Braiding isn’t as hard as it looks, and with the right tools, tutorial videos and a bit of practice, you can learn to braid like a pro. It’s one of the best ways to change up your hairstyle, whether you’re looking for a new look or need a quick, heat-free option for your next date night.

The problem: It’s all too easy to make braids that look saggy or aren’t as secure as you’d like. But there’s actually a pretty simple fix to this issue, says Sarah Potempa, founder of the Beachwaver self-curling iron and expert on how to make braids.

Step #1: Keep Your Hands Close to Your Head

For the most voluminous braids, use your hands as much as possible to grab and pull your hair into place. This is a good tip for anyone with shorter or thicker hair because it can help to create a strong and secure hold.

Using your fingers to guide the braid as you move it through the hair can also help to avoid any unwanted sag or snagging at the end. And if you’re having trouble keeping the braid tight, you may want to use a small amount of hair spray to ensure that your locks stay put.

Another tip for achieving a better braid is to try adding a little bit of grit into the area you’re working on, recommends Sarah Hiscox, celebrity stylist and owner of a salon in NYC called Afro-Mecca. “It helps to add some grit to your hair, even if it’s just a small amount of texturizing spray or dry shampoo,” she says.

You can even use a pomade or hair wax to add some more grit to your braids, though Hiscox advises that you keep it light and don’t go overboard — too much can make it slippery.

Tip #3: Get Your Hair Clean

Before you start braiding, be sure to wash your hair well. This will help your braids to last longer and keep them looking their best.

Once your hair is clean, be sure to apply some conditioner or a leave-in treatment. This will help to tame frizz, moisturize the scalp and strengthen your hair, which is essential for a healthy and beautiful braid.

After you’ve applied a hair product, you can then begin your braiding process by parting your hair in a way that is easier to work with. Once you’ve parted your hair, take a section of the front half of your hair and divide it into three equal sections.

Begin a three-strand braid and cross one of the side pieces over the center piece. Repeat on the other side. Continue this pattern for each section, always picking up a small piece of hair from the outside part of that section, cross it over the center, and then repeat on the other side.

This is a great way to create a fishtail, which can be worn as a cute, chic updo. You can also twist and add in more hair as you go, making it a versatile style that can be worn a variety of ways. Just be sure to secure your hair in a clear elastic at the end.

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