A Beginner’s Guide to Solo French Braiding
I used to view French braids as highly complicated things. Throughout my childhood, only other people braided my hair, and I assumed that French braids would be too complicated for me to attempt independently.
Obviously, I thought wrong. French braiding your own hair is very, very easy! With just a little bit of practice, you can find yourself French braiding your hair without giving it so much as a second thought.
As odd as this may sound, the biggest barrier getting between most gals and an ability to French braid their own hair is a lack of flexibility. The act of French braiding requires one to raise one's elbows in an unusual position, which, to the inflexible, may be quite uncomfortable.
Any initial discomfort can be easily remedied with a bit of stretching. Loosen up your shoulders and back muscles by bringing one elbow at a time up and behind your head and lightly pushing it until you feel a mild stretch. Doing this semi-regularly will make the French braiding position perfectly comfortable.
What made French braiding finally click for me was the realization that one need simply transfer the braid-in-progress from one hand to the other as one works one's way down. Once you get the knack of doing this, you've got French braiding down.
Do you French braid your own hair?
How to Solo French Braid Your Hair
This is easy. You can TOTALLY do this. All you have to do is...
- Brush out your hair.
- Using your thumbs, draw the hair from your temples to the back of your crown into a small, top ponytail.
- Divide that ponytail into three pieces.
- Take one outside plait and move it to the center.
- Take the other outside plait, move it to the center, and finish the action by securing each plait in between your fingers of the hand on that side of your head.
- Now you have one free hand. Use that hand to draw hair from the top of your ear into the nearest outside plait, then flip that plait to the center of the braid while transferring the three plaits into that hand.
- With your other, now free hand, repeat the previous step with the other side of your head.
- For the next round of hair gathering, draw hair from just above the nape of your neck, and repeat the two previous steps.
- Finally, gather the hair at the very nape of your neck into one final plait and finish the braid.
That's it! If you want a tighter, finer French braid, just draw smaller sections of hair into each plait.
A Note on Music
The music in my hair braiding video (The Four Seasons - Winter by Vivaldi, performed by the US Air Force Band) is in the Public Domain. I got it from an awesome site called Musopen.
Practice Makes Perfect!
If you have never French braided your own hair before, keep in mind that it is going to look crappy the first couple of times.
What I recommend is practicing on your hair just before bed or when you wake up each morning. This seems to be a low stakes time to mess up hair, plus it gives you a moment to pause and concentrate on something very simple and straightforward (as opposed to the thousand and one details that are presently driving you to distraction), which can be very refreshing indeed.