It’s a braid off!

Hairstylists Samantha Hillerby and Joshua Goldsworthy answer the challenge to deliver the perfect plait

Braids. Ooooh we just can’t get enough – from boxer to Dutch and everything in between, plaits are the ever-popular look that lasts (IRL and on Instagram, too). So when our sister magazine, Creative HEAD, celebrated the world of the backstage hair stylist with its The Coterie: In Session event, we knew we’d see something that would come to our braid aid. On the night two hair stylists, Samantha Hillerby and Joshua Goldsworthy (who work tonnes on fashion shoots and shows), shared their top tips and gorgeous looks in front of salon hairdressers from across the UK. Host Jessica Diner, content director for Birchbox and former health & beauty editor for British Vogue, pitted the two stylists against each other in a quest for the perfect plait. Want to see what they came up with… and how you can get the looks yourself? Et voila! Which is your winner? 

The Balmain ponytail with scalp braids
by Samantha Hillerby

Prep first!
Layer mousse through hair in sections then dry in using a paddle brush. Easy!


Section hair at the middle of the head, so it’s wide enough to fit three to four scalp braids.  Keep the hair on either side of this section out of your way by tying with elastic. Start braiding, using the inside out technique (watch our video here), from the front hairline down to the nape of the neck, and secure with a small elastic.


Repeat three times in close rows.


Using a soft brush, smooth hair back over the head on either side of the braids, then secure tie all the hair in a ponytail at the nape of the neck, tying with elastic. For extra drama (and length!), fix a ponytail hair piece and spray hair all over with a gentle hold hairspray and a touch of shine spray.

Finished look


Festival-ready fishtail braids
by Joshua Goldsworthy


Split hair down the centre using fingers (rather than a comb) to produce a less polished parting, and leaving two even sections. Hold one section of hair loosely at the nape of the neck, and start the fishtail braid from this point (watch our fishtail video here) – maintaining slight tension but not so much that it becomes too tight (small is not as beautiful for this look!). Repeat on the other side.


Leave the ends of the hair loose and tie with elastic. Using one of your palms, rub hair up upwards to release shorter layers around the front of the face and to create texture through the top of the hair. Warning: don’t rub too hard – you want pretty flyaways, not static!


Taking the braids at the ends, double the hair back on itself and twist the ends around and behind the base of the braid to hide them.


With each respective braid looped around and with the ends hidden behind the braid roots, use a thick white (or a colour of your choice) elastic to secure into place. You should now have what resembles two loose, fishtail buns fixed at the nape of the neck. Spray with dry shampoo to soften the shine and to add texture. Pull out loose sections and finish with a setting spray.