10 Traditional African Hairstyles Back to Fashion

Women’s hair is a symbol of beauty and femininity, and traditional African hairstyles can make you look and feel confident and attractive. Some modern fashion companies incorporate aspects of African hairstyles into their hair products.

But African hairstyles are not just a trend. They are beautiful forms of art that promote hair growth while making a woman look beautiful. Besides, it is always great to try something African or new with your hair. We’ve got some unique hairstyles to try out.

1. Bantu Knots – Traditional African Hairstyles

Bantu Knots - Traditional African Hairstyles

Bantu Knots. Photo credit – Naturalandproud

Bantu knots originated from the Zulu tribes found in Southern Africa. Zulu women used to make these knots as a way of styling their natural hair. Bantu knots are styled by portioning the hair into parts, then twisting each section to form a hair knot.

Also Read: History of African Fashion Styles

Here is a quick video on how to make Bantu knots.

The size of a knot solely depends on the length and volume of your hair. This is a perfect hairstyle for the weekend or when going to bed. Besides, it is easy to make and also promotes hair growth.

2. Amasunzu

Lupita Nyong’o with Amasunza African traditional hairstyle

Lupita Nyong’o with Amasunza hairstyle. Photo credit – Tellerreport

Amasunzu is an African hairstyle that was common among the Tutsi and Hutu people of Rwanda. In particular, it was worn by kings, chiefs, unmarried girls, and warriors. For example, the young girls wore the hairstyle to signify their virginity. On the other hand, warriors used it to show their bravery and strength.

Modern young artists in Rwanda are reclaiming this traditional hairstyle. This is evident mostly in Kigali as many trendy young people are seen with the hairstyle on their heads. Lupita Nyong’o, the Mexican-Kenyan actress, wore the Amasunzu hairstyle during the 2018 Oscars ceremony.

Also Read: 10 Easy Natural Hairstyles For Beginners

3. African Threads

African threads hairstyle

African threads hairstyle. Photo credit – Fromato4z

African threads can be traced back to the Yoruba people of Southwest Nigeria. However, this is one of the traditional African hairstyles that are common across Africa. Different tribes in the continent have different names for African threads hairstyle such as Sunga, Eko Bridge, Los, and Akula.

Its threads act as a hair straightener, and that is the reason modern women love it. Learn how to do African threading in this video.

Also Read: Latest and Most Beautiful African Dresses of 2021

Many women use this hairstyle to stretch their hair naturally after washing. So, if you want to promote hair growth and retain hair length, use this hairstyle.

4. Fulani Braids

Fulani braids hairstyle

Fulani braids. Photo credit – Hairdohairstyle

Fulani braids hairstyle is a native to the Fulani people of West Africa. They matched the hairstyles with beads and rings. The hairstyle is made by sectioning the hair and then braiding it into tiny cornrows. Furthermore, fulani braids hairstyle is among the traditional African hairstyles that have over time been adopted by women from around Africa.

Also Read: Natural Hairstyles For Work That Are Easy To Style

In fact, fulani braids are becoming a trending hairstyle among African and Black American women. This is because the hairstyle is distinctive, exquisite, and rich. Besides, it is worn by women of all ages, from young girls to older women.

5. Ngala

Ngala hairstyle, one of traditional African hairstyles

Ngala hairstyle. Photo credit – Bellanaijaweddings

Ngala is a traditional hairstyle that originated from the Igbo people of Nigeria. The Igbo people viewed it as a sign of elegance and pride for women. The hairstyle was very special to Igbo women. In particular, they wore it mostly during functions like traditional marriages, coronations, and traditional festivals.

Ngala hairstyle is made by styling hair backward or at the middle and then adding an extension to it. Most brides love to wear the Ngala hairstyle on their wedding day as it blends perfectly with jewelry and bridal gowns. Moreover, this African traditional hairstyle produces a unique and stylish look.

Also Read: Stop Hair Breakage With These 10 Natural Products

6. Zulu Topknot – Traditional African Hairstyles

Lupita Nyongo wearing Zulu Topknot

Lupita Nyongo wearing Zulu Topknot. Photo credit – Huffpost

The Zulu topknot is a traditional hairstyle native to the Zulu people in southern Africa. Hair is simply gathered to make a top knot. Zulus also used to stretch it into sections using ties. Women in southern Africa wore Zulu topknots to signify their class.

In the old days, this African hairstyle was a reserve for high-class women in the community, including those from the ruling family. Today, it is among the traditional African hairstyles that are now worn by many Africa.

7. African Braids

African Braids Hairstyle

African Braids. Photo credit – Zaineey’s

The African braids originated from Egypt and spread to other parts of Africa. Braided hair signifies different things to different people. From social status to age group, wealth, power, marital status, and more. Also, there are intricate braiding styles made for specific ceremonies in Africa.

These include weddings, rites of passage, and social events. African braids can be a distinct fashion statement.  Stylists make this African hairstyle by separating hair into small sections based on how thick you want your braids to be. Then, they group hair in each section into three and then braid it.

8. Edamburu 

Edamburu hairstyle - Traditional African Hairstyles

Edamburu hairstyle. Photo credit – Vintagecongo

Edamburu is a traditional African hairstyle that dates back to the Mangbetu people of Congo. Women and stylists make this hairstyle by twisting and weaving hair or braids into a crown. Mangbetu women wear the Edamburu hairstyle to appreciate the culture of skull elongation. Notably, skull elongation is a symbol of prestige and beauty in the Mangbetu tribe. This African hairstyle is common in Congo and some modern fashion designers and movie stars also fancy it.

9. Ochre Dreadlocks

Ochre Dreadlocks

Ochre Dreadlocks. Photo credit – Face2faceafrica

Ochre dreadlocks originated from the Hamad tribe in Ethiopia. The Hamad people migrated to the Omo valley and interacted peacefully with nomads they met in the valley. Together they came up with ochre dreadlocks which they referred to as Goscha.

Their women make Ochre dreadlocks using water and a binding resin. Then, they add colorful jewelry and beads to make the dreadlocks more beautiful. Today, dreadlocks are becoming popular among men and women because they are long-lasting and easy to style.

10. Himba Dreadlock

Himba dreadlocks

Himba dreadlocks. Photo credit – Africa

Himba is the name of an indigenous group of people in northwestern Namibia. The tribe uses a mixture of butter, goat hair, and ground ochre to make their dreadlocks. The Himba tribe values their hair a lot and Himba dreadlocks symbolize age, wealth, marital status, or social class in the community.

Also, they perceive hair as a symbol of fertility. So, thick and lustrous dreadlocks show that a woman is healthy enough to bear healthy children. Furthermore, teenage girls wear dreadlocks and hang them over their faces to show they are now in puberty. Nowadays, musicians and artists from other parts of Africa are embracing Himba dreadlocks.

ALSO READ: 10 Ways to Grow Natural Hair Faster


These traditional African hairstyles will continue to be passed from generation to generation. Some are worn across Africa and this trend will continue as more people discover them. Although some African hairstyles have lost their origin, they are still popular because of the value they offer. Which African hairstyle have you worn, or which one would you want to try? Share with us in the comments section.


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  1. Jack
    April 28, 2022

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