French Curl Braids Are Back - Here's How To Achieve The Look

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Protective hairstyles have an exciting history. With origins in African culture, braids were seen as a means of differentiation between tribes and communicated a person's age, marital status, religion, power, and level of affluence. 

While braids have seen variations and evolution on social media, French curl braids have remained a favorite. And now this style reminiscent of the '90s and early '00s is back with a bang. As Brooklyn-based hairstylist Martika Cogdell explained to PopSugar, "Back then, there were several Black sitcoms like 'Girlfriends,' 'Moesha,' and 'The Parkers,' whose main characters were all wearing this super-flirty look." Versatile and glamorous, French curl braids are the perfect look for when you want to move between practical and stylish within a matter of minutes. 

If you're new to braids, you might be wondering what the difference is between box braids and French curl braids. "French curl braids are similar to your traditional box braids, but instead of using the classic Kanekalon [a synthetic hair extension], the aptly named French curl braiding hair is used in its place," shared Cogdell. The style stands out because of the clean parting, elegant and slim strands, and curly locks at the end (which you can customize to whatever length you desire). Now that you know about the braid, here's how you can get the look.  

The how of French curl braids

One of the universal rules before you get started is to make sure your hair is free of any product buildup and is clean. Then it's on to the synthetic braiding hair you'll need. Cogdell told PopSugar, "You'll need a few packs of French curl braiding hair ($15) in the color of your choice — opt for at least four to be on the safe side." Some hairstylists even recommend going for more packs (eight) just to be on the safe side. You won't really know how much of the pre-curled stuff you'll need until you start, which brings us to the next important point. Make sure the braids are pre-curled, so you get the best look possible. 

Begin by sectioning your natural hair, as shared by YouTube haircare influencer Kensa Diallo in a video. This part is particularly crucial in order to get a nice and clean look with this protective hairstyle. It also helps you navigate strands easily because you can see how you're doing in each section as you progress. Then it's on to the actual braiding. Go for the knot-less braid method if you are worried about tension. Using a moisturizing gel at the roots of your natural hair (like Ampro Shine 'n Jam Conditioning Gel) can also help you navigate the braiding process more smoothly. 

The end curls are the star of the style so make sure you don't braid the hair strands all the way. 

Some important things to keep in mind

Moisturizing periodically through the process makes everything a lot easier, according to salon manager of Chop Chop London, Karen Windle. She told HuffPost, "Using a moisturising curl creme at the start when beginning styling will help keep the style neat and I'd recommend regularly topping up the moisture levels with a hydrating styling spray, to be applied topically at intervals."

Once you're done with your French curl braids, the next tip has to do with maintenance — SPF on both the scalp and hair is really important, especially during the summer. As for protecting the longevity of the braids, hair stylist and founder of Braids By Fels, Felicia Annang, told HuffPost that regular moisturizing using a mousse and a silk bonnet can become your best friends in this area. 

And there's no reason to stick to just one style with French curl braids. There's plenty of inspiration on TikTok to choose from. If you think sticking to one color when it comes to French curl braiding hair is boring, you can always try mixing it up. The trick is to find a style that works for you. But before you know it, you'll be sporting one of the best braided hairstyle trends out there.