Meet Your New Summertime Braided Style: Mermaid Braids

Meet Your New Summertime Braided Style: Mermaid Braids featured image
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Summertime is quickly approaching, and what better way to wear your hair than with a protective style that feels just as free-flowing as a sundress? Getting creative with protective styles not only takes the monotony out of hair care but also adds a layer of flair to your everyday look. Mermaid braids are a mix of braided hair and loose hair to give off an effortless look.

Mermaid braids have been having a huge moment thanks to the ultimate on-screen mermaid, Halle Bailey. Not only do mermaid braids feel ethereal and ladylike, but they also feel effortless, easy-going and playful, emulating everything we want from our summer hairstyle. We asked experts exactly how to get, maintain and style mermaid braids.

Features experts

What are mermaid braids?

Mermaid braids are a protective style achieved by braiding hair. They allow the bottom of the braid to flow into loose or curled ends, creating an effortless, ethereal look. The look has been made even more popular by celebrities like Halle Bailey, Tia Mowry, Lisa Bonet and even Béyonce. Professional hairstylist Brendetta Ashley explains, “Mermaid braids are when individual braids are braided to a certain point then go into loose wavy or curly hair. This braid style is typically done with extensions.”

The braids and loose strands are blended to look effortless and feel like two looks in one, celebrity hairstylist Anotine McCants says. “Mermaid braids are like a braided sew-in. You have the look of long, free-flowing hair but with braids. It’s really an illusion hairstyle that toys with your perception.”

What to avoid with mermaid braids

With any braided style, avoiding breakage is key. Whether you’re aiming to achieve mermaid braids at home or at the salon, Ashley says, “Be sure not to style them with too much tension around the hairline. Tension can result in breakage. Also, when styling the loose part of the braid, make sure the hair is dry. Wet braided hair can result in tangles. I like to use a diffuser to maintain the curls.”

A diffuser is essential to any braided or natural style and won’t sit unused if you decide to splurge on one. McCants says, “Make sure that the hair that’s left out is human hair. It allows the style to last longer, and it’s easier to maintain than synthetic hair. Avoid tension stress by styling ponytails and updos a little loose.”

How long do mermaid braids last?

Just like with any braided style, it’s time to take braids out if they become uncomfortable or itchy in any way. With proper maintenance and hydration, mermaid braids can last up to eight weeks. McCants explains, “Ensure to moisturize your hair throughout the wear of the style. Make sure to wrap them up at night so you don’t roll or pull on them.” 

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Micro Mermaid Pony

Even though this photo of Queen B was snapped in the early aughts, the look still works today. Micro mermaid braids look effortless in a high pony.

beyonce mermaid braids
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Y2K Style

For the ultimate throwback, try wearing mermaid braids Y2K style with curled ends and a fedora.

alicia keys mermaid braids
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Side Part

Side parts look even better when paired with a long, loose mermaid braid style as seen here on Tia Mowry.

tia mowry mermaid braids
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Curled Ends

If straight loose ends aren’t your style, try curled ends which feel just as boho.

black woman with mermaid braids curled ends
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Bright Red

Make a serious statement in bright red mermaid braids.

kayden muller-janssen red mermaid braids
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Chunky Braids

Chunky mermaid braids are an unexpected twist on the classic look.

Sharon Alexie mermaid braids
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Side Swept

Just because your hair is braided doesn’t mean you can’t get a side swept look. Mermaid braids look great tossed to one side.

Jamilla Strand mermaid braids
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Face Framing

Face-framing hair feels dainty and pretty when at the crown.

Any Gabrielly mermaid braids ponytail
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Long and Loose

Mermaid braids that feel undone closer to the top of the braid feel more boho and even more beachy.

Teala Dunn mermaid braids
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Mermaid braids look gorgeous gathered high in a high pony with ombre ends.

Yandy Smith ombre mermaid braids
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Tightly braided micro mermaid braids are super cute and can be as long and loose as you like.

Suzy Bemba mermaid braids
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Caramel Curls

For a more subtle approach to mermaid braids with color, try adding caramel to just the tips of curls.

leigh-anne pinnock caramel ends mermaid braids
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Copper is a bold, striking color choice for mermaid braids—especially when they’re as long as these.

marie copper mermaid braids
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