Cornrows are a popular type of African American braid in which the hair lies closely against the scalp. Many times these braids are done by braiding professionals in intricate designs and are considered a form of hair art.
While it is the most common braiding hair style for black women, cornrow braids don't have to appear in straight braids. Once the top portion of the head has been braided, the remaining portion of the hair can be braided or left down.
When constructing a hairstyle like this, it's important to add a product such as an SPF leave-in conditioner to the braids and scalp. This will keep the braided hair healthy, prevent frizzing and protect exposed scalp from harmful rays from the sun.
Loose Cornrows Black Hair Braid
Loose cornrows that are raised above the scalp can be added to the hair in a similar fashion to traditional cornrows. As with any style of cornrow, beads or other adornments can be put on to the end of the braid to bring some color into the hair.
Caring for loose cornrows requires extra maintenance, as they are not as resilient as traditional cornrows. Instead of shampooing traditionally, place a net or stocking cap over the corners, and then wet the head thoroughly through the net or cap. Place some shampoo in between your palms and then press your palms all over your head, integrating as much product as possible. Rinse the shampoo before massaging some conditioner into the scalp, and then rinse again. Apply a nourishing oil and simply allow the hair to dry naturally.
Cornrow Braids With Messy Strands
To add some serious sass to your cornrows, leave the ends of the hair strands unbraided to hang free. If you choose to style the ends, try curling them on a small barrel iron or microbraids.
This is a casual aesthetic, but could easily be pulled into something more formal through the creation of a bun. Twist the braids and wind them around into a bun shape tightly before pinning every strand into place for a professional look. Alternatively, implement a loose bun with the free-hanging strands for a smart casual occasion, like date night or a friend's birthday party.
Mixed Black Hair Braid Designs
Braid varieties for black women can be used together to create intricate styles that are, quite literally, hair art. This fun and modern design creates visual intrigue by including cornrows of different thicknesses.
To replicate this aesthetic, braid the crown in small, tight cornrows in a specified pattern pulled in one direction towards the nape of the neck. Then, braid the hair below the earlobes into microbraids or twisted braids for a quirky contrast.
To get your cornrows off your neck during warm weather, split them into three and intertwine each section to produce a funky plait with fullness.
Braided Ponytail With Cornrows
Add versatility and style options to your cornrows by braiding two or three large cornrows from ear to ear as a headband. This produces a youthful-looking ensemble that is currently on-trend in the fashion world.
The great thing about this hairstyle is that you can dress it up or down with accessories depending on the occasion. Leave the back loose and free and pair with sparkly earrings that will make your eyes pop for a more formal event . Alternatively, pull the ends into a ponytail or braid into a plait for cute and casual everyday wear. Finish off with some studded earrings for added pizzazz.
African American men often wear braided hairstyles because stylists claim that their hair texture is the most ideal for braiding. It's soft and wool-like but also thick and firm in nature, which makes it easy to manipulate into a number of different designs.
Tight cornrows that scale the entire head are one of the most popular options for African American men. Cornrows perfectly match thick, curly manes. From full circles to half circles to other geometric patterns, your stylist can be as artistic as they like to create unique, distinctive looks.
Cornrows need to be washed and conditioned regularly to keep the hair healthy but require very little daily maintenance, and they last for six to eight weeks.
Traditional Goddess Black Braided Hair
For a special occasion, some women choose to have their hair braided into an updo style that wraps around the head. This style is called a goddess braid, and it's a beautiful and feminine way for ethnic women to wear their hair.
There are so many different types of goddess braids. The hair can be fully braided and tucked under or around, or extensions or hairpieces can be added for extra volume and interest.
Some goddess coifs can remain intact for weeks, but others might only last for a day. It depends on the variation you opt for and the raw talent of your hairstylist.
Goddess Braid Design Variation
To create a goddess braid worthy of mythological heroines, gather hair onto the crown and secure with an elastic band. Part the hair into two sections; braid one section of hair in traditional three strand plaits style and secure ends. Braid the other half of the hair in similar fashion and secure the ends. Wrap the braids around the crown, secure with hairpins, and spritz with a spray moisturizer and oil to preserve the style.
You're left with a modern and elegant goddess braid for a formal or smart casual affair. All you need is a fancy frock and glitzy accessories to complete the look.
Goddess Braids with Cornrows
To produce these goddess braids with cornrows for added flare, start by implementing tiny cornrow braids on the crown. Then make these effectively transition into chunky goddess braids by wrapping them around the crown for an updated take on the classic Greek goddess aesthetic.
To protect the style, cover the hair at night with a sleep cap or scarf, and keep the hair well moisturized and lubricated. You can do this by using a water-based hydrating spray on your roots all the way through to your ends. Co-ordinate this with a light nourishing oil on your scalp when needed.
Small and Large Combination Braid Designs
Combining small traditional African American braids, such as box braids, with larger, looser braids is a unique way to create an eye-catching style.
Box braids have strong cultural ties in Africa, as the women of Namibia and the Nile Valley used to wear them as far back as 3500 B.C. Thanks to celebrities like Janet Jackson and Beyonce, box braids gained more popularity in the 1990s and continue to be sought after to this day.
Developing a style like this will require braiding extensions into cornrows or microbraids and then having the loose, free-flowing hair braided into large, traditional braids.
Two-Strand Twist Braids
Like the name suggests, two strand twists use two strands of hair to create a twisted braid rather than using three strands of hair like many other braid styles. The size of twists varies greatly; smaller twists are perfect for using in other styles, like this partial updo, while large twists can be simpler to do and are less time consuming.
Many black women wear larger twists for one or two weeks; smaller twists may last longer with proper care. You can dry-wash your hair with a cloth, shampoo, and some warm water. Simply dampen your cloth, apply a bit of shampoo and wipe down your hair, before rinsing the cloth and repeating with just warm water.
Short Two-Strand Beaded Twists
Beads are a popular add-on enhancement for twisted braids (and three-strand braids). To get this look, simply twist or braid the hair. Hydrate with water and a moisturizing gel to seal the hair shaft while braiding.
Once all the hair is braided, add beads to selected individual braids or all of them. You can choose a bead in one neutral hue that will go with an outfit in any color palette, like white, or mix it up with multi-hued beads. If you're styling your hair for a specific occasion, merely match the color of your beads to your outfit.
Whichever arrangement you decide to go for, use small, ouchless rubber bands to secure the beads. These styles typically last about two to three weeks.
Two-Strand Twists in a Ponytail
Those who have long hair can gather their twisted braids into a ponytail to create variation when it comes to this style.
To get achieve this sleek, feminine look, the twists are swept away from the face and secured at the back. If you have the minimal amount of hair, you can opt for a higher ponytail. Alternatively, if you have thick hair, it's easier to sweep it into a low ponytail due to its authentic heaviness.
For midweight hair, aim for a ponytail in the middle of the back of your head. This produces a natural-looking yet comfortable aesthetic.
Hair Weaves and Braid Hair Styles
Hair weave techniques are often combined with braids to create lush hairstyles or add highlights. Stylists use synthetic or human hair extensions and incorporate the hair strands into a particular braid style, such as cornrows or micro braids.
For a fuller, more natural look, the hair ends can be left long and loose as shown in this example. Not only do your tresses appear thick, wavy, and luscious, but they've been highlighted in such a way that gives off major beach vibes. Simply add some bronzer on your cheeks, boho-style earrings and a slick of lipgloss for ultimate summertime chic.
Microbraiding is a popular method of styling African American hair. Microbraids are typically used to add extensions to the hair. This is a popular way to add permanent extensions, as it doesn't damage the hair as much as other methods.
Styles like this have extensions braided into the top of the hair while the rest of the natural hair and the extensions hang loose in a free-flowing manner. Many times the braids are so small that they are barely noticeable. Women planning on getting microbraids should expect to be at the salon for several hours and for multiple sessions, as this process tends to take a long time.
Box Braids for Black Women
Box braids are small braids done to the entire head of hair. The braids are small but large enough to be noticed. Most importantly, these braids are easy to maintain, and easy to style. Box braids can be left hanging straight or styled into an updo or ponytail, just like unbraided hair. It is important to keep the braided hair well conditioned and hydrated to ensure it doesn't become damaged.
The braiding technique for microbraids and box braids is similar; hair is sectioned off or "boxed" and then braided. The stylist teases out a few strands of hair for microbraids, but uses larger sections of hair for box braids. Expect to invest about seven to 12 hours to get box braids and 10 to 14 hours for microbraids.
Box Braids with Extensions
For fuller, longer-looking box braids, synthetic or real hair extensions can be seamlessly braided in with actual hair. If you care for them properly, these kinds of braids are resistant to the normal wear and tear typical extensions fall victim to.
Every hair type manipulated into these braids needs to undergo proper maintenance. For example, curly hair is very dry and susceptible to breakage. To wash your braided hair, choose a shampoo that's really creamy and moisturizing so that it will cleanse your locks without stripping them of their natural moisture. Then opt for a conditioner with buttery texture.
When it comes to drying your hair, use a microfiber towel to help prevent frizz and keep your braids looking smooth and neat.
Thick Chunky Braids
Hair extensions are an easy way to get those thick, chunky braids that look so fashionable. Stylists weave hair extensions into your natural hair to create full-looking braids that can be left hanging down or swept up in a variety of styles.
An important part of hair maintenance for these types of styles is deep conditioning. You can use a deep conditioning treatment on your tresses even if you have leave-in braids or locs installed. A lot of women mix their cream serums with natural oils to keep the braids well and truly hydrated. This works really well as protective hairstyles tend to soak up moisture.
For a quirky take on the traditional braid aesthetic, twist ribbons into a two- or three-strand hair plait. Start a braid and plait a few strands. Then use a bobby pin to attach the ribbon to the top of the braid and incorporate the ribbon as the braided or twisted strands are fashioned. Afterwards, secure at the ends by knotting the ribbon ends and securing the braids with a tiny elastic band.
This creates a funky, youthful look, especially if a vibrant colored ribbon is used. It will make you stand out in a crowd for all the right reasons.
Short Messy Braids
Tiny, tight plaits covering the head are an eye-catching way to rock short hair. The good news is that they work on thin or thick tresses.
As well as shielding your hair from the harsh summer sun, tight braids (such as these) can reduce excess breakage from heat styling and increase length retention. They also add texture and interest to the head and create an easy-to-care-for, messy look.
Simply wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner to keep your short, tight braids in tip-top condition. You can also spritz them with hydrating spray every day for further nourishment and shine.
Intricate twists are trendy and quickly transform hair from humdrum to sensational. This style is the perfect way to disguise uneven hair lengths as layered hair grows back in, and the varying braid lengths add dimension for an individualistic spin on traditional braids.
Prepare to wash these kinds of braids every two to three weeks. As they are so intricate, they can cause scalp issues once damp if they're not properly dried, like dandruff, fungus, and mildew. Sit under a hooded dryer for at least 30 minutes, if possible. If you don't have a hooded dryer, let your braids air dry for a full day before styling.
Swept Up Braids
You can add interest to any hairstyle by combining braids with a super sleek bob. To replicate this look, request that your stylist braids your sides and crown into a cornrow and secures them with a hair barrette at the back of the crown. Then have your ends combed into a bob.
Because there isn't a parting in the hair, this style adds maximum volume, so you might want to avoid it if you already have thick or voluminous tresses. Fashion-forward and pretty, it frames your face and naturally accentuates your features. Team with statement earrings for a smart casual or formal occasion.
Trendy Pixie Braids
Braids don't always have to be tight against the scalp. In fact, individual braids that hang down and frame the face are perfect for wearing in pixie styles, like this example shows.
Pixie braids consist of lots of individual, small, tight braids that vary in length and thickness. They cover most of the head and are burnt at the ends to create a shape that curls or bends slightly towards the face, unlike traditional braids that hang straight.
Pixie braids were initially made popular by young African-American women and children; however, many generations, genders, and ethnic groups now wear this hairstyle.
Fishtail Braid Style
A fishtail braid is a casual style that needs very little to make it elegant. Currently taking the fashion world by storm, it's easy to construct once you know how and looks effective whether it's worn messy or refined.
The versatility of a fishtail braid is also useful. It works just as well on a lazy day at home with jogging pants and a sweater as it does for a night on the town with a sequin dress and heels.
To wear a fishtail braid on the side for a cool and effortless look, loosely gather straightened hair behind the ear and braid over either shoulder.
Sisterlocks are micro dreadlocks that do not require the use of gel, grease or other styling product. They produce a stable, woven framework in a certain section of hair using the hair itself, creating a neat yet full look. No extensions or attachments are needed, and they are formed using a special tool.
In addition, sisterlocks are very versatile. Like micro braids, as you can style them as simply or as complexly as you wish. For a clean and tidy aesthetic to wear everyday, merely sweep your sisterlocks up into the nape of your neck and secure with a hair tie.
Yarn braids are braids or twists that have yarn worked in with the natural hair. This can be done with most braid or twist styles. It's a braiding option that is cheap and easily accessible. Yarn braids also feel lighter, look fluffier, and retain more moisture.
The yarn can blend with your natural hair hue or be vibrant and colorful to make a serious style statement.
In terms of care, try to use a minimal amount of shampoo on your braids and mainly focus on washing your scalp. This is because yarn naturally holds moisture, so yarn braids can get super heavy when wet. Also, it's recommended that you take these braids out after about five or six weeks.
A Multitude of Braid Options
Protective braids are a part of the rich heritage of black hairstyles, and today's fashion-forward woman has many more options from which to choose than just the traditional three-strand plaits or cornrows. Goddess braids, microbraids, box braids and two-strand twists are just a few of the many choices. Tree braids are another option to consider.
Generally, once installed, braids are straightforward to care for and versatile to style. Most varieties can last up to eight weeks.
Whether you prefer to use your natural locks or extensions, there are braids to suit every budget and personal taste. Regardless of your hair length or face shape, there's an ideal option for you just waiting to be discovered.