Bubble Braids Are Back—Here's How to Create the Playful Hairstyle

Get your hair ties ready.

While we can all appreciate the aesthetic of a good fishtail or French braid, most of us don't have the time, energy, or know-how to whip up a complex twist at a moment's notice.

If you love the look of braids but consider yourself braid-challenged, let me introduce you to the foolproof bubble braid. These easy-to-achieve plaits consist of fluffed-out sections of hair divided by hair ties. Unlike other pigtails, this is an Insta-worthy hairstyle you don't need a pro to perfect. Why? The name itself is a bit of a misnomer.

"Bubble braids are essentially a modern and playful update to standard ponytails, so it's way easier to achieve than a traditional braid," says Miko Branch, hairstylist and CEO of Miss Jessie's. "This look typically consists of a high ponytail, with strategically placed elastics tied throughout, which encourages hair to puff out and appear like a bubble." Translation: If you can do a ponytail, you can do a bubble braid.

The super playful style isn't just popping up all over the 'gram—they've also been ruling this year's awards season, from Doja Cat at the Grammys to Priyanka Chopra Jonas at the BAFTAs. This style makes you look like you put way more effort into your hairstyle than you did and is an ideal hack for hiding slightly questionable, second-day (or third, no judgment) roots.

"Bubble braids are great not only because they work for most hair types, but they can also be styled in different ways," says Branch. "Some of my favorite bubble braid styles are pigtails, which can either sit at the side of or toward the back of the head, or as a single bubble braid in the back with hair pulled through over and under, which adds some fun dimension."

Another bonus? Just like with regular braids, bubble braids are a great way to achieve heatless curls the next day. However, since elastics can cause strain and tension on the hair (contributing to breakage), Branch recommends prepping hair with a leave-in conditioner first, like Miss Jessie's Leave-In Condish ($23; Amazon.com). "Once hair is damp, apply a styling gel or styling lotion to tame frizz and promote hold while the style is secured. After leaving them in for a few hours, you should be left with beautiful heatless curls."

Interested in trying this low-maintenance, high-glam hairstyle? Here's a step-by-step tutorial, courtesy of Branch.

  1. First, prepare your hair with a styling cream to set a uniform, frizz-free foundation perfect for styling. This lightweight formula helps to hold the style and makes it easier to tease out for increased volume as a last step.
  2. Place your hair into a slicked-back ponytail at your desired height, and secure with an elastic at the highest point and as close as possible to the scalp.
  3. Wrap another elastic hair tie a few inches down your ponytail. Elastic placement largely depends on the length of the hair, and keeping an equal distance between each bubble is the best way to ensure a great result.
  4. Once all elastics are placed, use your fingers to tease and pull at each section. This loosens the hair between elastics and creates multiple "bubbles," with the option of customizing your look depending on how voluminous or teased you want them. Optional: To add some dimension, pull out some wispy tendrils around your face.
  5. Finish with a lightweight hairspray to tame flyaways and create extra staying power.
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