19 Types of Braids for All Hair Textures, Lengths and Types

From Fishtails to Box Braids

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types of braids a collage featuring lucy liu, gabrielle union and kerry washington
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If there’s one hairstyle we can all rely on its braids. The classic pattern can be woven in many different ways and works well for every occasion. Whether you’re searching for a protective style or need a hairstyle to keep cool this summer, I chatted with the top celebrity hairstylists to compile this list of 19 types of braids to try out now.

Meet the Experts

  • Derrick Keith is a professional hairstylist and network stylist for Hairstory. He has over 15 years of experience, previously working for Drybar and Bumble and Bumble. He now owns a salon in New York, where he offers cutting, coloring and styling services. 
  • Brittany Johnson is a licensed hairstylist and senior brand marketing manager at Mayvenn, a wig and hair extension brand. She has over 13 years of experience as a beauty and wellness expert. She previously worked in salons and marketing firms before landing a director position at Mayvenn. 
  • Michelle O’Connor is a hairstylist and global artistic director at Matrix. She is a five-time North American Hairstyling Awards winner and has two decades of experience in the industry, working with countless brands such as Victoria’s Secret, J.Crew and Ulta Beauty. She is skilled in cutting, coloring and styling all hair textures.
  • Larry Sims is a celebrity hairstylist and co-founder of Flawless by Gabrielle Union. He has over two decades of experience doing editorial, red carpet and brand campaign looks. He has a long list of editorial credits, including Vogue, Allure, Essence Magazine and Elle, and his previous clients include Janet Jackson, Zendaya, Regina King, Kerry Washington and Tracee Ellis Ross.

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types of braids a photo of kelly rowland wearing box braids
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1. Box Braids

The most classic type of braids out there? Box braids. This timeless style is loved for being the most versatile for all hair types. “Box braids are individual braids that are created by separating the hair into small square-shaped sections before braiding. Each braid is very uniform, resulting in a neat and structured appearance,” explains Keith. “Typically, you will need braiding hair for this style, which comes in synthetic or natural hair extensions. Braiding hair can also come in various lengths, thicknesses, textures and even different colors, which allows for fun customizations. They are just very versatile when it comes to styling them, too—you can wear them down, in ponytails, or styled into various updos.”

big braids hairstyles a photo of zendaya rocking large knotless braids
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2. Knotless Braids

Zendaya has all the fashion cred, and her hairstyles prove that she's a beauty queen, too—just look at these amazing knotless braids she wore to the CFDA Awards. The steps are simple: part your hair into sections before adding a generous amount of gel and start braiding. “[People of all] hair types and densities can wear this hairstyle. However, [you need] at least three inches of hair to properly install this style,” Sands.

types of braids a photo of gabrielle union rocking cornrows
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3. Cornrows

Cornrows work for all hair textures. As Keith explains, “Cornrows are typically a three-strand braid that can be woven into various patterns, ranging from simple rows to more complex designs. This braid involves braiding small sections of hair close to the scalp, creating a sleek and uniform appearance. They can be styled as a single braid or grouped into multiple rows, making them very versatile and customizable.” After braiding your hair, Keith suggests laying the braids down with a mousse or styling cream to provide hold and extra control to your cornrows.

4. Bohemian Braids

These are classic box braids with a modern twist. “These braids are done by blending loose braiding hair extensions with the wearer's natural hair, and can either be done with synthetic hair or human hair. Human hair can create a soft, effortless look and extend the longevity of the style (at least for the "boho" free-flowing part of the braids). The tendrils are placed throughout the braids to create the look,” says Johnson. “The style is customizable as far as braid size and circumference go, and the amount of free-flowing hair you want to use.”

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5. Fishtail Braid

This type of braid style is great for all hair types, but is an especially good option for straight, wavy and/or long locks. Whether you’re looking for a summer hairdo or a formal style for a wedding, the fishtail technique should be on your radar.  To recreate Lucy Liu’s low ponytail, check out this handy tutorial to get you started.

types of braids a photo of a woman's pipe braid
Courtesy of Blink Beauty

6. Pipe Braid

If you like cornrows or the French braid look, the pipe technique gives you the best of both worlds. “Similar to these styles, pipe braids weave sections of the hair close to the scalp to create a sleek look. What sets them apart is incorporating additional twists, loops or patterns to achieve a more eye-catching look,” says Keith. If you want some more definition, the stylist suggests applying wax, which will allow you to sculpt and shape your hair as you braid.  

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7. Crown Braid

This chic hairstyle is pretty simple to recreate at home. Just part your hair into two sections before French braiding each side down towards the nape of the neck. Use bobby pins to tuck in the ends, or wrap them into a small bun for a more casual look.

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8. Halo Braid

Similar to a crown braid, except you want to bring one single braid closer to the hairline. Just remember to use bobby pins to tuck in the ends. Not sure how to Dutch braid? This helpful tutorial will have you recreating Regina King’s halo braid in no time.

big braids hairstyles a photo of kerry washington rocking a senegalese twists
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9. Senegalese Twists

Also known as rope twists, this protective style mirrors box braids except it relies on wrapping two strands together rather than three. You can try your hand at doing this at home, using a comb to divide each section, gel for twisting and an elastic band to secure the ends.

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10. Design Stitch Braids

According to Sands, this early aughts style is making a big comeback this year. “​​These braids are created using the stitch-in braiding technique, which involves sectioning the hair into thin or thick horizontal lines and braiding them into cornrows using extensions. The result is a stunning and unique stitched look that sets stitch braids apart from other braided hairstyles,” she says.

big braids hairstyles a photo of danai guiria rocking dutch braid
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11. Dutch Braid

Also known as a reverse French braid, this style uses the regular three strand technique. However, the outer strands go underneath rather than over the middle strand. Whether you go for a single ponytail like Danai or double pigtails, this technique gives a more fluffed up version than a regular French braid.

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12. Bubble Braids

These types of braids surged in popularity a couple of years ago, which can partly be attributed to how easy it is to recreate them. First, wrap your hair in a ponytail before using elastic bands to create ‘bubbles’ throughout the tail. Finally, use your fingers to tease each bubble for more volume. The bigger, the better.

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13. Goddess Braids

A softer take on box braids, this trendy style blends smaller plaits with looser, wavy pieces throughout. Because of this, you also have less tension at the scalp. As Garcia previously shared with us, “It’s achieved by braiding your natural hair at the scalp and feeding in curly/wavy hair extensions as you braid down the shaft of the individual braid and then leaving out a few loose strands of hair throughout the braid.”

natural hair trends for fall a photo of solange knowles wearing micro box braids
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14. Micro Box Braids

Box braids can be as customizable as you want them. In fact, they can shrink in size and turn into this micro style, as seen fabulously on Solange. The technique creates smaller and thinner plaits that are added closer to the scalp. Note: It can take longer to get these types of braids done, but the results are totally worth it.

15. Koroba Braids

According to O’Connor, Koroba braids are going to be a popular style this year. “It’s a West African hairstyle. Koroba is a Yuroba word meaning Calabash, which is the fruit that inspired the round shape of the braid,” she explains. “Koroba braids are done by doing your traditional on or off scalp braids and rolling the ends up in a circular pattern.”

big braids hairstyles a photo of blake lively rocking a rousled ponytail
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16. Tousled Braid

Blake Lively just gave wavy girlies a great option for any occasion. To recreate the look, slick your hair back into a high ponytail and loosely braid it down. The key here is to tease the tail for a casual ‘do.

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17. Fulani Braids

Inspired by the Fulani people in Africa, this classic design stems from the techniques used in box braids and cornrows. “They are braids that are characterized by a distinct cornrow design in the front and transition into thinner to medium-sized individual braids in the back. This style often features beads, shells or other decorative accessories,” says Sims. To keep the braids hydrated and shining bright (like a diamond), Sims suggests applying a lightweight oil to the braids and scalp.

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18. Mini Twists

Mini twists were traditionally a temporary step in a curly or coily hair routine. Once hair was washed, the twists were later unraveled to give curls a more uniform look. But more recently, they've become a style of their own. As Querisma previously shared, “Mini twists are individual, two-strand twists created in small box sections in the hair. Think of it as a play on box braids, but using only your natural hair.” Most notably Lupita N’yongo has spearheaded the trend, showcasing the bountiful benefits of leaving these types of braids in.

types of braids french curl braids
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19. French Curl Braids

I predict French curl braids are going to be huge this year and one stylist definitely agrees with me. As Sims shares, “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.”

Additional Experts

  • Shaniqua Garcia is a hairstylist, trichologist and CEO of Pearl Salon Suites in Atlanta and New Orleans. She has over 18 years of experience, specializing in coloring, cutting techniques and hair restoration. Her previous brand collaborations include Aunt Jackie’s, Design Essentials and Dr. Miracles. 
  • Janelle Sands is a professional hairstylist and brand educator for CURLS with over 20 years of experience in the industry. She’s also the founder of Secret Curl Society, an organization that empowers women through professional consultation, educational workshops and support services.
  • Quia Querisma is a texture specialist, hair colorist and Swivel Beauty stylist based in Dallas, Texas. She has over five years of experience, specializing in coloring, styling and cutting curly hair.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which Types of Braids Last the Longest?

According to our experts, box braids last the longest compared to other styles. “They’re incredibly durable, so they tend to last longer. Also, the tension and attachment of the style keeps the hair protected against damage and breakage,” says Keith. “They also grow out better compared to other styles, since they are typically uniform and allow for a smoother transition from braids to natural styles.”

What Are the Easiest Types of Braids to Get Done?

Cornrows and box braids are the easiest to get done. Keith explains, “Cornrows [are done by] braiding small sections of hair close to the scalp in neat and uniform patterns, which makes them relatively simple to achieve. Similarly, box braids are created by sectioning the hair into small squares and braiding extensions into each section, which provides a low-maintenance style that can last for weeks.” However, Johnson points out that any braid can be easy; it all depends on the skill level of the braider, hair length and type and style you’re going for.

What Are the Most Popular Types of Braids?

Box braids are the most popular type of braids out there. “They’re incredibly versatile and they work well with various textures like curly, coily and kinky hair. They’re a great protective style that allows the hair to rest and grow without constant upkeep, so they’re low-maintenance. They can also be styled in a number of ways, including ponytails and updos, and they help with length retention, making them a popular choice for textured hair,” says Sims.

How Can You Make Your Braids Last Longer?

Our roster of hairstylists were kind enough to share some of their top salon secrets to making braids last longer. 

  • Wrap your hair at night. A silk bonnet or wrap can reduce your chances of frizz, breakage or dryness. Plus, adding a silk pillowcase can provide another level of protection as you fall into dreamland. 
  • Wash your braids. Yes, you can cleanse your hair while rocking braids. After shampooing and conditioning, the experts suggest using lightweight styling products like mousse to extend the life of your braids. 
  • Book monthly maintenance appointments. Keith recommends scheduling touch ups with your braider every four to six weeks to “touch up loose or frizzy braids, while making sure both your hair and scalp are staying healthy.” 
  • Moisturize your scalp and hair regularly. The experts suggest applying hair oil to prevent frizz, dryness and damage.

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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...