Beautiful Braided Hairstyles for Black Women in 2020
Hair trends come and go, but one hairstyle that has always been a culturally significant and fashionable choice is braided hairstyles for black women. Braided hairstyles have evolved over the years, from being a symbol of power, ethnicity and religion, to becoming a favoured and versatile option and even a creative and artistic expression, with its roots placed firmly in rich African history. As such, braids are celebrated not only for their aesthetic but for the history and heritage behind them as well.
The History of Braids
According to experts, the origins of braids can be traced back to African culture as far as 5 000 years back to 3 500 BC, when it was very popular among women. Many African clans wore braided hairstyles to some degree as a way to differentiate themselves from other tribes. The specific braided hairstyles for black women and different patterns indicated someone’s tribe, marital status, age, religion and wealth, among others.
Braiding was also a custom passed down from generations, with parents braiding their children’s hair, the children watching and learning, and eventually passing on the technique to their children. Children would also practice on each other to learn the unique and traditional styles and techniques of their tribe.
Braiding took a long time and still does. Because of this, it was considered a social art, with family members gathering around to socialise, teach and discuss events of the day. This social aspect was a way of bonding with family and tribe members, and this tradition carried on for generations before moving to other parts of the world.
Braids became popularised around the world in the 1900s, with men, women and children braiding their hair in some way. Africa is also known as the birthplace of afro box braids in 3 100 BC and cornrows in 3 500 BC. Some braid styles, like the halo braid or braid crown, can be attributed to regions of Europe. The Caribbean brought modern cornrows to the forefront in the 1970s, while box braids gained popularity in the 1990s thanks to celebrities like Janet Jackson, Jada Pinkett and Brandy Norwood.
In the past, box braids were symbols of wealth and fortune because of the time and resources it took to create the hairstyle. Hair accessories were added to braids, like shells, beads or jewels, which would signify a women’s status in society; the more your hair was adorned, the higher up in the rankings you were.
More recently, the launch of Youtube in 2005 allowed braiding tutorials to take over the platform and introduce both modern and traditional styles to a younger generation.
Today, braids still hold significant cultural value and are worn by women as a creative expression and to celebrate their African heritage.
The Evolution of Braids
While braided hairstyles, patterns and expressions have changed over the years, the concept remains the same and today; braids are praised, embraced and worn in many different ways. Women and men who had not worn the hairstyle before are now enjoying the more natural and freeing look of braids.
Modern women are embracing these traditional styles in creative ways, and what was considered to be the norm just a few years ago is being turned on its head. Gone are the days when braids were styled to be neat and clean as women were opting for a fresher, messier, more natural look. In this way, black women are embracing their culture, showing off their personal style, tapping into their creativity and enjoying the latest hair trends with braided hairstyles that are chic, relaxed and less than perfect; but still with that ‘wow’ factor we all know and love.
Braids are still very much a cultural statement but have also made a significant impact on the fashion world. Braided hairstyles like box braids, beaded braids, cornrows and more are hugely popular and adored by black women, with local celebrities like Boity Thulo, Pearl Thusi, Sho Majozi often rocking braided hairstyles and embracing a more natural look. Miss Universe Zozi Tunzi is a leading example for rocking her shorter, natural locks, coined the ‘Universe Cut’, with more and more girls and women asking for their hair to be styled this way
There are also now more hair products available to style and maintain braided hairstyles. The natural hair movement in South Africa has seen significant growth recently, which can be attributed to numerous things; the young population of the country, a global trend of ‘chemical-free’ products and an increase in black consciousness among Millennials, among others.
As these hairstyles continue to evolve, here are some of the most beautiful braided hairstyles for black women in 2020.
This iconic braided hairstyle has always been a hit among black women but was popularised in the 90s by celebrities like Janet Jackson, Brandy and Jada Pinkett Smith. Box braids are the perfect way to rock a more protective style while adding some length (and heaps of flair) to your everyday look.
Twist braids are a protective braided hairstyle and a trendy and gorgeous alternative to regular braids, whatever your hair texture. Twist braids are versatile as they allow you to take your everyday look from day to night, keeping things stylish all the while.
From loose, low buns to stacked on top of your head, whether at the office or out on the town, there are plenty of ways to rock a braided bun. Add some hair accessories to make your hairstyle unique, fun and oh-so chic.
Mix things up with different colour braids that will really turn heads. Not only will this look get people talking, but allows you to add your own creative spin to your everyday look.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense style, tight braids are versatile and easy-to-manage.
Sometimes, bigger is better with braids. For those looking for some volume and pizzazz, chunky braids can liven up a look that’s bound to get you noticed.
How to Maintain and Care for your Braided Hairstyles
Whether you’re styling your own hair into individual braids or choosing the synthetic versions, hair maintenance and care are essential, especially when working with your naturally curly, kinky or coily natural hair. The good news is that maintaining your braids is not difficult. They’re easy to clean and style, which is ideal for those who prefer fast hairstyling and low maintenance. Here are some tips to keep your locks looking healthy and fabulous for as long as you wear them.
Nighttime care – It is recommended that you cover your braids before going to bed, either with a silk or satin scarf or hair bonnet. The Boity Glam Bonnet is a good option to keep your braids healthy and looking good after a long night’s sleep. Alternatively, a silky pillow will also do the trick. In this way, you not only avoid frizz but increase the lifespan of your braids.
Shampoo and condition regularly – Using a gentle cleansing shampoo like the Royal Cleanse and a moisturising conditioner like Royal Repair from the Boity Hair Care Collection by Halo Heritage will help maintain the health of your scalp and natural hair and keep your braids looking neat for longer.
Be gentle – Braids can be hard on your natural hair if they are too tight, too long or too heavy. Don’t incorporate the fine hairs on your hairline into your braids and ensure that the braids themselves are applied by a professional to avoid excessive damage.
Try to use natural products when you can - As your braids need to retain moisture, opt for more naturally-based products. Choose earth-friendly and gentle hair care products that renew and strengthen your natural hair with ingredients like Black Seed Oil, Shea Butter and Jojoba Oil.
Keep your scalp moist – Use a leave-in conditioner like the Supreme Leave-In Conditioner from the Boity Collection by Halo Heritage two or three times a week to prevent your hair from drying out and breaking. Also, use water to spritz your hair every morning. The Illustrious Scalp Spray also acts as a soothing and relieving scalp treatment.
Don’t leave them in too long – Braids make life easier, but you should never leave them in too long; your hair could begin to dry out and break due to a lack of moisture. Bigger braids usually have a shorter lifespan, so try to keep your braided hairstyle in for between six to eight weeks maximum.
Over the years, braids have become more than just a hairstyle to tame unmanageable tresses. They are now an outward expression of self-acceptance, self-love and embracing one’s heritage. It is a form of art and expression. Women and men are getting their hair braided in various inventive ways, leaning into a modern take while still keeping their traditional roots. The art of hair braiding has evolved beyond the original cultural ideas and has become a staple for women wanting simplicity and versatility, or a cool or edgy look that stands out from the crowd, and everything in-between.
These days, many products exist to help maintain and care for braided hairstyles for black women as well as products to restore and improve natural African hair. The Boity Hair Care Collection by Halo Heritage is sulphate-free, paraben-free, cruelty-free, gluten-free and vegan-friendly, perfect for the on-the-go woman looking for hair care products that are gentle yet effective in maintaining your beautiful, natural locks. Plus, it’s just plain luxurious.