If there’s one single misconception about short hair, it’s that cutting your mane into a bouncy bob or layered lob limits your styling options. While wrangling short strands can require a bit more strategy than long-haired girls might be used to, it’s by no means impossible. Whether you're working with dark brown hair or ash blonde hair, there's a style fit for you—and that's why it's so important to know the best braids for short hair.
While we all love a chic blowout, there’s bound to be a day when you oversleep or just can’t be bothered to break out the curling wand. For those times, it’s essential to have a few hair styling ideas up your sleeve. Grab a texturizing spray, a handful of elastics, and plenty of pins. We’re showing you how to achieve the best braids for short hair.
The Best Braids For Short Hair
The waterfall braid is a work-appropriate style that’s particularly beautiful on fresh hair color. The dimension of the twisted strands helps to highlight the bright and dark pieces of your balayage or ombre, creating the illusion that your mane is even thicker than it actually is.
The most challenging part of braiding short hair is dealing with all the tendrils that inevitably try to sneak free. Instead of trying to hide every single one, embrace a messy-chic vibe by pinning them back in plain sight. Pull as much of your hair as you can back into a little chignon at the nape of your neck, then begin twisting and pinning any pieces that might be falling. Finish the whole style with a light coat of hairspray to ensure nothing budges throughout the day.
If your hair is long enough to pull into a short ponytail, there’s enough of it to create a milkmaid braid. You’ll want to start with a crisp part from the center of your forehead to the nape of your neck. Working with one section of hair at a time, create a standard braid and pull it up to the center of your head. Pin the braid in place, then repeat the process on the other side.
Double Dutch Pigtails
Cross each strand under the center rather than over to achieve that trademark inside-out look. Once your braids for short hair are in place, gently pancake them to produce a more dramatic effect. Be sure you’re using clear elastics, as big hair bands can distract from your Dutch braids.
Side Braid Duo
Start with a side part, crafting a traditional braid right at the hairline and pinning it at the back of the head. Pancake the plait gently, working to create maximum volume. Once your first braid is in place, start on a second one just below the first. If you’re feeling crafty, twist your remaining hair into a chic updo and arrange it to mask your bobby pins.
Half Up Braids
We’re the first to admit that this half up hairstyle isn’t quite as simple as the one you’ve been used to, but feel free to customize this style with your favorite types of braids. When you’re all done, secure the braid with an elastic and pancake all over to give your look visual heft. Don’t forget to add a finishing spritz of hairspray to ensure all that work can stand up to the wind and humidity.
Woven Half Updo
Once you’ve started spicing up your half ponytails, you’ll fall down a rabbit hole of braids, twists, and accessories that work for even the choppiest short hair. For a subdued take on the style that’s suitable for casual weddings or parties, try this woven look.
Way back in middle school, we relied on headbands because they enabled us to look put together without doing any of the work. The grown-up version of the headband is this braid, which sits back from the hairline and puts your cheekbones on full display.
To mimic this style, start a Dutch braid just above one ear and carry it parallel to your hairline. If you’re underwhelmed by the way your natural strands look as a fashionable accessory, opt for braided extensions in your color instead. Just pin the extra hair in place and get going.
The DNA braid is not for the inexperienced, but we’re pleased to say you can mimic this hairstyle with a standard braid if you’re not up for the challenge.
We’re guilty of leaning on the half ponytail as a cure-all for messy hair days, but the unfortunate truth is that it can often fall flat on short hair. Instead of the same old style, try this full, textural version instead. Start with one section in the center of your head, working to craft a standard braid. Adding waves to your hair as needed.
Pigtails were a stable of our youth, but we’re also convinced they look just as feminine and sweet on adults. To try this look for yourself, part your hair down the middle from forehead to nape. Work with one section at a time, creating a Dutch braid and finishing it with an elastic.
Professional stylists are so influential because they take our understanding of hair and elevate it. Case in point: this twisty braid that’s so simple but truly elegant. We can see this look paired with a breezy sundress or jumpsuit during the summer months.
Taking sections from above either ear, create two Dutch braids that meet at the back of your head. Crisscross them over each other, pinning each in place in a bun shape. Make sure the style is totally secure before you let go. If you’re a lady who likes to air dry, this is an excellent way to show off that soft texture without battling any stray pieces that might have dried strangely.
To try this style, create a deep side part and plan to braid away from it. Gather three strands at your hairline as if you’re French braiding. Aim for the braid to follow alongside your hairline and sit just above your ear.
Braided Space Buns
The only thing punchier than space buns is this smaller version that comes complete with two braids. If you know how to French or Dutch braid, you can accomplish this in under 15 minutes.
With these braided styles for short hair under your belt, you’re guaranteed to avoid a bad hair day—that is, until your hair starts growing out.
It’s no shocker that cornrows have remained popular for a very long time. The long-lasting and versatile braid is perfect for women of all different hair textures and lengths. For the best results, we recommend using the Mizani 25 Miracle Milk Leave-In before you begin braiding to help moisturize your strands.
If you’re someone who likes to keep your hair out of your face, this look is perfect for you. To begin, part your hair down the middle and craft two Dutch braids. Instead of braiding to the ends of your hair, however, secure each braid with a hair elastic at the nape of your neck to create cute little pigtails.
Faux-hawk Bun Braid
If you’re going to an interview or work event, this look is the perfect combination of style and sophistication. To put it simply, it’s a slicked-back bun with a cornrow down the middle of your head. We love this look because it allows you to add some personality to your everyday office style.
There are very few styles that can take you from the office to happy hour. Side braids, however, are a fun way to slay at your morning meeting and at the bar. If you’re looking to add extra flair, try accessorizing your look with metallic bobby pins.
Four Braided Space Buns
The year 2018 was all about space buns. In 2019, we’re taking that look up a notch with four braided space buns. This embellished rendition of the original look is super easy to create on short hair.
This braided bun is the epitome of bohemian style. It’s an effortless look that doesn’t take much time to recreate. Don’t worry if a few strands fall out making your bun appear messy! It’s part of the aesthetic.
Mini Faux-hawk Ponytail
If you want to get in touch with your inner rock star but are fearful of committing to a full-on mohawk, try a mini faux-hawk with a ponytail instead. It has all the edge of a traditional mohawk, but it allows you to keep all of your shoulder-length locks.
Wrap Around Braid
When in doubt, braid it out. This wrap-around braid is a quick style for anyone who pressed the snooze button one too many times. Your bed head waves are the perfect texture to complement this easy braid for short hair.
Peekaboo braids are the flirtatious sister of side braids. The two side Dutch braids give a similar effect of tucking your hair behind your ear—except you don’t have to worry about it continuously falling in your face.
There is no piece of art more beautiful than an intricate braid design. If you have a couple of hours to spare, ask your stylist to recreate these zig-zag braids. The time spent in the chair will be well worth it once you’re swimming in compliments.
If you’re an indecisive hair guru, this look combines two of the most favored styles. Meet the Dutch bun, which is merely the love child of Dutch braids and a messy bun. To recreate this look, do a deep side part and create a Dutch braid on the side of your head with most hair. Wrap the bottom parts of your braid into a messy bun, secure the bun with several bobby pins, and you’re good to go.
Half Up Braid
Having short strands doesn’t mean you get excluded from all the hair styling fun! You can still slay gorgeous braids for short hair by creating a half up style. This particular braid starts and ends at the middle of your head and is a lovely way to style your shorter strands.
If you’re a braid enthusiast, you won’t mind taking the time to create this Victorian-inspired braided ponytail. If you really want to amp up the regal vibes, make sure to pair your style with statement earrings to pull the look together.
Voluminous Side Braid Ponytail
If you want to make your short hair appear more voluminous, start by adding a spritz of Biolage Styling Complete Control Fast-Drying Hairspray and gently backcomb your mane. Then, take a small piece of hair from the side of your head and create a standard French braid. Lastly, tie your hair into a ponytail and let the compliments pour in.
If you’re having trouble mastering the art of braiding, don’t worry. Even those with the most clumsy fingers can recreate this look. Check out our step by step tutorial on how to style a half-up fishtail braid!
We promise this style isn’t as intimidating as it looks. Start by parting your hair down the middle, creating two equal sections. One at a time, take a section of hair and create a standard French braid. Take one of the braids and wrap it around your head until the tail is laying on the crown of your head. Secure the braid with a bobby pin and repeat the same process on the other side. Be sure to add some floral embellishments for a look that's eye-catching.
If you like using hair accessories to amp up your look, try something new and make your braid your new accessory. A braided headband gives a gorgeous halo effect that will have everyone asking you for styling tips.
Interested in more expert tips? Use our salon locator to book an appointment near you.