Hair braiding not only lends you a look of absolute beauty, but is actually a great way to keep the long hair in control. The art of braiding hair, originated sometime in 4000 BC in Africa and continues to remain in vogue even today. It is believed that the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Africans, and Asian people all wore their hair in braids, which not only looked good, but also helped in keeping hair off the neck in hot climates. Today braids are worn for every occasion, be it a wedding or a sports meet. While braids are usually done on medium to long hair, there are some braid hairstyles for short hair, as well.
For centuries, people have chosen to wear their hair in a basic braid design, also known as the English style. However, over time, there have been significant variations to those classic grandmother's pigtails.
Hair Braiding Designs for Women
English Braid: The basic garden three-strand plait, is formed by dividing three even chunks of hair which are then woven one over the other, beginning from the nape of the neck to the end of the hair. This braid is then secured with a hair elastic.
French Braids: This beautiful, elegant braid is made using the same method as an English braid. However, instead of starting at the nape of the neck, the French braids start from the hairline at the forehead and travel down the back of the head. The strands are taken from either side of the head and weaved into the braid so that all the hair is secured.
Dutch Braids: Known as the inverted French hair braid, the Dutch braid is created by changing the left-over-middle, right-over middle pattern of an English braid into a left-under-middle, right-under-middle technique.
Cornrow Braids: One of the most striking African designs, the cornrow style is created by braiding the hair in thin, tight braids close to the scalp, in straight lines.
Heidi or Swiss Braids: Popularized by the fashion models on the catwalk, Heidi braids are made by crossing two braids at the nape of the neck, bringing them up around the head, and pinning to form a kind of crown.
Crown Braids: Stunning and extremely difficult to achieve, crown braids are made by braiding around the head, like a French braid to form a circle. The extra hair left after making the braid is then braided and pinned around the head as well.
Rope Braids: This is a rather unusual braid design, as it is formed by twisting the hair rather than weaving it.
Hair Braiding Designs for Men
Although, not as common among men as in women, braids are popular among African-American men in form of cornrows and dreadlocks.
Herringbone Braids: This is a must-have braid hairstyle for the LOTR and Legolas fans. This masculine braid is created by two-strand braids, formed by bringing tiny sections from one half of the hair to the other and left unsecured at the end.
Dreadlocks: Apart from the cornrows, the dreadlocks are the most popular designs for men as well as women. Suited for long hair, dreadlocks are made by sectioning the hair into tiny squares and securing each section with a rubber band. Once the sections are made, you simply start backcombing each section, rolling it as you go down the length of the hair to keep the dread round, and finally securing with a rubber band at the bottom.
Since, some of these hair braiding designs are more complicated than others, it is best to enlist the help of some professional hair braiders, for that perfect braided look.