Mermaid Tail Braid

We haven’t done a hair tutorial in ages! So, my friend (and hair genius) Caroline, photographer Jamie Beck and I decided to come together to whip up this gorgeous mermaid tail. It’s perfect for those lazy summer day (or date nights) when you want to surprise and awe people with your hair. I absolutely love it–in fact, it might be my favorite hair tutorial yet. How gorgeous is that braid, above?!

Here are Caroline’s steps, if you’d like to try it out…
1. Divide your hair into two equal sections.

2-4. Braid each section, and tie the end with an elastic band. You’ll want to do what’s called a “Dutch braid.” For a normal braid, you take the outside section and cross it IN FRONT of the middle section. A Dutch braid is the opposite: the outside section goes BEHIND the middle section. It’s important to do the braids this way so that they’ll look seamless when when you connect the two sections later.

5-6. Fatten out the two braids by pulling apart the outer edges. I like to “smush” the braid back and forth in my fingers, too—whatever makes them fuller and fatter and not so sleek.

7. Line up the two separate braids so they begin to look like one big fat braid. It’s important to make sure the middle section of the mermaid tail lines up–don’t worry if the ends of your braids (the hair that is sticking out underneath the elastic) are uneven, it won’t matter. It’s more important to line up the braid correctly, so the center of the tail matches.

8. Pin the center of the two braided sections together. I tend to use mini bobby pins since they are easier to hide, and I like to pin them in and up (you start with the pin facing horizontally, then as you push it into the hair, you direct it vertically). Use as many bobby pins as it takes, until you feel the braid is secure. I used about five little pins, and pinned about 1 1/2 inches apart, wherever I could best hide them.

(Optional step: You can remove the two separate rubber bands at the end, and just use one to combine the two tails together. I didn’t do this because I used smaller rubber bands to begin with.)
“That’s it!” says Caroline, “Such an easy fun way to wear something other than a plain ol’ braid!” Would be great to wear this braid all summer, don’t you think? :) (And here are our eight previous hair tutorials, if you’d like more summer hair ideas.) Thank you again, Caroline and Jamie!

(Photos by Jamie Beck for Cup of Jo. In the outdoor photos, Caroline is wearing this chambray top. Her jewelry is from her own line, Brvtvs, and her lipstick is So Chaud by MAC. In the how-to photos, she is wearing a vintage striped tee–similar one here–and vintage jeans–similar ones here.)

  1. So pretty and simple to do!

    x Mei

  2. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

  3. Great idea!
    You look perfect :)

  4. wow so beautiful!!

  5. Its very Great information to us…

  6. I love that hair idea! So easy to do also!

    What is the blush color Caroline was wearing?

  7. Anonymous says...

    nice opinion.. thanks for posting.

  8. Did this with my hair yesterday, got lots of compliments on it!
    Think it will be a summer staple.


  9. Lurve it all! She is so chic and effortlessly coool. I’m working on it but I think this hairstyle might help.


  10. jennifer-
    the earrings ARE from BRVTVS but they are not available on the website just yet. They should be available for purchase in June.


  11. I love this tutorial, but also i LOVE LOVE love the earrings she is wearing. They are so small and pretty. I assume they are from BRVTVS but I can’t seem to find them. Anyone know? Thanks!!!!!

  12. Janie says...

    Ah sorry, vintage. Need to read!

  13. Janie says...

    Amazing! Also, where are those high waisted jeans from? Gorgeous as well!

  14. LOVE LOVE LOVE hair tutorials!! :D Thanks Jo!! xoxoxo

  15. What lipstick is she wearing?! I love it!

  16. This makes me want to grow my hair out… love it!

  17. I love this! And I can actually do this oooone! Lol

  18. I am so rubbish with these sort of things, I blame my thin hair, that cant do anything!

  19. I love her clean cut makeup! Do you know what blush and lipstick she used? It’s gorgeous!!

  20. Caroline does the best hair tutorials. And, i love her style! Simple and chic!


  21. Beautiful! Where is that chambray three-quarter sleeve blouse from in the last pics?

  22. i love this because just yesterday i looked up all your hair tutorials and kept them up in my browser because i want to do each one at least once this summer. thanks for another!

  23. I love this! I’m going to try this tonight instead of washing my hair ;)

  24. Vanessa says...

    Gorgeous! And I want that MAC lipstick!

  25. Anonymous says...


  26. Anonymous says...

    tried it, nailed it, love it! thanks for the awesome tutorial Joanna!


  27. Oooo love this, will so be doing this!! Thanks for the idea!!

  28. !!@#@!!! This is so adorable. I am going to try it! P.S. I love hair tutorials…keep them coming! :D

  29. nice idea! Though I think I prefer the side braid, I might also try it straight, facing the back for a more sophisticated take on two braids! (this would also work better for people with shorter hair)

  30. Caroline is simply stunning. Thanks for sharing her outfit/makeup details. My hair is way too short to braid, but I still walked away from this post with something…namely less money in my wallet! Haha! Hello, chambray top!

  31. Anonymous says...

    This looks beautiful and I always love braiding my hair in cool new ways so I will definitely be trying this one out!

  32. Nice idea! wanna try it!

  33. I love these! Another thing I’d love to know is HOW IS CAROLINE’S SKIN SO FLAWLESS AND GORGEOUS??!! :)

  34. Ahh! I just cut my hair to my shoulders, and although I totally love it…this makes me want long hair again. I love your hair tutorials and people started to think I was a hair genius too when I was wearing them all the time. I will just have to book mark this one for when I get sick of short hair and grow mine out again, which will probably happen within the year. :)

  35. What a beautiful (and easy) summer look. Love the photographs too! xo

  36. I love this! I haven’t even mastered a normal side braid though because the hair outside the braid always ends up sticking out in random places. Maybe I’m just too much of a perfectionist about it.

  37. Anonymous says...

    I love your blog & read it daily. Sometimes I when I wake in the middle of the night can’t get back to sleep, I’ll browse through your older posts & always go back to sleep with a smile or visual from one of your photos like the baby orphan owls.

    For anyone in Manhattan area still searching for much coveted Domino Quick Fixes (re-)premiere issue, a stand on Broadway 76-77th St has them. Nice fellow there told me he ordered 100 copies & they are on window display as of this morning.

  38. LC Taylor says...

    Caroline, you’re stunning – and a chameleon! You look almost like 2 different people between the top and bottom photos.

    Great tutorial! Thanks ladies!

  39. the mermaid tail is cute (i just did a mermaid inspired post on makeup yesterday!!), but thank god you put what lipstick she was wearing up there!! that is a makeup must have! pinning that one!

  40. The red lipstick is amazing… Love it! And the braid is very refreshing. Feminine… I’m always wearing my hair back and will give this a try. Thanks for sharing! :D

  41. Thanks for another great hair tutorial. I always love these when they appear on your blog!

    Will be sporting this look with a vintage sun dress on our trip to Crete in two weeks time.

  42. This is such a cool braid! I wonder how it would look with two fish tails? will have to try it out!

    xo Julesmoksha

  43. Sarah says...

    Ooh! Pretty! I’ve never seen a braid quite like it before. Now, if only I could get my hair to grow out a little faster. Thanks for the tutorial, Caroline is just too good!

  44. I just tried and is really easy to do. Thanks for sharing. Now I’ll be stylish for the summer, plus I have to find that lipstick. I love the color.

  45. I adore these hair tutorials. Thank you Joanna!
    Caroline, you’re breathtaking in these photos. So not fair. ;) I’d love to know your cheek & lip color in the how-to photos. p.s. Love your jewelry line. I have one of your bracelets!

  46. And what a beautiful girl, great braids and i love her jeans outfit in the last images.

  47. I like this (not as much as a fish tail though!) – it’s a great (voluminous) alternative to the regular braid.

    mon amy

  48. Oh could you do one of those messy braided side bun tutorial? That would be a beautiful effortless look for summer evenings and events!


  49. So pretty, I plait my hair a lot in summer so will love wearing this one. That lipstick looks great on her, it really pops, great tutorial, thanks !

  50. I love those braids and hairstyles. But I have very fine and thin hair! There isn’t enough to braid!

  51. Love the braid! It’s so cute and perfect for summer!!

    Love Caroline’s lip color! It’s so pretty!! What is she wearing on her lips?

    Please do a fish braid tutorial!!


  52. can’t wait to try this in 1+ years when my hair is long enough to do so! haha. grow hair grow!! :)

  53. Anonymous says...

    You should do hair tutorial for curly/layered hair! I’ve tried almost all of yours and they just don’t work the same without these models’ long, sleek locks…

  54. Mary says...

    I want to know Caroline’s skin routine. I couldn’t take my eyes away from her beautiful face! What are her skin secrets?!?
    Also, what foundation/powder does she use?

  55. sarah, yes, you could totally do this with super slick braids — especially if you did your hair when it was damp and then hair sprayed it to keep away any strays. i love the messy/bedhead/sexy look, but sleek would be pretty, too!

  56. carly, the tee and jeans are vintage, sorry about that! i’ll try to scout out a similar one. xo erin, yes!!! we’re planning a bunch for curly hair and short hair — i’m just super slow moving forward, but excited about it!!!! :)

  57. Love this! Can’t wait to try it out when my hair gets longer! Perhaps I’ll convince my twin sister to do her hair like this all summer for me!

  58. I’m thisclose to chopping off my hair (it’s the longest it’s been since 2008) but I think before I do I need to go back through Caroline’s tutorials and see if I can sway myself away. The first touch of Kansas humidity usually sends me running to cut it all off!

  59. Caroline is beautiful, the red lipstick looks amazing on her! This is such a simple yet gorgeous hair style, i have to give it a try :)

    Love, Ana

  60. Love this! So pretty!

  61. SORRY! Just saw the note about this he he ;)

  62. AMAZING! What lip colour is she wearing? It’s perfect!

  63. Love it! Definitely trying this out.

    Where is Caroline’s first outfit from? The striped tee and the high waisted jeans?? Perfect!

  64. GORGEOUS braid & I’m in love with that lipstick! So pretty.

  65. Cool, fresh and lovely! xoxo

  66. Patricia says...

    Thanks Caroline! I guess I’ll have to play around with my So Chaud! xx

  67. Another nice do! Wanting to know where the stripped top is from though…

  68. Stephanie, the jeans are vintage levi’s that i got off ebay!

    Patricia, the lipstick is indeed So Chaud, it looks a tad pinker in these pics. You can always layer it with another color (I like to sometimes layer cover girl lip pens under my lipsticks for more staying power) to get a pinkier hue, and by adding the So Chaud on top, you get that pop of bright color!

  69. No kidding, I wondered when a new hair tutorial would show up on your blog yesterday…Thanks!

  70. love the braid. thanks for the tutorial. great pics!

  71. lovely braid. my daughter will love this one and i’m loving that lipstick! thanks for all the details… i dream of lazing in the grass like that. so pretty :)

  72. Patricia says...

    Absolutely love this!! Will try it as soon as I get home :) Just a question, Jo. I fell in love with the lipstick color, eagerly scrolling down to see which shade and brand it was from, and was surprised to see So Chaud by MAC. I just picked up So Chaud, and it’s more of a fiery orange than this beautiful pink pop. Any chance the shade may be something different, by accident? Would love to find which shade it is so I can pick it up :) thanks!

  73. Anonymous says...

    I want to know about the jeans, too!! please!

  74. Where are her jeans from in the first photos? Also, PERFECT PINK LIPSTICK, I’m getting it asap.

  75. I love a braid of any kind, especially the gentle waves you get the next day, after you take it out, so pretty.

  76. I adore your hair tutorials and they actually make me feel confident trying new things with my hair – thanks so much for doing them! I wonder whether you might try one or two for curly hair sometime. Half the fabulousness of Caroline’s messy styles is the play between her very straight sleek hair and the messiness of the textures she creates. I’d love to see what she might come up with for hair that starts out with more texture to begin with (altho many of these styles work for curly hair – they just look a bit different). Anyway – love love love this feature and thanks to both of you!

  77. sarah says...

    eh- looks too messy for me. Looks like a kid braided it or she slept in a braid or something. I like the idea and maybe a neater job of braiding, with less of the “smooshing” would look nicer.

  78. Really pretty. I love how intricate it looks but it’s so simple to create.

  79. Love it! SO easy with the steps.

    I like fishtail braids but no one ever notices… maybe this will be a bit more noticeable!

  80. Gorgeous! Can’t wait to try it out, xo.

  81. Aww…what a sassy little hairdo. I love how adorable it is and it looks super easy too. LOVE! Have a great day. xo