If you’re in love with braids but want to go a step further than a traditional three-strand or Dutch braid, boy have we got the look for you. Allow us to introduce you to the zipper braid. Seen pinned to Pinterest boards aplenty, the expert-level zipper braid may seem like it’d be difficult to create at first glance, but the end look is oh so worth the effort. As with all technical braided hairstyles, practice makes perfect—so you better get your fingers ready to weave repeatedly until you master this must-wear beauty look. Below, find our step-by-step tutorial for creating a zipper braid.
Step #1: Dampen your hair
Believe it or not, braids can be significantly easier to create when your hair is slightly damp. So, spritz on a little water before you begin your zipper braid. Brush your mane to distribute the water evenly and give you a just-damp-enough texture to work with.
Step #2: Start with a small section at your hairline
Grab a section of hair that’s about two inches wide and divide it into three equally-sized strands.
Step #3: Create your first base weave
To do this, take the middle strand over the left strand, followed by the new middle strand over the right strand. Congratulations: you’ve created your first base stitch! Not too difficult so far, right?
Step #4: Here’s where things get a bit more complicated
After your first stitch, take the new middle strand over the left strand before looping it under the two strands to the right. This step secures the stitch in place so that no hair will slip out of your zipper braid. Make sure to hold that strand in place while moving to your next step.
Step #5: Grab a small section of hair from the right side of your head
This will be your new strand since the other one is locked in place.
Step #6: Stitch your new right strand
Loop your new right strand over the middle section and under the left. After completing these two stitches, your base is officially set and it’s time to begin zipper stitching. Yup, that wasn’t even the hard part. Just make sure you still have that right strand in your hand, held tightly so that your work doesn’t unravel.
Step #7: It’s zipper time!
Grab a section of hair from the left side of your head and take it over the middle section and under the right section. Hold this section in your hand, along with the other section you’ve been holding, without combining them together. At this point of juggling strands, you might wish you had a little help. If someone else is around, consider getting them involved!
Step #8: Complete your first zipper stitch
If you’ve recruited a friend, give her both sections of hair to hold. Then, take the original right stand out of your friend’s hand and weave it under the new section you just gave her so that you can add it to the middle strand. Just think of this as a little sandwiching technique around the newer section.
Step #9: Complete the same process on the right side of your head
Grab a chunk of hair, take it over the middle strand and under the left strand, holding it with the first left strand that was held out of the way. Then wrap the first section in your hand under the new section to add it to the middle section.
Step #10: Repeat the process all the way to the ends
It’s tricky, but as you continue weaving, you’ll quickly watch your zipper braid take shape. Once you reach the ends, just finish your braid off with a clear mini elastic and fluff it up a bit for a more voluminous-looking braid.
Bonus step: Seal the deal
If your hair tends to fall out of braids as the day goes on, be sure to give your pretty new look a few spritzes of hair spray, like the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle LOCK IT Bold Control Hairspray.
Next, check out our article, How to Create a Skeleton Braid, for another super-fun braided hairstyle tutorial. Alternatively, if these complicated braids, which look stunning on long hair, don't suit your short hair, click through to our article on 5 Cute Braided Hairstyles for Short Hair.