Does Straightening Braids Give Easy Beachy Waves?

by Miki Hayes

When it comes to my makeup routine, I love taking my sweet, sweet time. But hair? Not so much. I'm basically as lazy as lazy gets. I always let my hair air-dry, and I have a limited arsenal of 'do's that I'll, well, do sometimes. But those times are very few and far between because I usually can't be bothered. So unsurprisingly, I love a good hair hack. Those tutorials that have eight-plus steps? Pass. But tell me I can do something like achieve beachy waves in just a couple minutes and I'm all over it. That's where straightening a braid comes in.

I had seen floating around the internet this idea that passing a flat iron over a braid will create those "effortless" looking waves seemingly effortlessly. I'll bite. As a child I pretty regularly slept in braids to have those crimped waves on the daily, so I was a little skeptical about heating up a braid. Don't get me wrong, it's a pretty brilliant idea, but braids tend to give crimps more than loose waves. So instead of testing just braids, I also tested twists on one half of my hair. Although the hack seems to suggest you can use just one or two braids, I thought four might be better so the heat can more easily penetrate the braids and not cause too much damage while also providing slightly tighter waves. Here's how it turned out.

The Prep

On the braided side of my head, I did a slightly thinner braid in the front and a slightly thicker one in the back. I did two slow passes of the straightener over each braid (using heat protectant first, of course) and then let them cool before undoing them. As you can see, after heating the braids up, they held their form without any hair ties. So if you ever want a little accent braid but don't want a distracting band holding it together, try this technique.

I followed the same suit with the twisted side of my head, doing a slightly thinner twist in the front and a slightly thicker one in the back. These also held their shape after being heated.

The Results

The braided side was a little disappointing. The smaller braid gave me some cute crimps, but the larger braid didn't really do much. And of course, the crimps can only start from where the braid did. So I was left with a rather noticeable dent at the top of where the crimps start which I wasn't a huge fan of.

While the twist side did mostly the same thing with the thicker twist not giving me much to work with, I did get this badass twist from the front section. I wanted more, so I went back and redid some smaller twists.

Well, it kind of worked. But if you look back at the prep photo, it seems that a truly successful twist has to be paired with a section of hair that won't achieve much of a curl. In other words, sections of hair can't be twisted together so that they both curl, but rather one section of hair has to be twisted around another section of hair that remains mostly straight. So only one half of every twist will turn out well.

I also noticed after repeating the process that my hair immediately felt and looked dry and damaged. So if you want to use this method, you'll want to try to get it right the first time.

Before & After

Overall, I think this method is better suited to an accent crimp or curl rather than the whole head. Because smaller braids and twists need to be used to achieve any noticeable waves, the process ends up taking just as long as it would to simply curl hair. In addition, because each braid or twist needs more concentrated heat to penetrate the style and set the waves, this trick causes more damage than, again, simply using a curling iron. The search for the perfect hair hack continues...

Images: Miki Hayes