As of late, I’ve found myself really obsessed with braids. I’m only really practiced in regular three-strand, French, and Dutch braids right now, but I’m working on perfecting those techniques so I can learn more complicated kinds in the future! Most recently, I’ve been using simple braids as detail in other styles so I can practice doing them in different places and moving them in different directions. That’s how I found myself creating this elegant side braid hairstyle that features a braid leading down into a simple, pretty low ponytail!
Hair tutorials make up some of my very favourite online content, so it only seems fair that I return the favour when I figure out a new style that I think other DIY enthusiasts might want to try, right? Check out these step by step instructions complete with photos! If you’d rather follow along with a video tutorial instead of written words, scroll to the bottom of this post to find just what you’re looking for.
For this style, you’ll need:
- Hair elastics
- Bobby pins
- A brush
Step 1: brush and start braid
Brush your hair out entirely so it’s free of tangles. Part your hair on whichever side is more comfortable; I part mine on the right, so I started my style on the left because that’s where there was more hair to work with (you can reverse this if need be). Bear the front top, just to the left of the part, separate a section at least an inch and a half wide and section that piece into three even strands. Start your braid (which will be on that many refer to as a Dutch braid) by passing the right strand underneath the middle one, so it becomes the center strand and the one that was in the center becomes the new right strand.
Do the same on the other side, passing the left strand underneath your new middle strand, making it the new center. You’re passing your strands under each other in this style rather than over because you want the details of the braid’s weave to stand out against the rest of the hair, rather than tucking under and in, which would make it a French braid instead. French braids are equally pretty and you can make that adjustment if you’d prefer by passing your strands over each other instead, but our goal here is elegant detail so I chose to do a Dutch braid that allows you to see the weaving pattern better.
Step 2: continue downward with braid
Continue your braid in the same passing under and alternating sides method, but gathering a little more hair in with the strand on its side right before you pass it under the center piece, each and every time. This will keep the braid woven to the rest of the hair and traveling across your head, rather than hanging loose as its own piece like a regular three-strand braid. Hold the left and center piece in your left hand while you use your right hand to gather a new section of hair into that side’s strand from the rest of the hair there on the right side, and then pass it under the center piece to join the others in your left hand. Take the new right and center strands in your right hand while you use your left hand to gather new hair into the left strand from that side and then pass it under the center strand into your right hand. Repeat this process, keeping the both the strands you’re adding and the strands you’re adding to as smooth as possible.
Step 3: keep it even
Keep up with this braiding technique, being careful of placement and how tightly you’re pulling the strands as you go. You want to keep your braid traveling down the side of the head and framing your face as best you can; sometimes people who are right handed tend to pull a little harder on the right side, which will send their braid traveling in a more straight back direction instead. Keep things even and always bring the freshly gathered strand to the other two in the braid, rather than angling the other two to meet the new strand.
Step 4: adjust
Once you’ve got a significant braid weave happening, feel free to pause and hold all of the strands in one hand while you use the other to give the woven pieces a small tug to loosen and relax them a little. This makes the braid look thicket and gives it more volume. Make sure you don’t pull hard enough to actually pull anything loose; you’re just giving things some character.
Step 5: finish with a tie
Keep gathering pieces until your Dutch braid reaches a point just behind the left ear. You’ll keep braiding after this, but at this point you can swap to a simple three strand braid, finishing the weave of the strands off without continuing to gather more new hair into the pattern. This lets you lay the end of the braid flat against the back of the head and down towards the nape of your neck to meet up with the ponytail you’re about to make, but without pulling things to tight at the back or leaving too little hair for the ponytail to really be made with. Once you’ve reached the bottom and you can’t braid anymore, fasten the ends of the braided piece with a small hair elastic.
Step 6: gather the rest
Starting at the other side where you did not make a braid, pull the hair gently back, letting it follow its natural grain rather than turning it and pulling it tightly straight back like you would if you were going to make a high ponytail. Use your other hand to gather the hair on the other side, including the braid’s end, bringing it all together in the middle at the nape of the neck. Smooth it with your hands or brush as necessary (make sure not to snag or pull any strands out of the Dutch braid) and then use a hair tie to fasten it all into place. You’ll tie the elastic all the way around all of the hair, including the braid, as one bundle.
Step 7: remove old tie
Now that your braid is fastened into the ponytail along with the rest of your hair, you can remove the elastic from its end. The higher elastic of the ponytail itself will keep the braid above it fastened in place and you can use your fingers to comb out the bit of leftover braid below so that hair can merge with the rest of the ponytail, like the braid dissolves into it.
Step 8: wrap hair around tie
Use a strand of hair to hide your ponytail elastic! Separate a section of hair about half an inch thick from the underside of the ponytail. Bring it to the side, out from underneath the rest of the hair, and wrap it around the hair elastic until it’s hidden. Leave yourself a small end in your wrapping that you can anchor into place with a bobby pin, tucking both the end and the pin subtly into other hair to keep the wrapped piece in place.
Give your style a spritz of hairspray to smooth down flyaways and voila! You’re all finished. Feel free to add clips or barrettes of some kind to the base of the braid or the far smoothed side of the ponytail’s base in order to up the elegance factor even more if you’re feeling particularly glamorous! Just in case you’d like to try this style out for yourself, here’s a fantastic tutorial video to help you!