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French braids are such a simple classic, you may overlook this hairstyle staple; but Hollywood has recognized the versatility of the look, and brought it into the spotlight on such lovely ladies as Lauran Conrad, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Alba. Ditch the boring, single braid down the back for something a little more complex, and put your hair up in a pair of these captivating plaits.
The waterfall French braid is the ideal way to snake a braid across your head without the dreaded bald spots where you’ve pulled back each section. Begin with three strands of hair near each temple. Braid across your head so that the two waterfall French braids meet in the back of your head. As you work, pick up additional hair to add to the existing strand on top and weave it over the center strand. Then drop the bottom strand entirely and pick up a new one each time as you move across. Dropping the strands on the bottom gives this 'do its signature smooth, romantic waterfall look.
Loose Messy Braids
The “I just got out of bed look” is undeniably sexy anywhere from the coffee shop to the beach. When you want to add just a small touch of “OK, I threw myself together a little,” add a couple of loose bedhead braids on either side of your head. Work a standard French braid on each side, but keep the strands loose. Pull them together into a messy bun in the back. As a finishing touch, tug out the French braids so they’re plenty messy and casual.
Neat Parallel Braids
A sleek French braid running across the front of your hairline is a popular double-duty look. In addition to being just plain pretty, it’s also a handy way to keep your bangs back while you’re growing them out, or secure short layers when you want them out of your face. Change things up with not one, but two parallel French braids beginning just above your ear and running over your head like a headband to end above the other ear.
French Braided Pigtails
A pair of French braided pigtails may seem a little too Laura Ingalls to have a place among the fierce and stylish, but you can rock this 'do without looking like you’ve lost your bonnet. Pull a few wispy strands out around your face to soften the look and loosen the braids themselves so that they’re more romantic maiden than strict schoolmarm. If you want to go full boho, tuck a flower or feather into one of the braids and secure it with thin leather strings.