The Complete Guide to Fishtail Braids hairstyle

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Fishtail braids have become an iconic hairstyle loved by celebrities and everyday braiding enthusiasts alike. Characterized by their gorgeous, intricate woven appearance resembling a fish’s tail, fishtail braids are versatile enough to be dressed up or down for any occasion.

Table of Contents


In this comprehensive 2000+ word guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know to master fishtail braids, from beginner basics to more advanced techniques. Whether you’re looking to learn your first fishtail, perfect your skills, or simply gather inspiration, you’ll discover the secrets to crafting and styling beautiful, head-turning fishtail braids.

Chapter 1: The Allure of Fishtail Braids

Fishtail braids have become a staple hairstyle among celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Blake Lively, and Selena Gomez, among many others. But what exactly gives the fishtail braid its iconic, show-stopping allure?

The Gorgeous Woven Look

Unlike a basic three-strand braid, fishtail braids involve crisscrossing two sections of hair in a rhythmic, repetitive motion that results in a gorgeous “woven” appearance fans out along the back of the head. When done properly, fishtail braids appear intricate and complex, often resembling multidirectional braided styles.

Romantic, Bohemian Vibe

With their messy yet elegant look, fishtail braids embody an effortlessly romantic, bohemian vibe. They have a softness and fluidity that evokes the effortless beauty of ocean waves. Whether worn messy or refined, fishtail braids channel a relaxed, carefree essence.

Suited for All Hair Types and Textures

Almost anyone can rock a fishtail braid – whether you have fine locks, thick curls, straight strands, or textured waves, the fishtail technique flatters all lengths and textures. The woven plaiting helps add visual interest and dimension to hair.

Endless Styling Potential

From elegant evening dos to casual daytime looks, fishtail braids are incredibly versatile. Wear one braid long and loose, wrap it into an updo or bun, double it up with two braids, or accessorize it with hair jewels – the styling possibilities are endless!

A Celebrity Staple

Celebrity fans of the fishtail braid include:

  • Kim Kardashian
  • Blake Lively
  • Selena Gomez
  • Ciara
  • Zendaya
  • Lucy Hale
  • Jessica Alba

Red carpet events, everyday outings, TV appearances – fishtail braids gracefully suit every star-studded occasion.

Chapter 2: Getting Started – Preparing Your Hair

While fishtail braiding may seem intimidating at first, it’s easier to achieve than you think with the right preparation and technique. Here are some tips from celebrity hairstylist Justine Marjan for getting your hair ready before braiding:

Start with Unwashed Hair

Style your fishtail braid on second or third day hair instead of freshly cleaned locks. The natural oils in unwashed hair help add grip and texture, making it easier to tightly plait and hold the style.

Embrace Your Natural Texture

Avoid using hot tools to straighten or add curls beforehand. Let your hair’s natural waves and kinks shine through in the braid for organic texture.

Add Waves for Straight Hair

If your hair is stick straight, add some texture beforehand by braiding damp strands overnight or using a sea salt spray. Soft waves help give straight hair the grip needed for braiding.

Other Prep Tips

  • Add dry shampoo at roots for grit and grip
  • Mist hair with water to boost shine
  • Apply texture cream or mousse

Chapter 3: Crafting the Perfect Fishtail Braid

Once your hair is prepped, it’s time to master the fishtail braiding technique. Follow these step-by-step instructions from Justine Marjan:

Start with a Side Ponytail

Gather your hair into a ponytail at the nape of your neck or side of your head. Positioning it to the side allows for a cascading look.

Split Hair into Two Even Sections

Take the ponytail and separate it into two equal sections – this gives you full control as you braid.

Begin Crisscrossing Strands

Take a small piece of hair from the outside of one section, cross it over into the opposite section. Repeat on the other side. Continue crisscrossing, alternating sides as you braid down.

Embrace Imperfection

Don’t obsess over perfect symmetry – the imperfections give fishtail braids their relaxed, natural beauty. Focus on the rhythm of crisscrossing.

Tighten As You Go

As you braid, gently pull the strands taut to keep the stiching tight and clean. Avoid loosening until the end.

Secure the End

Finish off by tying the ends with an elastic band, leaving a small tail if desired.

The Best Fishtail Braid Products for Every Hair Type

Chapter 4: Perfecting Texture and Volume

The beauty of a fishtail braid lies in its lived-in, imperfect texture. Here are tips for bringing your braid to life:

Post-Braiding Tweaks

Once your braid is complete, gently pull on pieces along the sides to loosen and add body.

Use a Fine-Tooth Comb

Softly comb through the braid with a fine-tooth comb for added frizz and dimension. Avoid overcombing.

Try Dry Shampoo

Mist braid with dry shampoo to create grit and texture while absorbing oil. Give hair a tousled, touchable finish.

Tease the Roots

For extra volume, gently tease the hair at the crown before braiding. This adds lift at the roots.

Pinch Pieces Out

Pinch out small strands throughout the braid for a fuller, undone look. Focus on the sides more than the back.

Braid Texture Tips
Post-Braiding Tweaks
Fine-Tooth Comb
Dry Shampoo
Teasing Roots
Pinching Pieces

Chapter 5: Finishing Touches

Adding final touches ensures your braid will stay stunning all day long. Here are tips from Justine Marjan:

Tie Ends with Elastic

Secure your braided length with a clear elastic for an invisible hold. Leave ample length so the braid ends on a tapered point.

Leave Out Face-Framing Pieces

Leave a few strands loose in the front to gently frame your face and complete the relaxed vibe.

Set Style with Strong Hairspray

Finish with a liberal spritz of strong hold hairspray, especially for finer hair. Let braid fully dry before loosening texture.

Hide Elastic Band

For a polished finish, wrap piece of hair around elastic band to conceal it within the braid.

Add Accessories

Adorn your fishtail braid with accessories like hair jewels, ribbons, flowers or barrettes.

Chapter 6: Fishtail Braid Variations

Once you’ve mastered the basics, it’s time to try unique fishtail braid styles and techniques:

The Upside Down Fishtail

This fun variation involves fishtailing hair from the crown of your head upside down, creating lots of lift and volume at the roots when flipped back over.

The Fishtail Bun

For an elegant updo, coil your fishtail braid into a twisted bun shape and secure with bobby pins. Looks great paired with loose face-framing pieces.

Two Fishtail Braids

Amp up the style by parting hair into two sections and weaving a fishtail braid down each side. This “pigtail braids” look is youthful and playful.

The Waterfall Fishtail

Add cascading flair by leaving pieces free along one side of the fishtail braid, creating a waterfall effect.

Unique Fishtail Styles
Upside Down FishtailCreates volume at roots
Fishtail BunElegant updo
Double Fishtail BraidsFun pigtail style
Waterfall FishtailCascading waterfall look

Chapter 7: Advanced Fishtail Techniques

Once you’ve nailed the basics, try these advanced fishtail braiding techniques for showstopping styles:

The Double Dutch Fishtail

This intricate technique involves two Dutch braids woven into the center of a fishtail plait down the back. Creates gorgeous multidirectional texture.

The French Fishtail

For sleek sophistication, keep strands smoothed tightly as you crisscross the two fishtail sections, imitating a French braid look.

The Dutch Fishtail

A Dutch fishtail has the crisscrossed sections braided under rather than over, resulting in a braid that appears to sit on top of the hair rather than within it.

The Pull Through Fishtail

This unique take adds intrigue by looping pieces all the way through the braid rather than just crossing them over.

Chapter 8: Caring for Fishtail Braids

Fishtail braids look gorgeous, but how do you keep them looking fresh? Follow these tips:

Use Leave-In Conditioner

Prep hair with leave-in conditioner before braiding to prevent dryness and add shine. Focus on mid-lengths and ends.

Sleep in a Loose Braid

At night, gently undo the fishtail and loosely re-braid hair or pineapple into a ponytail to minimize breakage and friction.

Avoid Tight Styling

Give your strands a break by wearing hair down or in loose styles between fishtail braiding sessions.

Touch Up Texture

Refresh your braid’s texture in the mornings with dry shampoo or by gently tugging pieces out.

Trim Split Ends

Snip any split ends every 6-8 weeks to keep hair healthy for optimal braiding.

How to make Fishtail Hairstyle Easy (Tutorial Video)

Fishtail braid hairstyles for fashion week

Chapter 9: FAQs About Fishtail Braids

What hair types work best for fishtail braids?

Fishtail braids suit all hair lengths and textures! From fine and straight to thick and curly, anyone can craft beautiful fishtail plaits. Lightly textured hair holds the woven shape best.

How long does a fishtail braid last?

Expect your fishtail braid to last around 2-3 days with proper care. Use finishing hairspray to extend the longevity as needed. Take braids down at night.

Should I fishtail braid wet or dry hair?

Dry hair works best since it has the grip needed to hold the woven shape. If braiding wet, make sure to let your hair fully air dry before taking down the braid.

How do I do a fishtail braid on myself?

It’s totally possible to fishtail your own hair! Use two mirrors so you can see the back of your head or do it by feel once you learn the hand motions. Or ask a friend for help!

How tight should a fishtail braid be?

Keep your fishtail braid fairly snug as you plait – not painfully tight but with enough tension to keep the crisscrossed shape intact.

Chapter 10: Everyday Hair Inspo

Looking for easy, everyday hairstyle ideas involving fishtail braids? Here are some effortless looks to inspire your daily dos:

Half-Up Fishtail

Pull the top section of hair into a mini fishtail bun while leaving the rest long and loose.

Messy Side Fishtail

Sweep hair over into a messy side part, then fishtail the heavier side only.

Fishtail Crown Braid

Braid a fishtail section along the crown of your head rather than down the back.

Low Fishtail Pony

Gather hair into a low ponytail then fishtail the ponytail itself for a pretty plait.

Fishtail Braid Headband

Leaving face-framing pieces down, fishtail a section across your hairline like a braided headband.


As you can see, fishtail braids are gorgeous yet surprisingly simple once you get the basic technique down. With so many options for styling, care and advanced methods, you can rock a beautiful fishtail look any day.

So grab some hair elastics and get ready to channel your inner boho goddess with these beautiful, breezy fishtail braids!

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