How to Create a Perfect French Braid in 5 Simple Steps

October 17, 2023
Jordan Julian
By: Jordan Julian | by L'Oréal
Photo of the back of a person's head with the hair in a French braid, collaged on a lime green graphic background

Have you ever had one of those days when you hit the snooze button a few too many times, and suddenly you’re left with 15 minutes to get ready for the day? It happens to everyone, which is why we like to have a few quick and easy hairstyles in our rotation for when we don’t have time to fire up the curling iron. For example, one timeless, simple look we love is a French braid. A French braid may seem complicated, but with a little bit of practice, you’ll be braiding like a pro — and it should only take you a few minutes. Plus, it always looks cute and impressive. With the help of Sarah Potempa, celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beachwaver Co., we’re sharing a five-step tutorial for a perfect French braid.   

Part of what makes a French braid such a good low-maintenance, lazy day hairstyle is that it doesn’t necessarily require any tools or products. However, if you want to level up your braid game, you can reach for some styling tools to make the braiding process easier and guarantee the best results. For instance, Potempa relies on The Beachwaver Co. Braid Balm when creating braided styles. “Braid Balm adds grip to the hair for extra hold while taming frizz and flyaways making it great for hair layers,” she says.

The Beachwaver Co. Braid Balm

If you struggle with dry, frizzy hair, we recommend prepping your hair with the Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine 10-in-1 Leave-In Spray before starting your French braid. This leave-in treatment nourishes and adds shine without weighing down your hair or leaving behind greasy residue. 

Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine 10-in-1 Leave-In Spray

Now that you’re prepped with the right products, it’s time to start braiding. 

A 5-Step French Braid Tutorial

Step 1: Apply Your Styling Product

Start by applying the styling product of your choice to your hair, making sure to evenly distribute it throughout. During this step, you should also remove any tangles with a brush or wide-tooth comb. 

Step 2: Section Off Your Hair

To begin your braid, start with a small section of hair at the top of your head, leaving the rest out. Using two fingers, divide this hair into three even sections.

Step 3: Start With a Normal 3-Strand Braid

“Take the section on the right and bring it over the middle,” says Potempa. “Then, take the left section and bring it over the middle just like you would for a regular three-strand braid.”  

Step 4: Add Hair From the Root

Next, you’ll gradually start adding in the hair from the root that you left out during step two. “Combine hair from the root to the right section and bring that over the middle,” Potempa explains. “Repeat the same process on the left by adding hair from the root to the left and bringing it over the middle. This is how you transition from a three-strand braid to a French braid.”

Be sure you’re bringing the strands of hair from the right and left sides over the top of the middle section, rather than underneath it, which would create a Dutch braid.

Step 5: Continue Braiding Your Hair Down to the Ends  

“Continue adding hair from the root to both the left and right sections until you’ve reached the hairline,” says Potempa. “Ensure that all the remaining hair has been added to either the left or the right and finish the look by continuing a three-strand braid down to the ends.” Finish with a mist of the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray to keep your French braid in place all day. 

L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Hairspray

Need a little extra help? Check out Potempa’s full French braid tutorial.
Photo: Florencia Schinoff, Design: Juliana Campisi

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