African hair braiding can protect your hair against harsh environmental elements and gives you the opportunity to get creative with your style.
Most black women choose to sport braids since they have natural strong black hair which can hold braids really well.
In this article, you’ll find the different types of African hair braiding, the history, step-by-step instructions to create African braids, and the best products to use.
We’ve also included a beautiful gallery of the best-braided hairstyles that are trending right now in case you’re unsure as to what African hair braiding styles suit you.
The History Behind African Hair Braiding
African hair braiding is an ancient form of cultural and political art that stems from African tribal customs. The earliest evidence of African hair braiding originated from Egypt in 3500 BCE.
Every region and tribe in Africa has its own distinct style of hair braiding. During ancient times, hair braiding was used as a way of identifying the tribe’s members. In Africa, braided hair can also be an indication of a person’s age group, social status, marital status, religion, power, wealth, and community.
In addition, there are also intricate braiding patterns that are intended for certain ceremonial events such as rites of passage, weddings, and social ceremonies. Aside from its deep cultural significance, African hair braiding can also be a distinct fashion statement.
From an early age, young girls in an African tribe would wear their hair in braids. The braided hairstyle was usually carried out by the girl’s elder female relatives, either, their grandmothers, mother, aunts, sisters, or cousins.
Young African girls would observe carefully how the braiding is done so that they could learn. Often times, young girls would practice braiding on their peers until they became an expert.
Hair braiding is a time-consuming task that can sometimes take a day or two to complete. Some African villagers often practiced informal reciprocity. This means that if someone braids your hair then you must return the favor by braiding theirs.
As time progressed, hair-braiding was turned over to the professionals. Over the years, hair braiding salons have spread into the urban areas of the United States.
The custom of African hair braiding became lost for a while during the slave trade. However, it was revived by the immigrants who came from Mali, Togo, Guinea, Ghana, Senegal, and many other African countries.
Today, the descendants of these immigrants are encouraged to wear hair braids in order to continue their important African tradition.
The Importance of Hair in African History
In African culture, there is this belief that a woman who has thick hair can bear several children, and will occupy many riches and farms.
In African history, members of a tribe were not permitted to have loose hair because it was a sign of messiness, dirt, and mourning. People in African tribes were only allowed to let their hair loose during death ceremonies.
In African culture and history, an individual who has well-groomed hair is considered to be healthy and well mannered, and women are encouraged to wear their hair in braids.
African Hair Braiding Styles with Pictures
Before diving into the technicalities of braiding, first, let’s get inspired! Here are our favorite and most popular African braiding hairstyles, loved by our community of readers and braid wearers around the world. Make sure to let us know which is your favorite braiding style!
1. Short Twist Braids with Beads
If you’re a fan of accessories, why not add some trendy beads to your African braids? This hairstyle is created by adding chestnut colored hair extensions to the roots and then creating some twist braids.
If you want to add some beads, remember to apply accessorize as you are braiding your hair, not at the end.
2. High Side Bun with Braids
When you have long African braids, you can create just about any upstyle. Get playful with your long hair with this high wrap-around side bun. Secure your hair at the end with some sturdy hairpins to keep your bun in place.
3. Micro Braids with Shaved Sides
African hair braiding is an ancient hairstyle, yet its trend and style have lasted up to now. Add a modern twist and shave one side of your head while creating a combover style with the remaining braids.
4. Blonde Box Braids
Cornrows are a practical and traditional African hair braiding style but today they have become a popular hairdo in the fashion world. With blonde extensions, you too can create these long blonde box braids.
5. Shoulder-Length African Braids
If you don’t want the hassle of maintaining and styling long hair, you can always opt to sport shoulder-length braids. This look is easy to manage when left down or tied up into a low ponytail.
6. Twist Braid Roots with Micro Braids in Bun
For a unique look, start by incorporating twist braids near the roots while gradually creating Ghana braids towards the ends of your hair. If your hair has length, you can do what this lady did and tie your hair up into a high wrap-around bun. Dress up your upstyle with some big hoops earrings.
7. Jumbo and Micro Braids in Half-Up Style
Sometimes it’s amazing what we can actually do with our hair. If you want to create a thick quality to your African hair braiding, try mixing both thick and thin braids to your style.
8. Braided High Bun with Ponytail and Copper Stands
This hairstyle is definitely unique and a great inspiration for women who want to wear iconic African braids. Incorporate some copper-colored braids to add a diverse look, or style your hair in a bun with long tresses hanging down.
9. Micro Braids with Bouncy Curls
If you want the best of both loose curls and African braids, why not start with some micro braids at your roots and continue until midway down your hair length.
Then, knot the ends of your braid a use a curling iron for thick hair to create light, bouncy curls.
10. Micro Braids with Bouncy Curls
This hairstyle is great for those who want both braids and sleek, bouncy curls. Start by creating three-inches of micro braids.
After that, use a curling iron on the rest of your hair to create bouncy, curls like this! If you have short hair but still want to create this look, use some synthetic hair extensions that you can attach to your hair and curl them as normal with a curling iron.
11. Long Twist Braids Blonde Streaks
Twist braids are a beautiful style of African hair braiding that you can spice up by adding a dye color of your choice. Experiment with blonde for an edgy twist!
Unless you have reams of long, luscious hair, you can achieve this look by applying hair extensions to your natural hair and create long twist braids from there.
12. Copper Mohawk with Long African Braids
This copper and black combo is a great way of mixing some trendy colors together. Start by creating micro braids and continue until you are at the ends of your hair.
Then, section off the copper braids in the center of your head and create a mohawk to incorporate a second color to your African braids.
13. Tiger Style African Braids with Mohawk
To achieve this look, start by braiding your hair into tiger braids in an upwards motion so that you can gradually group together each braid into a mohawk style at the top of your head.
Then, continue by rolling your African braids into a mohawk and tuck the hair underneath.
14. Micro Braids with Curly Mohawk
If you have naturally curly hair, why not create some tight micro braids on the sides of your head and then use a curling wand to enhance your natural perm.
Gather the curls that you created in a mohawk and clip the hairs into place with some bobby pins.
15. African Braided Side-Swept Hairstyle
Create a sexy side-swept hairstyle by braiding your hair in the direction of the side sweep that you desire. Continue braiding until all your hair hangs down on one side of your head.
16. Medium Length Twist Braids
Twist braids can last up to 10 weeks when maintained correctly and are super easy to braid on both long and short hair.
To create this hairstyle, start by separating your hair into large sections. Then, begin braiding thin twist braids per section, and continue until all sections are completed.
17. Snake Style Twist Braids with Mohawk
This African hair braiding look is inspired by the “snake” or “worm” hairstyle that has been bunched together to form a mohawk.
Start by creating some thin cornrows to the side of your head. Then, create twist braids in the center section of your head. When all twists are completed, twist the braids even more until they fold and give you the ‘worm’ effect.
Secure the twist braids in a mohawk style to complete the look.
18. Micro Braids with Straight Hair
If you want the best of both worlds and feel like wearing your hair down straight while also having some braids, experiment with some micro hair braiding.
Start by creating micro African braids at the root for approximately one-inch. Then use a flat iron to straighten the rest of your hair.
19. Side-Swept Long African Braids
To create long African braids, experiment with synthetic hair extensions. Start by applying the hair extensions to the roots of your hair and continue braiding until you reach the end.
20. Thin Braids in Ponytail
Having long African braids allows you to play around with various upstyles. This easy ponytail keeps your hair out of your face while still oozing style.
Start by creating thin African braids as these types of braids are much easier to adapt into an upstyle. Then, gather your hair into a ponytail and secure with a thick hair tie.
21. African Hair Braiding with Red Streaks
This hairstyle can be achieved by using a red dye on your natural long hair or hair extensions if you have shorter hair. If you only want to experiment with a little color treatment, we suggest using a red dye for a few sporadic braids on one side of your head.
22. African Hair Braiding with Neat Cornrows
With African hair braiding styles, you can create neat cornrows that will hold your hair in such a way that makes it flexible and less stressful on you.
Begin this hairstyle by parting your hair down the middle, then separating 13 sections on each side for a total of 26 braids.
23. African Hair Braiding with Neat Upstyle
With this beautifully braided upstyle, you can wear an eye-catching eyeliner that will compliment your skin tone and hairstyle.
To achieve this style, braid your hair in an upward motion so that you can easily tie your braids up into a neat wrap-around bun.
24. African Hair Braiding with Mohawk
African hair braiding with a mohawk style is can really accentuate your facial features. Try wearing big, bold earrings to make your look stand out even more!
Start by braiding your hair with both micro and thicker African braids at the side of your head in an upward direction. Continue braiding until the end and then bunch together your hair into six rolls at the top to create a zigzag mohawk style.
25. Half Braided Hairstyle
This versatile African hair braiding style suits long, medium, and short hair. Add some flavor to your braids by incorporating some blonde highlights and bouncy curls.
Start by adding a blonde dye throughout different strands of hair. Then create micro braids midway down your hair length. Complete the look by curling the bottom half of your hair with some thin, bouncy curls.
26. Thick Mohawk with Micro Braids
This beautiful mohawk inspired braided hairstyle is ideal for women who want to show off their facial features, makeup, and jewelry.
Start by creating thin fishbone braids at the side of your hair and stop when you start to approach the top of your head. Use the rest of your long hair to create jumbo twist braids simply by twisting your hair until it folds and sits on top.
Do this twist technique along the top of your head until you create a thick mohawk.
27. Cornrows with Kinky Curls
African hair braiding can look beautiful on women of all ages, so why not add some youthful curls to the ends of your hair that are sure to draw attention.
28. African Hair Braiding with Side View
Let your locks hang down freely while adding some tiny African braids to one side for an edgy look.
29. Long Twist Braids
Twist braids don’t only suit those with short, thin hair. They also suit women with long, thick locks.
30. African Hair Braiding for Teenagers
Try an ombre hairstyle for your African hair braiding and rock both your natural black hair color along with a striking blonde.
31. African Hair Braiding with Bob
Keep your hair nice and simple with beautiful African braids styled into a cute bob.
32. African Cornrows with Long Twist Braids
With twist braids, you can decide to incorporate the twists from your roots or start your braids with some simple yet secure cornrows.
33. African Hair Braiding with High Ponytail
With extra-long African braids, you can style your hair in various different ways but we especially adore this high ponytail!
34. Natural Twist Braids
Regardless of your face shape, short twisted braids can compliment your facial features especially if you’re rocking your natural curls.
35. Micro Twist Braids
Micro twist braids are a super easy African hairstyle to both achieve and manage. If you have long hair that you like to style down or tie up, then micro twist braids is the perfect hairstyle for you.
36. Long African Hair Braiding
For your next hairstyle, incorporate a messy top with long, luscious African braids.
37. Shoulder-Length Twist Braids
Choose a hairstyle that is comfortable and easy to maintain like these shoulder-length, twist braids for thin hair. Start by braiding your natural hair tightly from the root then continue all the way down until you reach the end of your hair.
38. Graduated Bob Braids
If you live an active lifestyle but still want to wear fashionable braids on your days off, then this short graduated braided bob is the perfect hairstyle for you.
Start by cutting either your own natural hair or if you’re using hair extension, cut the hair into a graduated bob then begin braiding in the style that you desire. For this look, we highly recommend Ghana braids or twist braids.
39. Curly African Braids
Get this look by creating African braids from the root of your head until half-way down your hair length. To complete the look, use a curling iron with a thin barrel to create some light, bouncy curls.
40. Long Jumbo Box Braids
In order to get this look, start by braiding thick jumbo braids near your roots then gradually create thinner braids for a more manageable braiding hairstyle. From there you can decide to wear your hair down or in an elaborate upstyle.
African Hair Braiding Costs and Pricing
In order to achieve proper African hair braiding, you should visit a braiding salon or hire a professional hair braider to come to your house. The latter may be a better option for you as hair braiding can take up to six hours to complete.
The average cost to get your hair braided in an African hairstyle ranges between $150 to $250 in a salon.
Different Types of African Hair Braiding Styles
We’ve compiled five of the most popular African hair braiding styles with images and instructions on how to achieve each of these beautiful looks.
Cornrows Braiding Hairstyle
Worn by both men and women, cornrows are braided close to the scalp making a continuous, raised row. Cornrows, also known as Ghana braids are often done in simple, straight lines but can also be formed in elaborate geometric or curvilinear designs.
Twist Braids Hairstyle
Although twist braids are worn by both men and women, they are more popular amongst women. Twist braids are a beautiful alternative to regular braids. Twist braids only use two sections of hair in comparison to regular braids that use three sections of hair.
Jumbo Braids Hairstyle
As opposed to micro braids, with jumbo braids, your hair is parted into larger sections, allowing the braiding process to be faster. Additionally, jumbo braids require more braiding hair, making each plait thicker overall. Use hair extensions to really add bulk and thickness to your hairstyle.
Fishbone Braids Hairstyle
Fishbone braids are braided close to the scalp with one thick braid in the center and thinner cornrows joined at an angle. Start by creating tightly knitted fishbone braids at the root then work your way down to the ends of your hair.
Box Braids Hairstyle
Box braids are considered a protective hairstyle that consists of hair separated into square-shaped divisions. Box braids are generally created by using synthetic hair in order to help add thickness as well as supporting the real hair inside the braid.
Best Products For Creating African Braids
We’ve gathered the most ideal products and tools to use for creating the best African braids for you to check out!
Latch Crochet Wooden Hair Knitting Needle
This two piece crochet knitting needle for DIY hair braiding is a practical tool set for creating African braids at home.SHOP NOW
Senegalese Twist Crochet Braids with Curly Ends
This amazing brand of synthetic hair gives texture and shine that mimics human hair. You can create your favorite African braids such as twist braids and jumbo braids with these beautiful hair extensions.SHOP NOW
How To Do African Hair Braiding
We created a simple step-by-step guide for creating African braids yourself. So check out our five easy steps on how to do African braids and get braiding today!
Step 1: Choose a Width
To start with, use a fine comb in parting the hair. The width of a single section of hair will depend on your desire. If you want to produce more cornrows then you can choose a thin width.
Step 2: Pick a Direction
Identify the direction of the braid. You can start from the base of the neck and move forward to the hairline.
Step 3: Separate Each Section
Separate a single section of hair into three groups. The left group is A, the center is B and the right group is C.
Step 4: Start Braiding
Place group A under group B and over group C.
Step 5: Continue Until the End
Continue braiding until you complete the entire row. Repeat this on a new section of hair.
Video Tutorial on How to Create African Hair Braiding
To know more, watch this tutorial in order to get a visual of how to create African har braiding:
African Hair Braiding Styles Questions
Do you still have questions about African hair braiding styles? If so, we’re here to help. We see a ton of questions sent to Beautified Designs from our readers about hair braiding. So as a result, we’ve combined a list below of the top questions we’ve received along with our helpful answers.
Who should I contact for the best African hair braiding styles?
If you want your African braids to last as long as possible, we suggest visiting a licensed professional who specializes in African hair braiding. There are several things that go into creating a good braid such as correct sectioning, using the proper products, and giving the best aftercare advice. You definitely need to consider these things if you hope to get the best possible African braids.
How long do African hair braiding styles last?
As long as the person who braids your hair is professional, you shouldn’t have to get new braids for quite some time. In fact, most African hair braiding styles last up to six weeks. You just need to be sure you are taking extra steps like wearing satin scarves if you want to make your African braids last.
Will African hair braids look good on me?
There are several different options within the category of African braids, so you are bound to be able to find at least one that works for you. We will always encourage you to take the leap and experiment with different hairstyles to find one that suits you!
Get Your Own African Braided Hairstyle
Whether you choose African hair braiding because of its cultural significance or you just want to be fashion-forward, one thing is for sure – this protective styling will bring out the creative side in you!
Aside from allowing you to select various shapes and patterns, with African braids you can also add some vibrant colors, highlights, texture, and even accessories.
We’d love to hear which African hair braiding style is your favorite, in the comments below. Or let us know if you have any tips or tricks for creating the best-braided hairstyles!
Raissa Diaz started out as a hairstylist for a long time before she started this blog. Her fascination for hair and braids started when she was only 4 years old, in a salon just around the corner on top of where they lived. She first started braiding away at her six sisters at home and soon she was asked to start helping in the salon. Now, she is here to share the knowledge that she gained over the past 20 years with you, through Beautified Designs!