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Hairstyles can make or break a look, but one popular, classic hairdo is the braid. A braid is a complex structure or pattern formed by interlacing three or more strands of flexible material such as textile yarns, wire, and, of course, hair! Compared to the process of weaving, which usually involves two separate, perpendicular groups of strands (warp and weft), a braid is usually long and narrow interlaced strands of hair.

In other words, completed braids resemble a criss-cross hair pattern!

Popular Types of Braids:

1. Box Braids – Hair braids which are characterized by boxy or square shaped hair divisions. They are typically created by adding synthetic braiding hair. This hairstyle is a means of protective styling.
2. Cornrows – An ancient traditional African style of hair grooming, in which the hair is braided very close to the scalp, using an underhand, upward motion to produce a continuous, raised row. Cornrows are often formed in simple, straight lines.
3. Crochet Braids – Also known as latch hook braids, this type of braiding involves crocheting synthetic hair extensions to a person’s natural hair with a latch hook or crochet hook.
4. Fishtail Braids – Also known as the Herringbone, this braid includes the weaving of separate strands where the finished braid resembles the tail/bones of a fish.
5. French Braids – This braid includes three sections of hair that are braided together from the crown of the head to the nape of the neck. The Dutch braid is a form of the French braid.
6. Standard Braids – Two or three sections of hair are overlapped, creating the standard, twisted braid.

Braid Fun Fact: The oldest known reproduction of hair braiding may go back about 30,000 years. The Venus of Willendorf, also known as the Woman of Willendorf, is a female figurine estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BC. It has been disputed whether or not her hair was braided or its a sort of woven basket on her head. The Venus of Brassempouy is estimated to be about 25,000 years old and shows a braided hairstyle.

The braided hairstyle began growing in popularity around the world. During the Bronze Age and Iron Age many peoples in the Near East, Asia Minor, Caucasus, East Mediterranean, North Africa, Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks, Babylonians, Amorites, Hittites, Mitanni, Israelites, Persians, Medes, Chaldeans, Armenians, and more are depicted in art with braided hair.

Long or short, here to there, look spectacular and splendid with braided hair!

Braiding is traditionally a social art. Because of the time it takes to braid hair, people have often taken time to socialize while braiding and having their hair braided. It began with elders making simple knots and braids for younger children. Older children watched and learned from them, started practicing on younger children, and eventually learned the traditional braid designs. This carried on a tradition of bonding between elders and the new generation.

Cornrow Braids Fun Fact: Depending on the region of the world, cornrows are often worn by men and women and are often adorned with beads or cowry shells. Cornrows are easy maintenance, as rows can be left in for weeks at a time if maintained through the careful washing of hair and regular oiling of the scalp.

Crochet Braids Fun Fact: While crochet braids are a hybrid of traditional braids, they’re considered to be more similar to weaves. The natural hair can be twisted or braided but is most commonly styled into cornrows before affixing the synthetic hair. Using a latch hook or crochet hook, the synthetic hair (in the form of loose bulk) is then attached. Parts of the hair extensions are grabbed by the hook and pulled through the underside of each cornrow, working from the front of the hair to the back at a 90-degree angle.

A Not So Fun Fact About Braiding: Braids pulled too tight or worn for considerable lengths of time can cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia.

Whether your braid preference is box, crochet, cornrow, fishtail, standard or French, no matter which braids you step out in, be assured you and your hair will look and feel your best!

Nancy Mangano is an American beauty/fashion/style influencer, fashion journalist, screenwriter and author of the Natalie North murder mystery book series. Visit Nancy on her global online fashion/style/beauty magazine Strutting in Style! at https://www.struttinginstyle.com, her Facebook page Nancy Mangano at  https://www.facebook.com/nancymmangano/  Twitter @https://twitter.com/nancymangano and her author website http://www.nancymangano.com