Go With the Flow: How to Create a Waterfall Braid

waterfall braid

Like everyone else in the world, I absolutely love spring and summer temperatures, but carefree days in the sun can mean messy, damaged hair.

Braids are one of my favorite techniques for keeping my locks out of my face while I’m out and about, and braided hairstyles can even prevent tangles and damage (and they’re so much cuter than basic ponytails.)

If you adore the look of plaits but also want to wear your hair down, the waterfall braid is the perfect solution — and it’s not as hard as it looks.

How to Master a Waterfall Braid — A Video Tutorial

Prefer to read through the steps? You can do that below!

While most braids require skill and precision, the waterfall braid actually demands that you loosen up your overall braiding technique.

Here’s how to master this bohemian-goddess style once and for all.

1. Prep your hair.

Detangle, brush, and style your hair as desired. I added some wave to my hair with a curling iron (which I think works a little better for this particular type of plait), but feel free to add the waves after you’ve completed your hair if you prefer, or wear it straight instead.

  • Styling tip: If you love the look of thick, chunky braids, texturizing powder can seriously work wonders. Sprinkle a little into your hair, and massage it into the hair for a more matte,  voluminous appearance.

2. Find your starting point.

Part your hair either in the center or on the side, and then section off a decent-sized chunk of hair near the front of your face.

Divide the hair into three sections (as you would with a normal three-strand braid).

3. Begin your braid.

Following a standard braiding technique, place a side strand over the middle section. Then, do the same with the other side section — but then let the second section fall.

Gather up a brand-new section of hair from below the braid before you continue.

4. Keep it going.

Next, you’ll want to add more hair to your top section, much like you would with a French braid.

Repeat the braid by taking that top section over the middle section again and continuing the steps above.

It gets confusing, but here’s the general order:

  • Take the top section over the middle section
  • Take the bottom section over next
  • Let that middle section fall
  • Gather up a new section from below the braid
  • Add more hair to the top section
  • Repeat

Keep moving along the side of your head until you reach the back. You can either repeat your waterfall plait on the other side to keep things symmetrical, or you can simply pin your braid in place for a one-sided effect.

5. Set your ‘do.

If any layers are acting unruly, use bobby pins to tuck them into the plait as needed.

Otherwise, mist your waterfall braid with hairspray to keep it in place throughout the day.

Waterfall Braid Variations

Once you’ve mastered the waterfall braid technique, you can expand on the idea with variations of this popular style.

For instance, you can try both a side-swept braid as well a braid that goes all the way around the back of the head:

Source: We Heart It

Keep the braids loose or tight, depending on your preferences:

Source: Love Hairstyles

Add another braid to the mix, or turn two side waterfall braids into a fishtail:

Source: Cuded

You can try more complicated styles, like the looped waterfall braid or a four-strand version:

Source: Bridal Guide

You can even turn it into an updo:

Source: Fashion Fill

Let us know your results from our waterfall braid tutorial! 

Lesley Sheridan is a high-maintenance fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer who thinks she’s low-maintenance. (Yes, she stole that line from When Harry Met Sally.) In addition to writing for The Local Lifestyle, her work regularly appears on Zenni Optical and Slickdeals. Make her day by sending her a tweet.

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