Scroll through the pics tagged “yarn braids” on Insta, and you’ll find over 75,000 ridiculously pretty interpretations of the protective style. According to Jasmine Pierce, hairstylist at Yeluchi in Los Angeles, yarn braids—the technique that swaps braiding hair for, yup, literal yarn—are experiencing a bit of a resurrection right now. “So many of my friends in elementary school in the ’90s had yarn braids, so it feels a little nostalgic to see it coming back” she says.
Unlike the low-key, natural-looking version of the ’90s, though, Pierce says modern yarn braids are all about expressing your creativity. “People are a lot more daring and creative in how they wear their hair extensions now—and with yarn braids, you have so many colors and styles to choose from, whether you’re going for really long braids, twists, or faux locs.” And if you’re thinking about trying yarn braids—DO IT. They’re cute as hell— you’ve come to the right place.
Ahead, Pierce, along with LA-based hairstylist Kamara Brown, answer all of your Qs about getting yarn braids, including the maintenance and the average cost. Then keep scrolling to find the 10 coolest styles to try out ASAP.
How much yarn do you need for yarn braids?
Let’s back up a sec. It’s important to first go into the process knowing what type of yarn you’ll need. Both Pierce and Brown agree that it’s best to avoid wool or wool blends (it’s too heavy and drying) and instead opt for 100 percent acrylic yarn. “If you use wool yarn and leave it in for more than eight weeks, it’s going to be very hard to detangle and it’ll eventually loc up your hair,” says Brown. So stick to acrylic yarn and make sure you take them out between four to eight weeks, k?
BTW: Both stylists say one of the coolest parts of getting yarn braids is that you have tons of color options. “Sometimes it can be really hard to find braid extensions in fun colors, so yarn can be great if you’re looking for highlights or pops of colors,” says Brown. After you’ve decided on your color, you can plan on buying one or two bundles. And not only is it significantly cheaper than braiding hair, but Pierce says it’s way lighter (think: two bundles of yarn max versus five to six packs of braiding hair is going to feel a lot lighter on your scalp).
Do yarn braids damage your hair?
Nope, yarn braids are super lightweight and easy on your hair and scalp. That said, you do have to be extra careful when it comes to maintaining them. The biggest rule of thumb? Don’t get your yarn braids wet. “Yarn holds moisture, so if you get your braids wet, they’re going to be very wet and very heavy for a long time,” says Pierce. Instead, contain any cleansing and moisturizing to your scalp and roots.
Around once a week, Pierce suggests smoothing a gentle shampoo through your roots to lift any oil and buildup (you can even use a spray bottle for more precise application). Massage it with your fingertips or a microfiber towel (regular towels = a big no no, since they create too much friction against the yarn), and gently rinse it out in the sink, being careful not to submerge your braids in the water. Follow with a little leave-in conditioner—again, on your scalp and roots, not your braids—and a lightweight jojoba or argan oil to lock it all in.
And for quick touch-ups when you don’t have time for a full shampoo, Brown recommends spot treating with a clarifying scalp spray and a microfiber towel (she loves Bronner Brothers Tropical Roots Shampoo Spray).
The cutest yarn braid styles to try RN:
K, now that we’ve covered all the bases, let’s get to what you really came here for. Ahead, 10 yarn-braid styles and ideas that’ll have you on the phone with your braider (or queuing up a DIY tutorial) by the end of, uh, this sentence.
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