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Celebrity hairstylist and founder of The Beauty Department Kristin Ess knows a thing or two about braids—for proof, look no further than her inspiring Instagram account. We’ve picked out a few of her envy-inducing braided hairstyles to give you tons of hot-weather hair inspiration.
Lucy Hale's updo consists of two side Dutch braids transformed into fishtails that are haphazardly pinned up. "I didn't use a specific technique for this—just rolled it, unrolled it, rolled it back up and pinned it when I thought it looked pretty and balanced," Ess says. Let's just say this one will take some experimenting, but it's so worth it!
A pretty interpretation of a Rodarte-inspired braid. Click here for step-by-step photos.
A fishtail braid looks even better with a few flyaways.
Apply hair chalk to a large section on damp hair (or dry hair if you're blonde, to prevent staining), create two Dutch braids and pin it up. It looks even cooler when you use multiple colors.
If you have shoulder-length hair, section off a portion of hair in the front for your braid. "Pretend you’re going to do a French braid along your hairline, but instead of taking three pieces, take just two. Tie them together once in a knot," says Ess. "Now add a piece to each side, the same way you would with a French braid, and tie those together." Keep going until you reach the end and secure with a hair tie. Still scratching your head? Click here for a visual step-by-step.
A classic three-strand braid looks anything but boring with a few randomly placed flowers.
Secure a half crown braid by looping one end through the opposite braid and pinning.
Make a simple braid seem way more complicated than it looks by gently tugging out random sections. Recreate the look with Ess' easy how-to here.
Two different styles of braids combine into one with this selfie-worthy look.
Get super-long hair off your neck with this fun fishtail braid: "First, I sprayed damp hair with beach spray, roughly blow dried it and made two regular fishtail braids," says Ess. "Then I pulled them apart to soften the look and wrapped them into a large bun in back. I used large hair pins and bobby pins to secure the look."
Show off sparkly earrings on your next date night with a loose Dutch braid tucked back into a swirly side bun.
A thick side Dutch braid is possible for any hair type with a generous amount of volumizing dry shampoo.
This messy side braid on Lauren Conrad is perfect for keeping your hair cute at the beach (and out of the water).
Shake out this all-around braid at the end of the day to reveal the prettiest waves ever.
Double milkmaid braids look fancy with a pretty flower crown—perfect for any bride.
Follow Ess' wise words of advice: "If you can't see the back of your hair to braid it, just make it a giant mess." If only all our messes can look as good as this.
A lace braid looks even more dramatic in bright purple!
For this carefree look, divide hair straight down the middle. Create a classic three-strand braid on one side and secure with a hair tie. Then, divide the other side of your hair into two sections and create a three-strand braid, incorporating the plait you just made. Top it off with a summery hat and you're ready for the weekend.