Braids don’t just look cool—they also look like it took a lot of effort. Anyone who has ever had bangs shellacked against their forehead or hair stuck to the back of their neck knows that braids are the hair equivalent of a portable air conditioning unit. So if you’re planning a summer full of braids, look no further for inspiration. Here are a few braids for every skill level.
1. Crown braids
A thick crown braid is a summer-hair staple, but it can look severe when pulled too tight. Keep the look soft and sweet by pulling out two face-framing pieces and starting the braid about two inches back from your hairline. The face-framing pieces are also a great cheat if you are growing out your bangs and don’t want layers popping out of your braid.
2. Bob side braid
Have a bob that isn’t quite long enough to pull back? No problem. Try an edgy single braid. Part your hair to the side and braid the front piece of one side. Finish by securing it with a bobby pin behind your ear.
3. Braided Updo
This one may look difficult, but it’s easier than you think! You will make two french braids, but start them at the bottom of your head rather than the crown – this is easiest if you flip your head over. Work your way up and finish with messy buns.
4. Chain-link Braid
Start with a low ponytail and wrap a piece of hair around the hair tie so it looks polished. Then create four sections — to make this easy, label them in your head as one, two, three, four from left to right. First, take the third piece and cross it over the second piece, then take the fourth section and cross it under the second and third sections, and then over the third section. Next, drop the second piece and bring the first section under the third and fourth pieces. Continue this sequence until you’ve reached the ends.
5. Waterfall braid
Start with two small sections of hair near your hairline, and cross the front section over the other. Then take a third section from the top of your head and let it fall on top of the section you just pulled away from your face. Take the bottom section and cross it over the waterfall. Take another piece from the top of your head to create another waterfall, and repeat above steps until you’ve reached the desired look.