37 Natural Hairstyles for Black Women, from Casual to *Very* Special Occasion
A new year means stepping out of your comfort zone and trying out a new hairstyle, right? Whether you attempted the quarantine chop, worked a protective style (aka braids) or managed your bountiful curls last year, there are a ton of fun and simply styles to revamp your look. From box braids to curly updos, we’ve rounded up 37 natural hairstyles for Black women to try now—for all textures and hair types—so you can skip the endless Pinterest scrolling this time.
1. Messy Bun
It may be coined the ‘messy bun,’ but it’s far from messy. It’s the chic way of looking like you put in effort without actually doing so. Curly gals: Simply wrap your hair in a silk scrunchie and let a few curls drop down for a casual updo. Even add a headwrap or headband to complete the style (but it’s completely optional).
Shop the look: Darzah Headband ($13)
If you’re starting your natural hair journey and looking for a protective style, look no further than simple cornrows. It’s totally up to you how many braids you’re going for (and how far apart you want them), but if you want to recreate Indya Moore’s look, grab a comb and part your hair in five sections. Begin braiding down before wrapping all of the braids into a low bun.
Shop the look: Rat Tail Comb ($5)
3. Braided Low Ponytail
All hair types can enjoy this fun style. As soon as you place your hair in a pony, choose between a regular twist, french or fishtail braid. The best part? You can easily upgrade your braided ponytail with beads and other accessories. Have short hair? No problem. Reach for extensions or a pony piece and follow the same steps.
Shop the look: Wooden Beads ($5)
5. Fluffy Curls
Turn your defined curls into a voluminous curly fro. Use a hair pick or comb to tease the strands for a bigger and bolder effect (and yes, to create a bit of frizz). And FYI, this look is great for third or fourth day hair.
Shop the look: Cricket ($6)
6. Curly Faux Hawk
Want the mohawk look minus shaving the sides of your head? Go for a curly faux hawk. You can either grab a banana clip and push your hair to the center, or, if you have thicker hair (and the thought of using a clip sends your mind straight to all the tangles and knots), try dividing your hair into three sections and creating small puffs to the center of your head.
Shop the look: Banana Clips ($7)
7. Box Braids Top Knot
When you have box braids, the style possibilities are endless. Enter: a high bun. Just begin twisting and wrapping your hair at the crown of your head and viola, you’re done. No brush or gel needed.
Shop the look: Goody ($4)
8. Box Braids Ponytail
Speaking of box braids, opt for a high pony to elevate the style. Just a good ‘ole hair tie will do the trick.
Shop the look: Gimmie ($12)
9. Braided Half-Up Do
Staying on the box braids (or micro braids, knotless braids, etc) train, try a half-up do. Section your hair and focus on creating a high bun (or ponytail) at the top of your hair, while leaving the rest down.
Shop the look: Gosicuka ($10)
10. Top Knot
Grab a brush, gel and a few hair ties (maybe even bobby pins) to get this sleek top knot You’ll want to apply gel before brushing towards the crown to avoid flyaways, and secure it into a ponytail first. Then, begin wrapping the pony around the hair tie to make the bun. In Nicki Minaj’s case, she used extensions to create the braided dimension effect (which is a route you can also choose).
Shop the look: ECO Styler ($3)
To achieve a nice blowout, use two tools—a blow dryer and a round brush. Begin by sectioning your hair and using the brush to pull and smooth each strand into bouncy, loose curls for a bombshell look. Consider setting the style with rollers to give volume to your roots and help the curls hold their shape.
Shop the look: Olivia Garden Hairbrush ($23)
13. Side Swept
A simple side part can change a look dramatically, especially for short hair. It doesn’t only provide definition to one side, but it gives you an elegant updo that is great for a night out (or in with the beau). Also make sure to slick down the other side with gel to avoid flyaways.
Shop the look: Not Your Mother’s Sculpting Gel ($8)
14. Halo Braid
Channel your inner royal and sport a crown made of hair. All it takes is a quick wrap around (that requires you to brush up on your dutch braiding skills) and securing with a few bobby pins.
Shop the look: Diane Assorted Pins ($4)
16. High Ponytail
A high ponytail is the perfect way to create some drama (and yes, even short hair can get the long pony look with a hair piece or extensions). A good, secure hair tie can have your ponytail reaching the tip of Mount Everest. Plus, have fun with your parts like Regina King.
Shop the look: Schuni ($4)
17. Side Twist
A simple side twist can upgrade your coils (and give your favorite side some attention). Start by twisting the section inward and securing with a bobby pin (or a snazzy hair clip) to keep in place. This side twist style can work with your hair out, in a ponytail or bun.
Shop the look: Fani ($8)
18. Space Buns
We all love a bun moment, but how about two? Divide your hair in the middle before creating two ponytails and wrapping each section into a bun. No, it’s not just for young people—these can be rocked at any age.
Shop the look: Slip 3-Pack Scrunchies ($20)
19. Braided Pigtails
Janelle Monae shows us exactly how to rock pigtails as grown woman—jewels and all. Similar to space buns, divide your hair into two sections and create low ponytails. Then, braid them in any style (french, fishtail, etc) and securing the ends with hair ties or elastic bands. Elevate the look by adding jewels, beads or cuffs.
Shop the look: Braid Cuffs ($7)
20. Marley Twists
FYI, this protective style requires patience (especially depending on your hair length and texture). You’ll need a comb, gel and elastic bands to complete the look. Use a comb to section hair, the gel to bring shine (and make it easier to detangle and twist) and the elastic band to secure the ends once you’re done twisting. Similar to the box braids, this style is pretty versatile when it comes to creating updos.
Shop the look: Talijah Waajid ($10)
21. Fulani Braids
This look takes cornrows to the next level. The traditional braids can be styled differently with all hair textures. There’s no set direction these braids can go (so definitely give your braider a reference when getting it done).
22. Slick Back
The slick back gives us major editorial vibes. Once you brush back your hair, apply a styling cream or gel to give it extra shine and hold. (Looking for volume? Consider taking the front section of your hair, running a round brush and your hair dryer through it to bring some lift.)
Shop the look: Harry Josh Brush ($50)
23. Finger Waves
The ocean has nothing on you if you’re showing off these impressive waves. Bring in the tides with a comb, mousse, gel and freeze spray. First, part your hair before applying mousse (the more mousse you apply, the easier it will be to create the waves). Next, start at the part and work the comb downwards before lifting the hair up (almost like a check symbol). The next section is going in the opposite direction (like waves) and you continue from there. Here’s a handy tutorial to get you started.
Shop the look: Not Your Mother’s Mousse ($8)
24. High Puff
The fluffy bun is great for coily textures and shorter hair. It’s similar to a regular bun, but it provides more definition to the puff.
Shop the look: Shayne 6-pack Scrunchies ($210; $105)
25. Twisted Pompadour
When you have high-textured hair, you can work it into unique shapes, like the pompadour which lets you structure your hair for any occasion. Add an headband to turn it from a day look to night style in seconds.
Shop the look: Tasha Headband ($24)
26. Pixie Cut
It’s the perfect time to do “the chop,” and Teyana Taylor’s pixie cut is just the inspiration you need. This short hairstyle provides layers and a chic look to try in 2021.
Locs are a big commitment, but the end result is worth it. You’ll want to stay on top of maintenance, but overall, it’s one of the best protective styles if you’re looking for hair growth.
A full fro coming right up. It’s pretty simple (especially if you have short or 4C hair). After washing your hair, blow dry (or air dry) before reaching for a hair pick to develop the shape and volume you’re looking for.
Shop the look: PATTERN ($9)
30. Dutch Braid
Whether you want one (like Danai Gurira’s) or two, the Dutch braid is a quick and easy style to recreate. It’s similar to the French braid as you divide your hair into three sections, starting with one piece and bringing it under the other (and continuing that motion all the way down).
Shop the look: Shayne ($20; $10)
31. Side Braids
A few small brands add subtle interest to hair of any hair length or type. If you’re an experienced braider, consider twisting several onto one side for an edgy style.
Shop the look: Patten Gel ($25)
32. Shaggy Curls
Sometimes, all you need is a shape change. A new curly haircut can be determined by the shape of your face to better show off the volume and definition.
33. High Braid Pony
We love a good high pony, but when you add a braid to the piece, it just makes it ten times better. Similar to a regular high pony, secure it at a high point on your head, then begin to braid it all the way down. And don’t forget to lay down your edges.
Shop the look: Design Essentials Edge Control ($11)
Some curly gals love to just whip a pineapple look before bed (or for a quick Zoom meeting), so why not rock it all the time? It’s the quickest style for curls and all it takes is a good hair tie to bring all your hair to the center (or as close to the hairline) as possible. If a few curls in the front slip out, even better.
Shop the look: Kitsch ($34)
35. Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are one of those hairstyles that are so versatile and great for many hair types. The protective style can have as many mini buns as you like in any direction. Plus, it’s a great style to use before bed, so win-win.
36. French Braids
Move over, Dutch braids. This style can be done on wavy, curly or coily hair. Simply divide your hair in the middle and get to the work on the braids. Even make it your own by adding accessories similar to Alicia Keys’.
37. ‘Lemonade’ Braids
We won’t judge if you start breaking into song from the Lemonade album. Known as the side braids, this protective style is sure to be hit at your next shindig.