Main content
Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.

Here’s How To Create a Bubble Braid in 5 Easy Steps

Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.
Here’s How To Create a Bubble Braid in 5 Easy Steps

As much as you may love bouffant ponytails or ornate fishtails, there are times when you may want a look that’s a bit easier to execute. That’s where bubble braids come in. Unlike other intricate updos or braiding techniques, bubble braids require minimal skill to get just right. However, their ease doesn’t make them any less impactful: Bubble braids can help jazz up your everyday look and add a playful element to your signature style.

We tapped Matrix Ambassador Sharon Spellman to learn more about bubble braiding and why it’s so popular. Ahead, discover how to do a bubble braid in five easy steps, and then browse 20 of our favorite ways to take the style to the next level.

What Are Bubble Braids?

Bubble braids are a Y2K-inspired style in which hair is divided into small sections and then gently pulled apart to create the illusion of “bubbles.” They’re fairly easy to achieve, and don’t require any actual braiding. As long as you can make a ponytail and tie a few elastics, you’re already well on your way to mastering the look.

Are Bubble Braids Still In Style?

Bubble braid hairstyles have been around for quite some time, and the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down soon. With 585 million views and counting, the TikTok hashtag #bubblebraids is full of easy tutorials that iterate on this iconic early 2000s hairdo.

Interest seems to peak seasonally, too. Spellman notes that bubble braid styles tend to re-emerge every spring and summer, just in time for proms, weddings, and festivals. Many people love how the multiple elastics can help rein in their hair (especially if it’s long, thick, or curly), keeping them cool and managing frizz when temperatures soar.

Good hair day by @britney_twomey

Are Bubble Braids Damaging?

Bubble braids shouldn’t damage your hair as long as your style isn’t too tight. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, extended periods of wearing taut hairstyles can cause traction alopecia, a patchy form of hair loss. Opting for looser bubble braid hairstyles and limiting super slick-backed looks can help keep your hairline looking (and feeling) healthy.

Another factor that can make or break (pun intended) potential damage is the type of hair ties used. Elastics are typically the norm for creating bubble braids. However, the rubbery material may be too harsh on damaged or brittle strands, causing them to break off. An easy way to reduce breakage is to switch to spiral hair ties or thin scrunchies. They can help more evenly distribute the weight of your hair to help minimize the chances of snapping your strands. You can also prep your hair with a professional haircare product that aims to strengthen your hair against potentially damaging habits.

“My favorite thing to do when creating tension with elastics is to use Instacure Anti-Breakage Porosity Spray by Matrix to help prevent breakage,” says Spellman. The formula, which is infused with B5 and liquid proteins, helps fill in over-porous areas of the hair to help strengthen it against future breakage.

How To Bubble Braid In 5 Easy Steps

We firmly believe that anyone can master a classic bubble braid ponytail. Follow our easy bubble braid tutorial the next time you want to add visual interest to your everyday style.

1. Prep your hair

Your bubble braid is only as good as the foundation you create it on. As such, you’ll want to prep your hair with products that can help your hair type look and feel its best in the trendy ‘do. Here are a few of the best shampoo, conditioner, and styler suggestions based on your hair concerns.

Add volume

If you have finer hair, gravity may make your bubble braids fall flat. To help prevent that, clarify and volumize your locks with Pureology Pure Volume Shampoo and Conditioner, a lightweight system that cleanses hair without weighing it down. Then, prep your damp hair with a few pumps of the Pureology On the Rise Root-Lifting Hair Mousse. This medium-control spray mousse helps add body and lasting shine from root to tip. We also love using Redken Beach Spray to help create an instantly beachy texture without drying out your hair.

Fight frizz

Nothing can spoil a good hairstyle quite like frizz, but the right products can help get your look under control. Start your regimen with the Biolage Professional Smooth Proof Shampoo, which helps protect hair against humidity by encapsulating it in a protective shield. Follow it up with the coordinating Smooth Proof Conditioner and Smooth Proof Serum to help keep hair smooth (even in 97% humidity) for up to 72 hours.*

*When using the system of Smooth Proof shampoo, conditioner and serum vs. a non-conditioning shampoo.

Define curls

Enhance and elongate textured hair with a system like Kérastase Curl Manifesto. The Bain Hydratation Douceur Shampoo, Curl Manifesto Fondant Hydratation Essentielle Conditioner, and Curl Manifesto Gelée Curl Contour Gel-Cream can provide hydration, definition, and strength to curly and coily hair to help your bubbles appear more controlled.

2. Make a ponytail

Once your hair is prepped and dry, you can begin creating your bubble braid hairstyle. Simply brush your hair back into your preferred ponytail position (high, low, or side-swept) to create the base for your bubble braid. Secure it with a hair tie, elastic, or scrunchie.

3. Place your elastics

Wrap more of your chosen hair ties (preferably clear or similar to your hair color) in uniform intervals down the length of your ponytail. Depending on how long your hair is—and how big you want your bubbles to be—the placements can vary.

4. Create your bubbles

After you have placed all your hair ties, use your fingers to gently pull each section of hair apart. This helps loosen your strands, giving you that puffy bubble effect. Customize your look by going as understated or voluminous as you want.

5. Set your look

Set your bubble braid hairstyle with hairspray to give it staying power. For flexible hold, consider Redken Brushable Hairspray. This spritz, which is formulated with flexi-hold polymers, gives you pliable, brushable hold and 24-hour humidity resistance. If you prefer firm control, reach for Redken Control Hairspray to help hold your hair in place for 24 hours without residue or flaking.

How Long Do Bubble Braids Last?

Bubble braids can last a full day (or night) with the right products on hand. However, since they require lots of elastics, it’s best not to leave them in too long. As mentioned earlier, giving your mane a break from tight hair ties is important to help minimize tension and breakage.

When you remove your bubbles, consider embracing the heatless waves they tend to leave behind. Hit your roots with a few bursts of dry shampoo, like Redken Deep Clean Dry Shampoo, to extend your next-day style.

Who Do Bubble Braids Work Best For?

Anyone can pull off bubble braids, especially since you can customize them to your hair type and length. You can incorporate them into half-up hairdos, wear them as small accent pieces (great if you have short hair), or double the fun with braided pigtails. There are endless ways to make the look your own, so don’t be shy to have some fun with it. If you need inspiration, keep scrolling for 20 of our favorite bubble braid hairstyles to recreate at home or in the salon.

The 20 Best Bubble Braid Hairstyles To Try Now

Y2K Mini Bubble Braids

This nostalgic bubble braid tutorial from Matrix stylist Sharon Spellman features all our favorite Y2K trends: lightly scrunched hair, colorful butterfly clips, and baby pigtails. When going the pigtail route, Spellman suggests making your bubbles neat and parallel on each side of your head to ensure the most polished finish.

Butterfly Boho Bubble Braids

Speaking of nostalgic hair accessories, here’s a different way to add butterfly clips to your bubble braid hairstyle, courtesy of hairstylist Bradley Leake: Lightly twist your hair bubbles together to create a fishtail effect (with half the effort). Then, use your butterfly clips to hide each elastic for a fun, festival-ready finish. Peep the video above to see how.

Good hair day by @mr_alexandrycosta

Low Bubble Braid

When you’re ready to trade your slicked-back ponytail for something new, a low bubble braid can give you that mini transformation you’re after. For structure, shine, and control, use a bit of Matrix Controller Gel to achieve that sleek, almost wet look.

Good hair day by @jenniifernicolle

Glittery Double Bubble Braids

Whether prepping for festival season or leaning into the fairycore hair aesthetic, keep these glitter-dusted bubble braids in mind for your next outing. We love how incorporating them into a half-up look can help add some dimension to pin-straight strands.

Good hair day by @kurlyk_beauty

Tucked Bubble Braids

If you’re looking for a way to keep your hair off your neck on a hot day, tuck the ends of your braids into your elastics to create low messy buns on each side.

Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.

Good hair day by Barbara Simovic

Bubble Braid Mohawk

You can fake the look of a mohawk with strategically-placed bubble braids. Consider it an easy venture into the alternative hair aesthetic without having to commit to a bold new cut.

Mini Embellished Bubble Braids

Make a colorful statement by placing brightly-hued clips or elastics down the length of your bubbles. Pick one shade or alternate between a few for an adorably whimsical touch.

Good hair day by @sunniebrook

High Bubble Braid Ponytail

Tap into your inner genie with a high bubble braid ponytail placed at the crown of your head. Here, Sunnie Brook, Biolage Professional global ambassador and celebrity stylist, shows you her easy tutorial using Biolage Professional Finishing Spritz Hairspray.

Half-Up Bubble Braid Ponytail

If half-up ponytail styles are already your go-to, add some bubbles to shake things up. Sometimes, the smallest changes can make the biggest difference.

Good hair day by

Bedazzled Bubble Braids

Snug, blinged-out hair cuffs can help add tension to your bubbles and keep them looking voluminous. Plus, their luxe sparkle is just what you need to take your bubble ponytail from daytime boho to nighttime chic.

Wrapped Bubble Braid

A certain petite, chart-topping pop star fueled our obsession with wrapped ponytails—and it was only a matter of time before the idea infiltrated bubble braid hairstyles. Wrap pieces of your own hair around your elastics to create a modern 3D effect.

Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.

Good hair day by Barbara Simovic

Bubble Pigtails

A childhood hairstyle that has luckily matured along with us is pigtails—and there are endless ways to style this look into adulthood. This pair of bubble braid pigtails underscores how easily you can make the youthful hairstyle more modern yet playful.

Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.

Good hair day by Barbara Simovic

Bubble Space Buns

No need to block off time for a hairstyle change in between events: Quickly transition your bubble braid pigtails into space buns by wrapping each braid around its base. Bobby pins will be all you need to complete this pigtail glow-up.

Good hair day by

High Wrapped Bubble Braid

If you want more volume at the crown, consider a wrapped bubble braid that begins at the crown of your head. This style can be a little bit more involved to replicate, so consider showing a photo to a pro and letting them take it from there.

Bubble Braid Side Accent

You can totally try bubble braids on short hair, like a blunt bob—it’s all about making them accent pieces rather than securing all of your hair into one or two big bubble braids. One way to get the look is to make a small bubble braid on one side of your head and pin it back. Low effort, high payoff.

Bubble braid hairstyles are an easy way to elevate your mane. Here’s how to style them, plus 20 playful looks to try.

Good hair day by Barbara Simovic

Bubble Braid Tendrils

If you’re not ready to commit to contoured layers, try bubble tendrils: These smaller bubble pigtails placed on either side of your face can help give you a dimensional, face-framing effect without actually cutting your hair.

French Braid Bubble Pigtails

Inspired by the French braid, French-inspired 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 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 how they can help give the appearance of thicker hair. If you have thin or fine hair, pancake your bubble braid to the extreme by gently pulling your hair out even more than the traditional style requires. The horizontal width can help make your hair appear fuller and more voluminous.

Good hair day by @alexandralee1016

Waterfall Bubble Braids

This half-up bubble look pulls inspiration from the waterfall braid, allowing sections of hair to flow into each other. Pair it with rainbow-spun strands to make a lasting impression this spring or summer.

Good hair day by @reneemarieacademy.

Loose Bubble Braid With Flowers

A loose halo braid, messy texture, delicate wisps, and oversized flowers make for a gorgeous garden party-inspired look. Go as structured or undone as you’d like with these bubble braids, depending on where you’re wearing them.

Next Up: How To Do a Braided Bun in 6 Easy Steps

Use our salon locator to try bubble braids with a stylist in your area.

Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device