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Want to create super-defined, voluminous curls? Get the look with a braid-out. Here’s exactly how to do this natural hairstyle.

How To Get a Beautiful Braid-Out Hairstyle in 5 Simple Steps

Want to create super-defined, voluminous curls? Get the look with a braid-out. Here’s exactly how to do this natural hairstyle.
How To Get a Beautiful Braid-Out Hairstyle in 5 Simple Steps

The idea of sitting down to braid your hair just so you can unravel it may sound counterproductive. But a braid-out is anything but. This hairstyle, which is achieved by undoing three-strand braids, gives your hair a beautiful, wavy curl pattern. It’s the secret to achieving that super-defined, voluminous look that your favorite natural hair influencers love to sport. And you can even do it yourself in just five steps.

To help you perfect this protective style, we asked texture expert Marisa Peal for her best tips. Ahead, you’ll find an easy braid-out hairstyle tutorial, complete with a hack to hide straighter ends and advice on the best way to fluff your braid-out hairstyle to maintain definition.

What Are the Benefits of a Braid-Out Hairstyle?

There are so many different braids for Black hair, including box braids, crochet braids, passion twists, and more. Much like these protective hairstyles, one of the major benefits of a braid-out hairstyle is it's timeless. Natural hair trends come and go, but a braid-out is a look that transcends eras, making it perfect for women of all ages.

Braid-outs are also popular because they are a simple way to stretch even the tightest of coils and curls, making hair appear longer and reducing shrinkage. Plus, this technique molds your hair into waves with a defined “Z” shape that can help make your strands less frizzy. If you’re still not convinced this is the hairstyle for you, learn more about some of the benefits below.

Good hair day by @aobokinks.

Defined waves and voluminous texture

You can put down the curling iron, hair crimper, hot rollers, or whatever heat-styling tools you’ve relied on in the past to enhance your curl pattern. In their place, use a braid-out as a no-heat styling alternative for defined waves.

Long-lasting style with minimal manipulation

While a braid-out hairstyle is one of those set-it-and-forget-it hairstyles, it does require a bit of zhuzhing. To avoid constantly touching or twirling your strands, Peal recommends using the prongs of a wide-tooth hair pick to gently fluff and tease hair. You can also wrap your locks with satin or silk hair scrunchies when it’s time to get ready for bed. This is an overnight stretching method that works to elongate the hair from the roots and extend the wear of your braid-out.

Good hair day by @lamajbackwards.

Versatility for different natural hairstyles

Depending on the thickness of the braids, Peal points out that a braid-out can be the style itself. She suggests adorning your braids with hair accessories like beads or cowrie shells if you want to embrace a bohemian look. You can also unravel and tease the hair into an Afro for something that’s simple, yet chic. Or channel your inner rockstar by pinning and fluffing loose tendrils into a faux mohawk updo. The possibilities are truly endless!

Good hair day by @mizani.

Protective style and time saver

A braid-out is a great protective style because even when you’re pressed for time, you won’t have to spend long on your natural hair—it’s already set! When the hair is still braided, you can even experiment with wigs. Simply pin down your braids so that the hair unit sits neatly on top. Once you’ve unraveled your braids and worn your hair loose for days, add a headwrap or satin scarf to switch up the ‘do.

Good hair day by @pekelariley and @mizani.

Twist-Out vs. Braid-Out: What’s the Difference?

The major difference between a twist-out and braid-out is the distinct curl pattern you get from the twisting and braiding techniques used to achieve these natural hairstyles.

A twist-out is when you simply twist two strands of hair together like a rope, and once it’s separated, it gives you spring curls. However, depending on your curl pattern or hair texture, you can end up with a loose “S” wave or spiral shape.

With a braid-out, you get more elongation as there are three strands of hair braided together. Once separated, the hair is stretched to reveal more of a “Z” shape. Because of the way hair is braided together, you may need more drying time to set a braid-out hairstyle.

How to Prepare Your Hair for a Braid-Out

To prepare your hair for a braid-out, it is always best to begin with strands that are freshly shampooed and conditioned. Start with a sulfate-free product like Redken All Soft Mega Curls Shampoo, which is formulated with ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, and cactus flower extract. It instantly nourishes and deeply hydrates curly and coily hair. Next, follow up with a coordinating conditioner.

Good hair day by @redkenpro.

Detangle your hair after you’ve applied the conditioner. You can use your fingers to do this, but a brush can work too. The best brush for curly hair is one that is made from a firm and flexible plastic. Stay away from detangling brushes that have tiny, microball points because your hair can get snagged or even more tangled.

Peal also suggests looking for brushes that are non-porous so that they don’t trap product or dirt.

If you are preparing your hair for a braid-out hairstyle a few days after a wash-and-go, rehydrate your dry locks with a light mist of water, apply your styling foam or gel, and then start re-braiding. If you have fine hair, you’ll want to use a foam-based product such as the Mizani Styling Foam Wrap. For medium and dense hair, try a gel like the Mizani True Textures Perfect Coil Oil Curl Gel.

Good hair day by @mizani.

How To Do a Braid-Out in 5 Steps

Before you whip out your tools and products, you’ll need to decide on which braiding technique to use for your braid-out. There are different options, including:

Good hair day by @mizani.

Cornrows: Three-strand braids plaited closely on the scalp. This will give you deep waves.

Good hair day by @lamajbackwards and @mizani.

Two-Strand Braids: Rope-like plaits that are tightly woven together to create a springy curl.

Good hair day by @mizani.

Box Braids: Individual three-strand braids that fall away from the scalp, but still create defined coils.

You only need to pick one braiding technique, but, as you grow more comfortable and confident with braid-outs, you can start to incorporate more than one braiding method. This can enhance texture, add visual interest, or blend different curl patterns.

Now that you know what a braid-out is, plus how to prep your hair, we have no doubt you’ll get this ‘do down with plenty of practice. Here are five simple steps to a braid-out:

Step 1: Section hair

Take a wide-tooth comb and create a part. If it’s horizontal, start at the back of the head near the nape. For vertical parting, you can start on either the left or right side of your head. Depending on the density and length of your hair, you’ll probably want to create a minimum of four sections. Use clamps to separate each section until you’re ready to braid it. This helps to keep your hair neatly separated and untangled as you work.

Step 2: Apply styling product

Apply a styling foam or gel product. We like the Mizani True Textures Curl Define Pudding because it provides the right amount of slip, allowing you to braid seamlessly while moisturizing the strands. Then, work it through your first section with a detangling brush. This will also help to remove any lingering knots.

Step 3: Start braiding

Divide the section of hair and begin weaving the pieces around each other into a braiding pattern. Complete the braid, then move on to the next section. Continue braiding until you’ve finished your entire head.

For hair ends that may be straighter, typically due to heat damage, Peal recommends wrapping the ends with perm rods. This will ensure that there is a consistent curl pattern once it dries. “Don’t snip those pieces,” she says, “because you will have uneven hair.”

Regular hair trims are also important to address heat damage, split ends, and excessive shedding that can mess up the results of your braid-out.

Step 4: Set your braids and dry your hair

Give yourself enough time under a hooded dryer to set your braids. Air-drying is not ideal because you run the risk of having dampness throughout the braids. For fine hair, you’ll generally need to dry it for 20 to 25 minutes. And for medium to dense hair, at least 45 minutes. “Don’t go to bed with wet hair because that can change the formation of the braid-out,” says Peal. “Make sure your style is nice and preserved.”

Step 5: Unravel your braids and style

Once your braids are completely dry, you can go to bed with them set. Or you can take them down immediately after drying. When it’s time to separate your braids, make sure you add some lubrication to your hands. This will help you minimize frizz, enhance shine, and retain definition. All hair types would benefit from using an oil such as Shu Uemura Art of Hair Essence Absolue Nourishing Protective Hair Oil. If your hair is fine, you can also try a product like Pureology Shine Bright Taming Serum, which won’t weigh down your tendrils.

Good hair day by @lamajbackwards and @mizani.

Apply either product to your hands and emulsify it. Start separating your braids at the ends and gradually work your way up. Pin, tease, or fluff your braid-out into a look that’s all your own, and step out with this stunning natural hairstyle.

Next Up: 50 Easy Natural Hairstyles To Try In 2024

Header photo credits (left to right): @aobokinks and @Iamajbackwards

Shop for all the products you’ll need to keep your braid-out hairstyle fresh at and explore The Texture Edit for more natural hair tips and inspiration.

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