If you’re learning how to braid your hair, you’ve probably come across several braiding techniques that might be confusing to a total beginner.
A French braid may be mistaken for a Dutch braid to an amateur's eye. But if you break it down, they’re different styles but with similar techniques.
So if you’re confused about how to determine which is which, this article will guide you on how to master the Dutch and French braid.
Before we begin breaking down the techniques on how to do a Dutch braid, let’s discuss where the hairstyle originates.
Despite what its name suggests, the Dutch didn’t have a hand in creating the Dutch braid.
The hairstyle later became so prevalent that the Dutch also adapted it to their daily styles.
So even though the hairstyle grew in popularity in the Netherlands, the Dutch don’t claim any credit.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact history of where and when French braids came from, as historical artifacts show that there are different forms of the braid throughout history.
But the closest version of the current-day French braid is found in ancient rock art in Algeria, which dates back to 6,000 years ago.
So, like the Dutch braid, the French didn’t make the French braid. In fact, they don’t even call this hairstyle by that name, so it’s still considered a mystery where it got its label.
But the term “French braid” first appeared in literature in a short story in Arthur’s Home Magazine in 1871, and the rest became history.
If you haven’t tried doing a Dutch or French braid, determining which is easier all boils down to your preference.
If you know how to do a 3-strand braid, a French braid may come easier to you since they have similar techniques.
But if you’ve learned how to do a Dutch braid first, then you might prefer it more than a French braid.
So if you think you can’t do any of the hairstyles, worrying about which one would be easier to do won’t take you closer to mastering any of them. But with practice and patience, both braids will eventually feel natural for you, too.
Now comes the most awaited part, comparing the steps on how to do a Dutch and French braid.
So is a Dutch braid just a reverse French braid? Read more to find out.
To make it easier to distinguish between the two braids, let’s first break down the steps you’ll need to create an elegant French braid.
To start, gather all your hair at the back of your head. Grab the top part of your hair, and divide it into 3 sections.
To create your first weave, cross the right section over to the middle section. Then, cross the left section over to the middle section. Arrange your fingers, so all of the 3 braid sections are on your left hand.
Using your right hand, grab a small section of hair and incorporate it into the right section. Then proceed to cross it over to the middle section. On the left side, grab a small section of hair and incorporate it into the left section.
Repeat the steps until you run out of hair to incorporate. Then braid the rest of your hair using the 3-strand braid technique, and secure it with a hair tie.
If you’re left-handed, you can also start braiding your hair on the left side to make it more convenient for you.
If you’re already familiar with how to create a French braid, learning how to do a Dutch braid will be effortless.
Start by gathering all of your hair at the back of your head. Take the top part of your hair and divide it into 3 sections.
Now, this is the part where the Dutch braid differs from the French braid, as you’ll need to cross the right section under the middle section. Then, grab the left section and cross it under the middle section.
Transfer all of the sections to your left hand. Pull a small section of hair with your right hand and incorporate it into the right section. You’ll then repeat the steps of crossing the sections under the middle section until you run out of hair to incorporate.
By then, continue braiding your hair using the 3-strand braid technique until you get to the ends.
Make sure to keep the braid at the center of your head to avoid creating a lopsided hairstyle.
Once satisfied with your braid, you can secure it with a hair tie.
When you master the art of creating a Dutch braid, perhaps learning how to do a double Dutch braid will be the next thing on your to-do list.
The steps are similar to doing a single Dutch braid; you’ll only need to part your hair into 2 equal sections.
You can tie the left part of your hair to avoid getting any stray strands from transferring to the other side.
To do a double Dutch braid, grab the right part of your hair and divide the top part into 3 sections.
Do the technique of the single Dutch braid until you get to the ends of your hair, and secure it with a hair tie.
Once satisfied with that part, move on to the left side and repeat the same technique.
You can then loosen a few tendrils of hair around your face to make it a more relaxed style.
A 3-strand braid is the first technique you’ll usually learn when trying to do a braided hairstyle.
You’ll need to divide your hair into 3 sections, but unlike the French braid, you won’t need to incorporate more hair between crossing each section.
The steps are easier to follow, so beginners can learn them quicker.
The 2 braids are also easily distinguishable, whereas a basic braid usually starts at the bottom of your head. In contrast, a French braid begins at the top of your head and incorporates the middle strands of your hair.
Deciding whether a Dutch or French braid is better depends on your preference and the look you’re going for.
A classic French braid will elevate a simple look by giving it a more feminine touch. While a Dutch braid is perfect for an edgier style due to the 3D effect, the braid gives out.
Regardless, both are easy and effective hairstyles for keeping your hair out of your face.
Wearing Dutch braids is sometimes mistaken for cultural appropriation because of its similarity to cornrows.
Braided hairstyles, like cornrows, have a deep significance to African culture. So it’s disheartening to see Caucasian people wear their traditional styles as part of a trend and get celebrated for it.
But the difference between the two is that Dutch braids are often looser. While cornrows are several smaller braids weaved tighter and closer to your scalp.
So if you’re not a POC, wearing Dutch braids is okay as long as you don’t do it to make fun of or emulate African culture.
Differentiating between a Dutch and French braid may be confusing for a beginner, but if you break their methods down, you’ll find they’re quite different from each other.
So despite their names being misnomers, they’re quick and practical hairstyles for when you want your hair off your face.
So don’t get discouraged if you don’t get their technique for the first few times. As long as you keep practicing, you’ll soon be able to braid your own hair in a flash.