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BEAUTY LESSONS:

BRAID SECRETS

with ashley streicher

Hollywood hairstylist Ashley Streicher is known for her way with braids. Here, she shares her tips for perfecting the style of the moment.

Written By CHRISTINE WHITNEY

Hollywood hairstylist, STRIIIKE salon co-owner, and Violet Files columnist Ashley Streicher is renowned for her braiding prowess. She’s a favorite of such ingenues as Lily James and Kiernan Shipka, and even two of her most discerning clients, siblings and STRIIIKE cohorts Kristie (Tinseltown’s brow master) and Jenn (makeup artist extraordinaire), regularly request their sister’s French braids. As reported recently in their column, all three Streichers consider the style ideal for skinny dipping, asserting that, like a fine wine, it only gets better with time.

This multiple-braid marvel is meant to be modern, slightly messy, and long-wearing—no sectioning comb required, just chin-length or longer locks and a sense of adventure. 

Tip number one: Despite what you may think, short hair can be braided. “You can usually go pretty short; you’ll just have to do more sections,” says Ashley, who reports that even a chin-length bob will do, provided you braid it in three separate sections. Long hair? One to two braids work nicely, though Ashley vouches for the fun, modern look of two or more braids connecting in the back. Superlong locks? Just keep wrapping the hair around the head, pinning it to the sides. 

Read on as Ashley demos her inverted Freestyle French braid on her sister Kristie, and shares her tips for the perfect take at home.

KEEP IT TIGHT

“Most people look good with their hair back, so the key to a good French braid is keeping all the hair close to the head and out of the way,” Ashley explains. “Kristie loves to wear hers back so nothing can stop her—she’s very busy,” Ashley says of her sister’s legendary affinity for the style. Start with clean tresses (no product required), brushed out with a Y.S. Park brush (Ashley’s favorite for distributing hair’s natural oils), then separate into three sections—the sides and what she describes as “a mohawk down the center.” Secure with clips.  

TRY A TWIST

For the highly coveted style she created on Kristie, Ashley opted to make three inverted French braids for an ornate, standout effect. (Traditional French braids have a more demure, tucked-in look.) Separate the hair into three even sections, and start French braiding the side sections first, then the back, crossing strands under instead of over each other to acheive the 3D effect.  

TIE ONE ON

Blax elastics are my favorite for tying off the end of the braids—they are tiny and subtle and don’t cause breakage on your ends,” Ashley says. 

TEXTURIZE WISELY

“You don’t want to use hairspray on a braid, as it will just ruin the texture and make it crunchy,” Ashley cautions. “A nice texture powder, like this one from David Mallett, has just the right gritty consistency to provide extra hold without spoiling the finish.” A dusting from top to bottom keeps everything tight and in place. 

LOOSEN THE KNOT

Starting from the top, tug gently on the braid to loosen it as you would a shoelace. This lends it the ideal lived-in look and helps work in the product.  

THE FINISHING TOUCH

Tuck ends under and secure with bobby pins, attaching the end of each braid to its closest neighbor. Pro tip: The Streichers love to wear this style when swimming, and as Ashley says, “Just let the saltwater work its magic—it’s the best braid-enhancing product.” The style is meant to look well-worn, so don’t fret if it starts to look a little roughed-up a couple of days in—embrace it!

SWIM LIKE 
A STREICHER

The Streicher sisters share their tips for successful skinny dipping—including the braid of the moment.