So I have to admit that I was pretty impressed with my first attempt at a french braid a few weeks ago (see my post from May 31, 2015). After all, it kind of looked like a braid! My daughter even seemed impressed that I was somewhat successful without pulling out half her hair. However, my confidence was shaken a bit when days later my mom saw the video of this attempt on my blog and she broken down laughing. Then when I watched my first YouTube video on braiding (“Side French Braid Hair Tutorial **For Beginners**”) and found out that I was supposed to continue pulling in new hair while I braided, I realized how much there still was to learn!
While I have about 50,000 french braid videos at my disposal, I quickly discovered that not all instructional videos are made equal. For example, the host of “How to French Braid Short Layered Hair” didn’t talk! Instead she thought it would be a good idea to type the instructions across the screen. I don’t know about other newbies but I found it impossible to watch the braiding and read the instructions at the same time. Other video braiders must have been a part of a secret speed braiding contest. At first I thought maybe they recorded their videos in fast forward but since the audio seemed to be in sync with the video I assumed they must just be trying to break the braiding world record. Again, this was not helpful to me. While many of the videos were less than helpful, fortunately many were great! I discovered that videos that break up braiding into short, clear steps have been the most helpful (such as “3 Ways to French Braid”). I can watch a particular step a few times and then try to accomplish it myself. After I feel somewhat confident on this step, I move on the next step. I am truly taking baby steps!
After watching a few dozen YouTube french braiding videos, it became clear that most people french braid the same way. However, each video host offered their own tips and tricks. These tips and tricks became the most helpful parts of the videos once I had the basic ideas down. At this point, it came down to practice and experimenting with the slightly different techniques. As with many things in life, french braiding comes down to practice, patience and more practice!
My biggest challenge has been getting answers to my questions. I am not the most patient person so when I have questions on a particular step or process, it has been hard to wait for an answer (many of which never came). I have posted in chat forums and also in the comments section under YouTube videos. While no one has replied on YouTube, I have received pretty good feedback from The Long Hair Community. However, this type of communication is a fairly slow way to interact and attempt dialogue. I think it just takes getting used to. Be be honest, I thought about having my wife log on a forum so I could ask her questions indirectly but I decided that this was basically cheating. Also, I believe that she is enjoying watching me struggle with this task so I’m not expecting her to give much advice! Although receiving answers to all my questions would be nice, much of the time I have answered my own questions as I continued to practice and figure things out on my own. I also realized that often my questions were already asked and answered by others on these sites. Once I realized this, I then began to scan the comments section after watching each YouTube video.
While I still have a ways to go before I would send my daughters out in public after braiding their hair, I do feel that I am making progress (see below). I now need to refine my technique and get better at tying up the braid at the end – something I didn’t expect to be a problem! Hopefully by the end of next week, I will make my girls proud!
If you are interested in learning more about french braiding, please check out the resources below.
Helpful french braiding YouTube videos:
Hair chat forums: