Braids are still having a moment, and we’re totally into it. From waterfall braids to braided fauxhawks, we are all about braid innovation on the regular. But, not everyone knows the basics of braiding beyond the simple three strand situation. Before we get too carried away on the braid front, here are three basic braids to get you prepped and ready for all sorts of braided hairstyles.

Fishtail Braid

A fishtail braid is one of those braids that looks far more complicated than it is. You literally have two sections of hair and will be pulling small sections from the outside of each section and crossing it over into the opposite side. It’s that easy!

1. Comb all of your hair over to one side.

2. Split your hair into two even sections.

3. Pick up a small piece of hair from the outside of the section closest to your face and cross it over into the the other section furthest from your face.

4. Now pick up another small section of hair from the outside of the second section and cross it over into the section of hair closest to your face.

5. Now use your pointer finger to pick up another section of hair from the first section.

6. Use your opposite pointer finger to transfer the section over to the opposite side just like you did in step one.

7. At this point you should be back to two sections of hair.

8. Repeat the same process over and over back and forth until you get to the ends of your hair.

9. Once you are to the ends, use a small elastic to secure your braid.

French Braid

To create a French braid, think of it as basically making a traditional braid starting at the top of your head, then working your way down while adding in pieces of hair.

1. Begin by pulling up the front, top section of your hair. The width will be almost to the outside of your eyes.

2. Divide that section into three smaller sections and cross the outside piece over the center piece just as you would with a traditional braid.

3. Now cross the other section over the center section.

4. This takes a little practice, but you can do it! Hold all three sections of hair with the hand opposite of the side you are pulling the first section of hair up from. In this case, her left hand is holding all three braid strands and she is picking up a section of hair on the right with her right hand.

5. Place that section over the original outer strand of hair you first crossed over the center section with in step 2. See how you have three strands again?

6. Now it is time to reverse it. Go to the opposite side and repeat the process of pulling up a new section of hair that you will add to the second strand you crossed over from step 3.

7. Back to three strands.

8. Continue the steps as you shift your hands toward the back of your head. With practice you can do this without a mirror. If you need to see you may need to rig up a mirror on the wall across from a larger mirror slightly angled so you can see what you are doing.

9. Once you get to a point where there is no more hair to pull into your braid, you will simply braid the remaining hair in a traditional braid.

10. Once finished, secure with a small elastic.

Dutch (Inside Out) Braid

The Dutch braid is basically an inside out French braid. The challenge of this braid is sort of like that game where you pat your head with one hand and try and make a circular movement on your tummy with the other hand. Your hands want to cross the hair over each other instead of under each other.

1. Place a side part in your hair (unless you are married to your own part, which is totally fine).

2. Pull half a little less than half of your hair up into one section. Note: You could start this on top like a normal French braid, but that is a little more advanced. We are demonstrating a more simple approach for our first timers.

3. Divide the section into three smaller sections.

4. Take the outside section underneath the center section.

5. Now take the other outside section and cross it underneath the center section.

6. Hold the three sections with one hand, and pull up another section of hair like you did in the French braid tutorial.

7. Add that section to the outer section of your braid and cross it underneath the center into the other side.

8. Repeat the same thing on the opposite side.

9. Continue on until you run out of hair to add into your braid then just braid the remaining hair keeping the same underneath motion until you get to the end.

10. Secure with an elastic!

And there you have it! The basics of braiding to get you primed and ready for all sorts of epic hairstyles.

Be sure to leave us a note in the comments below to let us know what other hair and beauty basics you’d like to see covered here on Brit + Co!