Past. Present. Future: 5 Black Historic Hairstyles We’ll Always Love

Ladies let’s talk hair. The beauty of black hair is nothing short of magical. Much more than the spiritual strands that grow from our heads. Defying gravity, growing up into the heavens. The unique texture allows us to transform it into iconic signature styles. Our hair is our history, all thanks to our ancestry.  

Rewind to when self-care Sundays were spent sitting on a comfy cushion between my mother’s legs while she oiled my scalp, parted, and plaited the week’s chosen cornrow style. Being a kid that couldn’t keep still I would run my fingers through my hair, impatiently praying she was almost done. Never learning my lesson as a light tap of the comb on my hand would follow, with the words – ‘child move yuh hand from yuh head.’ The struggle was real!  

Our magnificent manes have faced the pressures of prejudice with natural hair meaning ‘bad hair’ and ‘good hair’ meaning straight hair. I’m sure you can relate to going through phases of loving your hair, then despising it, to constantly hiding it. Then wanting to embrace every kink, curl, and coil. Black hair needs precision and patience. Finding ways to love our hair all day, every day is all part of the journey. 

1. Everyday Fro Day

Fro-back to the 60s and 70s when the bold bowl shape otherwise known as the afro, held more than just a political style statement. A symbol of black pride and power not only seen on Black Panther members and activists. But also taking centre stage, making appearances on the big screen. Today we celebrate ‘big hair, don’t care’ in all shapes, styles, and sizes. Famous fros rocked by some of our favourite celebs, such as Lupita N’yonga and Kerry Washington.

2. No ‘Dread’ In These Locs

Dating back further than the roots of Rastafari; using twisting, knotting, and tying techniques. Locs have long been a natural symbol of spirituality, not shy of standing out. Earning celebrity status in the 80s all thanks to Whoopi G’s red carpet ready locs. On and on to Erykah Badu’s wonderfully wrapped and Lauryn Hilll letting hers loose in the 90’s. From Sisterlocks to Bohemian Locs, they’re voluminously versatile- braided, twisted, curled, pinned up into Bantu buns, and drop-dead gorgeous when dyed. No patience, no worries. Waiting for them to grow is no longer a problem, with many embracing the faux form for a quick fashion fix.  

3. Timeless Twists  

You don’t need time travel to take you back to the rise of this traditional technique. Intertwined when two become one, this really is protective styling at its finest (or fattest depending on the style)! Twists are now topping the trend list like never before. From Flat Twists to Senegalese Twists, Passion Twists, to the takeover of the Twist Out. So, there’s no surprises when we see them worn by stars such as Solange Knowles and Taraji P. Henson.

4. The Beauty of Braids  

Passed down from one generation to the next. A sentimental artform skilfully sculptured to the scalp. Braids for black women are beyond beautiful. Blowing up in the noughties, this hairstyle hero holds homage to 90s TV show, Mo-to the- e-to the- Moesha! (Thanks for the nostalgia Netflix). Brandy boldly brought micro braids to our small screens in every style possible. Along with Janet Jackson’s box braids on the big screen, in the movie Poetic Justice. Not forgetting Fulani braids with beaded accessories. The comeback of cornrows championed by Alicia Keys within the music scene. To this day we keep on fallin’ for them!

5. Curl Power 

Long before Scary Spice sold the curly hair dream, curl power has always been in our roots! 

From curly, kinky curly, afro kinky curly to afro kinky coily. Untangling our curl texture type is being stretched to extraordinary lengths, despite the shrinkage. Where decoding the chart filled with numbers and letters may seem like an algebra exercise, it’s worth it to shake out those curls in all their glory. With a helping hand from haircare products- defining creams, custards, and more.  

Fast forward to the 2000s where the social space is filled with inspiring influencers documenting their Black Girl Magic, with the advent of YouTube and IGTV tutorials on tap 24/7. The freedom of female expression has finally erupted, giving us the confidence to go from fro hair to doll hair as personal preference. Whether a naturalista or not, a black woman’s hair journey is part of her aesthetics. Transforming tresses with a link from her past, connecting to her present, leading a pathway to her future.  

By Alisha – Fashion & Beauty Writer

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