3 DIY Milkmaid Braids for the Hairstyling Impaired

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I love braids. Love them. They’re perfect for so many occasions! For example:

  • When you’re so busy that you haven’t washed your hair in four days and don’t give a flying fart but you don’t want anyone to know that you don’t give a flying fart

  • If you’re having a stressful day and you don’t want a single piece of your luscious locks to fall in your face lest you explode

  • If it’s a million degrees outside and you want to look super hot while remaining cool

  • When you attend glitzy award show ceremonies (I’m looking at you, pre-pixie-cut JLaw)

I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Of all the braids in the hierarchy of braid-dom, the best by far is the Milkmaid Braid. It manages to be retro, modern, utilitarian, whimsical, and look fancy while actually being really, really easy to do. It’s basically the Swiss Army Knife of hair-dos.

 

To celebrate this wonder in hair arrangement, I’ve decided to write-up three easy ways for you to rock your own.

Things you will need:

  • Hair brush
  • Between 10 and 20 bobby pins
  • Hairspray
  • 2 small hair elastics (preferably clear or in a color close to your hair color)
  • Hair that reaches at least a couple of inches past your shoulders

*note, all of these styles actually work better when your hair is a little bit dirty to give it some texture. If you have very fine hair or you’ve just washed your hair, you may want to use some sort of texturizing spray or cream before you begin.

Tools of the TradeBobby pins. Sooooooo many bobby pins.

 

To demonstrate how to do these dos I enlisted my lovely friend Jasmin as a hair model. Firstly, because she’s a mega-babe and a good sport, and secondly, because I only have two hands and couldn’t manage braiding and photographing my hair at the same time.

 

THE CLASSIC

This is the simplest of the three and a cinch to throw together when you’re pressed for time. It only took a couple of minutes to do! It’s only slightly more complicated than a ponytail or bun but looks exponentially cooler.

1. Start by separating your hair into two equal parts like you’re going to put your hair into pigtails. You can create a straight part by running a bobby pin or comb down the middle of your scalp. Tie off one of the parts with an elastic.

2. Pull the free section of hair toward your face. Like, so far forward it would look super awkward and weird if you were to just leave it there. Turn it into a simple braid–the looser the better–and tie it off with an elastic.

3. Untie the other section of hair and repeat step 2.

4. Take one of your pigtail braids and pull it over your head toward the opposite ear. If your hair isn’t long enough for it to reach all the way across your head, it should still be fine as long as it reaches to at least the middle of your head.

The Classic Pic 1 Say “hi” to Jasmin, everybody! Let’s give her a virtual hand for agreeing to be my guinea pig.

5. Secure the braid with bobby pins. Try to hide the pins under the braid to give it a more seamless look, but don’t worry too much about making it perfect. You can always tweak it later! Your bobby pins will be extra secure if you cross two on top of each other to anchor them down.

6. Take the other braid and position it behind the first braid. Tuck the ends of each braid under the other one to hide the wispy ends. Secure with bobby pins.

7. Personally, I think it looks better if you have a little somethin’ going on in front of the braids, so if you have bangs leave them out. If you don’t have bangs, you can either use your fingers to tweak out a few cheeky wisps to soften the look or you can pinch your hair at the roots to add a little volume to the front.

The Classic Pic 2Check it: a super intricate-looking arrangement that took less than three minutes.

Secure with a spritz of hairspray, and voila! You’re done and rockin’ some fierce maiden-braids.

 

A FRENCH TWIST

This is my go-to milkmaid braid look because it feels extremely secure so it’s great for yoga classes, babysitting, running at the gym, and a bunch of other things I never do. But seriously, it’s great because by starting with french braids you’re insuring that you have a more interesting look going on the back, which is important to remember!

1. Part your hair down the middle and section off the two pieces. Tie off one of the sections with an elastic.

2. Take the free section of hair and french braid it starting at either your hairline or the base of your bangs.

3. Repeat step 2 for your other section of hair.

4. Here’s where you have two options depending on the length of your hair:

a. My hair isn’t quite as long as Jasmin’s is, so I always pull the french braided sections over my head in the same way I would do for The Classic–over the top of my head toward the opposite ear–and they just barely cross over each other in the middle.

b. If you have long hair, like Jasmin, you can pull each french braid toward the opposite ear behind your head and then back over the top. It creates a bit more interest look going on the back.

A French Twist Pic 1 I like to keep the french braids loose for a softer overall look.

5. Secure everything with bobby pins and tuck any stray pieces of hair under the braid crown.

6. Again, create volume in the front by pinching your roots or teasing a few wisps out.

7. Seal the deal with some hairspray and you’re good to go!

A French Twist Pic 2If it’s a little uneven you can always move things around at the end. Bobby pins are your best friend when creating milkmaid braids.

 

THE WRAPAROUND

This is the most no-nonsense of the bunch. Back in college when I was waitressing at a 1950s-themed diner, working as a writing tutor, and managing graveyard shifts at the student center simultaneously I did this hair-do at least once a week because, to be quite honest, I had no time for sleep or showering and it did a bang up job of hiding how gross my hair was. But, even if you do have time for showering and having non-disgusting hair, this is still a great style any time you feel like it.

*Warning: this style requires hair to be a little longer and the stylist to have a little more french braiding expertise.

1. Create a deep side part and push the majority of your hair to one side of your head.

2. Starting at the side part, french braid along your hairline toward where you pushed your hair over.

3. Guide the french braid along your hairline by continuing to grab more hair in the direction you want it to go to feed the braid.

The Wraparound Pic 1It might look tricky, but it’s actually pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

4. Continue the french braid along the nape of your neck until you’d have to start french braiding upside down to continue–which as we all know is heinously difficult and I won’t make you try to do that. When you’d have to start french braiding upside down, take whatever hair is leftover and finish the braid off like you would for a normal braid.

5. Secure the braid with an elastic and pull it across your head to create the crown.

6. Tuck the tail of your crown braid into the weave of the french braid to hide the end and secure the crown with bobby pins.

The Wraparound Pic 2Sorry that I did this in my tiny bathroom and that you can see my toilet in some of these pictures. Jasmin told me that I had to keep it “Brady Bunch.” I thought that meant “keep it clean” but actually she was referring to the fact that the bathroom in the Brady household had no toilet. #themoreyouknow

7. The first couple of times you do this, you might have a bit of unevenness or weird bulgy bits, especially where the french braid turns into a regular braid. Just practice and be sure to pull the braid taut across the crown of your head and you’ll get it in no time. (Plus, bobby pins can help flatten out any weird bits if you don’t feel like starting over. I do it all the time.)

There you go! Three ways to add a little maidenly charm to your reserve of easy on-the-go hairstyle options. The next time you’re tempted to throw your hair up in a ponytail or topknot, I challenge you to rock one of these instead. I don’t care if you’re channeling Heidi, Princess Leia, or your favorite celeb, just wear them with confidence and you’ll definitely pull it off.

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