Dutch braid vs french braid

What s The Difference Between a French Braid and a Dutch Braid

Stevens says that a French braid is a braid that looks inverted. “[It’s] where the hair is divided into 3 sections and crosses over alternating pieces to make a connection on the head braid,” she says.

The Beginner’s Guide To French Braids Vs. Dutch Braids

What is the difference between a French braid vs. a Dutch braid? Bustle asked two professional hairs.

Braids are one the most versatile — and easiest — ways to style your hair. You can wear box braids as a protective style for weeks or rock an intricate, one-night-only look (there’s a reason why everyone’s favorite celebrities love braids for a red carpet moment). The options are endless and there’s a braided hairstyle that looks amazing on pretty much everyone.

Two popular looks, French braids and Dutch braids, often get mixed up. While similar in look and technique, there is a slight difference. To get a complete guide on both, Bustle asked celebrity hairstylist Angela C. Stevens and TRESemmé global stylist Justine Marjan to explain how to tell the difference between the two and break down a step-by-step guide on how to do each one.

What’s The Difference Between A French and Dutch Braid?

The TL;DR: a French braid is accomplished when each section of hair is crossed over the middle piece when braiding while a Dutch braid is crossed under. The braids also differ in appearance. “The two braiding techniques are similar but they differ based on the direction the hair is manipulated in, resulting in a different visual outcome,” says Stevens. “The French braid appears flat and the Dutch braid appears raised,” adds Marjan.

How To Do A French Braid

Stevens says that a French braid is a braid that looks inverted. “[It’s] where the hair is divided into 3 sections and crosses over alternating pieces to make a connection on the head braid,” she says.

First, section the hair you want to braid into three sections. Stevens then says to cross them over one another, while alternating the pieces. Once those three pieces intersect, you’ll start grabbing pieces of hair as you braid.

Marjan says to grab the right section with your right hand, then cross your right hand over the middle piece and put it into your left hand, making sure you grab another piece of hair to add to the braid as you go. Then cross the piece from your left hand to your right hand, still making sure you grab hair as you cross over. Continue this pattern down the length of hair.

Pro tip: Stevens recommends using a pomade or an edge control gel, like the Cantu Extra Hold Edge Stay Gel, to manage frizz. She says to apply as needed to the base of the hair to help manage frizz and flyaways. She also recommends hydrating hair with a good serum. Try a smooth product like the TRESemmé Keratin Smooth Keratin Infusing Smoothing Serum or Crown Affair The Hair Oil to nourish strands.

How To Do A Dutch Braid

Similar to the French braid, you’ll want to separate hair into three sections. Start from the right and cross the piece under the middle section instead of crossing it over like you would when doing a French Braid. As you cross, you’ll still want to remember to add more pieces of hair each time you braid. Then from the left side, Marjan says to cross the piece from your left hand under the middle strand, passing it into your right hand. Continue this pattern all the way down the length of hair.

Once you practice, doing French and Dutch braids is pretty easy and you can make it one of your go-to hairstyles to keep your hair out of your face.

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What’s The Difference Between a French Braid and a Dutch Braid?

Danielle James is a New York-based journalist who covers all things fashion, beauty, and celebrity. She is also the founder of Model Citizen, a sustainable fashion company that encourages peer-to-peer clothing sharing and supports emerging designers.

woman in long denim jacket with double french braids with safety pin clips.

Whether you’re rushing out the door or you’re a couple of days past washday, a braid is an easy way to sweep your hair out of your face, all while keeping your strands protected from friction. But don’t think you’re only limited to pigtails, ponytails, or cornrows. French and Dutch braids are great options as well.

“They will always be trending,” says Gabrielle Union’s go-to hairstylist Larry Sims of braids. “They are fun and easy to manage.”

Susan Oludele, owner of Hair by Susy, agrees. “Artists like me and many other hairstylists are paving the hair industry by pushing a lot of the protective styles into the masses and consumers because we believe in natural hair, braids, and protective styles. We are celebrating braids and making them fun!”

French and Dutch braid hairstyles are an excellent way for beginners to learn how to braid. To help you get started, we asked both artists to create an in-depth step-by-step guide on the difference between a French braid and a Dutch braid and how to achieve the two hairstyles on all hair textures.

French Braid vs. Dutch Braid: What’s the Difference?

A braid is a braid — right? Wrong.

“A French braid is a three-piece section of hair braided together, with the pieces crossing over the middle section, from the crown of the head to the nape of your neck,” explains Oludele. The braid looks more voluminous than a Dutch braid because it’s raised off the scalp. “[In] a French braid you use hair strands over the middle section of the braid while Dutch braid uses hair strands under the middle section of the braid.”

In the States, depending on what part of the country you are from, French braids and Dutch braids are differentiated by “overhand” or “underhand” braids.

How to French Braid

Model with a completed French braid

Sims shares a step-by-step guide to French braiding in four easy steps.

  1. Start by separating the hair into three sections.
  2. Cross the left section over the middle section.
  3. Keep feeding the hair one over the other inwardly.
  4. Secure the braid and you are good to go.

“[Do] not pull the edges too tight because this could cause traction alopecia,” Sims advises — this goes for both French and Dutch braids.

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How to Dutch Braid

Riley Keough's Dutch braid from back

“Dutch braids look similar to cornrows and are braided by crossing the hair under each section of hair your fingers have picked up,” explains Sims. He shares how to create a Dutch braid below.

  1. Start by separating the hair into three sections.
  2. Cross the left section under the middle section.
  3. Grab hair from the right and the right section crosses under the middle section.
  4. Gather hair from left to right as you go along.
  5. Secure the braid to your liking.

Braid-styling Tips

You can get creative now that you know how to differentiate and create each braid. Depending on your hair texture, you may want to lay your edges or leave them as is.

“Adding accessories to your braids like pearls, flowers, or jewelry can spruce up [the] look,” says Sims. Some people enjoy rocking two braids, while one loose French braid can give off an effortless vibe.

For a more relaxed, romantic look, gently pull different sections of the braid. Let it fall naturally or spray with a light holding spray to secure the look.

And after all your hard work, be sure to protect the hair. “To maintain the hairstyle, wrap your hair before laying down on it and try not to cause friction against your braids with hats or rough handling to cut down on frizz,” states Sims.

Frequently Asked Questions

Making double French braids is the same as making a single, but with less hair per section. Simply part hair down the middle to create two even sections. Secure one section with a clip or hair tie so it doesn’t get in the way, and begin to split the other into three sections, and style as mentioned above.

What is the difference between a braid and French braid?

A French braid is a more elevated style than the classic braid in that a French braid is style at the crown of your head, whereas a regular braid begins at the nape of your neck.