Bubble braids are a simpler take on classic braids — instead of twisting three sections of hair together to form a braid, you just need a ponytail (or a couple), a few small hair elastics and the right hair-smoothing products. To learn how to perfect the look, we tapped Jonathan Colombini, celebrity hairstylist and L’Oréal Paris Creative Director of Color and Style for his tips, tricks and advice (aka a step-by-step tutorial) to mastering bubble braids. Keep scrolling to learn how to recreate this charming style for a laid-back all-season look, plus all the products you’ll need for smooth strands and bouncy bubble braids.
How Do You Do Bubble Braids?
Achieving bubble braids is a bit different than the way you would form a typical braid (cornrow, Dutch braid, French braid, box braid), but they aren’t difficult to master. Here’s how to get selfie-worthy bubble braids (two different ways) in 5 simple steps.
Step 1. Smooth Your Hair
Bubbles braid work on all hair types and textures. If you plan to wash your hair before creating your bubble braids, Colombini recommends applying a generous amount of the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum to your damp strands. Not only does it reduce frizz, but it also doubles as a heat protectant, which is something you should always apply before using any type of heat on your hair.
If you wear your hair straight, blow dry your strands as usual for a smooth, dry finish and run your brush through it afterward to remove any tangles. If you have curly hair, spritz the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Refresh & Reshape Leave-In Spray onto your curls for instant hydration and definition. Use your fingers to scrunch and reshape your curls.
Step 2a. Start With Two Sections and "Braid"
Part your hair down the center to create two even sections, one on each side of your head (similar to creating pigtails). Clip one section of hair to the side while you work on the other. Take an inch-wide section of hair at the hairline and secure it with an elastic. Then gather another inch-long section of hair right below that and add it to the length of the first section, and secure it all with another elastic. Continue to do this, adding more hair until you reach the base of your neck (the final result should resemble a pigtail). Think of it as a bubble French braid where you're adding more hair each time. Repeat on the other side.
Step 2b. Create Pigtails or a Ponytail
Or, you can just create two standard pigtails or a simple ponytail and bubble the length. Colombini recommends using clear elastic bands or a shade that matches your hair color for a clean finish.
Step 3. Keep Adding Elastics to Create the Bubbles
Regardless of whether you started the bubble braid at the hairline or created pigtails or a ponytail, now you can proceed to creating the bubbles throughout the length of your hair. Starting at the base of the pigtail or ponytail, wrap another elastic band about one to one-and-a-half inches from the base. Repeat these steps until you place hair ties an inch apart through the length of your pigtail or ponytail. Repeat on the other side if necessary.
Step 4. Make Them Bubbly
This next step is very important in achieving the bubble look: Return back to the hair between the elastic band at the base of your neck and the one below that. Use your index fingers and thumbs to gently pull the hair out to form a bubble. Keep repeating this step with each section of hair until you reach the bottom. “Get creative with this,” says Colombini, “you can make the bubbles symmetrical or larger at the base, getting smaller to the end.”
Step 5. Lock It In With Hairspray
Finally, be sure to give your bubble braids a good spritz of Elnett hairspray after the look is complete. Colombini likes to use the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Strong Hold Hair Spray - Unscented for a workable hold that has a non-sticky finish.
How Long Do Bubble Braids Last?
Bubble braids last a few days when you make the hair ties tight. While they aren’t the longest-wearing braids, they’re a super fun and playful way to switch up your hairdo. You can preserve them for a few extra days by sleeping with your hair in a silk scarf or bonnet to avoid friction with your sheets that can lead to frizz and flyaways.
Photo Credit: Alanna Martine Kilkeary
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