Africa is a continent that has always been celebrated for its unique and diverse cultures, traditions, and, of course, hairstyles. African hairstyles are not only stunning but also a reflection of the continent’s rich history, identity, and spirituality. They have managed to transcend borders and become a source of inspiration for people all over the world. African hairstyles come in many different forms, from intricate braids to bold afros. They can be worn for any occasion, from weddings to casual outings, and they always make a statement.
If you are looking to switch up your look or simply appreciate the art of hair, you have come to the right place. We have curated a list of 20+ original African hairstyles that will leave you in awe. From the classic Fulani braids to the trendy goddess locs, our collection has something for everyone. We have also included styles that celebrate the diversity of African hair textures, from kinky to curly to straight. Each hairstyle comes with a brief history and cultural
1. Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are one of the original African hairstyles that have been popular for centuries. This style originates from South Africa, where the Zulu tribeswomen have been styling their hair in knots for generations. The Bantu knots consist of small, coiled knots that are formed by twisting sections of hair around themselves.
The knots are worn close to the scalp and can be styled in various designs. This hairstyle is not only trendy but also practical since it helps to protect hair and promote growth. Bantu knots can be easily modified to suit different occasions, whether it’s a casual day out or a formal event. They can be accessorized with beads and other hair accessories to add some fun and flair to the look.
2. Braided Mohawk
The braided Mohawk is a striking African hairstyle that is both elegant and edgy. This style involves creating braids that start at the sides of the head and meet in the middle, creating a dramatic braided central strip that runs from the forehead to the nape of the neck.
The braids can be styled with intricate patterns or simple plaits to create different looks. This style is popular in Africa and can be worn for special events or as an everyday hairstyle. It is a versatile style that can be customized to suit different face shapes and hair types. The braided Mohawk is a bold and original hairstyle choice that is sure to turn heads.
3. Natural Africa Hairstyles
Natural African hairstyles are a celebration of beauty, culture, and heritage. From intricate braids to bold afros, these hairstyles embody the rich diversity and versatility of African hair, breaking barriers and redefining conventional standards of beauty. Box braids are a popular choice, offering both practicality and style with their small, square-shaped sections.
The afro is an iconic symbol of strength and self-acceptance, challenging societal norms and encouraging individuals to embrace their natural beauty. Cornrows, with their neat and tight braids, provide both aesthetic appeal and protective benefits. Twist-outs, on the other hand, offer a free-spirited and playful look with beautifully defined curls.
These hairstyles not only make a fashion statement but also honor African heritage, serving as a form of self-expression and identity. They have sparked a global natural hair movement, promoting self-love, acceptance, and the beauty of diversity. Natural African hairstyles transcend borders, captivating the world with their elegance, power, precision, and playfulness. They inspire people of all backgrounds to embrace their natural hair and celebrate their unique identities
4. Flat Twists
Flat twists are a classic African hairstyle that has been popular for generations. This chic style boasts elegance and simplicity in equal measure. Whether you like a clean, minimalistic look or something more intricate, flat twists are versatile enough to suit your preferences.
The beauty of this hairstyle is its ability to look great on various hair lengths and types. It’s a protective style that can help promote the growth of your natural hair. With proper maintenance, a well-done set of flat twists can last up to two weeks. Consider these African hairstyles ideas to draw inspiration for your next hairstyle.
5. Fulani Braids
Fulani Braids are a trendy and versatile hairstyle with roots in West Africa. This elegant style involves hair being braided in thin to medium-sized cornrows with extensions added to create longer and more intricate patterns.
Fulani braids often feature intricate partings, beads, rings, and cowrie shells, which can add a unique charm to the hairstyle. It’s important to note that proper installation and maintenance are crucial to retaining the integrity and health of your natural hair and scalp while wearing this protective style. Fulani braids offer a low maintenance, protective hairstyle for those looking for a fresh, modern look with a connection to the African culture.
6. Ghana Braids
Ghana braids are one of the most popular and highly fashionable African hairstyles. These braids are recognized by their thick and expanded box-like pattern, which is frequently completed with a hair extension. They’ve been utilized by African women for ages as a protective hairstyle due to their ability to keep the hair secure and shielded from damage.
Ghana Braids are versatile and can be done in various lengths, sizes, and styles, making them suitable for any occasion. They offer an excellent alternative to the traditional cornrows and can be done by interlacing strands of hair with stunning artistry. They are low-maintenance and can last for weeks, giving people the freedom and flexibility to style their hair in a variety of ways without having to worry about natural hair upkeep. For anyone looking for African hairstyles that are both practical and stylish, Ghana braids are a fantastic choice.
7. Traditional Zulu Hairstyles
The Traditional Zulu hairstyles is a beautiful and classic hairstyle that is becoming more and more popular in the African community as a result of its elegant appearance. This intricate hairstyle is created by weaving three strands of hair in opposite directions, resulting in a braided pattern that is both intricate and visually stunning.
The Traditional Zulu hairstyles has the added advantage of being versatile and easy to customize to your preferred style, length, and thickness. It can be styled in various ways, such as worn as a bun or pulled to one side for a more romantic look. TheTraditional Zulu hairstyles is a perfect hairstyle for various occasions like weddings, proms, or any special occasion where you want to look extra special.
8. Marley Twists
Marley twists are a popular and stylish way for African women to protect and enhance their natural hair. Also known as Havanna twists, Marley twists are created by twisting natural or extension hair using the Marley braiding technique which results in a bulky and fuller appearance. These twists are a great option that can be worn for several weeks, reducing the need for constant grooming.
They are versatile and can be styled in different ways, allowing for flexibility in the overall look. In addition, the Marley twists can be adorned with hair accessories to add an extra touch of elegance and sophistication. Overall, the Marley twists are a great choice for anyone looking for a protective and stylish hairstyle that is easy to maintain.
9. Senegalese Twists
Senegalese twists are a popular African hairstyle that offers versatility and low maintenance. These twists are usually created with a two-strand twisting technique using extensions, which are typically Kanekalon or Marley hair. Senegalese twists are not just a protective style, but they can also be styled in many ways to suit various occasions.
These twists can be done in various lengths and sizes, giving women the freedom to express their sense of style. They can be adorned with beads or jewelry to add a touch of glamour to the hair. Senegalese twists are perfect for women who lead busy lifestyles and want to keep their hair looking great without having to spend a lot of time and money on styling.
10. African Hairstyles For Ladies
African Hairstyles for ladies is a timeless and elegant hairstyle that has been around for centuries. This beautiful hairstyle is perfect for women who want to add a touch of sophistication and class to their look. The African Hairstyles for ladies involves weaving three strands of hair together in a very specific pattern, creating an intricate and beautiful design.
This classic hairstyle is versatile and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. It is an ideal hairstyle for formal events such as weddings, business meetings, and other special occasions. Moreover, this style can be worn by women of all ages and is an excellent choice for women with medium to long hair. Whether you prefer a sleek, polished look or a more relaxed and casual style, the African Hairstyles for ladies is a perfect choice that will always leave you looking and feeling fabulous.
11. Kinky Twists
Kinky twists have become a popular protective hairstyle in recent years. They are a type of extension that is twisted into natural hair to create a low-maintenance style. Kinky twists are usually made with synthetic hair and can last for up to two months with proper care. They are a great option for those who want to give their hair a break from heat styling and other potentially damaging practices.
Kinky twists can also be customized to fit a variety of different lengths and styles, making them a versatile option for many different hair types. However, as with any hairstyle, it’s important to make sure that your hair is properly moisturized and cared for throughout the duration of the style.
12. Box Braids
Box braids have been a go-to protective hairstyle in the African community for years. This hairstyle involves dividing the hair into small sections and then braiding each section from the root to the tip, leaving a box or square shape at the base of each braid. Not only do box braids look stylish, but they also protect the hair from damage, breakage, and harsh weather conditions.
Plus, they provide an opportunity to experiment with various hair colors, extensions, and lengths. Box braids, with their versatility, can be styled into different updos, ponytails, or worn down. They are a low-maintenance hairstyle that can last for up to six weeks with proper care, making them a popular hairstyle choice among African women. Consider trying out box braids if you are looking for a hairstyle that is both convenient and chic.
Cornrows are one of the most popular and versatile hairstyles originating from African culture. This style involves braiding the hair close to the scalp in straight lines to create a raised pattern. Cornrows are a popular choice because they not only look stunning but are also very low maintenance.
This style can be worn by anyone with any hair type and can be tailored to suit different face shapes and preferences. Cornrows have evolved over time, with newer variations featuring intricate designs that are a true reflection of African artistry. They can be dressed up or down and are perfect for any occasion, making them a timeless choice for hairstyle inspiration.
14. Cornrow Bun
The Cornrow Bun is a classic and elegant African hairstyle that has been around since ancient times. This hairstyle is also known as the Goddess Bun due to its regal, dignified and bold appearance on the head. Cornrows are braids that are woven flat against the scalp in an intricate pattern. This style is perfect for those with natural Afro-textured hair who are looking for a protective hairstyle that will last for weeks.
The Cornrow Bun is one of the most coveted hairstyles across Africa and has been adapted globally by people who appreciate its timeless beauty, versatility and low maintenance nature. It can be accessorized with beads, cowry shells, and other hair jewelry to add some flair to the look.
With proper care and maintenance, the Cornrow Bun is a long-lasting hairstyle that can be worn for weeks to months, making it an ideal option for those with busy lifestyles who want to look chic without putting in too much effort. Overall, the Cornrow Bun is a timeless and sophisticated African hairstyle that is sure to make a statement wherever you go.
15. Braid Out
Braids are one of the most popular and versatile African hairstyles, and the braid out is a classic look that has stood the test of time. This style involves braiding the hair while it is wet and then taking out the braids once they have dried. The result is a voluminous, textured mane that is perfect for a boho chic look. It can also be styled in a variety of ways, from an updo to a half-up, half-down style.
To achieve the best braid out, it is important to properly prep the hair with moisturizing products and to take care while removing the braids to avoid frizz. This style can be done using different braid patterns, such as cornrows or box braids, to create different looks. Overall, the braid out is a classic style that is both elegant and effortless, making it a go-to option for those seeking an original African hairstyle.
16. Beaded Braids
One of the most popular hairstyles that originated in Africa is the beaded braids style, which features intricate braids adorned with colorful beads. This style not only looks beautiful, but it also has cultural significance. In many African traditions, braided hair was a symbol of social status, age, religion, and tribe.
Today, beaded braids are still worn by many women in Africa, and have also become popular among women in other parts of the world who want to celebrate African culture and express their individuality through their hairstyle. To get the beaded braids look, one must first carefully braid sections of hair and then add beads of various sizes and colors to the braids. The result is a stunning and unique hairstyle that is truly original.
17. Crochet Braids
Crochet braids are a popular African hairstyle that utilizes a special crochet needle to weave synthetic hair extensions into natural hair for a versatile and low-maintenance look. With crochet braids, hairstyles such as twists, cornrows, and box braids can be achieved quickly and without the use of damaging glue or braiding techniques.
One of the major benefits of crochet braids is that they are relatively easy to install and maintain, making them convenient for women on the go. This style can last up to 8 weeks and can be styled in a variety of ways, making it a versatile option for any occasion. For a unique and stylish look, consider adding beads, jewels, or colorful thread to your crochet braids. Whatever your hair type or preference, crochet braids are a great option for achieving a fresh and modern African hairstyle.
Locs, short for dreadlocks, are one of the most popular and versatile African hairstyles. They have been around for centuries and are a symbol of cultural pride and identity. Locs are created by allowing hair to grow and twist into thick, rope-like strands.
They can be styled in a variety of ways, including updos, buns, braids, and twists. While locs require some maintenance, they are a low manipulation style that can be worn for months, making them ideal for those looking for a protective hairstyle.
As more people embrace their natural hair, locs have become a popular choice for men and women of all ages and backgrounds. With the right care and styling methods, locs can be worn in a way that is both practical and stylish, making them a must-try for anyone looking for an original African hairstyle.
19. Faux Locs
Faux Locs is a popular African hairstyle that is both stylish and practical. It involves creating individual locs using extensions or yarn, giving the illusion of natural locs. Faux Locs are a versatile hairstyle that allows for various lengths, sizes, and colors to suit different preferences.
The technique is low-maintenance but requires special attention to ensure the longevity and health of the hairstyle. Faux Locs are a perfect protective style for those transitioning to natural hair or simply looking for a new look. With the right care and maintenance, Faux Locs can last up to three months, making it a popular choice for many African women.
20. Ancient African Hairstyles
Ancient African hairstyles are a versatile and protective African hairstyle that involves braiding extensions into cornrows. This style has become increasingly popular due to its low maintenance and long-lasting nature, making it a great option for busy individuals. Ancient African hairstyles can last for up to 6-8 weeks, providing a protective shield for your natural hair.
The extensions used in tree braids come in various lengths and textures, allowing you to choose a style that best suits your preference. Overall, Ancient African hairstyles are an excellent choice for anyone looking to try a new and protective hairstyle that is both stylish and practical.
21. Knotless Braids
One of the most popular African-inspired hairstyles of recent years is the knotless braid, also known as the no-knot braid. This style is popular due to its natural and low-maintenance appearance. The main difference between traditional box braids and knotless braids is the way the braids are attached to the scalp. Knotless braids utilize a method where the braids are started off with a small amount of natural hair and then worked down the length of the braid.
This results in a more natural-looking appearance as well as less tension on the scalp and hairline. Knotless braids offer versatility in styling and come in various lengths, sizes, and colors. They are suitable for all hair textures and are an excellent protective style for natural hair. It is no surprise that knotless braids are becoming increasingly popular and a definite must-try for anyone looking for an original African-inspired hairstyle.
In conclusion, African hairstyles are as diverse and unique as the cultures from which they originate. From intricate braids to bold hair color choices, there are endless ways to express creativity and pay homage to cultural traditions through original African hairstyles. Whether opting for a traditional look or a modern twist on a classic style, these hairstyles serve as a reminder of the rich and beautiful history of the African continent and its people.