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Your Step-By-Step Guide to Creating Bubble Braids on Natural Hair

This 5-minute hairstyle can take you from the office to the gym and everywhere in between.
Let’s be real, taking an hour to style our hair every day is ideal, it's just not reality for most of us. So quick and easy hairstyles come in clutch and we’re always on the lookout for new ones to tuck in our arsenal. Enter, bubble braids. Bubble braids are the easiest way to spice up a basic ponytail hairstyle, and this fun and playful style is hot right now. And yes, bubble braids can be done on natural hair. We’ve answered all the FAQ’s about bubble braids and how this style works on natural hair. Keep reading to learn more.

What are bubble braids?

If a traditional ponytail and a flat twist had a baby, it would be a bubble braid. Bubble braids for black hair are basically a simple and cute, easy hairstyle for curly hair that will zhush up your basic pony. Instead of using one elastic on your ponytail, you add a few down the shaft of the ponytail and it creates a shape similar to a bubble.

We consider it an effortless upgrade to a traditional ponytail style that works on practically every hair type. And don’t worry, even though bubble hair is usually spotted on those with medium-to-long hair lengths, this protective hairstyle works on short hair, too. Bubble braids for short hair can be tricky but adorable.

How do I prepare my hair for bubble braids?

Whether you’re doing a single bubble braid, double bubble braid or a myriad of bubble braids, prepping your hair for this hairstyle is a breeze. Here’s your step-by-step guide to creating the perfect bubble braid, no matter what your skill level.

First things first: grab what you need. There’s nothing worse than experimenting with a new hairstyle without being prepared. Instead of searching for that last elastic mid-way through your styling, gather all that you need before you begin. You’ll want to have a lightweight cream, multiple hair elastics (a.k.a. ponytail holders) and some type of hold product, preferably a hair spray or spray gel. Try Wash Day Delight Gel to Foam Styler for moisture and hold.

As far as washing your hair before styling, the choice is yours. Sometimes, hairstyles like bubble braids are better with more texture and dirty hair is best. But the truth is, you can style on clean or not-so-clean hair, just be mindful that squeaky clean hair may require a bit more work to create fuller bubbles. We love Wash Day Delight Water-to-Foam Sulfate-Free Shampoo followed by Healthy Hair Butter.

How to do bubble braids on curly hair

While there are different types of curly hair, the rules of creating a bubble braid on curly hair types is generally the same. Here are the basics of bubble braids on curly hair.

Step 1: Apply your product

Remember that cream you grabbed before starting your bubble braid? Well, now it’s time to use it. We recommend the Coco Creme Curl Shaping Cream Gel because it moisturizes and holds strands into place without making the hair stiff or crunchy. Coco Creme Curl Perfecting Water Mist is a great option if you don’t love gel. You’ll want to add a small amount to the hair from root to tip. This will smooth any flyaways and frizzy areas and give you a soft and moisturized surface to work with.

Step 2: Create your ponytail

You can choose to do one bubble braid or two or more, but for the sake of this bubble braid tutorial we will guide you on creating one. Now that your product has been applied, choose the location of your ponytail. Bring your hair into a ponytail, making sure the base of the ponytail is smooth and slicked down. You can opt for a high ponytail at the crown of the head or a low ponytail at the nape of the neck or somewhere in between; there’s really no right or wrong location.

Step 3: Add elastics

At this point you want to decide how many bubbles you want to create. The more bubbles you create, the smaller the bubbles will be. In turn, the fewer bubbles you create, the larger the bubbles will be. Once your ponytail is secure, add another elastic a few inches down from the first one. You’ll continue this process down the entire shaft of the ponytail, ensuring there is equal distance between each elastic. The more uniform your elastics are, the better the bubbly braid will look.

Step 4: Puff up your bubbles

Once you’ve added all of your elastics, it’s time to create the actual bubbles. If you have fine or thin hair, you may want to tease the strands to create more volume. But if you have thick hair, your bubbles should be fairly large on their own.

Step 5: Lock your style into place

Your pony is secure, your bubbles are perfected and now it’s time to keep everything intact. A light spritz of hairspray or spray gel will do the trick.

How to do bubble braids on coily hair

When it comes to step-by-step instructions, creating a bubble braid on coily hair isn’t much different than curly hair. The only thing to note is when choosing the space between your elastics, you generally want to stick to 2-3 inches for each bubble. This will ensure that your bubble braid looks the part and the bubbles aren’t too far apart or too close together. You may consider using an edge control product to slick down those edges. Our go-to is the Black Vanilla Edge Control Smoother.

Are bubble braids a protective hairstyle?

The short answer is yes and no. While bubble braids can be used to keep your ends tucked away, unless you sport this style for a few days, it doesn’t minimize manipulation to the hair. Not to mention, securing your hair into a tight ponytail isn’t exactly ideal for an extended period of time.

If you want to make a bubble braid into a protective hairstyle for natural hair, consider doing it with extensions or a faux pony. This will give your strands a little break and allow you to rock the bubble braid for longer without many touchups and restyling sessions.

Do bubble braids damage your hair?

Bubble braids shouldn’t be damaging to your hair. If you have fine or thin hair, tease the hair lightly or apply a thickening spray to add volume without causing any breakage. Always choose gentle elastics that won’t cause the hair to snap or break and detangle your hair gently before styling. If you check all of these boxes, bubble braids shouldn’t cause any damage to your natural hair.

Can you do a bubble braid on wet hair?

It’s your hair, you can do what you want, but for best results bubble braids should be done on dry hair. If you attempt the bubble braid hairstyle on wet hair you just won’t get the bubble effect you’re looking for, so we say it’s not worth experimenting. If you want to sport bubble braids on freshly washed hair, try air drying or using a blow dryer on low-medium heat to get hair at least 90% dry before styling. Start with Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend Hair and Scalp Oil to prep.

If bubble braids aren’t for you, here are 25 other braided hairstyles you might like.

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