Ask A Minnesota Stylist: Three Easy Braided Hairstyles

July 8, 2014 7:00 AM

(credit: Chris Jackson)

“Braids give you extra lady points,” says Julie Swenson, makeup artist, hair stylist, beauty educator and writer for over 22 years. “Braids have been around for a long time and mostly with brides. But now everyone from celebrities to your neighbors are rocking the braids. Wearing a braid is like wearing accessories. It adds something to your personal style. Others will take notice and think, that woman took the time to put herself together today. She looks poised and polished. Boom. There’s your extra lady points.” Here are some tips from Julie Swenson on braids.

(credit: Chris Jackson)

(credit: Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson Beauty
The Semple Mansion
100 W. Franklin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404
(612) 741-0288

Julie Swenson is a beauty professional with over 20 years of experience. She works as a makeup artist and stylist for weddings, special events and photo shoots around the Twin Cities and even does some destination events. In addition, Julie has taught beauty classes in various schools around the United States and U.S. Virgin Islands. She has a company called Makeup Annex which she uses as a vehicle to teach brides and everyday women tips about applying makeup, hairstyles and body wellness. Julie has shared several tips on how you can master the art of hair braiding.

Hair Extensions Make For Easy Braids

Julie says, “Hair extensions are the easiest way to put a braid in your hair. You’ll want to make sure the hair matches your natural hair in tone and texture and you will need at least 12 to 18 inches of hair to work with.” Julie recommends Sally Beauty Supply for affordable wide selections of both human and synthetic hair. “Don’t forget, if you use any heat on synthetic hair, it will melt and get smelly,” Julie chuckles.

Get A Helping Hand

“Having a friend, family member, or better yet, your spouse help you put in a braid would be a treat, but is not always realistic. If you’re 30 and your mom is braiding your hair in the morning, you’ve got bigger fish to fry. However, if daughters, sons or husbands are willing to give it a go, you can turn braiding into quality time,” she says.

Go Online To Learn Tricks

“Use a mirror and a little dexterity. This can be challenging for most, but thanks to the Internet and professional educators, women can learn how to create a variety of braids on themselves in a short amount of time.” Julie recommends YouTube’s Treasures and Travels Channel and Cute Girls Hairstyles Channel. She really likes Beauty Department and says you can find endless DIY braid pins on Pinterest. A few local hairstylists that provide lessons and classes are Kathryn Hornick at or Beauty Lounge

3 Easy Braids By Julie Swenson

The Boho Side Braid
Boho chic is a buzzword in the fashion and beauty world right now. It’s short for Bohemian. The style can be described as unconventional, nomadic, spirited and non-bourgeois.

Boho hairstyles are usually a bit messy and appear like little effort was used. The Boho Side Braid can be as easy as taking your hair all to one side, doing a basic 3-stranded braid, securing the ends with an elastic band, and then gently pulling apart the braid to give it that unkempt yet sophisticated look.

Julie advises that you can use a hair extension for this look.

Related: Best Salons For Hair Extensions In The Twin Cities

The Waterfall Braid
This braid looks best when it begins near the temple or top of the bang area on one side of the head and diagonals down into the rest of the style. By using a pick-up-and-drop technique, you create a waterfall-like appearance that is visually stunning and leaves every one around you with braid envy.

Julie says it may be more difficult to use a hair extension for this look.

The Crown Braid

For centuries, women have been adorning their ‘dos with a crown braid. You can do a variety of braids like French, Swedish, two stranded, three stranded or fishtail and then just wrap the braid around your head in a circle and secure with elastic band and bobby pins.

Julie says hair extensions would be ideal for this look, but take care in matching it to your natural hair. “Remember,” Julie laughs, “not to go near an open flame with synthetic hair. I will not be held responsible if you light up like a summer’s eve bonfire.”

“The beauty of braids is you can wear them to any event. Whether it’s a black tie gala or a late night Toblerone run to your nearest Target store, you’ll look chic and appropriate at all times.”

Related: Best Places For Wedding Hair And Makeup In Minnesota
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at