Fishtail Braid, Step by Step (Image and Tutorial by Hey Pretty)

True story: I hate braiding hair. At least, I hate braiding my OWN hair. On other people… especially my lovely daughters, it’s a totally different matter! Today’s step by step tutorial came to be by chance, after my 12-year old Lily wanted a fishtail braid for school and also asked me to show her how to do it!

So thanks for being my lovely model for this step-by-step, Lily. A fishtail braid works best on hair that’s at least shoulder-length, if not longer. And they look fab on all hair types, from curly to straight and fine.


Fishtail braid, step by step

Start off with relatively clean (second-day hair is perfect for braiding!), freshly brushed hair that’s free of tangles.

Tie your hair off to a low ponytail and wrap an elastic hair tie around it pretty tightly:

Fishtail braid, Step 1: Make a tight ponytail

Divide the pony tail into two equal parts. Yep, we’re braiding with only two strands! Freaky, right?

Fishtail Braid, Step 2: Divide ponytail into two parts

Now you reach over with your right hand and divide off a fine strand of hair from the back of the left strand. The less hair you take, the longer your fishtail braid will take to complete… but it’s worth it, because it looks so much prettier!

Now you take that fine strand and pull it out to the left and cross it over the thick left strand. Take your right hand and gather the new, fine strand in the right, thick strand, adding it to it!

Fishtail Braid, Step 3: Pull a fine strand out and over

Now you repeat that on the right, thick strand: Take a fine strand of hair from the back/rear part, pull it out and over the strand and place it in your left hand, adding it to that strand.

Fishtail Braid, Step 4: Repeat on other side

Okay, I think you’ve gotten the hang of it, right?

Now, you just keep braiding: Switching from side to side, left and right, keep pulling out and wrapping over. If necessary, comb through the ponytails from time to time with your fingers, so they don’t get tangled.

Important info: Try to pull the braid tight!

I know, it looks a bit weird, but we’re going to pull it all apart a bit soon, don’t worry!

Fishtail Braid, Step 5: Keep braiding tightly!

Braiding in this fishtail pattern takes quite a bit longer that the regular braids you’re used to, just so you know. The longer your hair, the longer it takes. Resist the urge to start grabbing thicker strands to wrap and add, because it won’t look as pretty.

Tip: Try reciting the first and last names of all the people you’ve ever kissed while braiding.


Shout out here to «Sandro», who was my first kiss near the Katzensee in Zurich, around 1986. I found out a few years later that he was gay, which explains SO much!).

Keep fishtailing!

Fishtail Braid Step 6: Almost done

Once you’ve reached the bottom, tie off the ends of the braid (again: pretty tightly!). It looks best with one of those clear silicone rubber bands.

Not bad, right? Just wait…

Fishtail Braid, Step 7: Finish and tie off

Now it’s time to remove the rubber band at the top of the braid.

Don’t freak out, as the whole braid will become a bit loose at the top. But that’s exactly why we’re going to to start to gently pull the braid apart, starting in the middle.

Pulling gently on the outsides of the braid, loosen the strands and pull the braid apart, to make it look lived-in (and to thicken up the braid, if you have fine hair).

Fishtail Braid, Step 8: Loosen the braid!

See what I mean? This looks much more relaxed, right? If your hair still looks too cleaned up from the front, you can also pull out a few face-framing strands, or even muss the braid and the top of your hair a bit.

Step by Step Tutorial: Easy Fishtail Braid

Well done, my little boho princess with the natural, sun-streaked hair! Our next tutorial will be: «Burning Leopard-Print Spots into your Hair with a Straightener».

Or am I?

Have a great day and check back here soon, okay?

Fishtail Braid: The Hey Pretty Easy Tutorial (Step by Step)

Quick and easy fishtail braid: The Step-by-Step Tutorial


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