How to Do a Waterfall Braid: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Do a Waterfall Braid: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Do a Waterfall Braid: A Step-by-Step Guide

Waterfall braids seem to be all over Pinterest. They're the perfect hairstyle for school, formal occasions, a casual dinner out with friends, or just because. They're essentially a half-French braid where some hair is braided while the rest flows down freely. Since they're not typical braids, they might be a bit tricky to do. In this guide, we'll show you how to do a waterfall braid step-by-step.

How to Do a Waterfall Braid


the back of the hair using waterfall braid
Credit: Unknown

Here's a detailed waterfall braid tutorial:

Step 1: Brush Your Hair and Choose Your Starting Point

Make sure your hair is completely dry. Brush it out to remove any tangles. To start with your waterfall braid, choose either the left or right side of your head. Take a small section of hair from this above your ear on the preferred side.

Step 2: Begin the Braid

Grab a small section of hair at the front and divide it into three equal parts. Use a rat tail comb to section your hair. Start braiding like you would for a regular French braid. Cross the right strand over the middle strand, then the left strand over the new middle.

Step 3: Create the Waterfall Effect

After a few initial crosses, drop the right strand of hair (which would typically go over the middle) and let it hang down. Pick up a new section of hair right next to where you dropped the strand to replace the dropped piece and continue braiding.

Step 4: Continue Across Your Head

Keep braiding across the crown of your head. Each time the strand on the right crosses over the middle, drop it and pick up a new piece next to it. This will create the cascading "waterfall" strands.

Step 5: Secure the Braid

Once you reach the opposite side of your head or the point where you want the braid to end, secure the braid with a small clear hair elastic. If you like, you can use a bobby pin at the end of the braid underneath some hair to hide it.

Step 6: Adjust and Set the Style

Gently pull on the braid loops to widen them slightly and give a fuller appearance. Spray some hairspray to hold the style in place.

Step 7: Style the Rest of Your Hair

You can leave the rest of your hair loose or style it as desired to complement the waterfall braid.

Tips and Tricks for Creating the Perfect Waterfall Braid


woman doing a waterfall braid on another woman's hair
Credit: Envato Elements/ zelmab

Here are some practical tips and tricks for creating a perfect waterfall braid:

  • If your hair is too silky or clean, it might slip while braiding. Spray some dry shampoo to add texture and grip.
  • As you drop sections of the braid, clip them away temporarily. This prevents mixing dropped strands with the ones you’re still braiding.
  • Make sure the new sections you pick up are roughly the same size as the ones you drop. This keeps the braid uniform and neat.
  • Secure the end of your braid with a clear elastic band. It’s less noticeable and maintains the focus on the style of the braid.
  • If you’re new to waterfall braids, try practicing on a friend or family member first. It’s easier to learn the hand movements when you can see what you're doing.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them


woman doing a waterfall braid
Credit: Envato Elements/ zelmab

Here are some common mistakes when creating a cascading waterfall braid and how to avoid them:

  • Do not pull your braid too hard when braiding as this might lead to scalp discomfort. Instead, keep a gentle but firm grip on the hair as you braid.
  • Before you start braiding, use a comb to smoothly detangle your hair and apply a light mousse or gel to give it some hold without making it stiff.
  • As you braid, check your progress in a mirror to see the braid from different angles and ensure that it is symmetrical and evenly spaced.
  • If your hair is heavily layered, shorter pieces may fall out of the braid. Consider lightly curling these layers before you start braiding, which can help integrate them into the braid more securely and reduce flyaways.

Can You Do Waterfall Braids on All Hair Types?


3 different braids displayed
Credit: Envato Elements/ Manuta

Waterfall braids work on all hair types, including straight, wavy, and curly. If your hair is very short or has many layers, the braid might be harder to maintain, but you can use bobby pins or hairspray to keep everything in place.

Different Variations of Waterfall Braids


waterfall braid at the back of the hair
Credit: The Right Hairstyles

Bored of the plain old waterfall braids? Here are different variations you can try out:

1) Double Waterfall Braid

This variation involves creating two parallel waterfall braids on either side of the head. Start the second braid slightly below the first to showcase the cascading effect between them, making it ideal for thicker hair.

2) Waterfall and Fishtail Combo

After completing the waterfall braid, gather the dropped strands and the rest of your hair into a fishtail braid. This combines the soft flow of the waterfall with the intricate pattern of the fishtail for a sophisticated look.

3) Braided Crown Waterfall

Instead of letting the strands hang loose, continue the waterfall braid around the circumference of your head. Secure the end back into the braid to form a crown-like circle. This style works well for formal events.

4) Waterfall Updo

For a more formal style, after creating your waterfall braid, twist and pin the remaining hair into a low bun at the nape of your neck. This is an elegant option for weddings or formal gatherings.

5) Side Swept Waterfall Braid

Start your basic braid on one side and let it sweep across the back of your head, letting the strands fall on the opposite shoulder. This style is particularly flattering for medium to long hair and adds a romantic touch to your look.

Can You Do a Waterfall Braid with Box Braids?

Yes, you can create a waterfall braid with box braids, African hair, crochet braids, faux dread locs, and other types of African braids. Here’s how to achieve this look:

Start by selecting a small section of box braids at the front of your head. Divide this section into three parts as you would with regular hair. Begin braiding box braids, integrating new braids from the top of your head each time you cross over. As you braid across, let one braid from the bottom section drop each time you cross over to create the waterfall effect. Continue this process until you reach the desired length across your head. Secure the end of the braid with a small hair tie or tuck it behind other braids and pin it in place.


Now that you know the basic steps of making a waterfall braid, go ahead and try them out yourselves. Whether you have straight, wavy, or curly hair, this style is versatile and can be adapted to suit any look or event.

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