An under braid is also commonly known as a backward braid or a reverse French braid, and it is an unusual style of braid that is rising rapidly in popularity.
These braids are a fresh and easy way to manage hair for long-haired people of all hair types. It is also a great protective style for those with natural hair needing rest from manipulation.
We’ll talk about how to do under braids, whether they are compatible with other braiding styles, do’s and don’ts, and frequently asked questions.
What Are Under Braids?
The classic braid is a simple process of dividing the hair into three pieces and weaving them together. French braiding, or over braiding, is a popular alternative to classic braiding. Braiding begins at the scalp, close to the forehead, rather than dividing all of the hair into three sections.
The hair surrounding the face is braided. As the braid grows, hair from the rest of the head is picked up and woven in.
Under braiding, also known as Dutch braiding, is a style of braiding hair that works like the inverse of over braiding. Over braiding weaves the strands on top, whereas under braiding pulls the strands from the bottom up.
Classic braids swing free, but both under and over braids are bound tightly to the head due to the way the hair is woven into the braid as it grows.
How To Do Under Braids (Step-by-Step)
Wash and Prep the Hair
Begin with clean hair that has been thoroughly detangled and combed, brushed, or teased.
Determine Placement of the Braids
If you are doing a single braid that you want to be symmetrical, locate the centerline of your head. This may be where your hair naturally middle parts. To maximize aesthetic appeal, make sure that you are set up to have the braid run straight from the middle of your forehead to the nape of your neck.
However, under braiding have many forms. If you are doing multiple chunky braids or an assortment of small ones, mark where you want to place them. Check out our site for inspiration for different ways to style under braids.
Section the Hair
Using a rat-tail comb or similar instrument, section out the hair according to your desires.
Divide the first section into three small strands. There should be a top, middle, and bottom. Braid these together, always pulling from the bottom.
Braiding is done by taking an outside strand, say, the left strand, and moving it over the middle strand. Now that there is a new ‘middle’ strand, the right strand is moved to become the new middle. By alternating in this fashion, bringing the outside strands to the middle, the hair is eventually woven into a single braid that can be tied off.
Integrate the Rest of the Hair
As the braid lengthens, it will start to cover fresh parts of the section that have not been braided. As you braid, incorporate the rest of the hair. Do this by pulling up small pieces of hair as you braid from underneath, adding hair to the bottom strand.
By the time the braid is finished, all the hair that would have been ‘underneath’ should have been incorporated. For a single, large, centered under braid, this means all hair has been included in the braid.
Watch the following tutorial to learn how to do under braids
Tips for Under Braiding
Newcomers may not succeed at the style immediately. Here are some tips on how to make under braiding easy and painless.
Go Slow When Learning
For those accustomed to French braiding, it may feel counterintuitive to under braiding. Work slowly when first learning, and be mindful of the orientation of the working strands to ensure that you are pulling hair into the bottom strand and thus making an under braid.
Switching, whether French braiding or under braiding, midway through a braid will create lumps in the braid.
Condition and Edge Control
For baby hairs and flyaway management, be sure to condition appropriately before braiding. Some people with thin hair may find unwashed hair braids easier than freshly cleaned hair, as it helps weigh the hair down.
For those with natural hair, it is best to braid when freshly washed, especially if the style will be left in for an extended period.
Top Under Braids We Really Love
Looking for some inspiration on the many different styles you can experiment with once you’ve mastered the under braiding technique? Here are 31 of the best under braids that we are coveting right now:
1. Dutch Braid Mohawk
The amount of detail this under braided mohawk hairstyle packs in is amazing. From the light purple and blue to the thick braids up top and the shiny silver hair cuff, this style is a must try!
2. Thick Under Braid Bun
For Black women looking to lighten up their hairstyle, consider a rich caramel color. This shade will also make thick under-style braids shine in a low bun.
Is there a long under braided hairstyle you’re coveting but you don’t have the length? Feed-in braids will allow you to achieve this mixture of thin cornrows detailing the sides of one thicker braided ponytail.
4. French Under Braids
French braids are quite popular among women and it’s easy to see why. These thick under French braids are luscious and will make even thin or fine hair look thicker.
Why make under braids that go directly from the hairline straight back when you can make fun curved shapes? The unexpected part lines are seen here breathing new life into a traditional high ponytail.
Whether you have naturally straight or naturally wavy or curly hair, a side braid is guaranteed to be a soft, pretty hairstyle. Use an under technique to show off your gorgeous braided mane, smoothing baby hairs along your hairline.
To get the proper length you’ll need to carry off this beautiful half updo featuring two wide braids, make sure your hair is at least shoulder-length. Fill the bottom half with tight curls in ringlets or spirals to complete the look.
If you typically make a traditional braid bun, then you’ll appreciate what switching up the style to a reverse braid bun can do! The coiled bun seen here is centered near the face for a dramatic look.
9. Under Braided Crown
10. Dreadlock Braid
If you’re rocking locs right now, you can still try out an under braiding hairstyle! After parting your hair in the middle, make two Dutch braids. Leave them plain like above or consider tucking in some colorful flowers for accent.
11. Zig Zag Braid
To flaunt your naturally curly hair, a half under braid hairstyle is a must. This intricate look features a combination of thick and thin braids, separated with a zig zag line, at one side and the back of the head while the other half of the hair is left loose.
12. Two-Tone Under Braid
How stunning is this two-tone hairstyle? Whether you choose the same dark shade of purple to wear with your brown or black mane, or you choose a brighter shade, the two colors will work together to make your under braid style gorgeous.
13. Thin and Thick Braids
If you have a bit more time to spare in your hairstyle, consider one that is more intricate. Here we see a mix of thin braids woven throughout a thick under braid. Choose them in contrasting colors to highlight your hard work.
14. Fishtail Under Braid
15. Colored Braid
The ridged shape of this thick two tone under braid is more noticeable with the vibrant colors. Women with a darker skin tone can effortlessly rock bright colors to accentuate their hairstyle.
16. Under Braid in Short Hair
Hair of any length can be under braided: in fact, under braiding is perfect for short hair because it creates a sleek and smooth finish and needs less length to hold it’s shaping. To create this look use a texturizing spray to create grip in your hair that will help to hold it in place, then finish your style with a high shine hairspray.
17. Under Braided Angel Braid With an Afro
Of course, there’s no need to under braid all of your hair! You could choose to create a under braided halo around your head and use this to create a frame to show off the natural texture of your hair. This will look particularly effective if your natural hair is textured and has plenty of volumes.
18. Twisted Under Braided Updo
If you want to create as much visual impact with your under braids as possible then why not create a beehive-style updo using under braiding techniques? This is a style that will work best if you have ultra-long hair or are wearing long hair extensions.
Separate your hair into six even sections and under braid each section, before winding and twisting these on the top of your head to create a tall and impactful updo.
19. Black and Blonde Under Braids
If you have dip dyed or bayalage hair then you can use this to your advantage when creating a duo of stylish under braids. Create braids in your hair using the underbraiding technique and it will ensure that the colored or highlighted sections of your hair will really pop.
20. Inverted Braid With Purple Detail
Work a single under braid from the nape of your neck, working to the top of your head, then secure your hair in a chic and feminine twist. This is a great way of showing off playful colored hair, such as the purple and lilac hair shown here. Shaved sides will emphasize the mohawk feel of this look, and really help to show off your under braided style.
21. Under Braid Halo With Twisted Bun
Use the under braiding technique to create a halo braid with a difference. This will make your halo braid look much neater, and sit much closer to your head making this the perfect style for workwear or for formal occasions.
22. Side Braid with Pin-Up Curls
Under braids are becoming increasingly popular for weddings both for guests, bridesmaids and brides. Team under braids at the side of your head and nape of your head with a mass of curls to create show-stopping styles. Pin in extra hairpieces and hair extensions to give the style more volume, and to create a bigger visual impact.
23. Under Braid with Ultra Straight Ponytail
This is a simple but show stopping way to incorporate an under braid into your everyday style: this is a great hair style to wear both for work and play and is incredibly easy to create. Work a single under braid from the nape of your neck, and then simply stop and add a hair elastic when you reach the point where you like to wear a ponytail.
24. Double Under Braids With Curls
Section your hair and work from your nap to create three separate under braids. Pin them into place and then use curling tongs to create tight curls on the top of your head, which you can pull forward to lie over your forehead like a faux fringe. This is a great look for formal occasions and will suit any face shape.
25. Ballet Bun with Bow
This is a sweet and feminine way to wear an under braid, and nods subtly to the cute-as-pie hairstyles worn during the 1950s. The key to getting this look right is to pull your braid tightly to ensure it looks as neat as possible, then add a cute and oversized gingham bow.
Under Braids vs. Over Braids
Both under braids and over braids stay close to the head. The only difference is whether the hair not initially used to begin the braid is integrated into the top strand or the bottom strand. In contrast, the French braid results in a neat, tucked-in look, and the under braid stands out as a stark, centerpiece hairstyle.
With any new style, there are bound to be hiccups in the process. Never fear; let’s review some frequently asked questions for those new to under braiding or troubleshooting the hairstyle.
Should you do over or under braid?
Whether you should wear an over braid or an under braid depends on the desired aesthetic and personal preference. Under braids tend to stick out more visually, the braid laying on top of the hair. Over braids are more traditional and may be a better choice if you’re looking for less attention on your hairstyle and more on the rest of your outfit.
Are under braids damaging to hair?
No! Under braiding is great for protective styles as it helps keep hair tucked away from the air and other manipulation.
Do you braid over or under for cornrows?
Braiding cornrows the way you French braid would not result in the stark look that is intended when wearing cornrows. To ensure the clear look and function of cornrows, under braid them.
Are under braids tight?
Yes, these braids are secure, tight braids. However, they should not be painful. Not only does braiding to the point of pain cause you distress, but it also means that the tension on the skin and hair is too great, defeating the purpose of the protective style.
When should under braids be taken out?
If you are planning to leave these braids in for an extended period, appropriately done under braids can last for two to eight weeks. The length depends on your own desires as well as the welfare of your hair. If you happen to be outdoors often in the summer, for example, your hair may need unbraiding and subsequent washing.
Those with thin hair may need to take out their under braids much sooner, within a couple of days or even hours. Thankfully, these braids are easy styles to re-do.
Just like classic braiding techniques, under braiding can be done on any hair type. Under braiding needs no special equipment or skills; just knowing to pull hair from underneath.
Under braids can be used as a protective style or just as an aesthetic choice. No matter the motivation for learning, knowing how to under braid adds a stylish, fresh option to the repertoire of anyone with long hair.