Beauty tip lists are my kryptonite. I just love learning about what different people do with their hair or makeup — seeing what works for them, what they spend time and money on, and where they’ve found shortcuts is absolutely fascinating.
One of the best tips I ever read was that a good haircut (and color, if you’re like me and haven’t rocked your natural shade in … a while) is the best beauty investment you can make. Think about it. You wear your hair every single day, and when it’s cut in a way that makes styling easy, getting ready each day takes way less effort.
I’ve also found that, when I have a good cut and use products that are really hydrating, I can — for the first time in my life — embrace the texture in my hair and do the ol’ wash and go. This is a game changer for me, and it’s not like I’m relying on fancy salon products to make it happen. I’ve used Herbal Essences for ages, and when they reached out to say that they were launching nine new collections (using a technology called bio:renew), I believe I (virtually) elbowed Jenn out of the way so I’d get a chance to try it out. I’ve been using their Coconut Milk Collection shampoo and conditioner ($5.99 each), and it’s been awesome. Smells great, my hair feels soft and smooth … total win.
Of course, you guys know me. I really enjoy playing around with hair so below, you’ll find a few tips from me on how to rock some sweet braids. And since I don’t walk out the door with wet hair (or braids) every day — and I know many of you don’t, either — I also grabbed a few tips for looking fab in a jiffy from Herbal Essences’ celeb stylist Charles Baker Strahan.
Kristen’s Tips for Workout Hairstyles and Race Day Braids
The other thing I’ve learned recently is that braids aren’t just for show. My hair is longer than it’s been in years, and between that and the added texture, if I run with it just in a pony? GOOD LUCK getting a brush through it afterward. So, I’ve taken to using lots of braids. They’re super functional, but also look really special! In fact, I did the double braid style below (after seeing Jess from The Fit Petite rocking the look at Camp Brooks) the day before working from my local coffee shop, and I had people coming up to me to ask about it all morning!
So, with that in mind, here are three ways to rock a braid that’ll work for work, a workout, or just going out! (Keep in mind, these all require you knowing how to French braid your own hair. It’s not hard, I promise — just takes some practice! None of these styles took me more than 5-10 minutes total, and I’m definitely no pro.)
Front Braid to Pony
This style is awesome for hair of various lengths and textures — and it really only takes a moment!
What you’ll need: One small clear elastic, one regular elastic, two bobby pins or a barrette.
Step 1: Create a deep side part and separate the hair from that part and a couple inches back from the rest of your hair. Put the majority of your hair in a ponytail.
Step 2: French braid the front section. This is an easy way to pull bangs that are growing out away from your face! Braid all the way to the end.
Step 3: Pull the braid back to your ponytail and fasten with a barrette or two bobby pins. Wrap a section of hair from the ponytail around any ends sticking out to group it in with the ponytail, hide your elastic, and make it look more polished.
Got thick hair with lots of texture? Then you’ll rock this style better than I did, but it’s a great way to make your hair look really, really long. I mean, I was going for this … and maybe fell a little short. But I bet you can do it!
What you’ll need: Four (or more) clear, plastic elastics. Size will depend on thickness of hair.
Step 1: French or Dutch (shown here — basically, inside out French braid) the top half or so of your hair. Continue braid all the way to the end.
Step 2: Take another quarter of your hair and braid it (unless your hair is so long and thick that your top braid goes to the bottom of your hair, in which case one braid will do!). Keep it a loose and messy.
Step 3: Create “bubbles” by fastening your braid and loose hair together and pulling the loose hair out a bit. Do this at regular intervals down to the bottom. It might not hold perfectly all workout long, but it won’t be hard to touch up!
Double Tucked Braids
This is my favorite of all — I’m rocking it as I type, in fact! It looks waaaaay more complicated than it really is. Promise.
What you’ll need: Two thin elastics (clear is ideal) and four or more bobby pins.
Step 1: Part hair evenly down the middle and pull one section tightly out of the way.
Step 2: French (shown here) or Dutch braid each side — a little loose and messy will work in your favor later, so don’t try for perfection! Braid both sides all the way to the ends, even if bits come poking out.
Step 3: Shove the end of one side right up under the bottom of the other braid. Secure with overlapping bobby pins.
Step 4: Repeat on the other side. Be sure to shake your head around to make sure both sides are fastened securely!
Hair Tips From Celeb Stylist Charles Baker Strahan
Dry shampoo is your friend — both before and after your workout. “Depending on your natural texture the quick answer to dealing with minimal sweat as well as restoring volume is to utilize dry shampoo. You can attack this two ways: by using it pre-workout (this will help to absorb) as well post workout (this will make sure you won’t have residual sweat and smell fresh).”
Plan ahead if you’ve got thick hair that you don’t want to spend time drying in the morning. “Shampoo and condition your hair at night when you get home — think of it as washing the day off. I recommend using the new Herbal Essences Coconut Milk Hydrate Collection or theHerbal Essences Argan Oil of Morocco Collection, which includes oil-infused crèmes that can be used as well to allow ample time to air dry. Right before bed, put your hair up in smaller twists (buns if comfortable) to give direction to the curl pattern. Once you take it down in the morning, it will have a nice beautiful texture. Utilizing a diffuser for a bit in the morning will boost volume to those slept on tresses.”
Hydration can be a big help for African American women with both relaxed and natural hair. “For either African American or mixed ethnicity, it’s incredibly important to maintain and support the hair with as much hydration as possible. I highly recommend the Herbal Essences Coconut Milk Hydrate Collection — moisturizing is the key to manageability and shine and the ability to bounce back from anything you put your hair through.”
What’s your go-to hairstyle for a workout or race?—Kristen