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The Invisible Braid (French Braid)

Techniques for a Classical Braiding Style

       Many women (and men) are in love with their long hair, but find it difficult to deal with sometimes. Or maybe they want a style that is functional for different activities. One great option for those with longer locks is braiding, and one of the classic braiding styles is the Invisible Braid (also known as the 'French' braid in America). Here's how to create a classic invisible braid:
 
braid picture 1 braid picture 2 braid picture 3 braid picture 4
(Click to enlarge)

       Step One: Start with clean hair. The hair can be freshly washed, conditioned and towel-dried, or can be fully dry, as you prefer. (I prefer to braid damp hair.) Use a detangling spray or leave-in conditioner and comb through the hair until all tangles are removed. Comb the hair back and away from the face. Section a triangular wedge of hair, starting at the forehead and extending back toward the crown of the head. This will be the starting point of your braid.
 
       The model in my demonstration had curly hair, which makes braiding easier in many ways. If you have trouble braiding the hair you are working on, you can try adding some styling product (mousse, gel, setting lotion, etc.) to add some texture and "grip" to the hair.
 
       Step Two: Divide the triangular section into three 'strands' and hold them in one hand, separated by the fingers of the holding hand. Begin braiding by crossing the right strand over the center strand, carefully shift the strands to the opposite hand, and then cross the left strand over the 'new' center strand. Shift the strands back to the original hand.
 
       Step Three: Continue the braid by taking a thin slice of hair from the right side of the head and combine it with the right strand, then cross this over the center strand. Shift the strands to the opposite hand. Now, take a slice from the left side of the head and combine it with the left strand and cross it over the center strand. Return the strands to the starting hand.
 
       Step Four: Repeat step three until you have made your way down the head to the nape of the neck. By maintaining the tension with which you hold the hair, you can make the braid as tight or as loose as you want.
 
       Step Five: Once you've reached the nape of the neck, you can finish the braid however you want. You can gather the hair in an elastic band at the neck and leave the remaining hair to flow freely, or you can continue crossing the strands right-over-center and left-over-center until you reach the ends of the hair.
 
       If you started with damp hair, or find the hair is damp from the addition of detangler or styling product and you prefer the dry look, you can simply use a bonnet dryer or a blow-dryer with a diffuser attachment to dry the braided hair. Once dry, the "product" used can be softened by carefully pressing the hair with your fingers to separate the hair.
 
       For the demonstration, I continued the braid for the full length of the hair. The finished braid can be decorated with clips, ribbons, bows, flowers, etc. Virtually anything could be used to decorate or add additional interest to the braid.
 
       The Invisible Braid finishes as a smooth, tidy look, holds well, and is an excellent way to wear long hair when you are engaging in all kinds of active endeavors, like sporting events, swimming, housework, etc.
 
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French Y-Braid with Chignon
More About Hair Braiding
 
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