Cultural Experience | United Kingdom

The Cheat’s Guide to Hairbraiding


By Lizi Woolgar.

Aah, hairbraids. That familiar reminder of your past holidays, where – strictly aged 12 and under – you would spend hours trawling the local Spanish streets for that perfect hairbraider. I mean, in was the ‘in thing’ right? Surely you couldn’t go back school without a holiday hairbraid and still be considered cool?

I first learnt to do my own hairbraids when, despite the usual desperate searching, there was no hairbraider in sight. Not one. A hair braiding drought if you will. So, I figured I ought to do it myself. You know, to keep up my cool reputation and everything.

Now aged 21, I’m still very fond of this little piece of hair décor and I have countless friends who also feel the same. Loads of people ask me how I manage to do it myself and don’t believe it can be as straightforward as I explain. So, I’m here to prove it to you. Anyone can hairbraid; it really is so simple!

Although the intricate criss-crosses and stripes of your past braids are totally do-able, I want to let you into the secret to a super fast multi-coloured braid. And here it is… COLOUR-CHANGE THREAD!! Available at pretty much any craft store, you can pick up this little gem in a huge variety of colour combinations at low cost.

hairbraiding thread image

1. Prepare your thread by cutting at least 3 long strands (depending on the thickness of the braid you desire). When folded in half, each length of thread should be around 4 times the length of your hair. Do this by hanging the thread over a door handle or hook and cutting the sections once they are aligned.

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2. Separate a section of your hair where you want the braid. This needs to be much thinner than you probably expect – probably a few mm wide at the roots. Plait this section of hair and use loads of clips around it to stop you from plaiting/braiding in random surrounding hairs!

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3. This is the most fiddly bit. Take all of your thread, holding it at the top hoop where it has been folded in half. Pull the thread behind the plait and make a tight double knot, pushing it right to the top of the roots. It sometimes help to backcomb the hair a little below this knot to secure its place, but this isn’t essential.

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4. Pick out 2 strands of the thread and wrap it up and around the knot to secure it. The golden rule of hair braiding is to always use 2 strands at a time for the wrapping around – 1 takes far too long and 3 risks the braid becoming a little lumpy! Then, the great thing about using the multi-coloured thread is that you can just pull out any 2 strands at a time and keep wrapping them round.

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5. Continue wrapping the thread around the hair and, as you go, push the sections upwards to ensure the braid is as tight as can be. Once the initial 2 threads begin running low, simply pinch the braid between your fingers and switch those 2 strands with 2 other strands which are still much longer.

diy hairbraiding image6. After you’ve done a large chunk of the braid, let down the rest of your hair, allowing you to measure up the length of the braid. Once it’s roughly 1cm shorter than your hair, tie multiple knots to make sure the braid is secured and cut off the ends diagonally (straight across gives a more tufty look!).

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And there you have it. The perfect multicolour summer braid. Adding beads or feathers on the end look super effective too, but for day-to-day life you might want to stick to this simpler design. Now you’ll never have to run around again in search for those pesky hairbraiders. Happy braiding!

Lizi Woolgar

University of Bristol | 40 stories

Graduate of University of Bristol. Having spent my first two years of University writing for the student newspaper, epigram and Brighton-based Spindle Magazine, I then went on to edit the Style section of Epigram 2012-2013. Now keen to pursue a career in journalism/editorial work, I look forward to writing my weekly column for The College Tourist, all the while seeing where my writing and travel will take me.

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