin
Lots of hairstyles come and go. Some fly in and out of fashion as quickly as your nail polish chips. Some endure the test of time, but not without condition. Braids are one of those finicky hairstyles that will always be on trend, but ONLY if done right. Especially in the spring they’re a great look to revive, just make sure it’s loose and effortless or elegantly chic, and steer clear of braids for black-tie events; we make few exceptions there.
Late 2011/early 2012 saw lots of braids gracing Hollywood, and according to Fashion Police’s Giuliana Rancic, braids on the red carpet “have got to go.” That doesn’t mean they’ve got to go from our everyday styles though. In fact, a braid can be an easy way to make a look appear either more elegant or more casual, depending on the execution. Here are a few of our favorite styles and how to wear them to make just the statement you aim to, not one you don’t.
The Messy “Caz” Braid
This look is best when your hair’s got a good natural wave or texture. Super thick, straight hair will fall flat when trying to go for the caz (as in casual) braid. It’s great because it’s crazy simple.
1. Spread a texturizing paste, wax or mousse through the lower ends of your strands – L’Oreal Professionnel Homme Wax is a good bet.
2. Air or blow dry your hair and comb it through with your fingers as it dries. When hair is only about 20% dry, apply some of Pureology’s Root Lift or Pantene’s Root Lifter Spray Gel to the root area for volume.
3. Separate your hair into three pieces at the nape of your neck and braid loosely toward the left or right.
4. Tie the bottom off with an elastic, then pull pieces outward throughout the braid – but not completely, just tug at them to widen the appearance of the braid and get it looking messy and worn.
5. Dig your fingers underneath hair near the sides and crown of your head, then pull outward to create a fuller look and let some of the pieces drop away from the braid.
This braid variation has been getting tons of attention – and rightfully so. While we prefer to opt for something a bit more tousled than Anthony Cole’s below look, the Sebastian stylist gives us the basics on how to achieve the look. Just remember, this spring the looser the better for braids so don’t keep it too rigid.
1. Secure hair at the nape of your neck and put into a ponytail if you like. (For a looser look, keep hair out of the ponytail, just bring it together as if you were going to secure into a pony.)
2. Use a product like Sebastian Professional Craft Clay in the palms of your hands to get a good grip on the braid while crafting as this one will take some practice.
3. Break the ponytail or the mass of hair into two equal sections.
4. Grab a piece of hair about ¼” from the bottom of one of the two sections and pull it out and across the section, then join it to the opposing section.
5. Repeat this with the other section of your hair so as to create a crisscross with tiny pieces from underneath each of the two pieces.
6. As you work your way down, you’ll see the fishtail starting to form.
7. Secure the braid with an elastic. For something more textured, run fingers up and down the braid, gently tugging at small pieces so as to loosen them.
For Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2012 show, which took place in October, Redken stylist Guido created a soft French braid that weaved across the front and back of the models’ heads in a haphazard, elegant pattern. It’s a fun take on the French braid that still leaves the whole look looking elegant but gives it a bit of looseness and fun. It’s not a super easy one, but make it as messy as you like in the back as long as you get some of the structure in the front.
1. After shampooing and conditioning hair, apply a product like Redken’s All Soft Argan-6 Multi-Care oil and blow-dry for a soft shine.
2. Take a circular section of the hair at the crown, divide into three sections and begin to French braid the hair starting in the middle.
3. Continue the braid just under the right ear going all the way counter clockwise around the hairline, pinning hair along the way to keep in place.
4. Pull out a few wisps of hair to keep the final look easy and soft.