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Women with long braided ponytails

Here’s How to Create a Bubble Braid in 3 Easy Steps

Bubble braid hairstyles are a simple way to dress up your mane, whether you’re a styling novice or a skilled guru. Here’s what you need to know about summer’s chicest style.

As much as we covet big bombshell waves and ornate fishtail braids, we’d be lying if we said these hairstyles were effortless to achieve. Between wrangling with our hot tools or trying to get that criss-cross pattern just right, playing stylist can frustrate us to the point where our mood and energy plummet before even leaving the house.

Fortunately for us, bubble braids are trending more than ever, and they are a low-fuss, high glamour style that doesn't require a skilled hand to get the look just right. If you were ever envious of a certain princess wearing a bubble braid hairstyle on a flying carpet, we tapped Matrix Ambassador Sharon Spellman to tell us more about this easily-replicated trend. Here’s everything you need to know, from how to do bubble braids plus 12 styles that we think you’ll love to try.

Good hair day by @hairdotcom.

What are bubble braids?

This adorably easy hairstyle features pulling hair into a traditional ponytail, then tying spaced-out elastics down the length of the tail to create the appearance of fluffed-out bubbles.

Are bubble braids trending?

Yes! Bubble braid hairstyles have been around for quite some time, but they really took off in 2020 since they fancy up your ‘do with minimal skill or effort required—perfect for when salons were temporarily closed. The trend tends to dip during the holidays but spikes back up in the spring and summer, especially when women are looking for cool and stylish looks for proms, weddings, festivals, and more.

“Bubble Braids re-emerge every spring and summer because hairstyles from the 90s are iconic and timeless!” adds Spellman.

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Are bubble braids protective?

While bubble braids are a great way to keep strands secured and in place (not to mention, they can also help you achieve flawless heatless waves), too-tight hair ties or elastics still risk creating tension on hair that contributes to breakage. One secret to minimizing the damage is experimenting with gentler hair ties, such as silk scrunchies or spiral hair ties, which won’t tug as harshly on strands.

“My favorite thing to do when creating tension with the elastics is to use Instacure by Matrix to help prevent breakage,” says Spellman. Infused with B5 and liquid protein, Matrix Total Results Instacure Anti-Breakage Porosity Spray nourishes the hair as it fills in over-porous areas, effectively smoothing and rebalancing the cuticle while restoring elasticity and strengthening hair against future breakage.

How do you bubble braid your hair?

“[Bubble braids are] an easy style that anyone can achieve with just a little bit of practice,” says Spellman. For the classic, no-frills bubble braid hairstyle, follow this quick how-to:

Make a ponytail.

Brush your hair back into a high, low, or side-swept ponytail to create the base of your bubble braid.

If you have straight or freshly-washed hair, of which can be slippery, spray a texturizing spray onto your ponytail to add grit. Matrix Vavoom Freezing Spray Extra Hold slays as a hairstyle primer. By adding volume and texture, it’ll give strands grip when creating updos, so nothing slips out of place.

On the other hand, a styling cream like Biolage Professional Ultra Hydra Source Daily Leave-In Balm For Very Dry Or Curly Hair can keep curly or textured hair defined, frizz-free, and rid of tangles.

Place your elastics.

Tie your elastics, scrunchies, or coils in uniform intervals down the length of your ponytail. Depending on the length of your hair, the placements will vary from person to person.

“Make sure you take clean and neat sections throughout and [find] a good balance between equal parts of the bubbles so they’re parallel on each side of the head,” explains the stylist.

Once you secure each tie, gently pull apart that section of hair to fan it out to contribute to that bubble effect.

Pro tip: Using different colored hair ties or placing a cute hair accessory like butterfly clips between each bubble can make the style stand out!

Set your look.

A hairstyle is only as good as its staying power, so be sure to set your bubble braid hairstyle with a flexible hold hairspray. We often turn to Biolage Professional Complete Control Hairspray for its ability to give us soft to medium hold depending on how much you use, in addition to volume and texture, and to tame flyaways.

Do bubble braids work on all hair types and lengths?

One of the best things about bubble braid hairstyles is their versatility. Spellman loves them because they work on all hair lengths and hair patterns and can be either done as voluminous plaits, half-up hairdos, or small accent pieces. Bubble braids also look great with extensions if you want extra length.

Ready to try a bubble braid hairstyle for yourself? Take inspiration from one of these 12 looks!

The 12 Best Bubble Braid Hairstyles to Try Now

Y2K Mini Bubble Braids

We love how Y2K trends are coming back in a big way for 2022, and they’re especially fit to reign in hair for big outdoor events like prom, graduations, and weddings this summer. This nostalgic bubble braid tutorial from Sharon Spellman, hairstylist and Matrix brand ambassador, has it all:

  • Scrunched hair that’s not crunchy.
  • Baby pigtails.
  • Fluttery hair clips that we used to purchase by the dozens.

Good hair day by @mr_alexandrycosta.

Low Bubble Braid

As simple as it comes, a low bubble braid is a fun and easy way to take a classic ponytail to the next level. Hair’s best accessory for this simple look will be its megawatt shine, which you can usher in with a treatment like Matrix Total Results High Amplify Shine Rinse Lamellar Treatment. This cutting-edge water-like, weightless formula detangles and adds shine in seconds.

Good hair day by @sunniebrook.

High Bubble Braid

If you prefer your bubble braid hairstyle to look more genie than princess, look no further than this high ‘do. Above, Sunnie Brook, Biolage global ambassador and celebrity stylist, gives a quick bubble braid tutorial using her go-to styling product, Biolage Professional Finishing Spritz Styling Hairspray

Butterfly Boho Bubble Braids

Speaking of the nostalgic accessory, here’s a different way to add butterfly clips into your bubble braid hairstyle, courtesy of hairstylist Bradley Leake. Perfect for wavy hair, this one involves lightly twisting hair bubbles while you fan them out to create more of a fishtail look (with half the effort!).

Good hair day by @meganreidhair.

Half-Up Double Bubbles

Another childhood hairstyle that has luckily matured along with us is the half ponytail—and there are endless ways to style it into adulthood. This pair of middle-parted half-up bubble braid pigtails prove that two is often better than one.

If you’d like to extend that double-trouble sentiment to your hair using half-and-half fantasy color, pick up Matrix ​​Total Results Keep Me Vivid Shampoo + Conditioner Duo. This sulfate-free system gently cleanses and conditions to maintain the vibrancy of fast-fading hair colors.

Good hair day by @jeremyetpierrick.

Low Wrapped Bubble Braid

You can thank a certain petite, chart-topping pop star for our mounting obsession with wrapped ponytails, and it was only a matter of time before the idea infiltrated our bubble braid hairstyles. Wrapping pieces of hair around the elastics creates a 3D effect that instantly elevates the whole look. We know we said the bubbles should be equally spaced and sized, but some looks are the exception to the rule.

High Wrapped Bubble Braid

If you want more volume at the crown, consider a wrapped bubble braid that begins cascading down from the top of your head. This style is a little bit more involved, so consider leaving it to a seasoned pro—be sure to bring a photo!

Good hair day by @bluntvicki.

Bubble Braid Accent

Who said bubble braids weren’t possible on short hair? Creating a bubble braid at the side of the head not only sweeps hair off and away from the face on hot days but also dresses up a blunt bob in a pinch.

Good hair day by @merrryj.

French Braid-Inspired Bubble Pigtails

Taking a cue from a French braid, these bubble braid pigtails involve adding new sections of hair as you continue to work down the length of your strands. When done correctly, a French braid-inspired bubble braid will sit close to your scalp and use your entire head of hair.

Good hair day by @annette_updo_artist.

Extra Fanned-Out

One thing we love about bubble braids (among many others) is their ability to give the appearance of thicker hair. If you have thin or fine hair, try pancaking your bubble braid to the extreme by lightly pulling hair out even more than some of the more traditional styles require. The horizontal width makes hair look more plentiful overall.

To give fine hair more staying power, consider making a bubble braid hairstyle on day two or three hair and topping the look off with a finishing spray like Matrix Vavoom Extra Full Freezing Spray. It helps absorb oil and refresh roots while providing buildable hold and shine to styles.

Good hair day by @alexandralee1016.

Waterfall Bubble Braids

Now that you know how to do bubble braids, here’s a whimsical hairstyle that takes them to the next level for summer soirées. This bubble look starts as a classic half-up style, but then it uses small sections of the half-down hair to create a braid around where each elastic would be. Paired with rainbow-spun strands, this style knocks it out of the park. Or should we say, the festival?

A mousse like Pureology Style + Protect Weightless Volume Mousse For Color-Treated Hair is best for prepping and volumizing dyed hair if you really do decide to take the look outdoors. Its sunflower seed, a UV filter, and vitamin E fight color-depleting environmental effects while ensuring lasting shine.

Good hair day by @reneemarieacademy.

Loose Bubble Braid with Flowers

This bubble braid is so effortlessly undone, that you may almost miss it. We love the combination of a loose crown braid, messy texture, delicate wisps, and strategically-placed flowers for a gorgeous garden party-inspired look. Bonus: Subtle pink and lavender streaks make this an even more outstanding hairstyle.

Excited to try one of these bubble braid hairstyles for yourself? Shop for salon-worthy products that can help you take your look to the next level.

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