Do you look at feed-in braids and wish you could try them out for yourself? That’s the case for a whole lot of people – they’re versatile, intricate, protective, and appropriate for all ages.
But what makes people think twice about the style is the hefty cost of getting them done by a professional stylist. And it’s for this reason that some decide to go the DIY route.
If you want to try DIY feed-in braids for yourself or install them on someone else, this is the article for you. In it, we’ll give you an in-depth tutorial on how to get clean, professional-looking feed-in braids in the comfort of your own home. Let’s get right into it!
Table of Contents
- 1 What Are Feed-in Braids?
- 2 4 Benefits of Feed-in Braids
- 3 How to Do Feed-In Braids: Feed-in Braids Tutorial for Beginners
- 4 Dos and Don’ts of Feed-in Braid Installation
- 5 How Long Do Feed-in Braids Last?
- 6 How to Protect Feed-in Braids at Night
- 7 How Much Do Feed-in Braids Cost?
- 8 How Many Pieces of Braiding Hair Should You Add?
What Are Feed-in Braids?
Feed-in braids are braids created with braiding hair. But that’s not what makes them unique – traditional braids have most of the braiding hair added right at the beginning of the braid.
With feed-in braids, the braiding hair is added more gradually in small sections throughout the braid. That way, the transition from your natural hair to the braiding hair is unnoticeable.
4 Benefits of Feed-in Braids
Feed-in braids are incredibly popular right now among members of the natural hair community. Even those who don’t have Black roots are trying them out. And it’s because of the fact that they carry a ton of great benefits!
- There’s less pain during and after installation. Since the feed-in braiding process starts off with just a little bit of extension hair, there’s much less pain and tension on the roots. This is a major plus for those who dread doing their hair or getting it done professionally due to the pain. And this benefit doesn’t end after the braids are complete. Since you didn’t pull your hair super tight during the installation, you’ll have less pain immediately after the installation – no Tylenol or ibuprofen necessary.
- They give you a natural hairline. Feed-in braids that are done correctly don’t have an obvious knot at the start of each braid. In addition, the beginning of each braid will be thin and will gradually get thicker as it continues. This is how natural braids (without extensions) work as well. With a more low-profile hairline, your feed-in braids will look like they were done with your natural hair only.
- They are protective. Feed-in braids are inherently more protective than other extension braids. This is due to the fact that they are usually a little easier on the scalp and hair than other braids. For this reason, you can rest assured that you’re really giving your hair a chance to thrive when you choose feed-in braids. Note that this is only the case if your feed-in braids are done using the right technique and aren’t too tight.
- They are versatile. The feed-in braiding technique can be used to create a wide variety of looks. You can go with a single row of braids straight to the back, two rows of braids swooped to the side, braids angled upward into a ponytail, or anything else you can think of. The only limit is your imagination. With feed-in braids, you get all of the styling versatility you would get with traditional extension braids.
How to Do Feed-In Braids: Feed-in Braids Tutorial for Beginners
Have you decided that you want to give feed-in braids a try? If so, you should know upfront that they aren’t the easiest braid type to learn. But with the instructions you’ll find below, you’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time. Let’s get into the tutorial.
1. Gather Your Materials and Set up Your Space
Before you get started, there are a few things you need to pick up from the store or order online. You’ll, of course, need some braiding hair – kanekalon works very well for this purpose. You’ll also need:
- Braiding hair rack
- Edge control
- Rat-tail comb
- Heat Protectant
- Blow Dryer with a comb attachment
2. Prepare Your Natural Hair
Once you’ve got all of your supplies, you’ll prepare your hair for the braiding process. This step will require you to wash, condition, detangle, and blow dry your hair. Here’s the information you need to get it all done without ruining your hair:
Shampoo to Remove Buildup and Excess Oil
When most people get feed-in braids, they expect their hair to be tucked away inside the braids for a couple of weeks or more. And while the braids are in, you won’t be able to care for your natural hair like you normally would.
So, you need to give it a good cleanse without drying it out. Here’s how to do it:
- Hop in the shower and let water run all over your hair.
- Apply some shampoo to your hair, focusing mainly on your roots. You don’t want to focus the shampoo on your ends, as they are the oldest, more fragile part of the hair.
- Massage the shampoo into your roots, using the tips of your fingers (not your nails).
- Pull the shampoo down the length of your strands after a couple of minutes.
- Rinse the shampoo from your hair.
Note: If your hair is either very long or super thick, you may want to shampoo your hair in sections rather than all at once. Your hair will be much easier to work with in small sections.
Condition to Replenish the Moisture
Conditioning is a non-negotiable step when preparing your natural hair for braids. Your hair will need as much nourishment and moisture as possible to remain hydrated and healthy while it’s in the style. Here’s how to do it:
- Separate your wet hair into at least 4 sections.
- Apply conditioner to your hair, being especially careful to coat the ends of your hair in the product.
- Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to eliminate any knots or tangles. Comb from ends to roots to avoid breakage.
- Let the conditioner sit on your hair for as long as it says on the conditioner’s packaging. In most cases, it’ll be about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Rinse the conditioner from your hair and move on to the next step.
Blow Dry Your Hair
This step is optional, but if your curls are healthy and you want your feed-in braids to be as sleek as possible, blow-drying is an easy way to make it happen. Before you blow dry your hair, though, you should use a heat protectant spray.
Get it on all of your hair, and then use a wide-tooth comb to ensure that it’s evenly distributed. Once your hair is coated with the heat protectant, use your blow dryer (with a comb attachment) and comb through your hair in sections until it’s dry and stretched out.
3. Set up Your Braiding Rack
Feed-in braids require you to stop and add extension hair many times per braid. So, you’ll want to ensure that the hair is pre-portioned and ready to be grabbed. Open up a pack of braiding hair and hang a piece of braiding hair on each stick on the braiding rack.
The size of the braiding hair pieces will depend on how large you want your feed-in braids to be. If you’re doing very large feed-in braids, make the pieces big, and if you’re going for small feed-in braids, make the pieces small.
Since you’re a beginner, it could take a little bit of experimentation to find the right size. If you don’t personally like braiding racks, you can use a mannequin head stand.
Simply attach the stand to a table that’s at elbow level or lower; then open one of the packs of hair and wrap the hair around the stand at its midpoint.
Whenever you need to add some hair to your feed-in braid, you’ll pinch some hair between your fingers and pull it downward to separate it from the rest of the hair.
4. Get to Braiding
With your hair sufficiently prepped, you’re ready to get to braiding. Pay special attention to this section, as it will tell you step-by-step how to create a feed-in braid.
- Part out a section of hair that you want to braid using your rattail comb.
- Get the rest of the hair out of the way and pin it in place with a clip or two.
- Add a bit of edge control around the borders of the section to define your part and ensure that your braid will last.
- Separate out a very small section of hair at the beginning of the section you just parted.
- Split that section into three sections.
- Start the braid like you would a normal cornrow. Don’t know how to do one? Watch this cornrow video tutorial and practice a few times to get the hand motions down.
- After cornrowing about a half inch, add your first piece of extension hair. You’ll do that by laying the middle portion of the piece of extension hair across the braid horizontally. Join the two halves of the extension hair with the outer sections you’re currently braiding with. Then, continue to cornrow as usual.
- As you continue to braid, you’ll continue to add pieces of extension hair in this manner.
- Braid to the ends and then part out another section of hair and follow the above steps again.
For a visual demonstration of how to do feed-in braids, watch this feed-in braid tutorial on YouTube.
5. Seal Your Ends
Once all of your hair is braided, it’s time to seal your ends so your braids won’t unravel. One of the best ways to do this is to dip the ends of all of the braids in piping-hot water.
Heat a pot of water on the stove or a container in the microwave. Note that not all braiding hair can be sealed in this manner. So, when choosing your braiding hair, you’ll want to determine whether it can be water sealed.
6. Do Your Finishing Touches
Finishing touches are optional, but they can make your braids that much slicker. If you’d like, get yourself some hair-cutting scissors and snip away any loose hairs along the braids, being careful not to cut your own hair.
Then, slather a generous amount of hair mousse onto your hair in the direction of the braids and put a scarf on for about 10 to 15 minutes. After the time is up, remove the durag, and you’re all done.
Dos and Don’ts of Feed-in Braid Installation
Following the instructions above will enable you to get your feed-in braids done at home. But there are a few more things you should know before you get started.
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind to ensure that your feed-in braids come out just right!
- Do take your time while braiding your hair. Rushing through the process will almost always result in less-precise results.
- Don’t pull too tightly while braiding. Though you should use a degree of tension while braiding, it’s never a good idea to yank your hair tightly. If you’re in pain while braiding your hair, chances are you’re pulling your hair too tightly.
- Do use some edge control along the borders of each of the braids. It’ll make them a whole lot neater.
- Don’t start braiding your own hair until you’ve practiced the technique. Doing feed-in braids is difficult enough when you’re not doing them on your own head. So, if you’re totally new to braiding your own hair with extensions, we recommend that you try doing feed-in braids on either a loved one or a mannequin head first. Then, try doing the braids on your own head.
- Do be careful with the size of the braiding hair pieces. If you want thick braids, use thick pieces of braiding hair. And if you want small ones, use tiny pieces. No matter how thick you want your braids to be, the first pieces of hair you’ll add to a braid will be the smallest.
How Long Do Feed-in Braids Last?
In most cases, feed-in braids will look sleek and new for up to 2 weeks. But after that, you’ll notice frizz has set in, and your roots have started to grow out. It’s at that point that you should think about taking your feed-in braids down. Still, you can leave the braids in for up to 2 months, though they won’t look good at all for at least the last month.
How to Protect Feed-in Braids at Night
If you want your feed-in braids to look good for 2 weeks or longer, you’ll need to take care of them at night. You can do this by covering them up with a silk or satin scarf or bonnet – the scarf is best for flattening flyaways and keeping your hairline from getting frizzy.
If you fail to protect your hair at night, you’ll see frizz a lot quicker, and you might even experience dryness along your hairline and the nape of your neck. Luckily, tying your hair up at night doesn’t take longer than 2 minutes.
How Much Do Feed-in Braids Cost?
Though you can do your own feed-in braids at home, going the DIY route will not be the best course of action for everyone. If you’ve decided that getting your feed-in braids professionally done is right for you, be prepared to spend a pretty penny on them.
On the low end, feed-in braids cost around $50, but the more intricate your feed-in braids are, the more you’ll have to spend on them. On the higher end, small feed-in braids done with multiple rows can cost $200 or more, and that price may not include the cost of the braiding hair.
When weighing the costs associated with feed-in braids, you’ve got to remember that even if you do them yourself, you’ll have to buy the necessary supplies. For the hair, edge control, comb, braiding rack, and other supplies, you’ll have come out of pocket at least $50.
How Many Pieces of Braiding Hair Should You Add?
One of the most common questions people have about feed-in braids is, “How many pieces of braiding hair should I add to each braid?” The answer to that question is potentially frustrating – it depends.
It depends on how thick your natural hair is, how thick you want your braids to be in relation to your natural hair, and how long the cornrow portion of each braid is. You may need to add 5 pieces per braid all the way up to 10 or more.
Just know that, in most cases, you’ll add the bulk of the pieces to the first half of the braid. You’ll stop adding pieces when the braid is thick enough for your liking. Sometimes, you may need to add a piece or two at the end of the cornrow for length, but that’s not often necessary.
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So, there you have it – everything you need to know about how to do feed-in braids. We hope that you found all the information you were looking for, and we wish you the best as you experiment with new and exciting protective styles.
Kenneth Byrd holds a BS in Accounting and Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. With over 15 years of experience, Kenneth has been dedicated to hair care since 2008, when he co-founded Curl Centric® and Natural Hair Box alongside his wife. As a team, they promote healthy hair care practices through their comprehensive platform, Curl Centric. Curl Centric is a website operated by a husband and wife team that encourages healthy hair care. At Curl Centric, we aim to help our readers take control of their hair care journey and make good decisions about products, hairstyles, and maintenance techniques. We also have strict editorial integrity; here’s an explanation of our editorial guidelines and how we make money.