Beautiful Braided Hairstyles That Look Complicated—But Are Actually Super Easy!

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Written by Sophie Mara

Updated: June 1, 2024

Braided In Content
image via @missysueblog

Fishtail, Dutch, French, three-strand, the list goes on and on! There are countless braiding techniques out there and even more ways to incorporate them into your favorite hairstyles.

The question is, once you’ve decided which ones you like the best, how do you create each look? We have your back.

Not only do we have a swoon-worthy list of beautiful braided hairstyles destined to steal your attention, but we’ve also put together simple step-by-step instructions on how to nail each of the pictured styles for yourself! 

French Braided Ponytail

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image via @missysueblog

This pretty braided side section is the perfect way to elevate your beloved everyday ponytail. The best part? It only takes a few minutes to create this look. 

Start by taking a section of hair from your preferred side. Make sure this section starts from the front and works its way to the back of your head. You can use your fingers or a tail comb to make things nice and even, whichever works best for you.

Once you have your section, secure the rest of the hair away from your face ready for the ponytail later. Oh, and if you have bangs and want those showing at the front as pictured, separate those too before you begin.

Now, brush out the hair you’re working with for the braid. This way it will be tangle-free and much easier to style.

Next, take a small amount of hair from the front of the section and part it into three equally sized pieces. Wrap one side piece at a time over the middle piece adding a little more hair each time you do. This is what creates the French braid look rather than a simple three-strand braid. 

Pro tip: rather than braiding the hair downwards (which can cause unwanted lumps and bumps when you eventually pull it back into the ponytail) braid it on a diagonal working toward the back of your head. It’ll look much smoother and will secure easily into the ponytail once you reach the end.

Speaking of which, only braid the hair as far back as you need to secure it into a hair tie with the rest of your locks. Tie all of the hair up together and you’re all set. 

For a more polished look, take a small section of hair, 1-2 cm wide, and wrap it around your hair band to conceal it. Use a bobby pin to hold the hair in place and secure the ends away.

Dutch Braided Headband 

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image via @nia_hairstyles_

We love a hairstyle that looks like it took hours to complete—when really it takes about ten minutes! The Dutch headband is one such style and if you’ve always thought it looked too complicated to try, you’re about to be pleasantly surprised. 

Start by putting your hair at the front into a deep side part. Then, section off the hair you want to braid. If you’re unsure how much hair to include, the section of hair in front of your ear is usually a good amount to work with.

Start at your parting and use your fingertips or a tail comb to get a neat part. Pin up or tie the rest of your hair away until you’re ready to let it loose at the end. 

As for the braid, it works similarly to the French braid technique above, but with one small change. Take a small piece of hair from the section you’re working with, starting near that deep parting you made, and divide it into three.

This time, instead of passing the hair over the top of the middle piece, you want to pass it under. Add a small section of hair each time you make a pass and work your way back toward the ear.

Once all of the hair is in the braid, use either a clear elastic or a few bobby pins to hold it in place behind the ear. Let the rest of your hair down to conceal the fastening.

Then, for the pièce de résistance, ensure the braid is secure and gently pull on each of the loops. This will create that chic, lived-in look with plenty of width and volume.

Twisted Side ‘Braid’

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image via @twistmepretty

If your braiding skills are severely lacking, don’t worry, you’re not alone. It definitely takes time to master the art and if you’re not quite there yet then this is the style for you! It looks like a braid and feels like a braid but is actually just a series of simple twists. So grab a few clear hair elastics and let’s get to work!

Start by sectioning out the part of your hair you want to ‘braid’. Then take the top section and tie it up where you want the style to start. Once the band is in place, slide it down a couple of centimeters.

Then, use your finger to create a small gap in the hair above the band. Twist the hair and push the ‘ponytail’ part through the hole and you have your first twist.

Next, take a similarly-sized section below it and do the same but remember to include the section you just styled. Make an opening above the band, twist the hair through, and repeat the process until you reach the end! 

Fishtail Braid

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image via @hairbyjaxx

Another braided style that looks incredibly intricate and tricky to learn but isn’t? A fishtail braid. Yes, if like us you thought for years this beautiful yet fiddly-looking style was only for professionals prepare to be shocked. This might be the simplest hairstyle on our list! 

Wear yours up in a high single braid, low in a romantic side braid, or even as a set of two. It’ll look perfect and polished every time, so how to start? Let’s imagine we’re styling a single fishtail braid while we learn the technique.

Begin by separating your hair into two equally sized sections, section one and section two. Now, take a very small section of hair from the outside of section one, and pass it to the inside of section two.

Take a tiny section of hair from the outside of section two, and pass it to the inside of section one. Remember, fishtail braids are all about intricacy so make sure the pieces you’re passing over stay between 0.5 – 1 cm thick.

Once you have this very simple passing technique down, you’re ready to complete your braid. Simply repeat this process over and over until you have a complete braid.

It may take a while since each piece you pass is so small but the braiding itself couldn’t be easier. Plus, it’s so fun to watch it slowly but surely come together!

Simple Low Three-Strand Braid

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image via @emijayinc

This simple three-brand braid is the ultimate ‘I have to be out the door in five minutes’ style. It takes mere moments to complete yet will leave your hair looking polished and put together from day to night. Not to mention it keeps your locks stylishly away from your face for everything from work days to gym sessions.  

Decide on your parting, side, or center, then brush all the hair back into a low ponytail. Secure it in place with a hair band and make sure your ponytail is tangle-free.

Divide your pony into three equal sections, taking it in turns to pass the left piece over the centre, and then the right. Braid the hair to the bottom or stop halfway depending on the desired look. Secure your braid with a clear elastic for a simple finish, or dress it up with a cute printed scrunchie or colorful ribbon.

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