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African Hairstyles: Zulu Knots, Dreadlocks, & Hair Extensions

Updated on November 12, 2009

Ethnic Hair Care

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Ethnic African Hairstyles
Ethnic African Hairstyles
Ethnic African Hairstyles

Learn About 3 Popular African Hairstyles

In African cultures, ethnic hairstyling is usually a family affair. The styles of these people are ever changing but each new variation is only a spin of an older one. Whatever the changes or improvements in the styles, everything always traces its roots back to the basics. The right hairstyle could make or break one’s fashion sense and overall reputation. More diverse styles are attributed to having a better sense of what is in and what is not.

Zulu Knots or simply Knots is a style which is as literal in form as its name. The hair is divided into small sections. These partitions can follow a pattern depicting any shape that a person desires. The more traditional pattern follows the square shape. The hair comprising these small sections or partitions are twisted together and the twisted ends are tucked underneath each section to create the knots. Braids are quite literal. The process of braiding involves creating small weaves usually consisting of a few strands of hair at a time. These are weaved like a rope and the process is repeated until all of the hair has been formed into columns across the scalp. Zulu knots are meant to stand while braids are meant to hang down from the scalp. Like the former, braids can be arranged accordingly to follow a specific pattern. These are usually adorned with beads and the like for a more fashionable outcome. A variation to braids are cornrows which simply involve a more elaborate arrangement of the braids. The braids were meant to be lined parallel to one another hence the name similar to the pattern in which corn fields are planted. For braids and cornrows, it is important not to have the braids too tightly done. The best cornrows are those which employ smaller or skinnier braids.

Another popular African hairstyle is dreadlocks. Here, you can say that the hair is purposely tangled, twisted, or coiled to achieve the locks. Growing dreadlocks take a long period of time to accomplish. To create locks of all sizes and lengths, maneuvers such as palm-rolling or yarn-wrapping are utilized by the stylists. Dreadlocks are tedious. Time is of the essence when you want neatly done dreadlocks which don’t resemble messy hair from someone who hasn’t showered in weeks. For knots, braids, cornrows, and dreadlocks, maintaining them involves the use of beeswax to retain their formations and protect them from dust or dirt.

Lastly, popular among women are extensions. There are numerous hair extensions that are available. These make long hair an instant possibility. The extensions can be weaved, clasped with small metal rings, or attached with a binding agent. An expensive process of applying these involved attaching small clusters of hair at a time with a special tool and binding agent. Taking the longest amount of time and effort, this process creates the most authentic image of long hair. Hairstyles differ from interest to cultural aspects but it is a matter of personal choice on what suits you best.


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