7 Stylishly Stunning African-American Natural Hairstyles

Fact about hair growth in Africans
The Afro hair, the fohawk, cornrow braids, Zulu knots etc are some of the most common natural African-American hairstyles.
African-American hairstyles are not just about personal style but are also a reflection of culture and heritage. Most African-Americans have varying hair textures, which range from straight to being tightly-curled. However, straight and long hair is a rarity among the African-American population, and so, for achieving the hairstyles suited for it, most people resort to heat or chemical straightening. Though it does make the hair more manageable, straightening has some ugly side effects as well. The damage done to the hair due to straightening techniques renders it limp and lifeless. Also, chemically-treated hair is highly prone to breakage.

Natural African-American hairstyles display the beauty and texture of black hair in their own way. In fact, the natural curly pattern of African-American hair allows it to be styled in various ways. The curly-coiled hair texture allows the hair to look much more dense than it actually is. So, from the cool Afros to the amazing hair braiding designs, African-American hairstyles provide the versatility to try different things and still come out look good!
The Afro
An African-American woman with the Afro hairstyle
Celebrities who sport the Afro well: Diana Ross, Lauryn Hill, Macy Gray, Pam Grier.

The Afro, which gained a cult status during the late sixties and early seventies, is still worn by many. This hairstyle involves making the hair stand on the head, such that it resembles a large ball. Naturally curly hair assists the Afro greatly. A special comb called the 'African pick' along with gel or a conditioner is often used to keep the hair in place.
The Afro pick has long and wide teeth, which can penetrate through long thick hair, making it the best tool to style or maintain an Afro. After a dip in the 80s and 90s, the Afro, which was the most common African-American hairstyle around, has re-emerged since 2000 as a popular fashion statement, with non-African-Americans too sporting it in many variations. The Afro gained so much popularity in America in the 70s, that one of its offshoot, the Jewfro, is still very popular among the Jewish community. A popular variation of the Afro is the Afro Puffs, where long hair sprigs are bunched into two puffs, one on each side, right above the ears.
The sides are combed, and then a generous amount of hairspray is used to style the hair. One good thing about this hairstyle is that, for work or formal occasions, the hair can simply be parted and combed sideways, so as to do away with the casual look.
Zulu Knots
An African-American woman with zulu knots hairstyle
Celebrities who sport Zulu Knots well: Halle Berry.

Zulu knots are often considered to be one of the most original and natural African-American hairstyle, ethnically. Natural black hair can be sectioned off into five or six large sections, and then braided and twisted into as many knots. This hairstyle is not only trendy and playful, but also keeps the hair neat and tidy for a longer period of time.
Using a rat tail comb, the hair is parted and a division is created. Similarly, many divisions can be created as needed (usually it's 6 - 8 knots for kids, and as many or a couple more for adults). Also called the Bantu knots, this hairstyle originated among African tribeswomen, and eventually spread elsewhere.
Cornrow Braids
An African-American woman with the cornrown braids
Celebrities who sport the Cornrow well: Ludacris, Alicia Keys.

Hair braiding originated in Egypt as far back as 3500 B.C. Since then, this hairstyle has been reinvented by the African-Americans, and has become a fashion statement throughout the world. Braiding is a great way to manage curly, frizzy hair. Cornrow braid styles are created by braiding the hair close to the scalp using an underhanded upward motion to create continuous raised rows.
The practice of braiding involves taking three sections of the hair and interweaving them to create plaits. However, over the years, this simple braiding style has taken on countless incarnations and styles. While most of them are created in simple straight rows, funkier geometric designs are quite popular as well.
Micro Braids
An African-American woman with the micro braids
Celebrities who sport the Micro Braids well: Beyonce Knowles.

Micro braids is a type of African-American braid hairstyle that is extremely popular among everyone from youngsters to adults. It is a great way to add volume and texture to natural black hair. The process of making these small braids is quite time-consuming, and depending upon the length of the hair, it can take around five to seven hours to get this hairstyle done.
Taking care of the hair by washing and shampooing it along with regular oil treatment, can help sport this hairstyle for a longer duration of time. For micro braids, extremely thin hair can be seamlessly added to braids, being similar to the result the cornrow achieves. This versatile and long-lasting natural hairstyle is perfect for both, everyday wear and special occasions.
Braided Updos
An African-American woman with a braided updo hairstyle
Celebrities who sport the Braided Updo well: Scarlett Johansson.

Long braided hair can be twisted into amazing styles for an elegant look. This style looks great, especially for times like a wedding or a prom. Some people prefer to have cornrows at the side. Fohawks or Mohaks braided updos are also popular. To get the perfect braided updo, professional help is needed, where the equipment with professional styling material and trimming tools are used to get the style just perfect.
Dreadlocks
An African-American woman with dreadlocks
Celebrities who sport Dreads well: Jason Momoa, Whoopi Goldberg.

Dreadlocks are heavy matted coils of hair, which form by eventually fusing together to form a single dread or rope of hair. A popular misconception is that people with dreadlocks cannot wash their hair, lest they lose their style. But one should wash the hair at least 2 - 3 times a month. Dreadlocks have served as a symbol of ethnic pride through America's Civil Rights Movement and the Caribbean Rastafari Movement.
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While dreadlocks have been around for many years, much before salons and stylists were all around the place, if you are not in the habit of doing this yourself, it is best left to professional stylists. In addition to the natural way of getting this rope-like effect, there are several artificial methods of achieving dreadlocks too. These include techniques like dread perms, twisting and back combing.
Twists
An African-American woman with twist hairstyle
Celebrities who sport Twists well: Halle Berry.

Twists look terrific when done on naturally curly hair. There are hundreds of variations of the twists; some requiring a comb to be done, wet hair, dry hair, trimming hair partially, roller twists, manual twists, etc. Twists are classically done by washing the hair and then dividing it into two sections. These sections are twisted and allowed to dry using a hairdryer.
A type of twist hairstyle that allows natural African-American hair to be styled in delicately intricate, and well-designed patterns of circles, semicircles, wavy or straight rows, is the flat twist hairstyle. This is formed by combining two sections of hair in a special braiding technique, with the braids tight against the scalp, and then styling it. The double or two-strand twist is also a hot favorite among young women.
While choosing one of these African-American natural hairstyles may seem difficult, make the choice based on how the hairstyle suits your face and personality. After all, sticking with your beautiful natural curls allows you to embrace the African-American heritage and all its beauty.
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