Know a ‘French’ from a ‘fishtail’? Are you au fait with pancaking?
Here are some helpful pointers from Instagram’s king of braids @hairbyjoel
that will help you untangle plaiting terminology
In the red corner… A pair or handful of braids that start at the front hairline, lay tight to the scalp and run in straight lines towards the back of the head
See our Step by Step guide to Boxer braids here
Super-simple and fun, with volumised ‘bubbles’ of hair pinched between hair bands. Created using multiple elastics along the length of the hair, sections can either be left unplaited or bands can used to break up segments featuring different types of braid
Dual texture braid
Mix things up. Where one plaiting technique merges into another (e.g. French into fishtail), or more strands are introduced partway through a braid
Let’s go Dutch. A three-strand technique where the braid sits on top of the hair. Created by adding loose pieces to the outside strands as they are brought under the middle strand
Mermaid hair time. It gets its name from the texture of the finished plait, which looks like the lines on a fish’s fin. Most effective when a mixture of big and small strands are used looped into the centre and over one another as you work down the hair (Pictured: A Dutch fishtail, where strands are passed under one another so the braid sits on top of the hair)
Four strand braid
Ever made a friendship bracelet? This is the same technique! Simply split the hair into four sections, bring the outside strands over and in to the centre from the left and right, then repeat
For a neat, ‘tucked in’ style with a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi.’ Created using the same technique as a standard three strand plait, but with smaller starting sections and hair left hanging down loose that is added as you go along
An elegant and angelic way to put your hair up. Hair is braided horizontally around the hairline or crown, with strands added along the way (as with a French, Dutch, or fishtail braid) to fix it to the head
See our Step by Step guide to Halo braid here
Upside down and downside up. Instead of beginning at the front of the head, an inverted braid begins at the nape of the neck (using a French braid technique) and progresses towards the crown. You just flip your head and hair forward, and get cracking!
No maple syrup required. This is the name of a technique that helps plump up plaits, making them look fuller and bigger. Gently pull or tease strands from the braid outwards, increasing the width and fluffing the texture without destroying its structure. Go big or go home!
DO get it twisted. An easy two-strand braiding technique that involves twisting sections of hair and then wrapping them around each other, working in the opposite direction. The finished result should look like nautical rope
Let’s get in formation. When laid in uniform lines, these braids are usually referred to as ‘corn rows’. Originating from afro styling and with a strong black heritage, these miniature plaits are usually divided by crisp partings and are attached tightly to the scalp using Dutch braiding techniques. They can be crafted to form shapes, used as a protective style under wigs, and often function as foundation for sewn in wefts and extensions. One on its own along a parting is also known as a ‘unicorn braid’
Braids, on braids, on braids… quite literally! Advanced braiders can create plaits that sit directly on top of one another by leaving certain strands out as they complete the first braid, before tying off and commencing a second braid using the remaining loose hair. Fancy.
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. Usually accompanied by a central parting, this plait makes a feature of the hair left out of the braid. It’s formed by adding hair to one side of a French or Dutch braid, weaving it between the other pieces to ‘lock’ it into place, and then letting it fall to hang loose once more – the tumbling, 'waterfall' pieces. A pretty detail piece, you can either work from one side of the head round to the other (as with a halo braid) or do both sides separately and meet in the middle
See our Waterfall braid video with Inanch Emir here