This Is the Grown-Up Way to Rock a Braid


Many celebs have been rocking braids on the red carpet lately, including Rashida Jones (above), Lea Michele, Reese Witherspoon, and Emily Blunt. This hairstyle doesn't have to scream "schoolgirl" or "music festival." Make 'em modern and chic with these expert tips from stylist turned Instagram star Sarah Potempa.

First things first: "The reason braids seem so young is that people think of a basic French braid," says Potempa. "It has no life to it, nothing unique. But the minute you change up your braid—invert it, pull apart the edges—it instantly gets a cooler vibe."

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For a fresh feel, braids should be big and textured, she explains. "My favorite technique for amping up a braid is to 'pancake' it, which basically just means softening it and pulling it apart," she says. "After doing a regular tight braid, go back through and tug on either side all the way down so some of the edges come loose." Easy, right?

To keep a crown braid secure, you'll need plenty of hairspray. In a pinch, Potempa says she'll also rub a little hand lotion into her palms and use it to smooth flyaways.

Here, Potempa's go-to products to create the perfect braid.

Beachwaver Pro ($199;

"I almost always use the Beachwaver before braiding. The texture gives movement and makes the braids fatter and more Pinterest-worthy."

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Fatboy Perfect Putty ($21;

“When I’m working with hair that has lots of layers, I add this pomade as I go to keep the stray hairs inside and help construct the braid.”

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Aussie Sprunch Mousse + Leave-In Conditioner ($3;

“I always use mousse as a foundation for styling. Apply to dry hair—roots to ends—for grip that’s still flexible.”

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Sarah Potempa is a celebrity hairstylist and creator of The Beachwaver Co., a line of pro hot tools. She was the lead hairstylist at the 2015 Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Her clients include Kelly Ripa, Ashley Benson and Kaley Cuoco.