Between the sun, sea, and sweat, summertime can wreak havoc on even the healthiest hair. Add in heat styling and manipulation for summer holidays and special events, and your hair could go totally haywire. Although you can keep up with trims, deep conditioning treatments to retain moisture, and avoid excess heat in the summer to keep hair healthy, opting for a short braided hairstyle (or if you’re keeping your length for the summer, an extra long protective option) could be an easier and less high-maintenance route to protection — all while still looking chic and stylish.
Braids are one of the best protective styles for natural hair. Like all protective styles (braids, weaves, and wigs) they keep the ends of the hair tucked away and minimize manipulation. By having your hair in short braids, it will help keep your hair nourished, prevent frizz, and keep split-ends at bay. “Braids are a great style for the summer since they keep hair off the face and neck, and work well in humidity and dryer climates,” says Laura Polko, celebrity hairstylist and Aquage brand ambassador.
Ahead, TZR spoke to top celebrity stylists for a full breakdown on the best short braided hairstyles to try for summer 2022. Some of these styles might take some time to install, while other styles can be achieved in no time at all. Regardless, there is a short braided style for all hair textures, plus products to maintain the look.
A leading hair trend season after season, knotless braids work well for both short and long braid styles. Unlike traditional box braids, knotless braids do not include the small knot (typically used to attach braiding hair) that starts at the root. They can be worn either small or jumbo and according to Sabrina Rowe Holdsworth, celebrity hairstylist and founder of NTRL By Sabs, this style works best for curly and coily hair with 3A-4C hair types. “Make sure your hair is freshly blow dried as it's best to braid dry hair so it doesn't tighten and become uncomfortable,” the pro tells TZR.
Worn in either the center of your head or on each side, French braids work well for every hair texture, as long as you detangle the hair beforehand. Braid hair overhand and pull it into sections as you move down the head. Finish off with a little hair spray or mousse to control flyaways and you’ll be good to go. Polko also enjoys taking French braids out for the added bonus texture. “With this short braided style, depending on how long you wear the braids, you can end up with a really fun curly or wavy texture that you can rock out for an additional day,” she shares.
Similar to cornrows — in that the hair is braided over rather than under to have a raised appearance — goddess braids are thicker in width and typically incorporate hair extensions. According to O’Connor, hair type 3 and 4 work best for a goddess bob. “Braids with added hair are best suited for medium to coarse hair textures, as the weight of the extra hair may be too much for fine hair,” the celebrity stylist tells TZR. Bigger in size and raised higher, they are also braided closer to the scalp. And because they are larger, they take much less time to install (30 minutes to two hours) than traditional box braids or cornrows, depending on how intricate your pattern is.
According to Leo Izquierdo, IGK co-founder, a braided ponytail is a super simple and easy look to create for any hair type. Start by gathering the hair into a clean high ponytail and tie it up. Then, “take a small section of hair from the ponytail and wrap it around your hair tie to conceal it, pinning it in place with a bobby pin underneath the base of the ponytail,” the expert shares. Once tightly secured, start braiding the ponytail with larger sections at the top and thinner as you move down. Izquierdo recommends using a small amount of Crybaby Anti-Frizz Smoothing Serum on dry hair to tame frizz and add shine. “Once the braid is done, secure it with an invisible hair band for a finished look in no time.”
Getting their name for the box pattern they leave on the hair, Holdsworth recommends box braids for super curly and coiled crowns. “They look amazing at any length and can be done with extension hair for density or not — depending on your hair and desired result.” Her top tip: make sure hair is detangled or stretched before beginning, and although box braids are typically installed with extensions, your root hair is still exposed — meaning it will need to be moisturized with an oil to keep it from drying out
Half-Afro Goddess Braids
Why choose between your natural texture and braids when you can have both? This hybrid style celebrates your curl pattern while accentuating a top braid style. Although there aren’t as many braids here, prior to braiding, Michelle O’Connor, Matrix global artistic director and celebrity stylist, recommends the hair is thoroughly cleansed and clarified before styling. “Next, you want to impart as much moisture into the hair as your hair will be in braids for a minimum of two weeks, and at a max about six to eight weeks.” For follow up, the pro suggests Matrix A Curl Can Dream Rich Mask and Moisturizing Cream to help maintain moisture for longer periods of time.
A great DIY style, fishtail braids are beloved for their undone appearance, meaning, you don’t have to be a professional to get this right as neat is not the goal. These two strand braids are wrapped underneath a section of hair and braided down to the ends. Once you start to see the “fish scales” appear, you can either continue all the way or finish off with a simple three strand plait at the end, then close off the braid with a rubber band. The experts suggest fishtails for any and all hair types.
Cornrows, a three-strand plait that is woven flat to the scalp in straight rows with a raised appearance, are another great short braided summer hairstyle to help protect natural hair by minimizing heat, combing, and pulling on the hair. When installing at home, Holdsworth recommends using a little of your favorite gel for the braid down, to secure any flyaways. And then of course, an edge control to create patterns or keep hair down.
Boho Hairline Braid
Izquierdo recommends a hairline braid, a braid that pulls all your front hair out of your face, as a great trick to keep hair from frizzing up in summer humidity. For those that want loose waves throughout the hair, he recommends spraying in BEACH CLUB Volumizing Texture Spray from roots to ends and massage or scrunch in. Then use a comb to slightly part hair to the side before braiding the remaining hair to create a chic boho updo. “On the side of the head under your part, grab a section of hair and begin French braiding,” he tells TZR. “Secure with a bobby pin, and spray with 1800 Hold Me Hairspray for a light hold and added glow.”
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