That Fishtail Braid

Circa short hair years, 2008

I rocked a pixie cut for the five years following high school and would have kept it that way had I not moved abroad. The anxiety of going to a salon in Germany and being unable to communicate just how I liked my cut was the catalyst that caused me to grow out my hair. And despite now having fairly long, unruly locks, I’m still stuck in the mindset that it’s still too short to do anything with.

But the braid. Oh, we saw it on runways and celebrities, on the straight-A student and that haute blonde. Editorials say they’re sick of it, but I’m going for fashionably late. All I want, really, is to master that fishtail braid.

And maybe the reason why I’m so desperate is because I’ve tried it before and sucked. Be it my damaged, wavy hair or my inept fingers, all I managed to create was a real fancy knot. I had a friend justify my failure by saying that the braid is easy in concept but difficult in execution.

So I’m giving it a second go, mostly because I’m titillated by the idea of having a fishtail while I’m on a cruise ship next week… Cue Lonely Island.

And the thing is, I actually did a decent job! I started off by throwing my hair into a side ponytail (left photo). I just wanted to get a feel of what the new braiding pattern would be like and this helped to keep things together. By the mid-section, you can clearly see the result of my impatience as I began to cross over larger sections of hair, making it look uneven.

Left: First attempt at the fishtail braid with rubber band. Right: Second attempt with hair serum.

The second time around (photo right) I tried to start it without the rubber band, though the lumpiness that ensued was just indicative of my nil-skill level. However, this time I ran my hair through with Bed Head’s After Party serum to help smooth down the frizz and flyaways. There’s actually an impressive difference in shine between these two photos.

In truth, the fishtail braid is manageable, though here are a few things that I wish were highlighted to me when I first gave it a go:

1. It’s going to take a long time. Expect to spend 15 minutes on this single braid, especially as a beginner.
2. The hair from the OUTSIDE goes to the hair on the INSIDE of the OTHER side. (Whaa?)
3. It doesn’t even remotely resemble a fishtail braid until half-way so stop redoing it.

Why don’t you give the Fishtail Braid a go and let me know how it goes. Here’s the video I watched to get the hang of it:

Now tell a braiding padawan, have you any tips for mastering this do?