29 Gorgeous Fulani Braids to Try This Year

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Braids are a staple protective style for Black women. They are convenient, low-maintenance, and come in an endless variety of styles—like Fulani braids. While the style has been around for centuries (more on that below), they’re still hugely popular for all the fun and imaginative ways you can wear them. Think bright colors, unique patterns, and a mixture of accessories in all different shapes and sizes.

What are Fulani braids?

As celebrity hairstylist Susy Oludele—who’s responsible for some of the phenomenal styles you’ve seen on Solange—explains, Fulani braids are a mixture of cornrows and box braids, and can be worn with or without beads. Most commonly, the style—which gets its name from the Fulani people in West Africa, where the braids originated—is created with cornrows in the front and box braids in the back.

The look has been modernized recently—often seen on red carpets, music videos, and in everyday life—“but it has been worn for many, many years now,” says Oludele. Symbolizing not just its African roots, Fulani braids can also represent “social status, wealth, religion, or marital status,” Oludele says, adding that “braids have always been part of our culture.”

Ready to ask your stylist for them? Ahead, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Fulani looks and braided hairstyles—from neon green beads to platinum blonde braids.

What do Fulani braids symbolize?

Fulani braids symbolize origins, social status, and marital status. Throughout history, Senegalese women have worn the hairstyle with beads and other accessories. “Fulani braids originated from Africa and have been worn for centuries,” says Nayla Chalas, master braider and educator at NVYLV Salon. “It has been a symbol of ethnic origin, culture, tribal groups, and so much more. A symbol that not only embraces its tradition but the works of art that are created through it. An expression that was once used as maps to escape slavery. A voice that represents empowerment and authenticity. It is a lot more than just a cute hairstyle; it is something that we created for us. A symbol of freedom.”

How do you maintain Fulani braids?

Fulani braids are maintained similarly to other braided protective hairstyles. It’s important to keep a clean scalp, so wash your scalp with a cleansing shampoo when it gets dirty with product buildup. It’s also crucial to sleep in a silk bonnet or scarf. Every night, you can wrap your hair to preserve the style and keep frizziness at bay.

Just because your hair is in a protective style, doesn’t mean you don’t need to worry about upkeep anymore. To keep your hair moisturized, use a leave-in conditioner on the hair.

How long do Fulani braids last?

Fulani braids usually last between three and six weeks. However, they can last a little longer if they’re properly maintained. After you take them out, wait at least a week before getting another protective style to prevent any hair breakage.