Horseshoe Braid


Fall is in full swing, with pumpkins on doorsteps and crunchy leaves underfoot. We’ve been craving cozy plaids and romantic braids. Our stylist friend Reagan (a hair genius) stopped by to show us this simple braided updo. Here’s how it’s done…

Horseshoe Braid

1. Part your hair straight down the middle to divide hair evenly for braids. You can use a rat-tail comb to get an extra straight part. Gather the hair from the ear forward on one side, leaving out a few pieces in the front for softness around your face, and divide it into three equal sections.

2-3. Start braiding by tucking the bottom section underneath the other two, and continue the braid (as close to the scalp as possible) by only adding hair to this underneath section, until all hair is used. Secure with a clear elastic.

4. Now repeat on the other side.

5. For a more grown-up look, pull apart the outer edges of the braids to loosen and widen them. You can also gently push hair at the roots for extra volume.

6-7. Cross the first braid behind your head so that the braid swoops down to the nape of your neck. Fold tail in half and tuck it behind the braid and secure with bobby pins or U-shaped hair pins, which are easier to hide and hold your hair better. (Remember, braids and pinning doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always adjust your pins later on for a better placement.)

8. Repeat on the other side. Once you’re finished, a light mist of hair spray will preserve your style.



Thank you so much, Reagan! Update: For those who asked, her plaid dress is from Madewell, and it’s on sale!

P.S. More hair tutorials, including a half-up crown braid and three twisted buns.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo. Styling and modeling by Reagan Baker. Plaid dress from Madewell.)

  1. Stunning!

  2. Reagan is so talented!! i love this style! just in time for thanksgiving festivities! :)

  3. We are kinda obsessed with your blog!! You make every hair style seem so EASY!! Thank you!!!

  4. Morris says...

    Love your website! You always post such great hair inspiration, but they’re always for ladies with beautiful thick hair. It would be nice to every now and then include some inspiration for us very fine very thin, haired ladies. I know its not as desirable of a look but hey, I can’t be the only one with this style of hair.

  5. Whitney says...

    any tips on making the part in the back not so prominent? I tried this a few times today and pulled at the roots to try and loosen it all up but the part in the back just looks terrible when I try to do this.

  6. Whitney says...

    Love this and tried it a few times this morning but couldn’t get the part in the back to blend in like it does in these lovely pictures. It was really pronounced and if I tried to tug a bit of hair at the roots to loosen, it just wound up super wonky and looked pretty bad. I would love any tips or suggestions as this is a cute and wonderful way to keep my hair up and out of the way of my little one.

    • Morgan says...

      I think if you angle the braid toward the back of your head, instead of downward (like traditional pigtail braids), it helps keep the part less obvious. Or you can try teasing the crown a little first to keep the hair from making such a hard part. I did a combo of both and it worked for me. Hope that helps!

  7. Jordan says...

    So lovely! And so nice to see Reagan here – she gave me the BEST haircut of my life a few weeks ago! Highly recommend her to anyone here in New York.

  8. I just tried this with curly hair and it looks so elegant! Best of all, it was easy enough to nail on the first try. I’ll be doing this daily from now on. Thank you for all your great hair tutorials.

  9. I did the horseshoe braid today and got at least ten compliments — this is officially added to my list of styles that keep me from wanting to chop all of my hair of. My favorite part about this was that I slept in my braids and by the time I woke up, they were just the right amount of “messy” before pinning.

  10. Jessica says...

    the best

  11. Love this look.
    I am notoriously laissez-faire when it comes to my hair. I’ll blow it out for a wedding, otherwise you’re lucky if you get a barrette. Not for lack of trying.

    I always find braiding and otherwise styling my hair so frustrating. Does Reagan recommend texturizing hair somehow for more success with a style like this? Or otherwise have any tips for not getting discouraged?


  12. Cathy says...

    I miss hearing from Reagan and her daughter on her blog. Could she give us a little update on how she’s doing?

  13. Summer says...

    Can’t wait to try this! And…sigh…I miss Reagan’s blog/writing soooo much. Glad to see she’s doing well. :)

  14. You make it look so easy but whenever I try to braid my hair I end up exhausted (it’s like an arm workout!) and with messy hair and not in the nice way… Oh well, I’ll keep trying…

  15. Katie Larissa says...

    Meanwhile I spent thirty minutes this afternoon huddled on the bathroom floor, crying because SO MUCH OF MY HAIR IS FALLING OUT postpartum. Please, please tell me it will grow back. I have terrible bald spots on either side of my forehead!

    • Rebekah says...

      It comes back! I always have bald temples after a baby. It’s normal, unfortunately ! Biotin in a shampoo or supplement has helped me a lot.

  16. Shannon says...

    I love her shirt and jewelry. Can we have more info?

    • Caroline Donofrio says...

      Hi Shannon! It’s actually this dress:
      We’ll ask Reagan about the jewelry and get back to you!

  17. Claude says...

    Love her shirt too. Where’s it from?

  18. I LOVE the look of all of these popular braided styles, but with my dark brunette hair they always seem to be lacking… You can’t really see that it’s braided, and it just looks a little boring and childish. I’ll keep trying though!

    • Morgan Quinn says...

      You could braid in some pretty thin gold rope or skinny ribbon to mix it up. Or clip in just a few temporary extensions to add dimension to your hair color. Just ideas of course, but it could look great! :)

  19. Such a pretty look, and actually looks doable thanks to the step-by-step photos! Will definitely be including this in a future link round-up :) Thanks!

  20. Sara says...

    This is such a great post! I love the pictures, and I’m definitely excited about trying out this beautiful new hairstyle! Wishing you all the luck in the world for the future,

    Sara |

  21. this is great! love the step by step photos, makes it seem like it’s achievable! i always see these kind of tutorials on blonde/light hair, i think i might give something like this a try for my blog, but with my dark long hair and see how it looks like!

  22. This is beautiful! My hair is pretty long and I’ve been dying to find a tutorial of how to do this with longish hair. Can’t wait to try it out! :)

  23. I have A LOT of hair, my braids are three times thicker than hers, so unfortunately this is not a style for me.

  24. It looks so pretty!
    I will try it tomorrow when I´m going out :-)

  25. Oh my gosh, LOVE this braid! Thanks for sharing how to recreate it!

  26. Beautiful hairdo! Something simple and rustically elegant for the fall :) And that plaid dress is to die for!

  27. Heather says...

    This is pretty much my dream hairstyle, and I have yet to perfect it. I’m inspired to try again! Especially before I chop and go with a lob…

  28. Love this, and LOVE Reagan! SO glad to see her here :)

  29. Bri says...

    Yes! Where is that shirt from!?!

    • Lana says...

      Stole my question! It’s so gorgeous! (So is your hair!)

  30. Christie says...

    This is beautiful. :) It seems like I see some variant of this ‘pull your braids back and secure’ constantly, it’s certainly a popular style (for good reason).

  31. This style is absolutely gorgeous! It looks like something I could do too♥♥.

  32. Jessica says...

    Tell us about the plaid shirt please!

  33. Annie says...

    So pretty!! Also, WHERE is her top from?? It’s awesome!

  34. Sara says...

    Yay! Love this tutorial! Great to see Regan! I miss her blog so much!