Protective, versatile, and fully customizable: There’s a lot to love about feed-in braids, which is probably why they’re taking over Instagram and Pinterest timelines from coast to coast (and well beyond). Feed-in braid styles of every imaginable length, color, and style are popping up on the most stylish celebrities, influencers, and civilians alike. In the past month alone, we’ve seen romantic, honey-hued feed-ins cascading down to Kerry Washington’s waist and a face-framing set on Rihanna as she celebrated Fenty’s fragrance debut — not to mention Amandla Stenberg’s latest go-round with the protective style, a radiant two-tone break from the ice-blue-accented version that caused so much fanfare earlier this spring.
The real allure of feed-in braids can be found between the style’s inherent personalization and pure efficiency: Not only can the braids be calibrated to suit any style or aesthetic, but they also protect natural hair and are relatively quick and easy to do. According to Helena Koudou, a top hairstylist known by her handle @slayedinbraids who counts Amandla Stenberg as a client (as well as virtually every cool girl between New York and LA). “People love to get this style because it’s a quick and easy style to do and to have,” Koudou tells TZR. She explains that, depending on the exact style desired, it may only require two to four hours in the chair to achieve. If you’re after a set of feed-in braids yourself but stuck on exactly what to go for, scroll through this list of inspiration pulled straight from the ultimate tastemakers — with more than a few tips from Koudou herself along the way.
If you’re on the fence with exactly which color to try next, save yourself the stress and just go for two — or more. An ombré, whether constructed as a gentle color fade or a stark divide for amped-up drama, is a perfect way to play with a few fall colors at once. To keep the colors gleaming and glossy, Koudou recommends grabbing a quality oil sheen spray for major shine, and keeping some mousse on hand to tame any frizziness. “If you want to be extra cute, you can use jam to lay down your baby hairs,” she tells TZR. “I always use these products at the end of my braiding session.”
Accentuating curls are a literal twist on standard feed-in braids, adding dimension, texture, and volume for a breezy style that only looks super complicated. Here, a few well-placed gold rings that only further the overall goddess effect of the mile-long hybrid style, making it a perfect choice for true statement hair.
Leave it to Rihanna to take an announcement about one major moment (her Fenty Parfum is already a massive hit) and turn that into another newsworthy one altogether. To celebrate the release of the fragrance, Rihanna shared a glamour-steeped set of photos of her in a hotel bed, spooning celebratory caviar into her mouth and showing off a new set of elaborate feed-in braids. It appears that while most of the braids are done in the straight-back style, the pieces around her center part are left loose to frame her face and accentuate those famous, Fenty highlighter-dusted cheekbones.
Perhaps the most universally flattering of all feed-in varieties, the classic straight-back cornrows are undeniably sleek with the very huge added bonus of keeping the face free of hair. To get your own feed-in braids (be they straight-back or otherwise), Koudou recommends turning to a professional who can get a much better vantage point on your scalp for precise application. “Doing your own cornrows can be hard because you’re not able to probably part your hair and it's hard to see the back of your hair,” Koudou explains. But, if you're DIY determined, she suggests getting two mirrors: “One mirror can be for the front and the other mirror is to see the back of your hair,” she says. “That way your braids can be neat all around.”
It’s pretty typical to leave several inches of hair tips unbraided, but these platinum braids on Amandla Stenberg look extra-long thanks to their half-braided, curled ends. Left undone from her chest down and curled into glossy ringlets, Stenberg’s look is reminiscent of more than a few Disney princesses — all thanks to Koudou’s handiwork.
While much of the fun of feed-in braids is the ability to play with as much length as you want, the style looks equally striking on short and mid-length hair. Particularly when paired with an interesting color pattern or tiny, eye-catching accessories, a braided bob is an undeniably chic — and ultra-manageable way — to try feed-ins without too big a change.
Where were you the day Kerry Washington dropped this jaw-dropping photo set of her new honey-colored feed-ins, complete with wooden beads? Her interwoven blonde highlights, peak out from her darker brown braids for a massive splash of warmth. Something of a hybrid between straight-back cornrows and something more part-conscious, Washington’s waist-length feed-ins are textbook-level flawless.
If you’re unsure which style of feed-ins might be best for you, Koudou’s advice is to go classic — small, straight-back cornrows, not totally dissimilar to Washington’s. “This style is the most highly requested style from my clients,” she explains. “It takes a while to do but the results always turn out amazing. It’s very stylish and can look good with any outfit.”
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