5 Best Braids for Thin Hair, Plus How to Do Them

A variety of styles for all thinning hair types.


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If you have thinning hair, you might feel resigned to wearing your hair down forever and ever. That’s definitely not the case. You can wear many different updos and hairstyles for thinning hair. Braiding, for instance, can create a fuller look while simultaneously concealing areas of thinning. The key is to treat your hair delicately to prevent tugging and tension. 

“I recommend keeping the braid on the loser side—nothing too tight—as this can help with shedding and also make it appear more voluminous,” notes celebrity stylist Cody Renegar. “Keeping hair in a braid can also help prevent breakage caused by applying heating tools often used when styling hair.”

Deaundra Metzger, celebrity stylist, agrees, adding that hair braiding is an excellent way to preserve your hair. It prevents breakage and minimizes or eliminates the need for heat styling, both of which are important for thinning hair. “Just keep the tension as low as possible, especially around the hairline,” she advises. “And instead of heavy extensions, try lightweight braid styles to prevent traction alopecia.” 

Best Braids for Thin Hair

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Crown Braid (Milkmaid)

True to its name, a crown braid is placed at the top of the head and is an easy way to conceal a thinning or receding hairline. It can be done gently to create fullness and protect the hair follicle. All you need is a comb, two elastic bands, and about 10 minutes. 

Start with a small triangle near the hairline and split into three even sections and braid the three strands together outside into the center,” says Jay Small, celebrity stylist and co-founder of Arey. “Each time you complete one pass through the center of the two strands, grab hair from the area near your part—just a pinch. Following the hair line, continue adding more hair with each pass; the braid will become larger and you will finish at the nape or back hair line.” 

Continue braiding until you run out of hair and then secure with an elastic to seal. Repeat on the opposite side. Finally, take the loose ends and secure them with a  bobby pin to combine with the opposite braid. For more volume, lightly pull at the corners of the braid. Applying powder dry shampoo before braiding will help with this texture when expanding.

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Pancaked Big Braid

“This style of braid is ideal because you can spread the hair out by flattening it, which will add more width to the head and the illusion of more fullness,” Renegar says. 

Start by creating an inverted French braid, pausing every three to four inches while braiding to “pancake” the hair. 

“Pancake means you separate and spread out each individual part of the braid so that it flattens out,” explains Renagar. “You then continue braiding and incorporating it into the next section. Finally, finish with a regular braid for the rest of the hair past the nape of the neck and spray with a medium-hold hairspray.” 

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Knotless Braids

Knotless braids are a weightless, protective hairstyle that hairstylists often recommend for people with fine, thin, or thinning hair. 

"They’re created with small sections varying in shape, and these sections are kept small to protect the hair from being pulled far off its growth area,” says Britt Dion, Aveda’s artistic director of hairstyling in North America. “The sections are then braided starting with the natural hair. Extensions are then 'fed' into [the] braid to add density and potential length to the look.” 

Knotless braids are usually done by a professional and you can wear the style for around two to three months before needing a refresh. 

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Box Braids

Box braids are a great option as well because they can create a more voluminous looking head of hair, but are still light enough to not add more weight than the hair can handle. 

The process is nearly identical to the knotless braid, only box braids feature box-shaped sections, notes Dion. The extension is added to the base of the subsection at the start of the braid. This creates a thicker, longer look. 

Typically, box braids are done by a professional and last about four to six weeks.

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Braided Bun

A simple braided bun is an easy go-to that puts minimal tension on your hair and scalp. Small says that this is a favorite option for his clients with fine or thin hair since it’s a great alternative to a messy bun that still promises a full, textured result. 

“Start by detangling hair with a brush or a comb, then apply a powder dry shampoo from scalp to ends. Brush hair and combine it into a ponytail either on top of the head, center of crown or lower in the nape and use a soft fabric elastic to combine,” Small says. “Separate the ponytail into either two or three sections depending on the style you choose, then combine the ends with a clear elastic once hair is braided.” 

Lightly tug on the sections of the braid to create more fullness and use bobby pins to secure. 

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