Natural hairstyles range from braids, locs, and twists to pressed hair and afros. But which is right for you? Read on to learn how to find a natural hair style that suits you and your personality.

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What’s a Natural Hairstyle?

Young woman with natural hair holds her face and smiles
Mark Nazh/Shutterstock

Deciding to forgo relaxers and extensions to transition to natural hair is a defining moment. These shortcuts do make it easy to create new looks at the drop of a hat, but they do so at the expense of your hair’s health.

Going the natural route means developing a new appreciation for both your hair and your culture. But it’s not quite as easy as it sounds.

Rocking a natural hair style starts with:

  • Learning what products and techniques work best on your coily texture.
  • Discovering styles that protect your tresses from damage.
  • Empowering yourself to love your hair in its natural state.

Styles suitable for natural hair include everything from the natural afro form to simple twists and intricate braids. You know there’s no limit to the ways you can style your natural hair, but sometimes, you just need a little inspiration.

We’ve found tons of natural hairstyles that will elevate your look without damaging your hair or requiring extensions. Give your hair a well-earned break and let it embody its natural form with any of the styles you see below. Then, learn how to maintain your hair with our helpful style tips.

30 Natural Hair Styles for Every Occasion 

You don’t need relaxers or extensions to look gorgeous. Try any of these natural hairstyles on African hair for various looks that can be worn casually or dressed up. 

Locs With Wooden Beads

African american woman in a white shirt wears a natural hair style featuring locs with wooden beads
Yurakrasil/Shutterstock

Long-term hairstyles keep natural hair protected and easily managed. Add accessories like beads or metal rings to add interest to this natural style. 

Defined Curls

Portrait of a young happy woman relaxing and gently smiling while standing in front of an outdoor backdrop
Flamingo Images/Shutterstock

Deeply moisturize the hair, then use a curl cream and your fingers to shape and twist the curls. Allow the hair to air dry to set the ringlets. 

Jumbo Senegalese Twists

Pretty young woman with Jumbo Senegalese Twists holds her hair with her right hand while standing in a studio
James Mosley/Shutterstock

Jumbo twists will steal any spotlight while protecting your hair from damage. Leave twists in for days or even weeks (with cleansing and conditioning) to keep your strands locked down and looking great. 

Mini Box Braids

Young woman with mini box braids wears a cutoff midriff shirt and holds her hands up to her face while standing in front of a blue background
NeonShot/Shutterstock

Plaiting natural hair into mini box braids is a protective style that makes hair easy to manage. There are various ways you can wear your hair while it’s in mini box braids for even more versatility. 

Wrapped Headband

The wrapped headband, one of our favorite natural hairstyles, on a woman in a white tank top in a forest
Rido/Shutterstock

A stretchy headband instantly dresses up a ponytail for workouts and days on the go. This is a great way to keep your hair out of your face and off your shoulders on warm days. 

High Tucked Bun

A great natural hairstyle featuring a high tucked bun on a woman sitting among a bunch of plants on a porch
Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

Buns don’t have to be intricate to look good! Gather your natural hair into a high ponytail, pull it halfway through the hair tie, and tug on the loop of hair to make it fuller.

Intricate Cornrows With Bun

Woman with box braids tied up into a bun sits below the camera and you can't see her face but can see her hoodie and red pants
Gorgeoussab/Shutterstock

Detailed patterns in cornrows on the scalp give this natural style a polished look that can be worn anywhere. Twist the ends into a loose bun on top to switch up the look. 

Curly Micro Braids

Curly micro braids on a woman with beautiful natural complexion
Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

Curly micro braids give you another styling option for natural hair. Get curly micro braids by braiding many micro braids together and letting them dry under a bonnet or naturally. 

Combed Out Twists

Woman in a yellow shirt looks to her right in front of a grey tile wall
Mimagephotography/Shutterstock

Definition on the ends of each twist gives this natural style a unique and soft look. Comb the hair out all over, then use the comb or your fingers to twist the curls at the ends. 

Twisted Locs With Gold Rings

Pretty woman with a natural hairstyle with tight locs and metal beads throughout her hair
Aleg Baranau/Shutterstock

Tightly twisted hair beginning at the roots is a great option for styling natural hair. Add gold or silver accessories for a metallic touch that dresses this style up for any occasion. 

Pressed Pony

Natural hairstyle with a pressed pony on a woman in front of a red background
Roxana Gonzalez/Shutterstock

Silk presses apply less heat and don’t require a relaxer to get a smoother texture. Pressed hair looks gorgeous pulled into a low pony. 

Pulled-Back Ghana Braids

Woman with pulled-back Ghana braids (a great natural hair style) in a studio
Beauty Stock/Shutterstock

Ghana braids are a little more intricate than cornrows or box braids, but the result is stunning. Show them off by wearing them down, or pull them back for a polished vibe. 

Box Braids

Another example of box braids, a natural hairstyle, on a woman in a white crew neck tshirt
Beauty Stock/Shutterstock

Box braids have been popular for a long time because they look great and protect the hair from damage. Part them any way you’d like to switch up the look, or pull the braids up into a ponytail or bun for a different look. 

Twin Puffs

Woman with natural hair style (twin puffs) and a flower in her hair relaxing by the pool
Rido/Shutterstock

Take pigtails to a new level by placing them high up and close together. Twin puffs create lots of fullness and can be dressed up or down. 

Half Up Box Braids

Lady with half-up box braids and a pink shirt stands in front of a gray background in a studio and smiles
Lucky Business/Shutterstock

Since box braids can be worn for a while, you’ll want a few different styling options to change up the look. Try pulling a section of the top-up to get some additional volume on top. 

Silk Pressed Side Part

Woman with a natural silk pressed side part hairstyle looks athletic and stands casually with her arms at her side
Krakenimages.com/Shutterstock

Silk pressed hair gets a similar result to relaxers without the damage to your hair. Part the pressed hair to the side for a versatile look. 

Full Locs

Woman with a natural hair style of full locs stands in a studio against a black background while appearing to not wear a shirt
LightField Studios/Shutterstock

Dreadlocks are a time-honored favorite style for natural hair. They’re protective, last for a long time, and full of versatility for different styles. But they require a lot of skilled maintenance, so make sure you’re working with a master! 

Zig-Zag Part

Woman with a zig zag part stands with a hanker chief around her neck and a pierced chest
Aleg Baranau/Shutterstock

A slicked-down ponytail gets a dose of uniqueness with a precise zig-zagging part down the middle. Apply lots of gel to get a sleek finish on the sides. 

Slicked Back Bantu Knots

Nude image of a woman wearing slicked-back bantu knots looking at the camera while putting her hands on her shoulders
Salim October/Shutterstock

Bantu knots twist the hair around itself into queenly pillars on your head. For a “twist” on this look, slick the hair back with gel and do the Bantu knots in the back only. 

Mega Swirled Cornrows

Side profile of a lady with mega swirled cornrows, a natural hair style, in a studio
Matthias G. Ziegler/Shutterstock

Larger cornrows don’t take as long to do and still keep your hair protected. Paired with a slightly swirled pattern, this is a great choice for styling natural hair. 

Fluffy Twist Out

Woman with a natural hair style of a fluffy twist out stands in a sports bra and stares directly at you while tilting her head slightly to the right
Beauty Agent Studio/Shutterstock

Volume is the name of the game with the fluffy twist out. Detangle thoroughly and make big twists for the most volume in your twist out. 

Bantu Knots

Side profile of a pretty young woman with Bantu Knots (a popular natural hairstyle) wearing long silver earrings
Svetography/Shutterstock

Bantu knots (or Zulu knots) are a protective style that is bold, beautiful, and appropriate for any occasion. Shorter hair creates shorter knots like the example here. 

Shaved Sides

In a green room stands a woman with natural shaved sides hairstyle and a bleached top of her head
CarlosDavid/Shutterstock

Skip the color on top to keep this style 100% natural, but we love the shaved sides for contrast. Leaving a long section on top gives you a little hair to style or braid as you want. 

Pinned Afro

Woman with a natural pinned afro hairstyle looks up to her right while standing in a bright room and wearing a frilled white shirt
Vergani Fotografia/Shutterstock

You love your hair’s incredible volume and shape. For a different look, try pinning one side of your hair back before picking it out. 

Shaved Short

Woman with a natural hairstyle of shaved short hair stands in a side profile and smiles
Prostock-Studio/Shutterstock

Nothing is easier to style than short hair! If you’ve had your fill of braids and updos, it might be time to take a walk on the shaved side. 

Ghana Braids With 3-Strand Braided Pigtails

Woman with 3 strand braided pigtails (similar to those of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) looks to her right
Luba V Nel/Shutterstock

Combining two types of braids always creates a unique look. Ghana braids on top create a gorgeous pattern on the scalp, while classic 3-strand braided pigtails give the style a youthful look. 

Down With Side Part

Lady with a natural hair style wears a camisole and combs her hair from the left to the right
Iryna Inshyna/Shutterstock

Prefer to let your hair do its natural thing without tying it up? Comb through with a wide-tooth comb, part on the side, and you’re rocking your natural beauty. 

Micro Braided Roots

Young woman with micro braided roots (a natural hairstyle), bright makeup, and long black hair
Luba V Nel/Shutterstock

Don’t have the time nor patience to sit through a day of micro braiding? Opt for micro braiding at the roots only for a style that takes a fraction of the time and gives your natural hair lift and volume at the roots. 

Half-Up Braids

Smiling young woman wearing half-up braids in a dark room
Lipik Stock Media/Shutterstock

Braids can be heavy when you try to wrap them all into a ponytail. Try pulling a small section of the braided hair up for a look that’s more lightweight and just as pretty. 

Two Strand Twists

Woman in a natural hair style studio getting two-strand twists from a woman in a black shirt with hoop earrings
Okrasiuk/Shutterstock

Simple two-strand twists all over the head create a classic look that protects your hair from damage and breakage. Undo the twists for a full twist out.

What You Should Know About Natural Hairstyles 

Educate yourself on your hair’s texture, needs, and characteristics to get the most out of any natural hairstyle you choose. 

  • African hair is drier than Asian and Caucasian hair types. This means it needs deep conditioning and moisturizing treatments for easier management and styling. 
  • It’s next to impossible to over-moisturize or condition this hair type. Adding in lots of moisture won’t weigh it down; it will make the hair more lively and bouncy.
  • Don’t confuse oil with moisturizers. Oil doesn’t moisturize or condition; it seals the hair. So use the L.O.C. method – liquid/leave-in conditioner, oil, and then cream. Experiment with using cream then oil to see what works best for your hair. 
  • African hair looks strong, but it’s actually quite fragile. Breakage is common when this hair type is roughly combed, styled, or tightly plaited. 
  • Natural hairstyles always look better on healthy hair. Make sure you’re not heat-treating the hair often to preserve its health.
  • Opt for protective hairstyles, like twists and braids, to help retain your hair’s length and encourage faster growth. 
  • Use a silk or satin pillowcase, bonnet, or scarf to protect your natural hair at night. Tossing and turning on a rough cotton pillowcase results in breakage. 

Choosing to go natural will take more of your time, but the results are worth it. Once you understand what your hair needs – moisture, protection, and damage-free styling – you’ll develop a better relationship with your tresses.

What’s Your Favorite Natural Hair style?

African american women with natural hair styles giving each other piggy back rides and laughing while outside
Jacob Lund/Shutterstock

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different natural styles. From styles steeped in rich history to modern twists, braids, and updos, your hair’s versatility is unmatched.

Make sure you find a great stylist specializing in working with natural hair to get the best results and hair care advice. Not sure who the expert in your area is? Use our Salon Locator to find a salon that specializes in natural hair near you.

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Debra Carpenter
Author: Debra Carpenter

Debra is a Nashville-based content creator and strategist. As the daughter of a long-time hair stylist and salon owner, she’s spent most of her life as a guinea pig for new color and cut techniques. Writing for respected publications like Forbes and HuffPost, she’s committed to bringing her passion for great hair to the masses.