Makeover Monday: Time to Take Your Braid Up a Notch
Ok, let’s talk braids. I have two girls with very long hair, that just can’t stay down all the time. The tangles! Now my younger girl, we’ll call her C, is my tomboy who doesn’t want any fancy braids. A Dutch braid is the most I get her to sit still for – she has fine hair, so a Dutch braid just holds her hair better. My older girl, we’ll call her A, is the one who wants the fancy hair and fancy braids and such. And braids are everywhere right now, due to a few TV shows and some movies. So when I was given a copy of Stunning Braids by Monaé Everett, we were excited!
This past week, we set aside an afternoon to try out a few braids. A had her braces put on that morning and I knew from experience that not a whole lot of school would get done that afternoon (new braces pain is awful.) I initially picked seven to do, but we stopped after the fifth, because A liked the last one so much that she wanted to leave it in for the rest of the afternoon. If you are reading this post and have had the inspiration to recreate this look, why not give it a go! If you have shorter hair, you can still get your desired look- with the help of clip in hair extensions. With these, you can always switch up your looks. Never be afraid to experiment with your hair, whether that is styling it in a different way than usual, dying it or even cutting it. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.
A few initial thoughts. The braid on the cover, the lower far right picture, is the kind of braid that makes you want to learn braiding so you can do this one. It’s gorgeous, and intricate, and perfection. I need to find a reason to do it and a person to do it on! Second, I love that Monaé, the author, takes the time to go over what supplies you’ll want to have on hand and why. Third, I love that there are multiple pictures of the steps that go into making the braids.
So here’s what happened with us:
First braid up was the knot braid.
We really liked this braid! It was quick and easy, and a complete braiding newbie would definitely be able to do this and impress others with her wicked mad skills. And a handy tip from me – I used a spin pin instead of a bobby pin to hold the last knot in place and it worked very well. I liked the hold better than a bobby pin.
Next up was the simple braided pony.
(Full disclosure: this would have gone a lot better if our hair elastics weren’t the leftover cheap kind from a sleepover. It felt like the ponytail kept slipping. So invest in good hair elastics if you are going to do these looks! Your hair will thank you, your frustration levels will stay down, and your fingers won’t hurt from the cheapies breaking and snapping them!) I loved this one. Like, love loved. It gives a basic ponytail such an upscale finished look. It really takes a ponytail to the next level. And it’s another one that doesn’t take too much time. The hardest part is centering the braid over the ponytail.
Now comes the first disappointment. The Dutch braid. As already discussed, we do Dutch braids a lot in this house. I don’t know what it was with this braid, but I couldn’t get it to work the right way. I think it was a matter of not explaining well enough how to part the hair at the top. It was a little confusing, and a better picture for the listed steps probably would have helped. But this braid almost drove me crazy and didn’t work, and as a result, I will now drive A crazy over the next few weeks. Because this braid will not beat me. I will conquer it. And when I do, I will post an update with a picture.
But we soldier on, because we are mighty women. Unfortunately, the next one didn’t go much better. The draped knot braid. Again, I think there is an element missing in the explanation of the steps. In Steps 2 through 4, when Monaé instructs to do a Dutch braid, she doesn’t say how far to take the Dutch braid before moving to a 3 strand. And from the picture, it’s obvious that it isn’t very far into the braiding process. But when I was finished with the braids, I couldn’t get them to lay properly across the head to secure under the rest of the hair. The braids laid strangely. It might be a problem with the braids being too tight. Again, the instructions need to be clearer if a looser braid is needed.
Our last of the day was the diagonal lace braid.
As I said earlier, we stopped after this one because A liked it so much she wanted to wear it the rest of the afternoon. I foresee this braid being repeated a lot in our future. In my notes, this one has the heart eyes emoticon beside it. I will say that the bottom part of this one, when you add in the pieces that give the braid the lace look, might be tricky for a newbie. Relax! The key is to make sure you have that section combed out very nicely first. After you complete Step 3 and clip off the rest of the hair, remove the clip from Step 2 and comb through the hair so it’s ready for you when you need it in Step 9.
So, lessons learned.
First, invest in good clear elastics. I know I already said that, but it really can’t be said enough. Second, do multiple trial runs if you are going to use these braids for a nice occasion. Don’t think that just because a book tells you the steps that you can do these braids in a few minutes. Third, is most of these styles are not ones you can do on yourself. Unless you’re Gumby or you have eyes in the back of your head or something. These are mostly braids to do on someone else. They also need someone who has some experience with braiding and has patience, along with a model who is willing to sit for the extra time to get the braids done right. Because starting over is going to happen.
As another side note, Monaé encourages the reader to work with their own hair texture and natural hair (and I love that she encourages that), but she also walks you through different ways to curl hair to make some of the styles pop more. And a few of the styles I did on A might have popped more in pictures if we had some curls to contrast the braids against. But our hair doesn’t curl. At all. At. All. For the sock hop father/daughter dance she went to last spring, we spent a stupid amount of time curling her hair for her high ponytail. By the time the dance started, her hair was straight. It was my wedding day hair fiasco all over again. One day, I will have the Dry Bar 3-Day Bender curling iron. One day. It’s a thing of beauty people! I used my cousin’s last year on freshly washed hair and it held the curl overnight. It was a freaking Christmas miracle! But right now, money goes to braces and homeschool curriculum and camping supplies and fixing the car.
Anyway! I definitely think that this is a book worth investing in if you are wanting to try new hair looks. You’ll be totally on point with the gorgeous braids that Hunger Games, Frozen, Reign, Games of Thrones, and all the others that are making braids so popular right now. And you will look glamorous as all get out with these looks. So, grab your comb and hair elastics and a good hairspray, and get going! Have fun, and after a while you’ll be able to put your own twists on some of these gorgeous braids!