Braiding is no longer the exclusive territory of women. Whether you are a guy with short hair or a white guy, there’s a style that makes it possible for you to braid your hair without raising eyebrows in a complex way. Here’s a guide that will answer most, if not all, questions you have had about braids for men.
Table Of Contents
What Is the Man Braid
After the man bun, the man braid has become the new fashion trend. It’s versatile and edgy and essentially the same hair braiding that women often do. There are many different ways in which men can try it. But you don’t want to overdo it and crossover into the cultural appropriation controversy when not applicable.
But don’t you worry. There are so many styles of man braids that you can do something small and subtle in case you are not sure of its political correctness. And whatever kind of personality you have, there is a style of braid that will suit you just fine.
Benefits of Having Them
Lasting and Good Looking
Braids last a long time and look good. They are likely to stay in style, too, which means you don’t have to worry about styling your hair as often. And there are many different styles to try which will keep you from getting bored.
Protect the Hair
Braids protect the hair because the ends are hidden from the atmospheric elements. This will help you retain the length of your hair and keep your hair healthy.
Easy to Maintain
Maintaining braided hair is easier than the alternative. You will have to go through the usual hygiene routine to clean your hair and scalp. And don’t forget to moisturize it.
The modern man may have woken up to braids only recently, but braids have been popular for a long time. If you look into African cultural history—where it all began—you will notice that this has been the case for thousands of years. It has been chiefly popular among women, but it meant more than just hairstyle.
Braids were considered to be a sign of power, status and confidence. Stevie Wonder is just one example of how celebrities used it to make the same point thousands of years later.
It was also a social activity because it took to braid long hair. Today, braids are also a sign of art, just on a different canvas and a style statement.
What Do You Need to Get Them
You need to have clean hair. Ideally, you must treat it with shampoo and conditioner such that it is fluffy. Then you must apply a styler to the hair so that you can bend it to your will.
Apply this to your hair with your bare hands. Then you must comb through the hair to remove any knots. Then you must start with one braid in the middle and see if you have control over the most vital hair strands.
Finally, divide that strand into three sections evenly and start braiding it. Add an elastic band at the end to keep it secure when you are done. And you’re done.
This is traditionally an African style of braiding hair and in the Caribbean, it is also called cane rows. This style involves keeping the braids closer to the scalp but with a raised row.
They are straight lines and simple, but you can get creative with them once you have mastered the craft. It’s a low-maintenance way of styling your medium to long-length hair, which is probably why you see them on athletes so often.
It’s called box braids when the plaits are individually set in small sections. You don’t need a specific hair length or width to try this style, although some people use extensions to make it look full.
You can make it work whether you want to wear it loose or in a ponytail because they are loose and unattached to the scalp, unlike cornrows. If you’re curious how it looks, Google ‘A$AP Rocky’ (if you don’t know who that is…it’s Rihanna’s boyfriend, dude).
Braids With Fade
This is typically for people with an oval or round face and the hair need not be too long either. You can braid the hair in any of the above mentioned styles and knot them at the back. Then you shave the hair on the sides to make it look fading. Simple.
Braids and Undercut
These were quintessentially for women, but here we are. This style is for people who want flexible braids. In this style, the top part of your head is covered by braided hair while the bottom part is shaved to the extent you’d like and it’s styled.
This is a braiding style where you take two plaits form double man buns by running them from the front to the back of your head.
This is a creative look that is easy to manage whether you have short hair or long. You take one braid from the center and two others from the sides and bring them together at the back.
This is harder because you need to fix the plaits in position. But it does give you more volume because it’s an addition to the three braids since you will have two braids fading at the sides as lines between other single braids.
Zig Zag Braids
The name gives it away. The lines of the braids are zig-zag instead of being straight. You can style it in that fashion near the partition or in the braid pattern itself.
This is a widespread technique where two parts of the hair are twisted to form a braid in the form of a spiraling rope. They are also called rope twists and can be made with hair extensions or dreadlocks.
This style was made popular by a TV show of the same name. You have one braid on each side of the head and the middle one is a French braid. The sides must be braided first and then the top section is taken care of.
In this style, you will weave strands of your hair intricately by starting at the top of the head and braiding it in the French style. But you can also do the same in a ponytail fashion.
This one is all about introducing a twist to the traditional braiding style and allowing the rest to go towards your ears. This is a good style for those who have short and thin hair.
This style is like the undercut, but you braid the sides in cornrow style and tie them together with the others. You can combine this style with Dutch braids to make it versatile and simply fun.
This is like box braids, except you can position each braid the way you want and plait them into one. It is considered a clean look and is like having a single plait except with braids instead of individual hair strands.
This was a popular look among women for a long time, but guys who have straight hair have also co-opted it. As the name suggests, it was born in Europe and has become popular with Afro-Caribbean hairstyles. A single plait is woven together with side braids for a classic outcome in this style.
This style is also a box braid, except the pattern changes into a crown with spider braids. You have one straight line intersected with diagonal braids to make it look like the body of a spider. The legs are made in box braid style.
This style of braids usually involves two layers. They are like tribal braids where the braids in the same section of the head are directed in different directions.
Things to Consider
Here are the three most important factors that affect the outcome of your braiding, no matter the style you pick. Take a look at what you need to know before you get started with the exciting process.
Braids can look great if you start by looking at the length of the hair. As you now know, some of these styles can be complicated in terms of how they move from one part of your head to the other.
That means you need to have enough hair to cover that length. Ideally, braiding is for those who have long-ish hair. It is also a great way to keep your hair healthy if you pick the right style.
Typically, you can try braids with any type of hair. But you need to have a little bit of texture if you are going for something like box braids. You also need a certain length to try out some styles of braids.
Then again, some people go for synthetic hair in extensions and bind it with their natural hair to make the braids happen. That requires a little more work than when you work with natural hair.
If you want noticeable braids, especially with men, you will need at least 3-4 inches of hair length. The deal is that you get voluminous braids if you have thicker hair when it comes to thickness. Many of the contemporary styles also count on hair that is chunky. They are, of course, classified as jumbo braids.
How to Do Them at Home
Step 1 – Prepare for braiding
To begin with, you need to check the texture and length of your hair in its natural form. You must protect it by cleaning it properly so that the braids don’t damage the original quality of your hair.
This starts by shampooing your hair and moisturizing it nicely with a deep conditioner. Then you must part the hair into sections and apply a heat protectant. Blow-dry each of these sections separately before you proceed to the next step.
Step 2 – Part your hair
Once you take care of the hair’s original condition, you must part it into different sections to prepare it for the braiding. How many sections? Well, that depends on the braiding style of your choice. This information is easily Google-able. Remember to keep each area small so that you can braid them easily.
Then you must start breaking the hair in each section into smaller parts that are the size of each braid. This is where you decide if you want micro braids or jumbo braids. This decision is made based on the texture and thickness of your hair.
While working on one section of the hair, you must put alligator clips on the rest of the hair like your barber does during a haircut to control the unbraided parts. This is made easy with a precision comb.
Step 3 – Split each part three ways
To start braiding the hair, you must split it into three pieces. You do this with every single braid and move it in the direction that the style of your choice needs you to go.
Step 4 – Get the extensions
If you opt for a style that needs you to get extensions, you must split the extensions into one large and one small section. This is common for styles like box braids. Make sure you pick extensions that don’t give you an allergic reaction to the chemicals involved.
You must fold the smaller section over the larger section so that the hair is finally in three areas and ready to be braided.
Step 5 – Braid the extensions
This step is pretty much self-explanatory. You must loop the three sections close to your scalp. You will have to hold down the loop with the index finger as you start braiding. Do this till you are done with all the extensions. If the texture is coarse, you will need to use some product to tame the hair.
Step 6 – Keep braiding ’till you’re done
And finally, you will need to finish braiding your natural hair and the extensions till they are done. Be sure not to braid them too tight because this will hurt your scalp and damage your hair by putting too much pressure on the roots and breaking the hair.
You might also want to consider using a moisturizer so that the hair is lubricated well and doesn’t break. But it’s not a substitute for extra tight braiding.
How to Style Them
Step 1 – Pick a style
Think of it this way. Braids are a micro version of plaiting your hair. So, you need to understand that picking a style is not about a trend but the healthiest choice for your hair. Plaiting is typically a good option for those who don’t want to go for popular cornrows or locs.
Step 2 – Factors to consider
You need to figure out the length and type of hair for the style of your choice. You will need 3-4 inches of length if you want to leave the ends of the braids loose.
Otherwise, you will need to put bands at the end of the braid to keep them from unraveling. It’s not tough to put on bands, but you have to remember and decide to do it so that your braids don’t become an inconvenience.
You can also use bands for the sake of style, even if it’s not necessary.
Step 3 – Maintenance
Typically, braids last from 30 days to 6 weeks. When wrapped well and appropriately moisturized, they don’t get messy and are easier to maintain. That’s because they are braided right from the scalp. It’s one of the reasons why people braid their hair, to begin with.
The moisturizer acts as a lubricant and protects your hair. And with braids, you don’t have loose hair hanging around that causes a distraction. You don’t need to wash the hair as often as you would if it’s left loose, which also makes maintenance easy.
You wash them only when you take the braids out, which is not often. The braids also tend to get messy if you get them wet in that form.
Step 4 – Stocking up on the right products
And finally, you want to keep oils made of avocado, almond or coconut at hand so moisturize the hair. This is all you need to keep the scalp and the hair happy and healthy.
Quick Tips to Perserve Them
Moisturize Your Hair
You need to moisturize the braids daily with oil, conditioner, or shea butter. This will keep the scalp nourished that it can otherwise become dry. You can try pointed applicators for the space between braids.
Wash Your Hair Regularly
The scalp must be washed once every week or for 10 days. This will remove dirt build-up and moisturize the hair. You don’t have to undo the braids for this, but you will have to be gentle and dry them by squeezing the water out.
Use the Right Pillowcase Fabric
You might want to switch to a silk pillowcase to protect your hair from getting pulled on by harsher fabrics like cotton.
Undo Your Braids Now and Then
You need to take out the braids once every 6 to 8 weeks. If you don’t, it puts stress on the roots and may cause hair loss gradually because the roots are getting pulled a little too much. This condition is called traction alopecia.
Do braids damage hair?
If you don’t do it right, really tight braids can break your hair. Not taking them out regularly or not moisturizing them can also damage the quality of your hair. You must be particularly careful after washing them because your hair is more vulnerable when wet.
How long do braids last on guys?
It depends on the braiding style and length of the hair, but it can take a few hours to get it done the first time. And when done well and taken good care of, braids on men can last up to one month. However, you should remove them from time to time.
Can you braid short hair?
Yes, they are called micro braids, which are also cheaper and don’t take as long. You still need to have a basic length so that the hair can be braided and stay steady. You can add a product to the hair and make it happen, but there’s no guarantee how long that will work for. If you add extensions, you can get jumbo braids.
How many types of braids for men are there?
There are a lot of styles. You’ve seen a whole list earlier in this piece. But there are many more styles being executed every so often. And they are not specific to men either. You may give some popular braiding styles typically used for women if you can wing them.
How long should a man’s hair be for braids?
As mentioned earlier, the hair should be at least three to four inches to meet the basic requirements. With this length, you can start on any micro braiding style.
Can men with straight hair get braids?
Yes, of course. It’s not about straight or curly hair. The key is in length, texture and maintenance. Guys with straight hair popularly try cornrows or box braids in the style of a man bun.
How long does it take to braid short hair?
This depends on where in the process you start looking at the clock. It takes a few hours if you start with washing the hair, drying it, and then braiding it in a simple style like two strands or Dutch braids.
Then there is the matter of skill. If you are experienced and can do it yourself, it will take longer than having someone there to help you. It also depends on how long your hair is and whether or not you are adding extensions.
And finally, the style of braiding will decide the time it takes. It should not take more than 5 to 10 minutes to braid each strand of hair.
How to wash your hair with braids?
Then you must mix it with water so that the shampoo is thinned out. This makes it easy to rinse the hair. Get an application bottle that has a sharp tip so that you can apply it to your scalp efficiently. Cover the whole area of the scalp.
Then you must apply the shampoo all over your head with your fingers. Move them gently over your scalp in a circular fashion while ensuring that you don’t make the braids frizzy. Add more shampoo a second time and massage your head in the same style.
Then you must rinse the hair thoroughly and gently. Do it again so that you get all the shampoo out without having to be rough on the braids.
Add conditioner to the hair to make sure it is moisturized and the scalp doesn’t dry.
Do braids make your hair grow faster?
We know you want a way to make your hair grow fast, but braiding is not the answer to this question. The speed at which your hair will grow depends on genetics, maintenance, general stress levels, and diet.
Thinning of the hair and breakage too, for that matter, depending on how healthy your lifestyle is. Your hairstyle doesn’t have a role to play in the length of your hair.
How long do men’s braids last?
This depends on the specific style you choose, but with good maintenance, you can make them look good and clean anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks. Just make sure that you wash it regularly and apply moisturizer and conditioner to keep them from breaking.
You must also remove them periodically to relieve the hair roots from any stress that might have been caused due to the braids. And, of course, never braid them too tight.
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