Braiding is a classic hairstyle and is popular in many countries. It is a technique that works best for mid-length to long hair. Braids can be either simple or complicated. The number of strands used can vary from the traditional three strand braid, to a complex multi strand braid using as many as nine strands.
There are basically two methods used to weave the strands of hair together: the hair from the side is brought over the hair in the middle (left-over-middle, right-over-middle, etc) or the hair from the side is brought under the hair in the middle (left-under-middle, right-under-middle, etc). Here are some instructions for making several different types of braided hairstyles.
The English braid, a favorite among women everywhere, is a very traditional style. This is the most basic type of braid. Comb your hair from the hairline toward the nape of the neck gathering all your hair together. Then divide the hair into three equal parts, and use a simple left-over-middle and right-over-middle technique to make the braid. Secure the end with a covered elastic.
The French braid is another traditional style that is very popular. It is similar to the English braid in that it uses three strands and a simple left-over-middle, right-over-middle technique. For a French braid, use one section of hair from the hairline at the forehead, and one section from either side of your head. As you bring each side section over the middle section, add in a bit more hair from that side of your head. Be sure not to pull your hair too tightly. With some practice, you will achieve a lovely, even braid.
A Dutch braid works exactly like the popular French braid, except that you pass the side strands under the center strand instead of over it. This results in a braid which appears to sit on top of the hair. Again, this braid will take some practice to do properly.
To begin the Swiss braid, part your hair down the center from hairline to nape of neck. Divide the hair on the left into three equal strands and braid together as in the English braid; secure the ends with an elastic. Take this completed braid and curl it around your head across your hairline and toward your right ear and back to where it began. Braid the hair on the right in the same fashion, and curl it around your head across your hairline toward your left ear. Pin in place as needed. The two braids will form a kind of crown across your head.
This is a style that looks more complicated than it is. This style works best with wet hair. Pull your hair into a ponytail and divide the ponytail into two even strands. Twist each strand clockwise. Then wrap the right section of hair counter-clockwise around the left section. Secure ends with an elastic.
Multi-strand braids can be made using up to nine strands of hair. These complex styles require much patience and practice, but essentially use the same side-over-middle technique as in the French braid.