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Pics of feed-in braids have been burning up our IG timelines lately—and we're loving it. Black girls everywhere are trading in afros and silk presses for this easygoing, chic, protective style. To create feed-in braids, AKA knotless braids, a stylist feeds synthetic hair into your natural hair beyond the start of your hairline, creating an illusion of naturally thick braids. With regular cornrows, your stylist starts each braid with a knot to mix your hair with the synthetic hair; with the feed-in method, synthetic hair is slowly added after your stylist starts braiding.
The result? Braids look seamless and lush, whether you blend in synthetics that match your hair or get playful with extensions in rainbow colors. To prove it to you, we've rounded up our favorite feed-in hairstyles and tapped experts Danita Hampton, Malcolm Cuthbert, and Kim Kimble, for their industry insight.
Meet the Expert
- Danita Hampton is a hairstylist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a lead educator for Covet & Mane.
- Malcolm Cuthbert is a colorist and natural-hair specialist at Baja Studio in New York City.
- Kim Kimble is a celebrity hairstylist based in Los Angeles and creator of the Kim Kimble Signature Collection line of haircare products.
Scroll for 27 gorgeous ways to wear feed-in braids, plus stylist-recommended tips for switching up the looks.
Ombré Blonde Topknot
From the intricate partings to the golden-hued bun, this versatile feed-in style is a showstopper. "A nice alternative to this style would be regathering the braids into an effortless high pony," Hampton says. "Elevate this style by then wrapping the base of the pony with three of the braids to cover the hair tie. "
Cornrows With Crystals
Steal actress Quinta Brunson's cornrows and crystal-embellished edges for your next special occasion. "This look is so stunning already," Hampton says. To add variety to this style, "use a triple-barrel wave iron to add a little more texture to the unbraided ends of the hair," she suggests.
Here, sideswept braids look natural and seamless thanks to the feed-in technique. According to Hampton, these braids would look equally chic woven into a crown braid. "Run cornrow braids along the side of the head [and] continue to loosely wrap braids around the head, using hairpins to hide the ends of the braid," she explains.
This fishtail-braid pony look has creativity and style to spare. "For a more relaxed look, loosen the strands of the fishtail braid sections with the end of a rattail comb," Hampton suggests. "Add some extra gold rings along the middle of the fishtail braid for some added glamour."
Blue and Purple Lob
Blue is always a good choice for adding color to dark hair; here, cobalt color combines with curls and braids to create a cool, textured lob. To switch up the look of this style, twirl your braids into Bantu knots. "Section the hair from the ear forward, then again in half to create two Bantu knots," Hampton says. "For a summer day, do smaller sections and knot approximately eight to 10 total," then "secure with hairpins."
Yara Shahidi crushes yet another red carpet with help from stylist Nikki Nelms, who wove her feed-in braids into this innovative updo. "Yara's hair is already a masterpiece here," Hampton says. "A nice addition would be to wrap a metallic thread or small gems around some of the braids to add some shine and texture to the look."
These chunky feed-in twists with immaculately styled edges play with texture and shape. "Pull the two-strand twists up from the ears and above into a high pony for a cute casual look," Hampton suggests.
Karrueche Tran's long, sleek braids are giving us Beyoncé "Say My Name" vibes. On a hot day, Hampton suggests weaving these braids into pigtails and topping off your look with a bucket hat.
Beaded High Ponytail
To achieve this beaded high ponytail, you'll probably spend a significant amount of time in your braider's chair—but Vanessa Matsena's beaded 'do is worth the wait. Hampton suggests going "full goddess" with this look by "adding a head wrap, keeping the top open, [and] allowing the braids to cascade along the side."
Bianca Lawson's cornrows don't appear to feature extensions, but feed-in braids could work with this look; just add a little hair and gold wire. To change up this style, Cuthbert suggests releasing the cornrows from the bun and wearing them in a ponytail instead.
Long, Side-Swept Cornrows
Beyoncé has been giving us braid-spiration since she and Destiny's Child hit the scene in the '90s. Her bum-length braids epitomize her diva status. "Beyoncé’s side-swept cornrows can be transformed by braiding the lengths into a fishtail braid," Cuthbert says.
Red, Fulani-Style Updo
The traditional Fulani style gets a twist with gorgeous red color and an intricately knotted-up 'do, courtesy of the trendsetting Nara Hair Braiding salon in Raleigh, North Carolina. "These tribal braids by Nara were completed with a braided crown," Cuthbert explains. "However, the style looks just as good with the lengths hanging down."
Cornrows With Bubble Braids
Brazilian blogger Magá Moura is another naturalista who shows us how versatile our natural coils can be by adding bubble braids to this look. Cuthbert suggests playing around with the pattern of your baby hairs using Camryn's BFF Gentle Edges Brush ($3) and Style Factor Edge Booster Strong-Hold Water-Based Pomade ($8). "Wavy patterns work well on longer edges, while swirls are fun for shorter edges," he says.
During peak summer months, long feed-in braids may be too warm for some of us. The bob gives us a cool, protective style option. Cuthbert recommends decorating the partings of this hairstyle with stick-on crystals. "Use eyelash glue and your favorite gems," he says.
When you're ready to get rid of hair jewels, Cuthbert suggests applying a little hair oil to loosen them.
This braided look is ideal for crocheting; ask your stylist to install individual feed-ins to the front of your hair, then install the rest with crochet. These skinny braids are also super versatile, lending themselves to all kinds of braided updos, Cuthbert says. "A half-up, half-down style can be swept completely off of the neck by braiding [the] lengths into a milkmaid braid or braided crown," he suggests.
A braided lob is a nice middle ground for someone who wants some length without the commitment of cascading extensions. In addition to being low-maintenance, this style is also adaptable, Cuthbert says. "This braided bob by Tanasia is begging to be fully adorned by all of the hair jewelry. More is more," he emphasizes. "It easily turns into a chic low ponytail with a side-swept swoop."
Feed-in braids lend themselves to many style options, as stylist Susan Oludele—better known as @hairbysusy, one of the best-known names in braiding—shows. "I love the creativity in this look," Kimble says. "To put my own flare on it, I would remove the braids and just keep the hair on the scalp sleek." Kimble recommends her Kim Kimble Signature Collection Baby Hair Edge Control ($23) for keeping edges in place.
Adding a braid where your middle part would be gives this style an elevated, cool-girl look. If you're an experienced braider, Kimble suggests adding "some more hair into the braids, so you can have more texture to create a tree-braid effect." (We think these braids would look amazing knotted into a low bun à la Zoë Kravitz.)
Chunky Red Stitch
By subtly weaving red extensions into these stitch braids, the stylist creates this jaw-dropping ombré effect. To take this look to the next level, Kimble suggests adding "some ribbon or embroidery thread into the braids."
Okay, this asymmetrical bob is fire (pun intended), and the gold charms on the blunt, burned ends set it off. "This look is so vibrant and fun already, but I would add more accessories to the braids for even more pizzazz," Kimble says.
Love. That. Length. These feed-in braids remind us that we can honor traditional African styles while adding a modern twist. "This hair is breathtaking and the braids are bomb," Kimble says. "I would add more color in the braids." (Pro tip: Weaving colored beads and ribbons into the hair creates a similar effect to extensions.)
Braider Kersti Pitre's bright yellow-and-white 'do is the ultimate eye-catcher. We love the contrast of her alternating thick and thin cornrows. For a change, Kimble suggests adding some dimension to this lemonade-hued topknot with darker-colored extensions; to get a similar look at home, wrap braids with black embroidery floss.
Long and Side-Swept
Content creator Lesley's geometric braids are a reminder that simple doesn't have to be boring. To switch things up, Kimble says she "would take the braids and roll them into an updo and add some fun accessories." (TBH, we'd also love to see these braids woven into a traditional three-plait.)
Stitch Braids With Undercut
This undercut/stitch braid combo by @shellyafrikhair is geometric eye candy. "I love this look so much!" Kimble gushes. To make the undercut "pop even more" on this style, she recommends adding color; try a spray-on, wash-out hair color like Dark and Lovely's Go Intense! Color Sprays ($5).
Here is another example proving that Dutch braids work with the feed-in technique. "This look is so fun and youthful," Kimble says. To switch up the look, twist up the pigtails to "create two buns on either side of the head."
How long do feed-in braids last?
Generally speaking, feed-in braids will only last about two weeks. After that time, your hair will start to grow and the braids will become loose and not have that same sleek and polished look.
Are feed-in braids good for your scalp?
Feed-in braids may not be the best choice for those who have a sensitive scalp, as this hairstyle requires the braids to be somewhat tight. It is important to go to an experienced stylist so they don’t braid them too tight to cause hair breakage and scalp soreness. Still, since they are knotless, these do not put as much stress and tension on the scalp as traditional knotted braids.
How much do feed-in braids cost?
The cost of feed-in braids varies by several factors, including how intricate of a design you want and how many braids are required. Pricing also varies by where you live. In NYC, you can expect to pay anywhere from $65 to upward of $200.