Reviewed & updated: March 28, 2023 by Jamie Wilson BA
We’ve had the man bun, time for the man braid.
Before you finally get your haircut after quarantine, take some time to think about braiding it. Now’s your chance, before your hair’s short again and you never got to find out how much braids would suit you.
Why Wear Braids?
Braids have been a thing for 5000 years, but are traditionally thought of as a woman’s hairstyle. This is because women in Namibia wore them. They were worn by different tribes and were used as a distinction between the different tribe groups, but also as a form of bonding between the elders and children.
A lot of the different types of braids, which you’ll get to see in a second, are a combination of braids and man buns, alternatively named top knots. Do you think that you’re a braider yourself? The man buns came from China originally, as the Chinese terracotta soldiers wore them, and were the go-to hairstyle for men until around the mid-17th century.
They’re practical, stylish, and can be pretty low maintenance depending on what kind of braid you get. Are you more so a fan of tight cornrows, do you want an undercut detail or do you want to give it a go with micro-braids? More on this down below!
Be Prepared: What You Need
We recommend you make sure your hair is at least a couple of inches long, measuring from your roots to the ends of the hair. Maybe even aim for a good Johnny Bravo quiff, if you like. This will give you a shy yet noticeable braid, which is a great place to start if you feel like you want to lean into the idea of styling braids. For most guys growing that minimum hair length from the scalp will not come off as an issue.
A couple of inches longer hair will give you thicker small braids, and if you really want to go all out, the longer your hair is, the better.
Keep in mind that your face shape also matters; if you’ve got a more defined facial structure and a square, diamond, or triangle face shape, having all your hair in braids will suit you. You might want to think twice if you got a rounder face. This, however, doesn’t really count if you only intend on getting one or two small braids. Take a close look at your hairline, and figure out what works best for you. When it comes to the essentials, make sure that you have:
- Hair oil
- Hair tie
- Spray bottle
- A comb
- Moisture boosting conditioner
- Clarifying shampoo
Styling: Where To Start
The ideal #1 is having nicely combed hair that has no knots in it (yes, even if you have curly hair). Spraying some water on it can help detangle and get rid of unwanted build-up and tight tangles.
For thick, curly, African hair, applying lots of water and often doing deep-condition treatments will help your hair slip through combs and detangle faster. You can comb through with your fingers first, then revert to a wide-tooth comb.
To start a normal, three-stranded braid, take a section of your hair and separate it into said three strands. Take the left strand and cross it over the middle strand, then take the right strand and cross it over the middle strand. Repeat this process and you’ve got the braiding technique down. Just make sure to tie it with a hair tie once you’ve reached the end of your hair.
So, How Long Does Hair Have To Be To Braid It?
Some guys see braids as a protective style, meaning that it is the perfect go-to if you often experience breakage. It doesn’t create a ton of tension on top of the head and can look attractive when maintained the right way. Guys who are experiencing hair loss or traction alopecia can still give it a go with this look, just add your favorite hair extension to the look and rock the additional hair with confidence!
Generally, the minimum length of hair strand has to be 4-5 inches long. It doesn’t matter if your middle section or left section isn’t the same length, you can always mix and match your braids.
Top 5 Braid Looks To Consider
1. Detailed Cornrows and Shoulder Length Braiding
The fancy braiding design in between the larger cornrows in this cornrows hairstyle will turn any man’s head into a work of art. You should be sure to have hair of a substantial length if you want to achieve this style. We recommend that your hair stylist does this type of braiding.
2. Triplet Braids With Smooth Sides
These triplet braids are made by tightly braiding long hair. This is ideal for guys that have long hair on the top. This particular example is done on long, naturally straight hair, but can also be done on wavy, curly, or coiled hair. This braiding hairstyle might be one of the easier ones to style by yourself at home without a hairstylist.
3. Spider Braids
If you want to get spider braids, you probably should not have short hair. Short hair would only achieve the littlest of spider braids, so you’d be better off with two-strand twists.
For spider braids, you may need longer hair than you think. When getting braids, you should keep in mind that your hair might look shorter than when it was just hanging loose naturally. You can always add synthetic hair to make it longer.
4. Dyed Braided Hair And Buzzed Sides
Do you have highlighted or dyed hair? Make it look extra cool and show it off even more by tying it up in this braided bun. This style is perfect for guys that have short hair on the sides, and longer hair on the top. Pulling off this kind of hairstyle lets everyone know you’re the guy that’s into adventure, and a true twist to your french braids!
5. Long Box Braids
Box braids: do you have long luscious locks and want to show them off? You can get box braids by sectioning off a piece of hair in the shape of a square and starting a braid from there. Short hair won’t quite achieve this look, so you should probably make sure your hair is at least a few inches long. We think these kinds of braids will look good on someone who likes to follow hipster trends.
So Guys, How Long Does Your Hair Have To Be To Braid, And Which Style Is For You?
So, what is your natural hair type and texture like? Try out different braid styles until you find ”the one”, and make sure that you have enough hair so that you can style flawless and effortless braids! With the right rubber bands and a bit of practice, you will easily master this hairdo! Show it off all over social media and embrace a cool new look!
Still looking for inspiration, then checkout this blog post about Braids for Men Haircut.