When it comes to black hair, its versatility allows it to be manipulated in so many ways. There’s never one way to style it through the multitude of different creations, as the black community continues to remind us just how beautiful it is.
Growing up in my culture, I’ve always seen the black community rock hair in many different styles. It became the norm to style it in manageable ways that also looked good. For me, since I was a child, my hair has always been thick and long. Because of this, my mom always kept it in cornrows, because styling it every day would take too much time.
Now that I’m older, I can’t count how many different ways I’ve switched up my hair, but I can say that I continue to admire my people and the continuous creativity I see daily. To grab a sense of a few of the styles you would see, keep on reading.
1. The Dreadlocks Style
It’s difficult to understand where dreadlocks came from. Many say the style originated in Ancient Greece or Ancient Egypt. It is also known to be in India’s Vedic scriptures where the God of Hindu is wearing them. In the ancient language of India, Sanskrit, the term “jata,” means twisted or matted hair.
Dreadlocks is a style that involves twisting strands of hair in a rope-like fashion. Over time, the hair becomes entangled and matted together. Today, the style has been adopted primarily by the black community, which is where we get the most frequently used terms: dreads, dreadlocks, or locs.
The style has been popularized by celebrities, such as the legendary Reggae Artist Bob Marley, Oscar Winner Whoopi Goldberg, and American Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and continues to be a low manipulation style today. I’ve never taken an interest in dreading my hair, but I’ve always loved to see those in the black community embrace their dreads, regardless of length.
2. The Infamous Cornrow Style
Cornrows date back to 3000 BC, originating in Africa and the Caribbean, and play a significant role in black culture today. It became a tradition passed down through generations to not only represent beauty in the hair of enslaved African women but also show who you were and what tribe you came from.
Cornrows is a style where the hair is braided closely towards the scalp. The hair is usually parted in rows as a braided pattern is created in between. This hairstyle is a huge staple, particularly among black women and young girls, as many enjoy dressing up the style.
Whether hair is braided into ponytails, pigtails, or buns, cornrows can transform any design into a piece of artwork. For myself, on days where I just do not feel like doing my hair, my favorite “lazy” style is adding two cornrows going down my head.
3. Silk Press On Natural Hair
A silk press is when you straighten natural hair to give it a lot of movement. This method was once known as the press and curl, as black mothers would use hot combs to pass through strands of thick hair to get it straight. Today, a flat iron is used–sometimes, not always–with the addition of a hot comb to further give the illusion of a relaxer without all the harsh chemicals.
The term silk press is used primarily because, after styling, the hair is shiny and smooth like silk. Many women prefer this method since it doesn’t involve harsh chemicals to achieve that bone-straight look. Personally, I haven’t silk-pressed my hair in years because I just love my curls so much.
Besides these known hair looks, many black women switch it up from time to time by incorporating weaves. Hairstyles such as box braids, passion twists, and faux locs, among others, usually require weave hair when installing. Many black men also like to rock their tapered haircuts, freeform locs, and simple waves. Whatever style of hair, they’re always extravagant!
Regardless of your race, it’s important to learn about cultural differences, even if it is something as simple as hair. If you want to learn more about black hair, I suggest you check out Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America, by Ayana D. Byrd and Lori L. Tharps. She goes in-depth about the relationship between black Americans and their hair and makes for a great read.