How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid? | Complete Guide (2023)

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How long does hair have to be to braid? Not as long as you’d think. Your hair might already be long enough if you use the right technique! Read on to learn about the length required for braiding and how to do it.

How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid?

How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid? | Complete Guide (1)

Terekhov Igor/Shutterstock

The absolute minimum hair length needed to braid is about 2 inches. But it may need to be longer for certain types of braids.

Braiding or plaiting hair for both sexes is nothing new. While it’s been thought of as a hairstyle for women in more recent times, braiding has been practiced in cultures since 3500 BC by both women and men.

Especially in Ancient Greek and Egypt, men with long hair would wear it in braids as a symbol of status.Wearing your hair braided has a ton of benefits, whether you’re male or female.

Because it’s such a versatile style, there are literally hundreds of ways to wear braided hair.Intricate braids are eye-catching and accentuate hair color and texture. Simple braids are timeless and classic.

Man braids are on the rise, and they can add a unique edge to your current hairstyle.But if you’re thinking of braiding your hair, length might be an issue. How long does hair need to be before you can braid it?

A little length is required before hair can be coaxed into plaits.No matter what kind of braid you want to do in your short hair, you’ll find length requirements and details on how to do braids for women and men in this guide. Let’s get started!

Read Next: Types of Braids

How Long Does Hair Need to Be for Braids?

How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid? | Complete Guide (2)

Akif Kutlu/Shutterstock

First things first: The length required for braiding. The answer varies based on the type of braids you’re planning to rock.

The minimum length of hair to be braided is about 2 inches.This is just enough hair to wrap around the fingers during braiding. But if your hair is about 2 inches long, you’ll need to find an experienced braider to do it. Braids that can work with around 2 inches of hair include tight cornrows, microbraids, and two-strand twists.

It’s easier to work with and braid hair that is at least 3 to 4 inches long.Generally, the longer your hair is, the easier it will be to braid. That’s because you’ll need to securely hold the different strands of hair to weave them into a braid. Shorter hair makes it harder to keep a grip on the sections while weaving them.

It’s ideal to braid with hair at least 5+ inches long.Once you pass the 4-inch mark, more braid types become possible. The braids also become easier to hold as you weave. You’ll be able to do anything from french to fishtail braids with hair in the 5-8 inch range.

(Video) How to Braid Hair - Basic 3 Strand Braid For Beginners | EverydayHairInspiration

What Hair Type Is Best For Braiding?

If you want your braids to stay in place with very short hair, your hair type may come into play. Some hair types are better suited for braids than others. But all hair types can rock braids with the right technique and supplies!

Braiding Curly Hair

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Simona Pilolla 2/Shutterstock

Curly hair can be a great candidate for braiding. Natural curls give the braids a little extra detail and body. It’s also a little coarser and can be pulled a bit tighter than braids on wavy or straight hair.

Messy braids are a great choice for curly hair. Before you braid curly hair, make sure you detangle the hair with a wide-tooth comb. Try not to separate curled sections to avoid making your hair frizzy.

Braiding Coily Hair

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Coily hair is ideal for braiding. The natural volume of the hair, along with the texture, keeps it tightly locked in durable braids that last. The coarser texture enables you to pull the braid tightly as you weave it in. And say goodbye to hair shrinkage with braided styles.

After all, they make the most of your length.Braiding coily hair works best when you use a few hair products first. This hair type actually has fewer cuticle layers on each hair strand, so protect it before braiding with a deep conditioning treatment.

Braiding Wavy Hair

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Waves give you a good starting point for braids. They keep the individual sections fuller and result in a solid braid that can be locked into place for a few days if secured tightly enough.

You’ll just need to take a few extra steps before plaiting to get the look you want.Wavy hair typically doesn’t have as much volume as curly or coily hair.

So you may want to start with some dry shampoo throughout the hair and a little hairspray at the roots. Make sure the hair is fully detangled and dry before adding dry shampoo and hairspray.

Braiding Straight Hair

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Straight hair can absolutely be braided, but you’ll need to use some hair products to “build up” your hair texture before you go for it. Braids done without hair products on straight hair may look thinner and less voluminous than on other hair types.

(Video) How To Braid Hair For Complete Beginners (With Hand Placement & More) [CC] | EverydayHairInspiration

If you’re going for a sleek, polished braid, that may be perfect!If you’d rather try a messy or big braid, reach for a few products first. Volumizing spray or powder is really helpful for braiding straight hair.

In a pinch, you can use dry shampoo instead. Make sure you have hairspray on hand to spritz the roots and lock the style into place when you’re done.

Can You Braid Short Hair?

Is it possible to braid short or very short hair? Absolutely. But keep in mind that some braids, like fishtail or zipper braids, aren’t possible until the hair is longer.

Two things that make it easier to braid short hair, no matter which type you choose: Small finger size and simple braid types.French braids, cornrows, and two-strand twists are the best types of braids for short hair.

They aren’t too complex, so you won’t need as much fingertip sorcery to get the braid done. Two-strand twists only require you to twist two sections. French braids and cornrows use three sections, woven in a repetitive motion.

You’ll also have to gather additional hair with each pass.Regardless of the type you choose, you’ll need at least 2 inches of hair to work with. The longer, the better. As your hair grows, you’ll find it easier and easier to braid it in your favorite style.

How to Do Short Braids

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Short braids look great on women and men. For women with pixie cuts, short crops, or short shag haircuts, short braids give you a way to decorate and add detail to your basic hairstyle.

Man braids started trending on social media several months ago, and the style has only grown in popularity since then. There are a range of man braids you might want to try.

The great thing about braids for men is that they can accentuate or blend in with almost any hairstyle. We especially love the look of man braids with a fade or undercut. All-over braids are another popular look.

If your hair is less than 5 inches long, you’ll need to opt for braids that can be done on short hair. Here are a few ways to do short braids as part of your hairstyle.

Keep in mind that when it comes to braiding, especially if you’re a beginner, it’s helpful to have someone help you out. Two-strand twists and French braids or cornrows are popular braids that can work with very short hair.

We’ll show you how to do both. The shorter your hair is, the more likely it is that you’ll need to have a skilled stylist do it for you, though. If you’ve got hair around 4-5 inches long, go ahead and give it a try yourself!

The biggest challenge is keeping hold of the very short hair as you work. These steps will show you how to prepare your hair for vertical braids that cover the entire head.

If you’d rather just braid one or two sections, go ahead and use a comb and clip to separate those sections from the rest of your hair before braiding.

Preparing for Braiding

  • Elastic bands (small ones are best)
  • Firm hold hair gel or hairspray
  • Rat-tail comb
  • Alligator clips or small hair clips

Depending on your hair type and how much volume you need to add to the braid, you might need to grab some dry shampoo or volumizing spray. Apply it all over your hair and thoroughly comb through before braiding.

  1. Gather your supplies and make sure they’re easily reachable while you braid.
  2. Part your clean and detangled hair precisely in the middle using the teeth of a comb or the tail of a rat tail comb. Make sure the part is straight from the front to the back.
  3. Use the comb to draw a parallel line from the middle part along your scalp all the way back. Use an alligator clip or something similar to hold the section away from the others.
  4. Repeat, making as many even-sized sections over the head as you want and clipping them up.

How to Do Two-Strand Twists on Short Hair

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(Video) 10 Basic Braids For Beginners - How To Braid Hair ⭐️ Cute & Easy Everyday Hairstyles ⭐️

Two-strand twists are perfect for very short hair because they don’t involve intricate weaving and tightly secure the twisted hair to the scalp once you’re done. Men and women alike can rock the two-strand twists.

  1. Remove the clip from the outermost (or bottom, if you’re braiding horizontally instead) section of hair.
  2. Comb through the unclipped section again and separate it into two equal sections. You may need to start with very short pieces at the top.
  3. Gather more hair into each section as you twist, trying to pick up an equal amount each time for the left and right pieces.
  4. Cross the left section over the right until you’ve reached the ends of the hair.
  5. Secure with a small elastic band and apply a little gel to hold the twist securely.
  6. Repeat for all other sections you want to braid.

How to Do French Braids or Cornrows on Short Hair

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French braids or cornrows are a great choice for short hair that is at least 4-5 inches long. These braids look great on men and women. It’s a more complex braid than the two-strand twist, but once you pick it up, you’ll be able to do it with your eyes closed.

  1. Start with a parted-off section and comb through it to remove any tangles. Keep the other section(s) clipped off to the side.
  2. Separate the unclipped section into three equal pieces. For very short hair, skinnier sections work best. Comb through the three pieces again.
  3. Hold the hair separately using your thumb, middle, and both index fingers. Move the left piece underneath the middle piece while holding firmly.
  4. Cross the right piece under the middle piece and give the ends a gentle tug to tighten the forming braid up.
  5. Use one finger to gather just a little more hair for the left piece, then cross the bigger left piece under the middle again. Do the same for the right piece, adding hair to it and bringing it under the middle. You’ll see your braid beginning to take shape now.
  6. Secure the braid with an elastic band once you reach the bottom or can no longer pick up the hair.
  7. Repeat for any other sections of your hair you want to braid.

Things to Consider Before Braiding Short Hair

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Moskvina Olga/Shutterstock

Before you start braiding your short hair or call someone to do braids for you, let’s get those expectations in check. Here’s what you should know first.

Short hair may not make the neatest braids.Short hair that is just barely long enough to braid tends to stick out of the braid at different angles. It’s a fun and casual look, but it won’t be the neatest, most polished braid. So if that’s what you’re going for, you may need to continue letting it grow out a bit.

Don’t braid it wet.Some people believe braiding hair while it’s wet makes it easier, and that may be true. But it can be really damaging for your hair. Wet hair is much heavier than dry, and it’s 15 times as extendable while wet. That makes it much more prone to breakage and weakness.

Face shape matters. Ultimately, you can wear plaits with any face shape, but some are more suited for all-over braiding. Braids are really flattering on square, oval, and diamond-shaped faces.

Round, heart-shaped, and oblong faces aren’t the best match for all-over braiding, but you can still slip a braid or two into your hair.

Gather your supplies first. I’ve braided enough to know the frustration of having to let my carefully woven sections of hair fall down because I forgot to grab my elastic band before I started. Get your elastics, hairspray or gel, and clips ready before you start.

And if you have straight or thin, fine hair, go ahead and work the dry shampoo into the hair before beginning. You can’t easily work it in once the hair is braided.

Don’t pull too hard.Constant tension on the hair, like what can be caused from too-tight braids, leads to hair loss. Traction alopecia is easily avoided by pulling your braids only tight enough to be secure, and not so tight they pull on the scalp. If it hurts, it’s too tight.

It never hurts to try. Finally, don’t be intimidated by braiding short hair. Give it a try and see if you can make it work! If you can’t, you can always contact a salon or barbershop in your area to see if they’ll be able to do the braids you want at your current length.

So, How Long Does hair Have to Be to Braid?

How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid? | Complete Guide (11)


Lots of people wonder, “How long does hair have to be to braid?” To recap:


You need hair that is at least 2 inches (minimum) long, but it’s best to have hair 4-5 inches.

Know that braiding short hair is a little more challenging than longer hair. But any hair type – coily, curly, wavy, and straight – will look great in braids.

All you have to do is master the technique of keeping hold of your hair sections as you work through it.If you’re sick of wearing the same hairstyle every day with short hair, braids could be the solution for you.

Your hair doesn’t have to be very long to braid, but if your patience (and hair) is short, give yourself time to perfect the process or find a stylist who can make it happen.

Click for Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Braid Your Hair When It's Short?

Yes, you can braid hair as short as two inches, although braiding is often more manageable if you wait until the hair is at least three inches long.
However, some types of braids require longer hair. Generally, long hair is easier to braid than short hair.

How Long Should I Wait to Braid My Hair?

Wait at least one week between braidings. You need to give your scalp enough time to breathe and rest. Before installing braids, use an intensive deep-conditioning treatment on your hair to improve its strength and ability to retain moisture.

What Braid Is Best for Short Hair?

The best braid types for short hair are French braids, cornrows, mini braids, and Dutch braids. Both French and Dutch braids are considered the most accessible types to install. For the best results, your hair should be at least ear length.

How Long Does It Take to Grow 2 Inches of Hair?

Scalp hair grows at a rate of about a half-inch monthly. If a person with two inches of hair wants to grow their hair down to their shoulders, which usually requires about 12 inches of length, they'll need to let their hair grow for almost two years. Personal individual factors can contribute to hair growth rates, such as ethnicity, hormones, and follicle thickness.

How Long Do Braids Last?

Braids can last up to eight weeks, after which you'll want to take them out and let your scalp rest for about a week. When wearing braids, you'll need to cleanse them every two weeks. Use a clarifying shampoo and wash your hair from the scalp to the end while avoiding squeezing your braids.


How Long Does Hair Have to Be to Braid? | Complete Guide? ›

When it comes to minimum hair length for braids, the experts say you can start with as much as a 2-inch length. Those of you who wonder how long does your hair have to be for cornrows or what is a good length for box braids – 2-inch length is your starting point.

How long does your hair have to be to braid it means? ›

You'll need at least a few inches of hair to obtain a noticeable man braid. With about three or four inches of hair, you can get some smaller braids, and if you want to go for super long braids, you can go as long as you want.

Is 6 inches of hair enough to braid? ›

For slightly straight, curly hair it is best to have about 6 inches. It is a weird description I know, but some people of African descent have this straightish curly hair that behaves like straight hair and requires more length to do a braid. Wavy and straight hair needs about 8 inches of hair or longer.

Can you braid really short hair? ›

Styling short hair braid styles is no different than long hair. The technique is the same, you'll just expect a much shorter outcome. As long as hair is about ear length, any braid is possible.

How long does hair need to be for knotless braids? ›

Hair should be at least 3 inches long blow dried. Depending upon consistency of health and density throughout the hair, broken/shorter areas may only qualify for small knotless box braids to ensure the security and longevity of the braids.

How long does it take to grow 2 inches of hair? ›

How Fast Does Hair Grow? We'll cut straight to it: On average, hair grows at a rate of about half an inch per month, or six inches per year. Each hair on your head grows from an individual follicle.

How long does it take to grow 3 inches of hair? ›

On average our hair only grows about half an inch per month, with variations of a quarter inch to half inch in either direction. If you are wondering how long it takes for hair to grow, here's how much you should expect to see in these time frames: 4 months of hair growth: 2-4 inches. 9 months of hair growth: 4-6 ...

Can you get braids with 1 inch of hair? ›

Williams recommends the hair be at least 1 ½ inches long for a comfortable attachment of the extension which means you can sport box braids even after a big chop. As for texture, every hair type is fair game: No matter if you're straight, wavy, curly or coily, you can sport box braids with ease.

Can 2 inches of hair be braided? ›

When it comes to minimum hair length for braids, the experts say you can start with as much as a 2-inch length. Those of you who wonder how long does your hair have to be for cornrows or what is a good length for box braids – 2-inch length is your starting point.

How much hair is enough for braids? ›

It also depends on the size of the hair. If you want medium size braids, then 6-7 would be enough. However, as a rule of thumb, it is wise to get a little more than what you think you'll need to be on the safe side.

How many inches is short hair? ›

Short hair is a general category that describes any hairstyle where your hair will fall above your shoulders. This often makes less than 12 inches for straight hair and up to 18 inches for curls.

What braid is best for short hair? ›

What braid is best for short hair? Cornrows, mini braids, French braids, and Dutch braids are some of the best braids to try if you have short hair. While you may not have a lot of hair to work with, these styles look good on any length.

Will your hair grow faster if you braid it? ›

But unfortunately, braiding hair does not speed up growth rate. Your hair grows at a rate determined by genetics, while lifestyle factors like your diet and stress levels can cause thinning and breakage. But the way you wear your hair is not a factor in your hair growth rate.

What is 3 inches of hair? ›

3 inches of hair is just below the shoulders and is a comfortable length that can still be styled with different looks. It can also be great for bangs, undercuts and even some daring haircuts like a bob or a pixie.

Can hair grow 1 inch a month? ›

It's hard to say exactly how fast your hair grows — everyone is different! — but on average, hair grows about half an inch over the course of a month. That being said, it's not unusual for hair to grow as little as a centimeter or as much as an inch in a month.

How fast can 1 inch hair grow? ›

Believe it or not, hair grows relatively fast. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the hair on your head grows about six inches a year, meaning each month your hair grows approximately half an inch.

How much does hair grow in 2 hours? ›

How Does Hair Grow? The average rate of hair growth is between 0.3 and 0.4 millimeters per day, or between 0.5 and 1.7 centimeters per month, or roughly 6 inches per year.

How can I speed up hair growth? ›

How to Make Your Hair Grow Faster and Stronger
  1. Get frequent trims. ...
  2. Eat the right diet. ...
  3. Add a hair-healthy vitamin to your a.m. routine. ...
  4. Shampoo less and hydrate more. ...
  5. Lay off the bleach. ...
  6. Avoid excessive heat styling. ...
  7. Brush hair regularly. ...
  8. Protect hair from physical damage.
Sep 14, 2022

How can I make my hair grow faster and longer in a week? ›

Here's how to grow hair longer and stronger
  1. Massage your scalp. Massaging the scalp can improve the blood circulation in the head and stimulate the activity of the hair follicles. ...
  2. Trim frequently to grow hair faster. ...
  3. Take omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A and C. ...
  4. Use conditioner more often than shampoo.
May 10, 2022

What braids don't damage your hair? ›

#1: No Hair Loss and Breakage

Unlike standard box braids which place extra tension on your natural hair, knotless box braids offer you this popular style without the worry of hair damage. Since the knotless extensions are being “fed” into your braids, the tension is significantly lower on your natural hair.

How long do small braids take? ›

Depending on your hair's length, density and how small you want your braids, it can take anywhere from three to 12 hours. If sitting still that long isn't in your DNA, mini braids may not be for you.

Do braids fit everyone? ›

Yes, braids are a hairstyle that can ultimately be worn by anyone – but this 'mere' hairstyle serves as more than that to black women and those who grew up doing these hairstyles from childhood and beyond.

How long does hair have to be to braid cornrows? ›

For cornrows, your hair can be long or short depending on the style. At minimum you hair has to be at a length that you can at least comb and part. There are some hair stylist out there who's specialty is nothing but braiding.


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