Whether you're learning how to French braid your own hair or someone else's, our easy step-by-step hair braiding tutorial shows how to master the perfect braided hairstyle in no time.

By Real Simple Editors
Updated August 14, 2019
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A French braid may appear complicated–especially if you're attempting hairstyles like a side French braid or a French braid bun–but this video shows the look is nearly effortless to pull off and makes a great quick fix for a bad hair day. Follow these simple steps for easy braiding, and soon enough you'll be the one teaching others how to French braid.

What You Need

  • hair band, brush

Follow These Steps

  1. Brush Hair
    Before braiding, brush hair to smooth out any knots or tangles.
  2. Gather Hair at Top of Head and Divide Into Three Sections
    Starting at the hairline, gather enough hair from top of head to start a regular braid. Divide hair into three equal sections. Hold right section in right hand, left section in left hand, and middle section between thumb and another finger of either hand.
  3. Cross the Sections
    To begin braid, cross right section over middle section, then repeat this move with left section, smoothing hair down as you go. Pull sections fairly tight; you don’t want the braid to be loose and come undone.
  4. Add Hair to the Section
    Before repeating your cross-over motion with the right section, gather a little bit of additional hair from the head’s right side and add it to this section; now cross this larger portion of hair over the middle section of the braid.
    Tip: Make sure that the sections of hair you’re adding are roughly equal or the braid will look lopsided.
  5. Add Hair to the Section on the Other Side
    Gather a small section (of equal size to the one you just gathered) of the remaining hair on the left side of your head up and into the left section, and cross that over the middle section.
    Tip: Slightly dirty hair has less “slip,” making it easier to braid.
  6. Repeat Adding Hair and Crossing Sections
    Repeat steps 4 and 5, adding hair until you’ve gathered in all additional hair strands. Finish at the bottom with a regular braid.
  7. Secure the Braid at the End With a Band
    Once you reach the bottom of the braid, secure the end with a hair band, wrapping it tightly around the hair. To make the braid appear fuller, gently pull out the hair strands for added volume. After you've mastered the French braid, try out these three easy braided updo hairstyles.