How to learn to do the crown braid

No, not how to do the crown braid – you can Google that and find a YouTube video that you happen to like. I’m going to tell you how to learn to do the crown braid. Because it looks freaking difficult to do yourself if you’re just starting out, and to be honest it is not the easiest braiding hairstyle for a beginner. So I’m going to give you instructions based on how learned how to do it. Over the course of several years.

First, of course, you have to know how to braid in the first place, but since fingering habits are important, I recommend you learn to do a French or Dutch braid. (I prefer Dutch, also known as inside-out French braid.) On your own hair. I have a Klutz book that shows specific fingering that allows you to easily hold all three strands in one hand at a time. Do this braid on yourself until you can do it half-asleep before your first infusion of caffeine, because your fingers remember how to do it, and your arms don’t ache while braiding because you can do it fast! (You can easily adapt the fingering patterns of French or Dutch braids to braid a ponytail, and won’t pick up any bad braiding habits this way.)

Got the Dutch braid ingrained in muscle memory? Good. Now, do braid sideways across the front of your hairline, starting from where your hair naturally parts. (The larger side, if your part is asymmetrical like mine.) You can start out by taking this sideways braid and just braiding it straight down next to your face once you get to your ear. Next is the tricky part: once you get to your ear, figure out how to switch hands from “braiding in front of your face” position to your typical “braiding behind your head” positioning. This is where the fingering depending on only one hand holding the strands at a time is crucial. Continue braiding behind your head but just go straight down your back like a normal braid.

Now you’re at half-crown, and you’ll have noticed a lot of extra slack in the off-side of your hair if you try to wrap the straight braid around your head, and possibly you’ll think your hair is too short for a crown braid. That might not be true: a full crown braid wraps a lot farther than you’d expect if you’re going off of how far a straight-back braid will reach.

Gotten to the point where you can do the switchoff at the ear consistently without losing your place? Good. Practice parting your hair farther and farther to the side, until you’re starting your half-crown at one ear and braiding next to your hairline all the way around to the other side of your head. I lean over sideways to accomplish this, since the hair above my “start” ear definitely doesn’t want to stay lying flat when I brush it to join the rest!

Once you have gotten to this point you have all the basic skills. Now, you just have to learn to do a second switch off behind your head once you reach the back of your ear, the one you started at, in order to move your arms back to the front of your head. (At this point you’ll probably only have one or two more sections of hair to pick up into the braid, and these will be the “loose” ones if you didn’t braid tightly enough to your head. You can use bobby pins to secure the extra if you need to, though, so don’t give up if your first tries aren’t perfect!) After that, you can finish braiding the length of your hair and wrap the rest of it around your head, securing with bobby pins. Try to braid as far down as you possibly can: you want the smallest unbraided tail you can get, to make tucking and pinning it easier. I recommend the second switch-off because it’s quite hard to take up the slack and braid “to the front” of your head if your arms are still both behind your head. I certainly always had sub-par results before mastering the second switch-off.

With this training regimen, you can take yourself from basic braiding skills to doing crown braids yourself, without a lot of frustration. If you work up to it, it will seem really easy, while it looks quite difficult! Crown braiding definitely feels like an uber-feminine style to me whenever I wear it. And it attracts a lot of attention! One other useful thing about it – with application of hairspray, bobby pins, and a silk scarf, you can actually get multiple days out of a single braid before it starts going too “fuzzy” to continue to wear in public. It also keeps your hair from swinging and getting into things it shouldn’t, when you’re working on dirty jobs! I think it’s especially good for travel, since unlike a bun, it doesn’t stick out on the back of one’s head and get in the way of seat head-rests.

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About pancakeloach

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