The Ultimate Guide to Different Types of Braids

By Esmirna Terneus

As a proud Dominican hair braider born and raised in Santo Domingo, braiding hair is in my blood. I learned at a young age from my mother and grandmother, who imparted their passion and generations of braiding knowledge. Now living in the colorful city of Miami, I’m thrilled to share my expertise with people from all walks of life. Knowing the intricacies of different braid styles can elevate your look and help express your personal flair. This comprehensive guide dives into braiding techniques perfected over decades by Dominican women. I’ll take you on a journey through basic braids, advanced techniques, specialized styles, unique creations, care tips, and expert tricks. Let’s get started!

Chapter 1: Basic Braids

1.1 Basic 3-Strand Braid

The classic 3-strand braid is the foundation of all braided hairstyles. As a child in the Dominican Republic, I practiced this technique on my dolls’ hair before braiding my own. Start by dividing hair into three equal sections. Take the right strand over the middle, then the left over the new middle. Keep alternating sides, right over middle then left over middle. Make sure to keep the strands tight as you braid down. My tip is to hold the top taut in one hand while braiding with the other. Finish with a hair tie and style as desired. This versatile braid works for all hair types and occasions.

1.2 Fishtail Braid

Similar to a basic braid, the fishtail creates a beautiful, intricate look. Separate hair into two even sections first. Take a small piece from the outside of one section and bring it over to the other section. Repeat on alternating sides. Imagine your hair streaming behind you like a mermaid’s fin as you “fishtail” the strands. Avoid pulling too tight or the braid may get messy. For a fun weekend style, add beads or shells inspired by my Caribbean roots.

1.3 Lace Braid

Lace braids intertwine strands in and out of the braid to form a delicate, ornamental look. Divide hair into three pieces first. Braid the middle and right strands normally while gently pulling in a bit of hair to the left piece as you braid. Repeat on each side to create a lacy effect. I love using lace braids to crown a loose updo for a wedding or event. They add beautiful detail and are easier than they look.

Chapter 2: Advanced Braids

2.1 French Braid

For a polished style, the French braid is a must-know. Starting at the crown, divide hair into three sections. Cross the right strand over middle, then cross a small piece of new hair in from the right into the new middle strand. Cross left strand over middle, including additional hair from the left. Keep braiding down, gradually picking up more hair to create that classic French braid shape. Make sure to keep strands tight. I secure ends with a glossy ribbon for style.

2.2 Dutch Braid

For a braid with a twist, try the inside-out Dutch braid. Like a French braid, start with three strands at the crown. But instead of crossing strands over the middle, cross the right strand under the middle to the left. Cross the left strand under to the right. Keep braiding, alternating crossing under while picking up hair. This inverted style stands out for its unique texture and dimension.

2.3 Waterfall Braid

One of my favorite braided styles is the dazzling waterfall braid. Start by gathering hair to one side in a ponytail. Separate into two sections and begin a regular 3-strand braid. Once you have a good base braid, gently pull small strands out of the braid and let them cascade down like a waterfall. So romantic for a date night! Add leaves or flowers for an enchanted woodland vibe.

Chapter 3: Specialized Braids

3.1 Box Braids

In the Dominican Republic, box braids are a rite of passage and a bonding experience between mothers and daughters. Small sectioned box braids take hours upon hours but express our heritage and identity. Part hair precisely into squares then start braiding using the underhand method, adding in extensions as needed. Take your time – rushing can damage hair. Maintain box braids by gently washing weekly, moisturizing with natural oils, and avoiding too much tension. Decorated box braids are the perfect protective style for strong strands.

3.2 Cornrows

Intricately patterned cornrows reflect creativity passed down through generations of Dominican women. Part hair cleanly into rows then braid down close to the scalp using the underhand motion. Keep rows tight and uniform. Curve braids into beautiful waves, geometric designs, and artful shapes. Cornrows take patience but can last for weeks with proper care. Avoid pulling too tight on edges and moisturize hair daily. Add beads or cowrie shells to accentuate your heritage through styling.

3.3 Milkmaid Braids

These sweet braided pigtails evoke the innocence of milkmaids from a bygone era. Create two Dutch braids starting at the crown and braiding back diagonally. Tie ends with ribbon to finish the milkmaid look. For a romantic date night, leave face-framing strands loose. For a festival-ready style, braid colorful threads into the plaits. This playful look brings out my inner child and reminds me of school braids from childhood.

Chapter 4: Unique Braids

4.1 Rope Braid (Twist Braid)

Sometimes called twist braids, rope braids put an inventive spin on traditional techniques. Divide hair into two equal sections, then twist each strand tightly like rope before braiding together. The spiral shape adds funky texture and dimension to any braided style. I love incorporating rope braids into upward ‘dos or aa Afro-centric crown braid. They look intricate but use a simple twisting motion.

4.2 Pull-Through Braid

This creative braid style is one of my Miami clients’ favorites for making a statement. Start a basic 3-strand braid then gently tug the middle strand to create a hole. Pull a new strand through the hole and continue braiding down. Repeat pulling through new pieces to get that cool woven effect. It looks complicated but just takes practice. I like to accessorize with gold cuffs for nightlife glam.

4.3 5-Strand Braid

For advanced braiders, try your hand at the intricate 5-strand braid. Separate hair into five even sections first. Braid by crossing two outer strands over middle strand, alternating sides. It creates beautiful dimension, almost like a thick rope braid. But be warned – this one requires concentration as extra strands can easily slip out. I use the 5-strand technique for fantasy cosplay styles and eccentric cultural events here in Miami.

Chapter 5: Expert Tips and Tricks

5.1 Braid Care and Maintenance

Growing up in the Dominican Republic, we learn early on how to maintain braided hair healthy and strong. Always braid gently to avoid breakage at the roots, especially with intricate styles. I recommend using leave-in conditioner and moisturizing butters daily to hydrate braided hair. Wrap hair at night and avoid too-tight elastics. Take down old braids carefully, detangling washed hair with plenty of conditioner. Proper care will keep your braids beautiful and scalp comfortable.

5.2 Braid Accessories

The right accessories can make braided hairstyles pop. I love infusing my culture into looks with carved beads and natural cowrie shells straight from Dominican markets. For special events, gold brooches or crystals dress up braids elegantly. Fabric ribbons and hair ties in vibrant patterns reflect Miami’s colorful culture. When braiding kids’ hair, decorative elastics and faux flowers bring whimsy and fun. And nothing beats a fresh flower tucked behind the ear for island flair. Accessorize thoughtfully to accentuate your personality.

Chapter 6: Frequently Asked Questions

How long do braids last? Generally 2-4 weeks for box braids, 2-3 weeks for individuals. Keep braids fresh by moisturizing daily.

How can I avoid frizz? Use anti-frizz serum or edge control gel while braiding. Tie down edges nightly and moisturize to minimize frizz.

Any tips for braiding natural hair? Work in small sections, detangle thoroughly with conditioner or leave-in. Avoid pulling too tight.

What’s your favorite protective braided style? I love knotless box braids with curled ends! They allow length to grow while looking beautifully styled.

How do you start braiding tighter to the scalp? It takes practice! Start braiding close to roots and maintain tension as you braid down. Using the underhand braiding method also helps.


With this comprehensive guide, you now have an array of gorgeous braided styles to experiment with. From basic techniques to intricate creations, braids let you express your personal flair. Passed down from generation to generation, these time-honored styles reflect culture and craftsmanship. I hope I’ve inspired you to embrace braiding’s beauty and versatility. Remember, the key is taking your time and practicing proper technique. Let your hair tell a story as unique as you are. From my Caribbean roots to my hair braiding salon in Miami, I’m thrilled to share the art of braiding with you all. Now get creative and have fun with your hairstyling!

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