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Braided styles for men date back thousands of years and remain an eye-catching look today. While women typically take the cake for popular braid styles in pop culture, men are also changing the game of what it means to be stylish and dialed into braiding techniques. From red-carpet-ready looks to hardy hairstyles for the workday, there are a variety of braids that men can wear.
Braids, also known as plaits, are intertwined strands of hair. In ancient African cultures, braids could signify anything from societal status, religion or wealth. In short, the practices and designs of braiding are social art and something that carries onward into Black culture all around the world as a celebration of ancestral roots and style.
Many braids have the express purpose of being a protective hairstyle. They preserve moisture and avoid the breakage of natural hair. Thus, many of the styles below are not suitable for thin or fine hair as they could end up damaging non-natural hair.
Braided hairstyles for men explore unique styles and cultural history, so check out the array of choices below to switch up your haircare routine.
1. Box Braids
Box braids are a key protective hairstyle rooted in the Nile Valley. Today, men can wear box braids with short or long hair, each with its own unique look. In this technique, braiders will divide hair into square sections. Each section is divided into three strands and intertwined tightly. These braids hang down off the scalp, mimicking the cascade of longer hair.
Box braids last 4-6 weeks with proper care and you can customize your style in many ways. Will you bleach the ends to create a shock of color, or add beads to the end for a mid-90s throwback?
2. Box Braids with a Ponytail
Men with longer box braids can accentuate their face shape or switch up their silhouette by pulling their braids into a ponytail. This simple updo is great for long shifts where you need to focus or early-morning runs when you work up a sweat. At the end of the day, all you need to do is take out your ponytail and you can have long hair again.
Try a loose braid for a relaxed and refreshed look or a tighter ponytail for that cross-fit routine where you need all your hair out of the way.
3. Braided Man Bun
In a similar fashion, sweep your box braids into a bun. Man buns were all the rage in the mid-2010s, and they keep coming back. Like a pony, a braided bun combines business with pleasure as you remove pesky hair from your face while keeping your look neat and artistic.
Men with finer hair could explore a braided man bun with french braids. This style is not harmful to fine hair and runs against the scalp to keep hair out of the way. End with a twisted bun to hit the gym or take the night out on the town.
4. Cornrows with Zig-Zag Part
Cornrows link back to the West Coast of Africa and are another protective hairstyle for curly, oily and textured hair. As stylists braid hair against the scalp, they create a sleek and slicked-back look perfect for this low-maintenance style.
The distinctive patterns of cornrows are often culturally and historically significant, so it’s important to research and remember the history present here.
Zig zag cornrows are a sleek and fun pattern to bring some energy and joy into your everyday look.
5. Cornrows with Beads
Hair beads are also culturally significant as Nigerians wore coral and colorful glass beads in their braids during wedding ceremonies. Today, hair jewelry is still a way to celebrate beauty and cultural traditions.
Cornrows with hair beads present an interesting textural dichotomy as the sleek braids pair with the shining or colorful beads. Using this braided style is a great way to celebrate heritage and explore exciting fashion statements.
6. Cornrow Waves
Another one of the trending braided styles for men is the cornrow wave. Pairing the satiny, sleek look of cornrows with the gentle wave pattern, you are sure to cast an aura of awe over your friends and passersby. This look just screams cool guy.
You can pair these interesting hairstyles with unique beard care too. Is your hair sleek and your beard more unruly? Maybe some new combing or oiling techniques can bring your entire haircare routine to the next level.
7. Loose Side-Braid
A loose side braid can work with finer hair as it is not a protective hairstyle. Simply intertwine three strands of hair on the side of your head going down and secure with a ponytail. This casual, breezy look gives off a distinctive edge to any look.
Caring For Your Braids
Before you commit to a look, make sure you know the proper care routine for natural hair braids. Moisturize daily with conditioners and oils, and massage into the scalp. When showering, gently work water through the braids and squeeze ends so no water gets trapped. At night, preserve your moisture with a silk pillowcase or bonnet.
For finer or thin hair, braids usually don’t need any special care because they should only be worn for a day or two before washing hair thoroughly.
Braided styles for men are bringing culture, history and remarkable style into every hair care routine. How can you spice up your silhouette or shape with a new look?