Bubble Braids: The Surprisingly Easy Hairstyle Taking Over Instagram

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Written by Taylor Augustin

Updated: May 11, 2024

When we find ourselves in a bit of a hair rut, our intrusive thoughts make us want to chop it all off or dye it a crazy color. But chances are that’s a decision we’ll later come to regret, so why not go for a fun and unique style, instead?

If you’re not familiar with bubble braids, we’re seriously about to rock your world. With tons of braid styles out there, we particularly love bubble braids for a youthful, textured, voluminous look, and think you will, too!

Interested in finding out about all things bubble braids? We spoke with Priscilla Valles, celebrity extensionist and hairstylist, and she spilled everything there is to know about bubble braids, below!

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Meet The Expert

Priscilla Valles is a celebrity extensionis and hairstylist who has worked with Kim and Khloé Kardashian, Kylie and Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Megan Fox, Dua Lipa, and Olivia Rodrigo.

All About Bubble Braids

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image via @roralovestrand

Similar to a true braid, a bubble braid has a similar silhouette, however, instead of looping the pieces of hair and twisting them together, you create more of a bubble shape.

“A bubble braid is a ponytail with intentionally pulled-at sections that create a shape resembling bubbles all the way down,” says Valles. “Unlike typical braids and ponytails where we stick to one or two maximum, bubble braids can take on many forms and sizes, using as many section(s) of hair you’d like to put in the updo.”

How Do You Know If You Should Get Bubble Braids?

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image via @thegoodhairday

Not sure if you should take the plunge and try out bubble braids? Since it’s a temporary style, you can continue to try it out and see if you like it. No shame if you end up not liking how it looks (though we’re willing to bet you’ll love it). 

While those with thicker or fuller hair will particularly love the way bubble braids look, we do want to point out that our fine-haired ladies might not be able to get the bubble effect, and if you fall into this category, you might need to teeze each section to get the effect of fuller hair.

Valles adds, “The great thing about bubble braids is that they require little effort for such a finished look, so they’re worth trying as long as you have enough hair to create a few bubbles. Extensions are a great way to achieve this look if your hair is too short for ponytails or you’d like to create a more dramatic bubble braid. But they look great on all hair types and faces!”

When Is a Good Time to Wear Bubble Braids?

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image via @emiliegharbi

You can truly rock bubble braids anytime, anywhere. Depending on how you style your outfit and makeup with your hair, it can be dressed up, down, or anywhere in between.

Valles agrees, sharing, “Bubble braids can be dressed up or down and look amazing anywhere you’d like to keep your hair out of your face, from the gym to a night out. This style can easily elevate a festival or concert outfit and is such a fun way to keep your hair up on a beach day in the summer heat.”

“Keeping the style to a single braid down the back with clear hair ties can elevate it, while opting for colored hair ties and splitting the look into anywhere from 2 to 4 sections makes it more casual. They can also be the cherry on top for a more nostalgic look, especially if you’re looking to emulate a ‘90s or Y2K aesthetic.”

How to Style Bubble Braids

When it comes to styling bubble braids, it’s actually super user-friendly and easy to accomplish in under 10 minutes.

Valles shares all of her general tips and tricks, stating, “If doing multiple bubble braids, start by sectioning your hair, followed by brushing and smoothing a neat ponytail as high or low as you want it. The best way to secure it is with a thick, small polyband.”

“Then move two inches down the pony and wrap another elastic band around, continuing this as far down as you would like. Depending on your hair texture, you can then use your fingers to pull hair out to achieve a more rounded appearance to the section.”

Now that you know how to generally style bubble braids, you might be left wondering if your hair type and texture play into it. And it does! Below, find your hair type for further tips.

Curly/Coily Hair

If you have curly or coily hair, Valles shares the following advice for achieving bubble braids: “It’s important to avoid making bubble braids too tight when creating them with curly/coily hair to avoid messing up the curl shape or getting hair tangled. Always start with a moisturizing product to smooth curls and prevent frizz or flyaways.”

“Once you have the initial ponytail made, you can add your favorite curl-defining products. As you go down the pony from scalp to end, gently tie your elastics around each section and avoid tugging once in place.”

Straight Hair

For those with straight hair, you’re going to want to give yourself some extra texture so it doesn’t fall flat. “When creating bubble braids with straight hair, I recommend starting with a blow dry and flat iron to ensure no flyaways,” Valles tells Timeless Hairstyles.

“As you secure bubbles down the braid, you can ‘tease’ out each piece by gently pulling the section outwards to give it a more rounded shape. Finish off with a hairspray or finishing spray, depending on your desired amount of hold.”

Natural/Wavy Hair

Wavy or natural hair works amazing with the bubble braid style, and you honestly don’t need to do anything too crazy!

“If you have naturally wavy hair, dry your hair as you usually would and then brush everything out for optimal smoothness,” says Valles. “You can then use a finishing spray to allow for some hold without adding too much stiffness to your natural wave pattern.”

3 Bubble Braid Hairstyles to Try Out

Face-Framing Micro Bubble Braids

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image via @laurapolko

Step out of your comfort zone and try out these face-framing micro bubble braids, as seen on Gigi Hadid! 

“Gigi’s bubble braids focus on two small sections at the front with a middle part to create a more Y2K vibe, a great look for those who don’t want to put their hair up fully,” shares Valles. “This style can also work great for those with longer curtain bangs or face-framing layers.”

Bubble Meets French Braid

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image via @roralovestrand

If you consider yourself to be a pro at hair or have a friend who can help you out, we suggest trying out this bubble meets French braid style.

“This bubble braid works great for those who do not have any layers, as you can start the bubbles higher up to create an illusion of additional length,” Valles tells us. “These bubbles are also made bigger by spacing the bubbles out further and tugging just enough to round each piece out.”

Bubble Braid Pigtails

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image via @oliviarodrigo

Another fun bubble braid style to try out is one that features pigtails, like this darling ‘do worn by Olivia Rodrigo.

“Olivia’s look here has multicolored hair ties swapped for clear ones as a fun way to change up the style,” shares Vallles. “For her four ponytails, her hair is sectioned off into equal quadrants and has a tightened base after each ponytail is secured to give that extra lift for a more defined, ’90s-inspired shape.”

Our Favorite Products to Use for Bubble Braids

OSiS+ Curl Jam Moisturizing Defining Curl Hair Gel ($26)

If you have curly or coily hair, this gel from OSIS+ will be your best bet. The product will help to define curls while taking away frizz, which is perfect when constructing the perfect bubble braid.

Goody Ouchless Polybands ($4.89)

The best rubberbands on the market are these ones from Goody, which you can get at pretty much any drugstore! Valles agrees, telling us, “The key to creating the bubble is the type of hair elastic used, so always opt for polybands when creating this style. I’d recommend the Goody Ouchless Polybands, as they come in clear and multicolor.”

Kevin Murphy’s Doo Over ($38)

“The small elastics do most of the work to maintain the shape of the bubble braids, so when it comes to product, you’ll want to focus on preventing frizz or flyaways,” shares Valles. “Finishing spray is an excellent option for those who don’t like the stiffness of traditional hairspray and creates a natural smoothness. I’d recommend Kevin Murphy’s Doo Over, as it creates light hold while also adding volume.”

R+Co’s Outer Space Flexible Hair Spray ($37)

To lock in your bubble braid hairstyle, Valles suggests this one from R+Co, telling us, “If you’re looking for something with a stronger hold that still allows flexibility, I’d recommend R+Co’s Outer Space Flexible Hair Spray.”

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