mermaid braids trendCredit : Pexels/clark cruz

It's hard to believe it, but braid season is almost here. As the weather begins to (finally) warm up, naturals are beginning to bookmark their favorite styles. Traditional looks, like box braids and cornrows, are always a solid choice. But when you want to change it up with something new and interesting, TikTok is the place to go. The platform is brimming with unique braid hairstyles and tutorials for DIYing the look. The latest to take center stage is mermaid braids, a gorgeous flowy style that's already seeing viral fame. Get to know the trending look below.

What are mermaid braids?

Often mistaken for goddess braids, mermaid braids feature a slim braid with loose ends. The style begins with either box or knotless braids and continues throughout the length of your natural hair. After a few inches of the braid are complete, the rest of the hair is left loose and flowing. This is what sets mermaid braids apart from other styles. Instead of fully plaited braids, the loose hair can be worn straight or curly for a natural look.

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Why are mermaid braids popular?

Braid trends often build off of one another. Recently, micro and boho braids have been trending for their ability to deliver a style with movement and a natural feel. With that in mind, it's unsurprising that the mermaid braid trend has taken off. Like boho styles, which have an ethereal look thanks to loose curl tendrils, mermaid braids with curly ends have a free-spirited nature. On the contrary, straighter versions allow you to get creative with styling. But beyond their fashionable appeal, mermaid braids are a fresh protective style. With the natural hair tucked away, they shield your curls against environmental stressors and damaging hot tools.

What to know before getting mermaid braids

If you're going the DIY route, there are plenty of tutorials available online to serve as a guide. Whether you're doing them yourself or heading to a salon, the process is fairly long. Mermaid braids rely on length to deliver a full, flowing look. With that in mind, you'll likely spend hours having your braids installed. As for the level of upkeep required, that will depend on a few factors. Due to the loose ends, mermaid braids aren't the easiest to maintain. However, using human hair extensions instead of a synthetic material can make things a lot easier.

How to get the look

After the hair has been sectioned and parted, your stylist will begin plaiting the natural hair with the extensions and braiding it down to your desired length. Once all of the braids have been completed, the real fun begins.

If you're opting for a curly look, the loose hair should be straightened and then braided into several large plaits. The next step is curing to ensure the curls come out just right. This involves dunking the plaits into hot water before unraveling them to reveal the most natural-looking curl. For a straighter style, you can skip this step and simply flat iron the loose hair for a sleek and smooth look.