all photos by Kristin Ess

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Instagram was created just for posting braids, right? Okay maybe not but at least that’s what I like to use mine for. Today’s post is less about a tutorial and more a gallery of good good. I thought it would be fun to upload my favorite braid posts from my page so they’re all here in one spot. These aren’t photos that we’ve done TBD tutorials for but many of them can be done using one tutorial + another, which I will specify. I love using these photos for reference when a client is going somewhere fun like a wedding, event or even a hot date. There will be a short breakdown of how I got each look underneath each photo. Most of these are braids I did on friends, sisters, clients, co-workers, etc so may not be the easiest to do on yourself. Show one of these to your best braider friend or hairstylist and let them do their magic! Sound the horns, here comes the braid parade…

This was done on super long hair. First, I sprayed damp hair with beach spray, roughly blowdried it and made two regular fishtail braids. Then I pulled them apart to soften the look and wrapped them into a large bun in back. I used large hairpins and bobbypins to secure.

This one looks complicated but it’s not at all. I  blew the hair dry with a side part, added some waves with a 1 1/4″ barrel curling iron (this will give the braid more volume and texture), did a regular french braid going from the side with less hair crossing the back and down into a regular braid. Then did a regular fishtail on the heavier side and tucked it in and pinned it to the french braid.

Doesn’t this look complicated? It’s totally knot. Ha. Get it!? Okaaaay. Prep damp hair with some beach spray. Take two pieces and tie them into a loose knot and add a bobbypin at the middle where you tied the knot. Do the same thing with the next two new pieces (you take new pieces each time, the way you would with a french braid). Then the next two. Then the next two, etc… I would let mine be messy and each knot be slightly off center to make it look a little cooler.

I mean, let’s be honest… this just looks extra cool because my friend has purple hair. I did a one sided french braid just like the one we did HERE.

This one is fun because the messier the better. Blow dry the hair with mousse. Again, I like to give it some curl to give the braids volume and texture before I actually start braiding, so here I used a 1 1/4″ iron to wave it up before I styled it. Do a french fishtail on each side, bring them together and twist them around each other in the back, then roll them into a bun. I used no specific technique for this part, just rolled it, unrolled it, rolled it back up and pinned it when I thought it looked pretty/balanced. Use large bobby pins and strong holding hairspray to secure! If you have trouble with bobby pins sliding out, try spraying the pin with hairspray before you insert it, that will help!

I did this for Lauren on one of our Kohl’s shoots and it’s my favorite! I prepped the hair by blowing it dry with a volumizing mousse. It’s just two inside-out (somewhat loose/messy) french braids that get pinned into a low fun bun. I pulled out a couple of loose pieces and gave them a little bend with a beveled flat iron.

SO CUTE! This is such a fun topknot and looks a little different than the average one. Make a high ponytail on top of the head, use a little waterbased pomade to get better hold, do a regular fishtail, then coil it into a bun and pin! Hairspray was key with this one to keep it from loosening up.

This is obviously for a fun occasion like a football game, soccer game, whatever sport you like, it would be fun to do it with your colors. I applied the chalk to large sections of damp hair (do it on dry hair if you’re blonde so it won’t stain), then did two dutch braids and pinned them as I went along into a curved shape. As it dries, the chalk becomes more apparent.

If you’re a bad a** braider, then you’ll probably have no problem doing these but like I said up top, these are likely going to be braids you’ll want to enlist a beauty/braid loving bestie to help you out with. If you try any don’t forget to TAG US, duh. @thebeautydept on the gram. Also follow me + Amy Nadine on our personal instagram accounts for extra behind the scenes beauty photos like these! I’m @Kristin_Ess and Amy Nadine is @AmyNadine13!



This little gem of advice for applying blush might seem trivial but I promise you it’s not! Accentuating our cheeks really brings the face to life and needs to mimic what happens when you either fall in love and are naturally blushing or the flush you get after a great workout. If you study it (like I have because I love nerding out), you’ll see it starts a good half-inch from each side of the nose. Never closer. It’s not flattering anyway if you bring it all the way in to your nose! So try this method until you know it by eyeing it. Here’s how:


  • Your Favorite Cream Blush — I used Tarte Cheek Stain in Tipsy. Or…
  • Your Favorite Powder Blush — I’m obsessed with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Dim Infusion.
  • Your Favorite Blush Brush — My clients and I have been dying over the new and revolutionary Artis line of 100% animal-free brushes like the cheek brush used in this tutorial and this one is especially great for cream blush. For powder blush I love MAKE UP FOR EVER’s Artisan Brush #156 because its wavy fibers work beautifully with powder formulas.


  1. Swipe the blush brush along the cream blush or swirl it in the powder blush.
  2. Place your index finger next to your nose. You can hold it vertically or do what I prefer and hold it slightly diagonally following the natural nasal-labial fold (as demonstrated by Carissa above).
  3. Place the blush brush directly next to the nose.
  4. Stipple (press multiple times) or swirl at the initial point on the the top half of apple of the cheek.
  5. Continue stippling or swirling as you work your way along the cheekbone.




Last month we learned the best trick for creating a perfect cupid’s bow (revisit it here). Today I’m sharing the best trick for lining your lips the way we pro’s do it for our clients on the red carpet. Some of you might have figured this one out yourself and are already doing it! If not, it’s a quick one to learn and is a game changer. When you line your lip perimeter with your mouth relaxed, there’s no way to get in the micro lines that you can’t even see. And let’s be honest, the line can get a little wonky depending on how voluminous your lips are! But if you stretch your smile, it flattens the surface so you can draw a smooth line with the tip directly on the perimeter, allowing half of the line to slightly go above the perimeter without anyone knowing you exaggerated anything! Here’s how:



  1. Line the perimeter of your lip area with your lips relaxed like you typically would. Don’t worry about it being perfect.
  2. Now here’s the trick! Stretch your lips by smiling and hold it tightly like that. Now line the upper lip area by holding the tip of the pencil on the perimeter so half of it falls below the perimeter and half slightly above. By holding the smile you can exaggerate the line a little and make your lips slightly fuller.
  3. While still holding the stretched smile, line the bottom perimeter as well. You might notice that you actually lined it above the perimeter when you originally lined it but didn’t notice until you smiled.
  4. Now fill in the surface area with the matching lipstick.




Brows frame the eyes. Big brows really frame them! And for some of us, more is more and bigger is better. This tutorial is for you and you alone! So please don’t hate on it if it’s not your cup of tea, because it might be someone else’s and there is no shaming on TBD! Makeup is an expression and all of us express ourselves differently so let’s respect and support each other! With that said, here’s how to pull off big beautiful brows:


  • A Flat & Wide-Tipped Brow Pencil: I used Dolce & Gabbana The Brow Liner because it’s has an amazing flat and wide tip, and spooly brush on the other end.
  • A Fine-Pointed Brow Pencil: By now you know my favorite all-time fine-point brow pencil is MAC Eye Brows in Lingering.
  • A Highlighter: Try Benefit High Brow for the perfect matte highlight.


  1. With the flat-headed pencil, draw a line on the base of the brow from the inside corner to the bottom of the arch.
  2. With the same pencil, draw a parallel line across the top of the brow as demonstrated above.
  3. Switch to the fine-pointed pencil and draw the “wing” part of the brow.
  4. With the same pencil, go back and fill in the brow by drawing individual hairs using upward strokes.
  5. Highlight underneath the brow with the matte highlighting pencil by starting at the inside corner and tracing all the way to the end.
  6. Blend the highlighter by smudging it with your finger.