Introduction: Fishtail Braids

Fishtail braids have an ornate look about them because they're made with small sections of hair, but they're not as hard to make as you might think! Up until now you have learned all about three-strand braids, and now it's time to learn how to make a two-strand braid.

In this lesson, you'll learn the fishtail technique and then level it up into a complete style.

This Instructable is part of my beginner braids series. If you like this lesson, try the rest!

Step 1: Simple Side Ponytail

Begin by smoothing your hair into a side ponytail at the base of your neck (doesn't matter which side). If your hair isn't long enough or results in a very short ponytail, use a smaller section of hair instead, such as the front side section used in the first lessons.

Brush the ponytail to remove any tangles, then divide it into two sections of about the same thickness.

Step 2: Cross Over a Small Section

Separate a small section of hair from the outside of one of the halves. The section should be about the diameter of a pencil.

Cross this small section over its neighbor to the far half section, and incorporate it there.

Step 3: Again From the Other Side

Now it's the other side's turn! Separate a pencil-sized section from the outer edge of the opposite half, and cross it over the preceding section to incorporate it with the first half.

Smooth both sections by hand or with a brush. Getting started with a fishtail is the toughest part, so don't get yourself down if it takes a few tries to get up and running!

Step 4: Repeat From the First Side

Ready to repeat? Pull a small section from the side you started with, and cross it over the middle to the opposing side, and incorporate it into that half.

Step 5: And Then the Second

Are you getting a sense of the pattern? Separate a small section from the opposing half and cross it over the middle to meet it's new home on the other side. Stick with it, your braid is about to start looking majorly fancy!

Step 6: Repeat Down the Line

Continue crossing small sections from one half to the other, alternating sides, until you run out of hair.

Secure the braid with a small elastic.

Gently pull the braid apart to create a fuller appearance. You did it! Did you get the hang of the hand motions? It can take a bit of practice, so feel free to repeat this braid several times before moving on.

Step 7: Starting Without a Ponytail

Now that you've got the hang of the fishtail technique, it's time to level it up into a more complete hairstyle! Start at one side as before, but skip the ponytail. Divide your hair into two even sections, where the dividing line extends from the drown of your head to behind the ear.

Break off a small section from the front half, and cross it over to join with the back half.

Likewise grab a small section from the back half and cross it over to join the front half. Remember that the first few stitches are the trickiest, so take a breather if you get frustrated trying to keep all those pieces in position with proper tension, then try again!

Step 8: Criss Cross

Grab another small piece from the front half and cross it over to join the back half, and repeat with a small section from the back crossing over to join the front. Try to keep the whole braid low and close to your head. Remember that it's always easy to make it looser after you're finished, so better to err on the side of tight!

Step 9: Flipping It Over

Repeat the fishtail braid sectioning and crossing down the length of your hair.

At a certain point you may find it more comfortable to flip the braid over and complete it "inside out" by crossing the sections under the middle before joining the opposite side.

Step 10: You Did It!

Tie off your braid with an elastic and gently pull the braid apart to adjust its shape and volume, then show it off! I find it easiest to do this braid over-the-shoulder, but as you gain more experience (and arm muscles), you can try fishtail braids at the back of your head and other configurations.

This Instructable is part of my beginner braids series. If you like this lesson, try the rest!

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Bio: Becky Stern is a content creator at Instructables. She has authored hundreds of tutorials about everything from wearable electronics to knitting. Before joining Instructables, Becky ... More »
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