A new season calls for a new hairstyle. Whether you’re looking to do a big chop, dabble in a protective style or manage your bountiful curls, there are tons of chic ways you can revamp your look. From Kelly Rowland’s box braids to Yara Shahidi’s curly updos, we’ve gathered 55 natural hairstyles for Black women to try, so you can skip the endless Pinterest scrolling this time.
55 Natural Hairstyles for Black Women—from Casual to *Very* Special Occasion
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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 as proof from Ciara above. Simply wrap your hair in a silk scrunchie and let a few curls drop down for a casual updo. Even add a headwrap or a headband to complete the style (but it’s completely optional).
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.
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 like Aja Naomi King. Have short hair? No problem. Reach for extensions or a pony hair piece and follow the same steps.
6. Curly Faux Hawk
Want the mohawk look minus shaving the sides of your head? Go for a curly faux hawk like Tamera Mowry. 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.
7. Box Braids Top Knot
When you have box braids, the style possibilities are endless. Exhibit A: a high bun. To recreate Kelly Rowland's look, begin twisting and wrapping your hair at the crown of your head and viola, you’re done. No brush or gel needed.
9. Braided Half-up Do
Staying on the box braids (or micro braids, knotless braids, etc) train, try Gabrielle Union's 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.
10. Top Knot
Grab a brush, some gel and a few hair ties (maybe even bobby pins) to get this sleek top knot. 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).
To achieve a nice blowout like former First Lady Michelle Obama, use two tools—a blow dryer and a round brush (or stick with one styling tool like a hot air 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.
13. Side Swept
14. Halo Braid
Channel your inner royal and sport a crown made of hair like Aja Naomi King. 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.
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 (note: Issa Rae above), in a ponytail or a low bun.
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. (But if you have 4A to 4B hair, all you need to do is fluff up the buns with a hair pick.) No, it’s not just for young people—these can be rocked at any age as proven by Teyonah Parris.
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.
20. Senegalese Twists
FYI, this protective style requires patience (especially depending on your hair length and texture). You’ll need a comb, a styling 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 dressing it down like Kerry Washington's or creating updos.
21. Fulani Braids
Rihanna's look takes cornrows to the next level. This traditional braids can be styled differently with all hair textures. When it comes to fulani braids, there’s no set direction they can go, so definitely give your braider a reference when getting it done.
22. Slick Back
The slick back gives us major editorial vibes as sported by Ryan Destiny. 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 and using a thermal round brush through it to bring some lift.)
23. Finger Waves
The ocean has nothing on you if you’re showing off these impressive waves. Bring in the tides like Jodie Turner-Smith with a comb, a mousse, a gel and a 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.
24. High Puff
The fluffy bun is great for coily textures and shorter hair. Sported by Sanaa Lathan, this look is similar to a regular bun. However, it provides much more definition to the puff and give it some body for any occasion.
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 choppy layers and an overall chic look to try in 2023.
Locs are a big commitment, but the end result is worth it, as seen on Zoë Kravitz. 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 TWA—a teeny weeny afro—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.
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).
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 (like Danai Gurira’s) for an edgy style.
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. For example, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez has an oval face shape, which means her curly cut perfectly helps accentuate her jaw and cheekbones.
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 Janet Mock's, secure it at a high point on your head, then begin to braid it all the way down. And don’t forget to use edge control for your baby hairs.
Some curly gals love to just whip a pineapple look, like Yara Shahidi for example, 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.
35. Bantu Knots
Bantu knots are one of those hairstyles that are so versatile and great for many hair types, as sported by Kiki Layne. 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’s.
37. Lemonade Braids
We won’t judge if you start breaking out into any song from the Lemonade album. Known as the side braids, Susan Kelechi Watson's protective style makes us want to be the star at the next shindig.
38. Wavy Bob
There’s something about a wavy bob that adds an extra oomph to our hair. For Rihanna’s signature bend, reach for a curling iron (or some rollers) and brush through the curls to create a looser pattern.
Whether you’re dealing with the awkward growing out stage of a big chop or you’re simply not in the mood to work on an intricate hairstyles, a headwrap is a great accessory. Depending on your hair length (or the fabric itself), there are plenty of ways to wrap it around your head. Luckily, we found a helpful tutorial and a visual reference from Yaya Dacosta above to get you started.
40. Bubble Braids
This braided hairstyle has been around for a while and it still hasn’t lost its momentum. If you want yours to look snatched like Golda Rosheuvel’s, the look is pretty simple to master at home. Make a high ponytail before adding as many hair ties (or elastics) as you like throughout the tail to create the ‘bubbles.’ FYI: Don’t be afraid to tease each section for more volume like they’re about to burst.
41. Curly Fade
If you’re looking for a short haircut, Samira Wiley’s crop should be on your radar. The sides and back are completely tapered down, while your curls get to shine on top.
42. Big Chop
Looking for a change? Consider the big chop like China Anne McClain. It’s a great way to start over and begin a new natural hair journey during the rest of the year.
43. Voluminous Ponytail
Va va voom! This voluminous ponytail sported by Jourdan Dunn is giving us big hair fever. If you have thick, long locks, consider beefing them up by using a comb or a boar bristled brush. Or add some extensions or a ponytail clip to get the same model-ready effect.
44. French Twist
We’re suckers for any French hairstyle and this glamorous twist sits at the top of our lists. To recreate Keke Palmer’s red carpet look, you’ll need hair gel and bobby pins to get started. Once one side is brushed back and gelled down, start twisting your hair inwards and pinning it in place. Consider leaving your side bangs out and curled to unleash your inner movie star.
45. Mini Twists
Mini twists prove to be the hottest protective style of the year—just ask Lupita Nyong’o. As one stylist previously told PureWow, “Mini twists are a traditional twisting technique that’s used to elongate, stretch and define textured hair.” There are only four steps to follow: section hair, part it into small squares, twist each small section and secure the ends.
46. Butterfly Locs
There are locs and then there are butterfly locs, as seen on Ciara above. The ‘90s-inspired hairstyle adds more movement and shape to your hair than traditional locs. It’s also known as a gentler choice for those with sensitive scalps, as it uses crochet hair (rather than Marley hair) to create the look.
47. Braided Bob
What happens when you combine two popular styles? Marsai Martin’s stylish braided bob. This protective style is versatile and you can add an accessory to further elevate the look. It also works with a side or middle part, so you can never really go wrong with it.
Curly gals (like Yara Shahidi) show off their natural pattern with confidence. Now, a wash-and-go is more than shampooing and stepping out with glorious swirls. Washing is essential, but the styling portion is just as beneficial. You can follow the LOC method (aka a leave-in conditioner, a hair oil and styling cream) or follow a styling regimen that works best for your curl type. Plus, these styling products can be handy throughout the week to minimize frizz and leave shiny, defined curls instead.
49. Micro Box Braids
Stylists are predicting this micro style is going to be huge come fall. It follows the same technique as regular box braids, but the plaits are smaller and thinner in size and done closer to the scalp. Now, go ahead and show this Solange Knowles look to your braider.
50. Ballerina Bun
This bun style exudes elegance, as proven by Megan Thee Stallion here. The key is to apply a styling gel, which can help smooth down your hair and minimize frizz. Then, use a brush to create a ponytail right at the crown of your head before wrapping it around a hair tie and securing it with bobby pins. Oh, and don’t forget to lay down those edges.
52. Curly Bantu Knots
Chloe Bailey combines bantu knots, locs and curly tendrils into one look and we’re living for it. While some of us might not be skilled enough to do this on ourselves, at least we have a helpful visual to show our stylist next time.
53. Butterfly Bob
Inspired by the butterfly cut, this bob style spices up the classic silk press. The look features heavy feathered layers and face-framing pieces. As one stylist explained in a previous PureWow story, ‘the butterfly bob’ “has more versatility [and] layers that match your face shape. The shape of the hairstyle [flows], which makes it easier to have effortless shape with minimal [styling].”
54. Flipped Ends
This flipped style gives off major Aaliyah vibes—right down to the deep side part, swept over bangs and glossy color. The ‘90s-inspired look is Rihanna-approved, so naturally, we have to mimic it ourselves. The secret to creating the signature swooped ends is a round brush and a blow dryer (or applying rollers on the ends if you have some time on your hands).
55. Low Bun
This low-maintenance style only requires a brush, a hair tie and your styling product of choice to pull together. Although Lupita is shown rocking it on the red carpet above, a low bun can be worn at any time, to any occasion, including the most casual outing.
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