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 Africa, in Namibia to be specific, were in fact the first to wear 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. This tradition developed more and more, to the point where men started wearing them as well, and have been a form of art as well as hair style ever since.
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. The man buns came from China originally, as the Chinese terracotta soldiers wore them, and were the go-to hair style for men until around the mid-17th century.
With that history lesson over with, we think braids on guys look great, and so does the rest of social media platforms. They’ve been all the rage lately, and for good reason; they’re practical, stylish, and can be pretty low maintenance depending on what kind of braid you get.
Be Prepared: What You Need
Hair length, naturally, is an important step here. Depending on how long you want your braids to be, as well as how noticeable you want them to look, we recommend you make sure your hair is at least a couple of inches long, measuring from your roots. Maybe even a good Johnny Bravo quiff, if you like. This’ll 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.
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. About eight inches of hair or longer should be long enough to achieve the spider braids look. Keep reading to find out what that is.
Keep in mind that your face shape also matters; if you’ve got more defined facial structure and a square, diamond or triangle face shape, having all your hair in braids will suit you. If you’ve got a rounder face, you might want to think twice. This, however, doesn’t really count if you only intend on getting one or two small braids.
Then, some of the more technical pieces you’ll need to make sure you have everything in place, are hair oil, a spray bottle and some water, and a comb. The real item that you can’t go without is a hair tie, but the rest of those things will help the process significantly.
And honestly, having a second pair of hands nearby just in case might end up being useful too, especially if it’s your first time braiding, and even more so if it’s your first time braiding on yourself.
Styling: Where To Start
The ideal square one is having nicely combed hair that has no knots in it. That’s if you have straight hair, curly hair, thin hair or thick hair. Doesn’t matter, just do it and thank us later. Spraying some water on it can help detangle, just make sure you don’t look like you just cannonballed into a pool.
For thick, curly, African hair, applying lots of water and conditioner will help your hair slip through combs and detangle faster. Leave-in conditioner is the best option if you have it, otherwise a normal conditioner will also do, as well as your favourite detangling spray. One of our protips is to section into two parts or more depending on how long your hair is, and start combing through from the tips to the roots to avoid breaking your hair. 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.
The tighter the braids, the longer the hairstyle will stay in. If you aim to keep your new hairstyle in for several days, you can wash your braids by placing it on your braids first, then massaging it into your scalp. A little hair oil will also help moisturise the braids and your scalp. You could also wear a hair net over your braided hair to keep them from being undone, especially at night.
Beauty Is Not Pain
You’re almost set! We just have one kind reminder; don’t make your braids too tight, and if you’re getting them done by a stylist, don’t be shy to tell them what feels uncomfortable. It’s worth it to unbraid and rebraid until it feels comfortable. It would be a shame if your luscious hair were to fall out of its hair follicles from braids that were braided too tightly, which is called traction alopecia.
That being said, here are some of our favourite braid hairstyles for guys to get you inspired, and to give you an idea of what could work well with your hair length and style.
Taper Fade And Single Braid
If you want to keep your short hair, this may be a good way to start your journey into braided hair. It doesn’t stray too far from the man bun trend that we all know and love, and the single braid on the top adds a touch of detail to your natural hair, whilst still letting others know you have an edgy taste in style. This braid hairstyle would be the perfect start to guys with any length of hair.
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 this type of braiding is done by your hair stylist as a design as intricate as this would be difficult to do on yourself, and you’d be sure to lose arm circulation after the first two minutes. We know sporting the trendiest hairstyle makes you feel like one of the guys, so might as well not sacrifice your limbs.
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, maybe you’ve already styled a man bun in the past and want to try something new. 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 needing a hair stylist. If you are into the viking look, this one will, without question, be up your ally.
Clean Fade and Line Up Top Knot
We recommend this hairstyle for guys that have been growing out their hair for a while. To make this style of braid, you would ideally have your natural hair at around shoulder length. Guys with short hair wanting this style would end up with fewer braids that might not quite make it to the man braid bun stage, meaning you wouldn’t be able to tie the braids back like you would with a man bun hairstyle. Braiding hair like this may also take a considerable amount of time, seeing how thin each strand is.
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 the ‘taper fade and single braid’ look that we saw earlier.
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. If you want similar length braids to this guy in the picture, we’d recommend having shoulder length hair at least, maybe even a little longer. You could always add synthetic hair to make it longer. Then again, it all depends on personal preference and what you think would suit your face shape best.
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 braid 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, likes staying active, and with your braids tied up and out of the way like this, you also clearly have a good sense of style.
Simple Cornrows With Beading
If you have a head full of hair, this could be a really effortless look to tone it down a bit. These cornrows are all precisely done to be equally as thick as the other, and finished off with some beads at the shoulders. It’s a much less busy, intricate design than the cornrows we looked at earlier, so these may be the perfect style for you to get if you’ve got semi-short hair and prefer it styled in a sleek way. These cornrows as a braid style makes sure your hair can get out of the way, and can even be dressed up as well as dressed down, depending on your outfit.
Long Box Braids
Box braids. 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. They may look quite similar to the spider braids, but have a completely different look if you look at them from the top of the head, which is when the boxes will be most noticeable. We think these kinds of braids will look good on someone who likes to follow the hipster trends.
So Guys, How Long Does Your Hair Have To Be To Braid And Which Style Is For You?
Dive into the newly trending world of man braids, we’ve already compiled your inspiration and wish list right here to help you decide which style is the one for you. If you’ve already taken part in the man bun trend, but you’ve outgrown that phase, the braids style is definitely a contender for you. And if you have short hair but you’re interested in growing it out to start wearing braids, a small braid on the top of your head could be the way to go. From there onwards, and the longer your hair gets, more styles are waiting for you to experiment with.
Feature image: © unsplash