French curl braids are the protective style making a comeback! This creative new style is the love-child of the classic box braid and boho-chic goddess braids, and can be achieved using sleek, silky (pre-curled) French curl braiding hair. They start life out as box braids and end as voluminous, wavy ringlets à la Marie Anontoinette iconic ringlets.
French curl braids have taken over TikTok and have become the go-to look for Black women. It’s easy to see why–French curl braids are effortlessly glamorous (thanks to those sumptuous ringlets) with all the benefits of a protective style. The millennials among us may remember this style on Brandy in Moesha and Beyoncé in her Destiny’s Child Days but it’s been given a facelift for the new decade. We’ve seen women get experimental by blending two or three colors for an ombre effect, go wild with pastel pinks and purple, add accessories and leave INCHES of the curly hair out for even more glamor.
When it comes to reinventing and bringing classic protective styles back, Black girls are really and truly undefeated! So if you’ve been influenced by the For You Page, and are keen to try French curl braids, then keep reading for our complete guide, including how to install, benefits, maintenance and a gallery for style inspo.
Benefits and Disadvantages
Yes, French curl braids look effortlessly glamorous but what are the benefits and are there any disadvantages to be aware of? The style is usually installed using the knotless box braid method. Our complete guide to knotless braids will fill you in on the other benefits and potential drawbacks using this installation method, but one of the main reasons we’re fans of them is that they’re less painful to install than traditional box braids. They’re also a lot lighter so there’s less tension on your scalp.
French curl braids work on most hair textures and provide endless styling possibilities. They can also last up to eight weeks if installed correctly and provided you take care of those sleek curls. The hair is quite silky compared to the textures we’re used to, so the ends could be prone to unraveling. However there are definitely ways to avoid this happening–we’ll get into this later.
How to Install French Curl Braids
We scoured YouTube to find the most informative tutorials for you to use if you want to try this look for yourself. Before we get into the videos below, here are a few key tips we found to make your installation a breeze:
- Opt for pre-curled, quality French curl braiding hair. The brand Ayya Hair, based in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria sell premium, luxury braiding hair and ship abroad. The classic Freetress is also a brand we’ve seen women using as is British brand Ruka Hair.
- The knotless braid technique is recommended for installing this style.
- Add rubber brands to the ends to stop the hair from coming loose. It’s unlikely the rubber bands will touch your natural hair as you’ll most likely be braiding beyond the ends of your hair. However if you want to play it safe you could dip the bands in olive oil before using them to minimize breakage.
- Some looks really go to the extreme, leaving several inches of the curls out but the choice is really up to you.
- Instead of using rubber bands, follow Chavi Allie’s advice and keep your braids secure using strands from the additional hair and creating a loop (aka a slip knot). Skip ahead to 5:10 to see how she does it:
Kensa Diallo has an installation tutorial here:
Watch Abby install her French curl braids in a stunning copper color:
Maintaining Your French Curl Braids
All protective styles require care and maintenance to keep them looking fresh. Use the tips in our protective style guide to care for your French curl braids. Other tips we recommend for caring for your French curl braids include:
- Sleeping with a bonnet and/or silk pillowcase. The silk will minimize frizz on your natural hair and extensions and will also help to prevent tangles. You could even use this French curl braids night time routine from Denise. She brushes her curls out before wrapping them around flexi rods and then using her silk bonnet. This method will help to maintain the wavy curl effect that we love this look for.
- Apply a light amount of oil to the curly ends to keep them shiny and luscious. Be very frugal here as you don’t want to end up with a hot greasy mess.
- Gently brush/comb through the silky ends as often as required to prevent tangles and minimize frizz.
- Skip ahead to 12:30 to see how Queens_Lounge handles the silky ends of her client’s hair after installing the French curl braids:
If you notice your braids starting to slip out at the front or you just want to freshen up the style, Chavi Allie has a great routine for this:
Are there any other things to consider?
Many of the Youtubers we reviewed recommend using a professional stylist as they’ll be able to handle the silky texture of the hair. Some women choose to install knotless braids using Kanekelon hair, and then curling the hair after the hair has been installed. You’ll need to leave some of the hair out, dip it in hot water, apply some conditioner to the hair, then wrap the hair around a large flexi rod.
Precious EST demos this on her client:
Crochet French Curl Braids
Or how about this for a game changer? Crochet French curl braids. The great thing is, the hair will come pre-braided, with those luscious curls at the end. If you want our take on crochet braids, we’ve created a 101 guide here. Overall they’re a great choice if you’re not a confident braider (your natural hair will be hidden), and if you’re short on time as they’re fairly quickie to install. However, they’re a lot harder to wash as your scalp is not as accessible.
Watch Melisza Mcfierce’s tutorial if you want to install the look using the crochet method. She starts by cornrowing her hair and then crocheting the braids in:
Shay A crochets her french curl braids in by braiding her hair into individual braids vs cornrows, then adding the crochets to the individuals:
Style Inspo for Your French Curl Braids
One of the reasons we love this look, is the styling options it offers. Take a look at these hairstyles created with French curl braids…
Another one here
Taking Down Your French Curl Braids
We recommend keeping this style in for a maximum of eight weeks and then leaving a gap of at least four weeks before installing another protective style. This is to give your hair a much-needed break and to let that scalp breathe. When you’re ready to take out your braids take a look at our protective style guide. The guidance can be applied to any protective style so it’s something you can come back to, time and time again.
French Curl Braid Gallery
The best looks from our favorite internet girlies…