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.
What’s a Natural Hairstyle?
Deciding to forgo relaxers and extensions to transition to natural hair is a defining moment. While these shortcuts do make it easy to create new looks at the drop of a hat, 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
Long-term hairstyles keep natural hair protected and easily managed. Add accessories like beads or metal rings to add interest to this natural style.
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
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
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.
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
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
Detailed, patterned cornrows 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 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
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
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
Silk pressed hair achieves a similar result to relaxers without damaging your hair. Part the pressed hair to the side for a versatile look.
Dreadlocks are a time-honored favorite style for natural hair. They’re protective, last for a long time, and offer a treasure trove of versatile styling options. But they require a lot of skilled maintenance, so make sure you’re working with a master!
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
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
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
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 (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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Don’t have the time nor the 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.
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
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?
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.