I Got French Curl Braids aka the Protective Style That’s Going to Take Over This Summer

Plus, how to achieve and maintain ‘em

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a collage photo of women rocking french curl braids on a blue background
Paula Boudes/Getty Images

Before my hair appointment, I was prepared to request my favorite look (aka knotless boho braids). That is until I came across a style I’ve never seen before: French Curl Braids. I kept seeing them all over my TikTok feed, with stylists and content creators raving about the protective style. After trying them out myself, I’m predicting they’re going to be HUGE this summer. Keep reading to find out what French Curl Braids are—plus, tips on how to achieve, maintain and even sleep with them so they last longer. 

What Are French Curl Braids?

As Celebrity Hairstylist Larry Sims previously told me, “Unlike traditional braids, where the length of the hair remains braided, French Curl Braids are braided at the roots and released into curls when the hair is long enough, usually at about shoulder length or longer. For this look, you would typically use French Curl synthetic hair, which is designed to mimic natural curls and blend seamlessly with the braided sections.”

Why Are French Curl Braids So Popular Now?

As Allure shares, French Curl Braids rose to popularity in West Africa around 2022. Two years later, they’re starting to make waves here in the States. I had an inkling they were going to be big here when I kept seeing the style on my braiding salon’s social media accounts. From there, many of the experts I’ve interviewed for previous hair trend stories kept mentioning French Curl Braids as a popular look to try out in 2024. A quick search for ‘French Curl Braids’ and you’ll find over 10,000 related posts on Instagram and 21,000 examples on TikTok.

How to Achieve French Curl Braids

If you’re not an experienced braider, consider getting the style done at a salon. I also found it was super helpful to show my braider a few reference photos, so she knew exactly how I wanted my hair to look. For example, I wanted a more layered look, as opposed to the curls being one uniform length. Spoiler alert: She delivered and my final look was incredible (but more on that later).

For skilled braiders who want to try the look at home, here are a few items you’ll need and a helpful guide to get you started. 

What You’ll Need

  • Comb
  • Gel
  • Mousse
  • Clips
  • French Curl Synthetic/Human Hair
  • Braiding Hair (Note: The number of packs will depend on your desired thickness and length.)

A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Wash your hair before drying and blowing out your strands. 
  2. Use a rat tail comb to divide your hair into four equal sections. You can do this by parting your hair down the center before running the comb from ear to ear to create two sections on the top and bottom. 
  3. Clip (or tie) up all the sections except for one, so they’re not in the way. Then, use your comb to divide each section into smaller, one-inch squares. (FYI: This width can change depending on the thickness of your braid.)
  4. Apply a generous amount of gel to each small section before you begin braiding. Start incorporating a third of braiding hair (for added thickness) with your natural hair. Once you’re more than half way done, begin adding the French curl synthetic hair. This is done by wrapping it around the braid and knotting it tightly, leaving the rest of the hair loose so it cascades down your desired length. 
  5. Repeat steps three to five until your entire head is complete. 
  6. Apply mousse all over the braids and curls for shine and hold. 

How Do You Maintain French Curl Braids?

Invest in a haircare routine that keeps your scalp clean and your French curls frizz-free. I don’t have to wash my hair as often, but when I do, I rely on a hair rinse that clears away any product build up. My current recommendation is Rizos Curls Apple Cider Vinegar Scalp & Hair Rinse, which is formulated with apple cider vinegar to clarify and nourish my scalp. I also like that it has a nozzle that makes it easy to target my scalp.

I’m not going to lie to you—the curls can get tangled and frizzy after a while. Luckily, applying mousse can help maintain the shine and reduce frizz. After washing my hair, I brush out each curl before applying mousse so they look fresh again. There’s also the option to use a curling iron to bring the curls back to life, as seen in the video above. (However, read the label on the synthetic hair packaging—or ask your braider before using any heat, as it can damage some braiding hair.) Or you can go the heatless route and try flexi rods to create a curly shape.  

Are French Curl Braids Beauty Editor-Approved?

Despite having to sit for six hours in the chair, I absolutely love this look. It’s possibly my favorite braided style to date, as it gives me the best of both worlds: braids and curls. As of writing, I've had my braids in for three weeks and they’re still holding up nicely. 

french curl braids a photo of chelsea candelario with half-up half-down look
Chelsea Candelario/PureWow

1. Half-Up, Half-Down

Most of the time, I wear my hair down, but I love doing this half-up look to spice things up a bit. It's pretty simple: I section my hair from ear to ear and create a high ponytail. If I do need to freshen up my curls, I use some mousse and scrunch the ends.

2. Bohemian French Curls

This looks combines two of my favorites. The boho technique uses smaller, curly braiding hair, which is sprinkle through each braid. Then you just follow the French Curl method and you have a new fusion hairstyle. You can take it up a notch and sport a bold hue like the creator above.

3. Half-Up Bun

Creator Kelechi Ceri shows us a few ways to style your French Curls. However, my favorite is her half-up bun, which highlights her curls perfectly. (Her messy bun look is a very close second.)

4. High Ponytail

Here’s another video with so many cute styles to try out, but the high ponytail caught my attention. Gather your braids at the crown of your head and let your curly tresses flow down.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do French Curl Braids Last?

Similar to box braids, this style can last between four to six weeks, depending on your hair type and how well you take care of it. That said, all of the experts we spoke with for a previous story recommend that you don't go longer than a month with any protective style, as it’ll begin to fray, frizz or loosen up after this point.

How Much Do French Curl Braids Cost?

It all depends on your location, stylist’s experience level and the preferred sizing/length of your braids. On average, French Curl Braids can cost between $200 to $500+. For reference, I paid about $350 for my medium-size, waist-length braids. 

How Do You Sleep with French Curl Braids?

A key to maintaining the braids is to wrap them up at night. Use a silk bonnet or silk wrap to tuck all your braids in. I prefer a bonnet because it stays secure while I snooze. It’s also super comfortable and reduces frizz (though I sleep with a silk pillowcase, too). 

about face matte fluid eye paint review chelsea candelario

Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...