Dating back 5000 years, braids have long played a significant role in the expression of Black women. The origin of hair-braiding can be traced back to 3500 BC, where the Himba people of Namibia designed unique braiding patterns on themselves to not only identify tribes, but to indicate their age, status, wealth and religion.
Nowadays, braids have become a staple in Black culture, serving as the go-to protection style for anyone natural, transitioning or that just wants to switch up their look. Though there’s inevitably still pushback from a society that hasn’t fully acclimated to the complexity of Black hair, it’s not stopping any queens from adorning their crowns.
From an ancient art to a modern day vacation look, there are so many types of braids to choose from when deciding your next look. Whether you’re looking for some inspo or just want to admire the beauty and innovation of Black hair, here are a few stunning braiding styles to consider.
@_braidology / Instagram
When it comes to types of braids, Fulani are among the most versatile. Styled as feed-in braids or cornrows often worn with beads, there are a plethora of ways to don this tribal look, serving as one of the trendiest braiding styles of the moment. Originally worn by the Fulani people of West Africa, they symbolize beauty, cultural identity, and social status, so it’s no wonder you can’t help but feel regal when you wear them.
@braidedbyalean / Instagram
A lightweight alternative to box braids, knotless braids are achieved by feeding in the hair mid-braid. This makes for a seamless, elegant look that seems almost weightless! The technique of this style is known to take longer, but is totally worth not only how gorgeous the result is, but how much more protected your scalp feels.
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Thanks to Halle Bailey’s breathtaking depiction of Ariel in 2022’s The Little Mermaid, this style of braid has skyrocketed in popularity. Serving mermaid chic, this style is often confused with goddess braids, but while boho braids are somewhat undone braids, goddess braids are braids with leave outs. The difference is subtle, but certainly makes boho braids a distinct look in its own right.
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With a name like that, how could this style not be iconic? With a wide array of variations to choose from, this look is known to be a celebrity favorite, seen worn by trend-setting artists like Janelle Monae, Zoe Kravitz, and Gabrielle Union. Requiring low maintenance and looking effortlessly stunning, it’s difficult not to feel powerful when you’re rocking this protective style.
@suzankarlly.trancista / Instagram
Why complicate things? There’s nothing like this classic hair look. Though it may seem like a basic choice in style, with a bold color or experimentation in daily styling, box braids can be just as exciting as any other style. From knotless to jumbo, micro to bob, these ‘90s-esque braids are the tried and true foundation of braided style.
Enjoy Your New Look
While factors like scalp moisture and the speed of your hair growth make a significant impact, with some intentional care, any of these types of braids could last you from a few weeks to a few months, serving as the perfect way to mark a new season of life. Enjoy your new look and don’t forget to get your selfies in!