Despite the easy volume and natural va-va-voom drama, curly-haired girls often complain that they're left out when it comes to styling ideas. And, while stuffing curls into a bun or choke-holding them into a tight braid is a no-brainer, there are some stunning plaits that make curls more manageable (while still letting them bounce and breathe). To prove it, we enlisted the help of hair guru Bethany Brill to come up with four genius braided 'dos to play up all that beautiful texture.
"Sometimes, tight braids can make straight-haired girls look like they have no hair, but with curls, all the texture helps pump up the braid, making it look full and voluminous," says Brill. Not that Yasmin Daguilh, our model for this story, needs any convincing. "I've had my hair straightened before, but it wasn't for me. My curly hair makes me stand out," she says. If you, too, are ready to let your ringlets get all the fanfare they so rightly deserve, this tutorial will have you braiding your way to hair envy in no time.
Refinery29The Cinnamon-Roll Braid
"The wraparound braid is a commitment," says Brill. Not only does it require some advanced braiding skills, it's for those who dare to bare. "This braid really exposes the face," she says. "It's like the pixie cut of braids."
But, boldness - and manual dexterity- has its rewards. "It's a great braid if you're due for a haircut. Or, if it's raining out and your hair is frizzy, this style helps make frizz cute." You know what else is cute? That Daguilh says this swirly style reminds her of a cinnamon roll.
Starting from one ear, section your hair into three parts to begin what the plaiting pros call the reverse French braid (also known as the Dutch braid).
Think of it as doing a regular French braid, but instead of taking each new piece over the existing braid, you want to take them to the other side by going under the plait. This allows the braid to sit on top of the head, as well as stand out from your curly texture.
Continue braiding all the way down your hairline until you get to your other ear.
Continue the reverse French all the way down your hairline and around the nape of your neck.
Once you've finished braiding against your head, stop doing the reverse French and do a regular braid for the rest of your hair.
Now comes the fun part, but before you begin wrapping the braid, Brill advises to pull apart the braid a bit with your fingers. This way, when you begin to wrap the braid around your crown, it will cover up more of your head's surface.
Once you've swirled the braid to cover the crown, tuck it in and pin it with about five bobby pins. Got some flyaways? Brill suggests curling any hairs that stick out with a curling iron for a softer, more romantic look. And, that's it! If you have any baby hairs along your hairline, spritz a comb with hairspray to brush them into place.
The Unfinished Braid
Let your curls run wild with Brill's braided version of a half-up/half-down style.
This is a great way to wear your hair down, but out of your face.
All we're doing is joining two braids together, with the ends of the braid blending into the rest of your hair for an undone-done look. Ready?
Do a deep side part, then begin a French braid on one side.
Continue braiding at a downward-sloping angle around your head, grabbing sections from your hairline as you go.
When you reach the other side, begin using your French braid as one section of a new French braid, with two new sections taken from the other side of your head.
Once you reach the middle shaft of your hair, leave the ends undone and let them blend in with the rest of your curls.
For the final touch, Brill says to apply hair oil through your curls, like Kérastase Elixir Ultime. But, she warns not to touch your curls too much. "You want to keep down frizz, but with braids, you don't want to smooth it out too much," says Brill.
The Loosey-Goosey Braid
This looks crazy complex, but the secret is that this is the result of just three regular braids.
The fun thing about this look is its imperfection. Brill says curly hair has its own ideas, so it's best to work with it. "Listen to the direction of your hair, so that you're not forcing a style on it," she says. The result? Some gorgeous Little House on the Prairie action.
Part your crown into two sections, then clip them out of the way.
Begin braiding the rest of your hair, making sure to start a little ways away from the nape of your neck. You want to keep the tension loose.
Secure with an elastic.
Undo the clips and braid each section down your back.
Remember to keep it loose!
Secure the ends with an elastic.
Take the right braid and wrap it around the middle braid, tucking the ends into the braid. Brill suggests playing around with crossing, tucking, and pinning the braids until things look nice and loose. "You don't want it in an 'X,' she says, suggesting a more asymmetric or abstract arrangement.
Play around with it - try wrapping the braid more than once or sticking one braid through another. Once you're happy with the look, pin the ends into the main braid. "You want to keep this whole look loose," says Brill. "This isn't a tightly-wound braid - it's kind of a Wild West look."
See, we told you it was easy! The curly texture makes this 'do look a lot more complicated than it is. Don't worry, its simplicity will be our little secret.
The Loopy Knot
With a few knots, some loops, and a braid (or two), you've got a '40s gal with some moxie.
Begin by creating a deep side part.
Then take three large sections along the part and begin a regular braid.
Once lifting from the crown of your head, consolidate the three sections of hair into two and begin tying them into knots until you get to the ends.
Tie the ends with an elastic.
Gather all your hair into a ponytail and tie with an elastic just above the nape of your neck.
Separate the ponytail into two sections, then tie it into a knot.
Do this about three times or as many as your hair length permits.
With the leftover ends, twist them around the knots, pinning them into place.
The knots help create a less 'donut-y' look that looks less like a ballerina bun and more like a flattened chignon.