Halo Braid

The Best Halo Braid Hairstyles for Natural Hair

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What is a halo braid?

As the term halo suggests, it is a style of braid that weaves its way around the head. Unlike an angelic halo that is horizontal, this braid beautifully contours the head by running over the forehead, then draping down toward the nape of the neck. Some people may picture one of Princess Leia’s iconic styles in the original Star Wars trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back, when she is at the rebel base in frozen Hoth, or the stereotype of the traditional hairstyle worn by women in some quaint Alpine village, but don’t let that discourage you. The halo braid is a versatile style that translates well in any decade and virtually every hair type. Various pop culture figures have continued to brandish these same halo braids on occasion, even today.

The classic halo braid utilizes a single Dutch braid to form the shape of a tilted halo circling the head. This probably sounds strikingly similar to a style known as a crown braid. However, the difference lies primarily in the braiding technique and number of braids used to create the design. The crown braid generally requires two long French braids which are then wrapped around the head. French braids lay flatter against the head while the Dutch braid creates a fuller effect.

Almost any hair length will be able to accommodate a halo braid. Whether your hair is long or short, halo braids are achievable. Depending on the thickness and length of your hair, various beauty products will be a necessity when executing the halo braid in order to facilitate both hair preparation and the braiding process. No matter what hair type you have, you will likely need hair pins to hold the braid in place.

Hair Prep

A critical step in creating the halo braid is prepping your hair. Make sure your hair has just been washed and has had a chance to fully dry. Most importantly, follow a conditioning regimen that protects your hair from damage in the event you elect to use a flatiron to straighten your hair, or any of the various other products and implements that may be leveraged along the way to manicure and hold the style. Having smooth, thoroughly combed out hair upfront creates a more seamless braiding experience, so items like heat protection sprays are examples of additional tools that can also help serve as a safeguard for your hair during the beginning stages.

Ideally, your hair should be completely dry for a halo braid. When using creams or oils to help smooth coarser hair, ensure they have been evenly applied and absorbed. If your hair is still wet or sticky, weaving this braid becomes extremely difficult. Hair dryers and towels are also useful tools to have on hand when trying to eliminate the remaining moisture from your hair.

Typically, the smaller hairs framing your face that are unable to be pulled back into the braid need to be shaped and molded to create a clean look. Based on preference, various beauty supplies can help style and hold this less manageable hair in place, so the focus can shift to the halo braid.

Before attempting a halo braid, you must first understand the mechanics of a Dutch braid. If you are not familiar with the nuances of a Dutch braid versus a French braid, for example, it may be worth taking a few moments to read the next section in order to familiarize yourself with the technique.

Different Halo Braid Options

Dutch Braiding

Traditional braids typically weave the 3 sections of hair over one another in succession repeatedly. To create the protruding effect of the Dutch braid, the right and left sections are tucked under the middle section each time. A simple way to practice your Dutch braid is to start from the top of the head and go down, rather than immediately trying to weave the braid into the circle required for a halo braid.

To begin, portion out a small area of hair at the top of your head. Mirroring the French braid technique, continue to sweep in more and more hair with the individual sections being woven together as you work your way down the head. Unlike the French braid, however, fold the strands underneath each other until all the loose hair has been incorporated into the braid.

Once you are comfortable performing the Dutch braid technique, you are ready to progress to a more challenging style like the halo braid. Because the halo effect requires you to mold the Dutch braid completely around the head, be prepared to continually shift direction as the braid runs full circle.

All halo braids essentially follow the same basic principle, but can be tweaked to accommodate various factors like hair type or personal style. Halo braids have the added advantage of being classified as a protective style, which is a stylish option that offers several benefits like helping the hair to retain moisture and guarding the ends from breakage.

Traditional

Parting your hair into two sections before starting the process not only helps to keep stray hair from creeping into the braid, but it creates a clear starting point. There is no standardized way to separate your hair, but rather it is based on preference. However, an off-center part tends to be the most common choice. Also, you may find it more convenient while you are braiding to tie back one of the sections with a clip if it interferes with your progress.

Keep in mind that this style is called a halo braid, so use that as a guide when forming the Dutch braid around your head. The top should wind over your forehead, with the sides going above the ears and the back grazing the top of your neck. You do have a significant amount of leeway regarding the size of the braid. How close you decide to come to your forehead or ears is up to you, as long the result is ultimately the shape of a halo.

You also have two options when beginning the Dutch braid. Starting at the edge of the unfastened section of hair, you can work down from the top, moving along the side until you meet up with the section that is pulled back at the bottom. Or, if you choose to start at the bottom, just braid at an upward angle from the back. No matter which direction the braid is going, it is helpful to follow along the natural curve of your scalp. This creates a more even look and reduces unwanted irregularities in the halo.

Once you reach the fastened portion of your hair, release it so you can connect the Dutch braid you have been working on. Be sure to continue the braid in the same direction to complete the circular effect. For instance, if you meet the originally clipped back hair section at the bottom, you will now start to angle your braid up. If you meet at the top, you will begin to angle your braid down instead.

When you have run out of hair to intertwine into the braid, then you have successfully completed the halo. Finish braiding any loose hair all the way to the end and then wrap the untwined braid in with the shape of the halo braid. Finally, tuck the very end underneath the braid and fasten it with a hair pin. You have just created a traditional halo braid.

Add-Ons

It is not uncommon to supplement the halo braid with braiding hair if your hair is relatively short or if you want to create a fuller look than you normally would get with your existing hair. Depending on the effect you want to convey, choose the length and the amount of the product you want to incorporate into your braid.

These braiding hair products offer additional flexibility and styling options, although there may be a few extra steps to achieve the desired appearance. Leaving the braid relatively loose as you create the halo gives you the opportunity to adjust the braid once it is complete so it isn’t too tight to manipulate, if necessary. Additional hair pins can hold down any errant strands stemming from the braiding hair, and the excess is easily removed and discarded once the desired length is met to complete the loop. As a last touchup, a hot iron can always burn away the last stubborn hairs that escape from the braid.

The final results are sleek and sophisticated. The halo braid is a simple style that suggests a classic feel. Blending the hair extensions into your natural hair to create the halo braid merely adds to its elegance.

Braiding Shortcuts

Sometimes, circumstances do not always lend themselves to the elaborate styling tips offered in tutorials, so shortcuts can come in handy. Shorter hair or time constraints may not be able to accommodate everything required by conventional halo braids, so there are multiple tricks to perpetuate the illusion of a halo braid that are just as appealing. The most common workaround is to attach braiding hair extensions to a bun.

In this situation, any number of moisturizing and edging products can be used to straighten and manage the hair to easily pull it tightly away from the face and into a bun that sits low on the back of the head. Usually, while the products are working their magic under the protection of a scarf, you can multi-task by preparing the braiding hair. After adjusting the length, one end of the extensions is connected to an immovable surface like a door and braided. Like the braiding hair used in the traditional halo braid Add-On mentioned above, the amount will vary depending on the desired fullness. By leaving some slack in the braid, it tends to be more manageable when fastening it to your hair. How taut or loose you eventually make the extensions is a practice you will work through as you become familiar with this method.

Next, the pre-braided hair is initially secured to the head by pinning it to the bun. Ensure it completely covers the bun to make it appear to look like part of the braid, which is then wrapped around the head to simulate a halo braid as it is pinned in place. Continue to adjust the pins and the braid itself to make sure it is secure and creates the look you want. For instance, loosening the braid can give the style a more relaxed, casual feel.

So, while this may not be a true halo braid in the traditional sense that it involves your natural hair, it is certainly a healthier alternative from the perspective that it does little to damage your hair and scalp. Bypassing styling tools like a flatiron in favor of concentrated conditioning treatments that help hold back your hair in the ponytail or bun needed to anchor the artificial braid seems like a more than reasonable trade-off.

Going Natural

Even with all the tools available to make styling easier and more accessible, there are a few downsides. For example, the downsides may be the extra time required to achieve the desired effect, the potential damage done to your hair, and of course, the cost of additional products to try to prevent and repair any havoc the might be wreaked on your hair in the pursuit of a fashion trend.

While not necessarily considered a short-cut, it is possible to create halo braids by electing to forego the bells and whistles to simply create halo braids with clean dry hair as the only prerequisite. Even with a less abrasive hair style in play, it is important not to skimp on the normal moisturizing routine that you would follow during the course of regular hair maintenance. Extreme detangling in advance may not be the priority because years of managing your own hair care has helped you to develop such a keen familiarity that you can smooth the hair as you go with your hands, creating a natural looking halo braid.

While this route may limit some of the halo braid options that are available, the effect is no less stunning than some of the other results described above.

Halo Braid Variations

While a full halo braid is the central hairstyle described here, there are in fact multiple variations. Whether acting as the centerpiece with accompanying accessories or braids, or the basis for some modified version, the core style of the halo braid can be leveraged in many ways. Mastering the halo braid can drive whimsical innovation, or mere hair challenges alone may necessarily drive these alterations.

These alternatives do not always have to utilize all the available hair. The half-up, half-down style includes a portion of your hair in a full or semi halo braid. The rest of the hair is typically loose, framing and accentuating the braids while giving them the look and functionality of headbands.

Another example is the split halo braid. This version does not connect at the top where your hair is parted. Rather it is only supposed to meet and combine seamlessly underneath at the nape of the neck. This one may sound easy enough, but attempting to connect the two braids neatly at the bottom can pose a bit of a challenge. This style is conducive to shorter thinner hair, specifically because the tail of the loose braid is usually so much shorter and easier to tuck away.

For the more experienced and adventurous stylist, there is the double halo braid which inevitably requires patience and longer hair extensions. The excessive length allows the braid to wrap around the head twice before having to finally tuck in and secure the end of the braid. The list of styles goes on and on, getting increasingly complex and intricate, to include beautiful patterns of braids often surrounded by larger halo braids.

Changing continually to fit the occasion, halo braids can also be fun to accessorize. After creating the halo braid of your choice, adding flowers, beads, or even multiple other braids that are not fashioned as halos is an easy way to transform the style. The potential of the halo braid itself may be the greatest accessory since you can easily change its size and fullness.

Perfecting the Halo Braid

These are just the basics to get you started braiding halos and creating a style uniquely your own. There are several different ways to modify the halo braid, tailoring it to suit your style and the occasion. No two people will have the same experience with the braiding process and their hair type will often dictate the end result. The halo braid is definitely challenging at first, but over time your style will evolve. As you gain proficiency through trial and error, you can also experiment with various products to see what works best with your hair to enhance the possibilities that the halo braid can offer. There is a wealth of information available so you can continually educate yourself on the latest trends. There is always something new to learn. Once you get your creative juices flowing, the sky’s the limit.

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