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Romantic Updo 101: How To Style a Halo Braid

photo of woman with halo braid hairstyle

Braiding is something of an art form. Much like painting or sculpture, people love to say they’re terrible at it without realizing that stylists and pros put in dozens of hours practicing. Whether it’s a basic French braid or something a little more high level, we encourage all beauty fans to take their braiding practice seriously.

There’s one advanced braid style that pops up continually among social media influencers and models: the halo braid (also called a crown braid) sits atop your head angelically, providing volume while pulling the hair back from the face. While this daunting style seems difficult to learn, Redken brand ambassador Sam Villa is convinced you’ll get it in a few tries. Follow his steps, and you’ll have a flattering halo in no time at all.

We love this style for informal days at the beach and summer weddings alike. Depending upon how loose or tight the actual halo is and the placement on the head, this highly customizable updo can fit a variety of occasions.

Beachy waves without any heat? Sign us up. Grab a package of bobby pins, flex your fingers, and get ready to braid.

Start with hair texture.

In a social media world, it often seems like the only way to accomplish a popular hairstyle is to clip in three packs of extensions. Villa argues that this isn’t the case at all. If you have clip-ins, make use of them, but don’t feel the need to drop hundreds of dollars for one halo braid.

According to Villa, using a crimping iron or a teasing brush to add texture before braiding can create much the same effect. Well-placed texture can visually double or triple the amount of hair you’re working with for a much more statement-making finished product.

“It makes the braid look thicker. Not only that, but it gives the braid a sense of character when you see this mini crimp running through it,” Villa says.

Whether you crimp the whole head or just a few choice sections, the added texture will help give clean, slick hair some grip. Alternatively, a few spritzes of dry texture spray can also help.

Begin your Dutch braid.

If you have hairpins and an elastic nearby, you’re ready to braid. Create a deep side part above one eyebrow and plan to braid toward the side of your head with less hair. Begin Dutch braiding, crossing every strand under as you pick up more hair to ensure the braid stand out from your scalp.

“You’re only picking up from the underneath. You are not picking up from the top. That is what gives it the unique look of a halo,” Villa explains.

Continue braiding like this until just under your ear.

Switch your hand position.

Here’s the tricky part of the halo braid: In order to round the corner, you have to swap which hand is holding each section. There’s no easy way to make it happen, just time and trial. If you’re concerned about losing all your work as a result, use a clip just above the spot you’re working in. It will hold everything in place while your hands move.

Tie off the braid.

Continue braiding across the back of your head and up the other side, transitioning into a standard braid if you run out of hair. If your braid is thinning out and you worry about not having enough hair to finish, transition into a standard braid a little earlier.

Pull the braid ends up to meet the beginning of the braid, tucking it under to hide any stray ends. Pin the braid in place around your head, crossing double pins wherever it seems the least structurally sound.

Pancake and tuck.

This is the fun part! Use your forefingers and thumbs to lightly pull the edges of each section of the braid, creating the illusion of more hair and a more laid back vibe.

If you’re worried about ruining your style, don’t despair. Villa likes to “massage” the pieces instead of pancaking them.

“What I like to do to give them just a little bit more kind of texture or a little bit more veil effect is massage the hair from scalp to end with your index finger and your thumb,” he explains.

Once you’ve got the braid looking polished (or messy, we’re not here to judge), move on to the final step.

Finish up the style.

According to Villa, it’s the pieces of hair around the face that really make or break a halo braid style. He recommends leaving a few out while you braid—particularly around the ears—for a style that’s more sophisticated grown lady than English child at boarding school.

“You can make it very loose and extend it away from the head so it’s very soft, and then you drop out a lot of pieces around the face, around the back, and it becomes very romantic, very glamorous, and very feminine,” he says.

To finish the style, break out a medium hold hairspray to help minimize the effects of weather, wind, and frizz. For an extra seasonal touch, tuck fresh flowers into the braid.