Did you know that French braids did not start in France? They did not even originate in Europe at all. According to Popsugar, the three-strand gathered plait started in North Africa. People there have been wearing braids for thousands of years and there is evidence found on rock art in the Tassili n'Ajjer mountain range in Algeria. Braiding began as a symbolic art form to denote culture, status, and tribe. In rock art that dates back to six thousand years ago, women are depicted wearing rowed braids. In the following millennia, the hairstyle also appeared in early Greek and Celtic art and was also seen in women on the Sung Dynasty.
So why is it still called "French" braids? Popsugar surmises that it's perhaps because the French have always been fashionable and France was considered to be the epitome of high living to people on this side of the Atlantic. Any fancy hairstyle would have registered as European. Whoever is due credit, the French braid remains as popular as ever. If, like a lot of women, you need someone else to do it for you, read on and learn how to do it by yourself.
Allure suggests starting with unwashed hair for extra texture and hold. Freshly washed and dried hair can be slippery so it will be harder to achieve the look. However, you can use sea salt spray to texturize hair. Spray liberally on hair and let it air dry before braiding.
Detangle hair with a wide tooth comb. Start with three small and even sections of hair, about one to one and a half inches wide, just below the crown of your head.
Hold the right and center sections in your right hand, then the left section in your left hand. Make the usual three-strand braid by crisscrossing the sections then using your pinky, continue adding strands of hair to each section as you braid down the entire length of your hair. Be sure to take a uniform amount of hair strands as you add to your sections for an even look and try to hold the sections as taut as possible, so your French braid won't end up saggy.
By the time you reach your nape, you'll end up with three separate strands of hair. Finish the leftover hair and make a simple three-strand braid. Leave about two inches of hair at the end then secure with an elastic hair tie. If you want an effortless flair and a thicker-looking braid, gently pull apart the three-strand braid below your nape to loosen the braids. You can also take a tiny section from the two-inch tail end and wrap it around the elastic hair tie to hide it.
French braids suit any occasion. You can wear them in school, at work and even formal occasions. To make them look more polished for dressier occasions, just do them a little tighter and add a little shine with some gloss serum.
Related article: Hair How-To Tutorial: The Snake Braid
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