Summer’s almost here which means it’s time to think about styles that let you go from poolside to date night without much hassle, and also protect your hair from frizz-inducing humidity and sweat. Braids have always been the go-to style for this season because of their low maintenance and protective qualities, and luckily we’ve moved beyond micros with new braided styles that offer more versatility and definitely “up” the cute factor. Check out these three styles we recommend.

Tree Braids

Tree braids are like the 2000s version of micros. Rather than sitting in a chair for up to 10-12 hours to get a million tiny braids that run down the entire hair shaft, tree braids take less than half the time and are only braided just an inch or so from the crown of your head, either as a cornrow or individual braid. This difference allows for much more versatile looks because you can use any type of weave you choose, be it silky straight or wet and wavy, and the braids are hardly noticeable. You might think, why not just get a sew-in if that’s the case, but tree braids allow your scalp to breathe more and for you to access it in order to scratch, wash, and moisturize which is key for keeping your real hair healthy.

Fishtail Braid

If you haven’t gotten on this trend yet, now is the time. The fishtail braid is a super cute, semi-messy style that celebs are loving and so are we. Fishtail ponytails are often worn to the side to show off the braid, but you can also wear it down the middle of your back and you don’t necessarily need weave for this style depending on the length of your hair and how long you want the braid. Even better, if you’ve got the skills, a trip to the shop isn’t necessary either; there are plenty of tutorials available to help you create this relaxed look at home.

Long Box Braids

We know it looks like an ode to the ‘90s Poetic Justice days, but you can thank Solange, Cynthia Bailey, and Kandi Burress for bringing this style back. If you really want to kick up the bohemian flair this summer, this is the style to do it. These waist-length braids, which can be made really large or skinny, are a great look to last you throughout most of the season since they don’t require much maintenance other than a touch up in the front if you’re not protecting your edges at night. Speaking of protection, make sure your real hair isn’t being pulled too tight around the edges of your hair to prevent breakage. There are lots of ways you can wear this look—a high ponytail, half up and half down, a low bun—it all depends on how creative you want to get.

  • Cha Cha

    I’ve been interested in tree braids for a few years, but I HATE sitting still for more than 3 hours for someone else to do my hair. Maybe if I could find a braiding salon that was to my liking, i’d feel differently.