Historians believe hair braiding may go back 30,000 years, and it's long been something of an art form. A basic braid creates a pattern using two or three strands of hair. One of the more intricate-looking braiding patterns, the elegant waterfall braid, is a half-French braid variety. Part of the hair is braided and the rest cascades down. It looks harder to do than it really is, and you can achieve this style on shorter and longer hair.
This romantic braid starts with a two-inch-wide strand of hair near the front of your head. Separate into three sections, then begin the braid like you would a French braid. Cross the left and right sections over the middle section. Stop here and drop the right section of hair, replacing it with a new section of hair from the root. Cross this over the middle section, then repeat with the left strand. Work your way around from one side to the other, or start and both temples and meet in the middle. If you take the latter option, finish by braiding both sides together just once. Pin the braid and style the rest of your hair however you like.
This waterfall braid calls for a tighter braid, close to the head’s crown. As you braid, twist the strands lightly. Use bobby pins to secure the braid in place. Add loose waves for more texture and a bohemian vibe. A one-inch curling iron creates natural, loose, romantic waves that enhance the style.
Instead of continuing around the head, this waterfall braid sits only on one side. It ends in the back, where you’ll finish it using a three-strand, standard braid. Secure it with a clear, plastic band and tuck it under the hair layers in the back. X-shaped bobby pins will hold it in place.
A waterfall braid is super-elegant, but you can elevate it even more with a mermaid version. This style works best on long, straight hair with minimal layers. First, create a waterfall braid at the top. These sections then connect with a mermaid braid that runs down the back. Add waterfall sections to the mermaid braid as you go, allowing the new hair strands to hang loose. This creates a draped appearance on the finished look.
There are hundreds of variations of the waterfall braid, but this one may be the least complex once you’ve got the basic steps down. Create loose-hanging, connecting loops around the side of the head, across the back to the other side. For the first loop, simply take a strand of hair, loop it around your index and middle finger, then flip it. Take another strand of hair, pull it through the first loop, and twist it. Continue the process to create additional loops.
For a unique twist on the waterfall braid, try this eye-catching, dual-braid. Create a classic waterfall braid close to your part. When you reach the back, angle the waterfall braid down and continue to the other side, ending it with a standard three-strand braid. Start the second braid just below the first one on the same side, adding in the waterfall sections of the first braid as you go. This style works for long hair but also chin-length and shoulder-length as well.
Nothing says romance like long, loose curls. Before braiding, use a one-inch curling iron to create curves and swirls. Start your waterfall braid just above the ear on one side and continue braiding until you reach the back. Do the same for the other side. The waterfall braids meet in the back to create beautifully textured, cascading hair art.
Whether your daily go-to is a messy bun or a sleek ponytail, waterfall braids are a chic upgrade. Start with a high ponytail. Braid the waterfall from the top right corner of the ponytail, using only the upper hair layers. Work your way down diagonally to the bottom left and secure the end. For a messy bun version, start the waterfall braids at the front. When you’ve completed the braid, gather the hair that hangs down into a casual bun.
Visual appeal is the whole point of creating luxurious waterfall braids. Make an even bolder statement by adding charms, beads, feathers, or stone jewelry to the braids. Attach hair hoops in various sizes for a one-of-a-kind look. Weave colorful flowers, sprigs of clover, or baby’s breath into your braids if you’re feeling more of an earth goddess energy. Loose strands around the face always add romance, too.
Most experienced braiders say that freshly shampooed hair doesn’t hold a braid as well as hair that’s a tad less-than-fresh. They also advise adding pomade to each strand before braiding it in to make it much easier to control flyaways and stray hairs. Finish your waterfall braid with a spritz of light-hold hairspray, and go wow the world with your new style.