Published Sept 19, 2021
If you’re new to hair braiding, you probably always confuse French braids and Dutch braids. No worries, we totally understand. French braid and Dutch braid are two of the most popular hair braiding techniques in the world. But because they’re awfully similar, even professionals tend to mistake one for the other at times.
To clear out any confusion and better understand the differences between the two techniques, let’s compare Dutch braid vs. French braid.
What is a French Braid?
A French braid is a timeless classic and one of the most popular braid hairstyles in the world. If you know how to do the basic three-strand braid, then doing the French braid will be a breeze because it basically follows the same principle. The only difference is that at every step, a little bit more hair is added to the mix.
Confused? Let’s break it down bit by bit.
Classic three-strand braids are pretty straightforward. Bringing the hair at the nape of your neck, you divide it into three sections. Then you cross one section of hair over the other until you reach the tips.
Doing a French braid basically follows the same pattern: the left strand crosses over the middle strand, then the right strand crosses over that strand. But every time you cross a side strand over a middle strand, you pick up an extra strand of hair from that side and add it to that strand.
Instead of starting at the nape of your neck, French braids start at the crown of your head nearest to the scalp. From there, it gradually goes down to your nape. Once you reach the nape and have no more hair to add to the strands, you can continue with a regular braid up to the tips of your hair. Then you secure the braid with a hair tie.
This technique gives you a classically elegant yet innocent look that makes you look younger than you really are.
For visual learners, check out this step-by-step video guide on creating French braids.
What’s a Dutch Braid?
Also referred to as the “inside out” braid or the “reverse French braid”, the Dutch braid is similar to the French braid in all ways but one. Instead of the signature “flat braid” that blends in with the rest of the hair, the Dutch braid creates a more 3D look where the braid is more prominent and the rest of the hair is pushed into the background.
This is achieved by crossing the side strand UNDER the middle strand instead of over it. Other than this minor twist, Dutch braids follow a similar pattern as the French braid, from the crown to the nape, then down to the tips of your hair. This technique works better for natural hair since it pulls the hair tightly at the roots.
Check out this step-by-step guide to help you visualize the process.
Crossing the strands under each other instead of over, gives more dimension to your braid making it more noticeable. That’s why if you want a more outgoing look that easily captures other people’s attention, Dutch braids are perfect for you. Some people even describe the Dutch braid as an enhanced version of the French braid since it gives a more dressed-up look that’s perfect for formal and social events!
The Difference Between French Braids and Dutch Braids
From the definitions above, there are three main differences between a French braid and a Dutch braid:
- Flat vs. 3D. A Dutch braid emphasizes the braid creating an “inside out” 3D look. While a French braid creates a “flat look” with the braid seamlessly blending in with the rest of the hair.
- Over vs. Under. French braids are created by crossing one strand over the other and Dutch braids by crossing the strands under each other.
- Innocent vs. Bold. French braids make your hair look like it’s cascading down your head creating an impression of youthful innocence. That’s why it’s often used in formal events like weddings and bridal showers. Dutch braids, on the other hand, creates a stunning bold look by making your braid look like it’s floating above your scalp.
Which is Easier?
It really depends on the style you’re used to. Muscle memory plays a huge role in hair braiding. So if you’re used to French braid, you’ll probably have a hard time with Dutch braid and vice versa. But with time and constant practice, you’ll eventually become an expert in both techniques.
Which Makes Better Waves?
There are a lot of factors that affect how a braid wave would turn out. For the most part, it really depends on your hair. Naturally curly hair usually goes back to their usual shape even after being worn in a braid for the whole day. While straight hair tend to become wavy even after just a few hours. This, however, varies from person to person.
In general, French braids create beachy, S-shaped waves that starts from the middle of your head down to the tips of your hair. It starts with loose waves at the top than becomes tighter and more pronounced as it goes down. See this post for reference.
Since they’re tighter than French braids, Dutch braids tend to create huge voluminous waves that gives your hair a lot more volume. Check out this post for a better visualization.
So, Which is Better?
Hairstyling is one of the most enjoyable parts of dressing up and there’s no right or wrong way to braid your hair. Deciding which type of braid is better really depends on your style. If you prefer a more elegant and defined style, the Dutch braid is for you. But if you’re after a more simple and low-key hairstyle, then the French braid is your best option. You can even mix and match different braiding styles into one to create a fun look that best compliments your style.
What makes braids excellent style choices is that they can instantly turn your whole look from 0 to 100! Now that you know the difference between a French braid and a Dutch braid, you can go ahead and try these hairstyles at home. Wear them to the gym, to class, your friend’s bridal shower, and even on dates. The possibilities with braids are endless and your creativity is your only limit.
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