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Different African-American Hairstyles - weaves and braids

Updated on July 1, 2015
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I am an African Woman and almost always have my hair in weaves and braids. I am an enthusiast and write about it.

There are so many African-American hairstyles that it becomes difficult to know what to choose. Some hairstyles are entirely modern like the flaming red fishtail braids Rihanna prefers, or are classic like cornrows which men prefer.

Weaves and box and tree braids incorporate hair extensions. Then there are vintage hairstyles that look quaint but can be incorporated into modern hair dos.

The braids could be three or two strand braids.

Different African-American Hairstyles are chosen by men and women although men are beginning to appreciate the intricacies of cornrows.

It is imporant to many people of African descent prefer hairstyles that are convenient and cost effective yet reflect their ethnic origins.

Picture showing vintage africa hairstyles
Picture showing vintage africa hairstyles

Vintage African Hairstyles

The picture on the right is from an old satin sheen poster from the 70's.

Note the hair done up with threads ( the larger picture). It was once an extremely popular black hairstyle but is rarely seen except on children of fundamental christians living in Africa.

The hair woven up to a bunch on the crown is called 'suku' by the Yoruba of Western Nigeria.

Traditionally it was used by royalty in that region but is an extremely convenient way to keep hair away from your face.

The basic african hairstyle which forms the foundation of ethnic African-American Hairstyles is the cornrow braids.

Cornrows, an african hairstyle
Cornrows, an african hairstyle | Source

African-American Hairstyles: Cornrows

Cornrows, that artistic three strand interweaving of hair is found in every community of people of African descent. It used to be very common in childhood but less popular as you mature.

Of recent celebrities such as Kanu Nwankwo and a host of Basketball stars have been seen with cornrows.

The hairstyle is neat, keeps hair of the face and links you with your past.

The beauty of this style is that you can weave it just about any way you want, once you understand how to do the weaving.

Divide the hair into sections before you start the cornrows to be sure that you have a balanced look, left and right being mirror images of each other.

Picture of Ghana Weaving
Picture of Ghana Weaving | Source

Modern Twist on Cornrows - Ghana Weaving

Ghana weaving differs from your basic african american cornrow by always including hair extensions.

The extensions are incorporated in small strands at a time ensuring the cornrows strart out very narrow and then expand.

Alicia Keys in the early 2000s had her hair done this way a lot.

It is best to keep Ghana weaving simple, the better to appreciate the intricacies of the individual weave.


The Weave - the dominant modern African-American Hairstyle

Growing up in Africa, we always wondered how the African American women we saw on television had such glossy obedient hair, then we discovered weaves.

This hairstyle is an alternative to wigs. It involves glueing or sewing on hair extensions. The hair moves as if its all yours naturally.

Weaves are the preferred African-American hairstyle because it is the easiest way to go from your usual natural hair to any imaginable hair length, texture or colour.

Braids - Box braids, Tree braids and the Twist

The hairstyle popularly called the twist involves just two hair strands as opposed to three.

Box braids and tree braids are the other type of stand alone braids as shown by the picture on the right.

African - American Hairstyles

All these hairstyles have some things in common. They look good but can easily lead to hair damage.

One of the disadvantages of weaves and braids is that it invariably involves pulling and tugging at the hair.

This could damage hair especially the tender hairs on the hairline.

Learn to give your hair a breather between weaves or braids or even the humble cornrow.

Wear it loose and nappy all weekend to give it time to rest.

Deep condition between weaves and take any hairstyle off if you notice thinning or hair falling out.

Once you consider all he above plus the advice of your professional hair stylist you will have lots of fun trying out different African-American Hairstyles.

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