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How To Style A Half-Up Fishtail Braid: An Easy Step-By-Step Guide

Fishtail Braid Tutorial
Every woman has had at least one moment in her life when she saw a hairstyle and thought to herself, “How did they do that?” Whether it was a French twist, bohemian style, or glamorous Hollywood waves that stopped you in your tracks, chances are good when you asked how they create it the response was, “Oh, it was super easy.”

We hate to break it to you, but you’re in for a big surprise if you think there’s no way make complicated hairstyles super easy to pull off. Enter the fishtail braid, your new best friend.

What is a fishtail braid?

As beauty editors, we get asked about a lot of hairstyles. However, no style seems to mystify people as much as the fishtail braid, which mimics the look of overlapped fish scales. We’re here to let you know that fishtail braids are super easy to style.

Don’t believe us? We didn’t think you would. Instead of spending the next 15 minutes trying to convince you can totally pull off a fishtail braid, we decided to show you. We partnered up with Cassondra Kaeding, Redken brand ambassador and stylist, to create an insanely easy step-by-step guide to creating a fishtail braid. Once you know how easy it is, fishtail braids will become your go-to hairstyle.

Pro tip for curly girls:

Ladies with curly hair can absolutely pull off a fishtail braid. They look great on everyone, no matter their hair type or texture. However, tightly coiled curls have the tendency to get tangled in the midst of all of the crisscrossing.

If you decide to straighten your hair before crafting your fishtail braid, be sure to protect your hair with a heat protectant product. We recommend Mizani’s Thermasmooth Style & Style Again with heat activated style memory. The product is formulated with beeswax and cranberry seed oil to help protect hair up to 430 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fishtail braid tutorial

Prep Your Hair

For this look, you’ll want to start with clean, dry, detangled hair. Take a dime-sized amount of Redken Move Ability Lightweight Cream Paste 05 and emulsify it in your hands before applying it throughout your strands. The flexible hold styling paste will add grip to your strands, making your braid less likely to unravel as you style your hair.

Fishtail braid tutorial

Begin Braiding

Take two 2-inch sections from both sides of the front of your head and bring them to meet at the back of your head. Allow the bottom half of your hair to hang straight down your back. To begin creating a fishtail braid, take a small segment of hair from the outside of the right section of hair and cross it over to the right section of hair.

Fishtail braid tutorial

Craft Your Braid

Repeat the process on the opposite side, taking a small segment from the outside of the left section of hair and crossing it over to the right. Continue crisscrossing the hair until you reach the end of the braid.

Fishtail braid tutorial

Pancake Your Braid

Hold the end of the fishtail braid in place and use your fingers to pancake the braid. The key to perfect pancaking is to pull the strands just enough so that they appear fuller, but not so much that the braid begins to unravel.

Once you’ve pancaked the entire braid, secure the braid in place with a clear hair elastic. While you need the elastic to hold the braid in place, you don’t need to see the elastic to be effective. Instead, give your braid a seamless effect by covering the elastic with some of your hair.

To create this effect, begin by sticking a u-shaped bobby pin inside of the hair elastic. Take a small section of loose hair from the back ends of the braid and feed the section through another u-shaped bobby pin. Allow the bobby pins to act as two ends of a hair bungee, and wrap the section of hair around the hair elastic before securing both bobby pins in place.

Fishtail braid tutorial

Add Finishing Touches

Once you’ve given your braid a seamless look, pancake it one last time to make your braid as voluminous as possible. Once your braid is to your liking, set your look with a medium control hair wax like Redken’s Wax Blast 10 Finishing Hairspray Wax to help your style last all day long. 

Take your fishtail braid to the next level.

Even though this tutorial is for a half-up fishtail braid style, the tutorial can help guide you in creating a ton of fishtail braid looks. Once you know how to create a fishtail braid, the styling options are endless.

Bedazzle your fishtail braid.

If you feel like your fishtail braid is desperately missing something, feel free to jazz it up with a few cute hair accessories. Secure your braid with a gold metallic cuff for a super modern fishtail braid.

If you’re looking for something a little more romantic, weave flowers throughout your braid. Trust us, it looks even better than a flower crown. For a glamorous style fit for the red carpet, place several bedazzled bobby pins throughout your braid for a style that will glitter when the paparazzi—uh, your friends—snap a photo.

Interested in a stunning updo of your own for your next big day? Use our salon locator to book an appointment with a stylist near you.

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