From the time many Black women were little girls, they remember sitting in the African hair braiding stylist’s salon chair for hours until their legs began to cramp up.
Next came the sensation of cold gel on their scalps to slick down their roots, followed by several hours of intricate braiding, then at last, finally sealing those braids with a bowl of boiling hot water.
Those braids were often one of the most popular braided protective styles: Fulani braids.
What are Fulani braids?
Fulani braids are braids that are corn-rolled from the top to middle portion of the head and loosely box braided throughout the rest of the hair. They are often adorned with beads, but can be worn without them. The Fulani braid pattern originated in West Africa, where the Fulani people decorated their heads with this sophisticated style starting in the early 1900s.
In the past couple decades, Fulani braids have become a braided hair staple among Black women. From celebrities to Instagram influencers to fashion models, Fulani braids are a ubiquitous hairstyle among Black women of all hair types, from 3A to 4C.
Why should you try Fulani braids?
Fulani braids are a go-to protective style for many women for a plethora of different reasons. For starters, some women rock them simply for convenience, particularly during winter months when curly and kinky hair textures tend to be drier than usual due to the cold weather. Others choose to sport Fulani braids as an ode to their rich African history. And some choose to rock Fulani braids because the hairstyle is just plain breathtakingly beautiful.
What are the different kinds of Fulani braids?
Fulani braids can be worn in countless different styles. From wooden beaded braids to curly braids and everything in between, here’s a roundup of 25 of our favorite Fulani braid hairstyles.
1. Traditional Fulani Braids
Actress Gabrielle Union is proving that less is sometimes more in these simple traditional Fulani braids. Her braids are ever-so-lightly adorned with accessories and yet still so bold and statement-making. We love this look for first-time Fulani braid wearers who are looking to spruce up their look while sporting a relatively low maintenance ‘do.
2. Curly Fulani Braids
What’s not to love about Instagram influencer Aysha Sow’s curly Fulani braid look? We are obsessed with everything from her sleek braids on top to the smooth transition to curls at the very bottom to the pop of chocolate brown coloured tips. This is the perfect way to step slightly out of the box with your Fulani braids.
3. Braided Bun Fulani Braids
This model looks absolutely angelic with her ocean blue ombre Fulani braids crafted into a voluminous top-knot bun. Not only does the bun draw attention to her beautiful face, but the four face-framing braids give her look the perfect equilibrium. The tiny metallic barrette on the left side of her braids is the perfect topper to this unique look.
4. The Centered Fulani Braid
There’s something about this elegant centered braid that just solidifies this gorgeous look. Beauty influencer Teaira Walker absolutely slays this look with the perfectly centered braid, transparent plastic beads and metallic rings.
5. Baby Hair Fulani Braids
We’re honestly not sure whether the baby hairs or Fulani braids are the stars of this look. These beautiful swirls contour the perimeter of her braids like a crown.
6. Asymmetrical Fulani Braids
We love a good asymmetrical Fulani braid look. Not only is this model pushing the envelope with her fiery red locks, but she’s also making a bold statement with her artful and elliptical braids.
7. Ombre Fulani Braids
We can’t get enough of beauty influencer Alissa Ashley’s off black to butter blonde ombre Fulani braids. While her braids are simple and sleek, the high-contrast dual tones add an extra dose of excitement to her look.
8. Micro Fulani Braids
These small, but mighty shoulder length Fulani braids are serving serious 1970’s vibes. Model Ocean Lewis’ micro Fulani braids coupled with these beautiful burgundy and beige beads are timeless and retro all at once.
9. Blonde Fulani Braids
This model’s beautiful blonde locks prove that blondes definitely have more fun. We love how this honey blonde tone compliments her warm caramel brown skin tone.
10. Half Up, Half Down Fulani Braids
On days when you can’t decide whether you want to rock your braids up or down, why not just do both? This model looks ravishing in her perfectly assembled top-knot bun and braids.
11. Waist Length Fulani Braids
Rapunzel vibes anyone? Let down your long locks with these stunning flowy Fulani braids.
12. Micro + Jumbo Fulani Braids
We love this combination of micro and jumbo Fulani braids. They are truly the duo we didn’t know we needed. We have a feeling we’re going to love these braids through thick and thin.
13. High Ponytail With Face-Framing Braids
This model’s high ponytail and face framing braids are absolutely stunning. We love how her braids are tucked upside down from behind her ears. And to top off the look, she dons these beautiful bronze hair cuffs with a pop of golden blonde extensions.
14. Colorful Beaded Fulani Braid Ponytail
We love when Fulani braids share the spotlight with the accessories used to decorate them. This colorful beaded high ponytail look is bright and beautiful. Recreate this look with our 20-inch Clip-in Ponytail.
15. Wooden Beaded Fulani Braids
One of our favorite accessories for braided protective styles are wooden beads. These medium-sized wooden beads are a powerful symbol of African tribes and cultures that were responsible for popularizing Fulani braids.
16. Bangs with Fulani Braids
Practically every girl has gone through a phase of bangs, but how many have been bold enough to sport braided bangs? This high fashion Fulani braid look is fit for the runway. There are so many reasons to love this look: the beautiful wooden beads, tiny microbraids wrapped around her ponytail and Afro-centric earrings all make this a look worth replicating.
17. Zig Zag Fulani Braids
We love a classic straight cornrolled Fulani braid, but we also are obsessed with this unique zig zag braided look. This model’s maze-like pattern on an otherwise simple braid look is a big mood.
18. Pigtail Fulani Braids
Why sport one ponytail when you could sport two? Beauty influencer Jasmine Brown looks ever so youthfully exuberant in these pigtail Fulani braids. We also love her slightly curled tips which are definitely the cherries on top of this fabulous look.
19. Half Fulani, Half Wavy
This model’s innovative half Fulani braids, half wavy hair look is absolutely immaculate. This model’s waves are reminiscent of the iconic Victoria Secret bouncy hair looks. Add a set of classic clip-in extensions for an extra boost of volume when recreating this look.
20. Fulani Braids with Metallic Rings
By now you know that accessories are almost as important as the braids themselves when it comes to Fulani braids. This subtle metal ringed look somehow perfectly accents this crisp set of Fulani braids.
21. Pastel Fulani Braids
We are absolutely living for this pastel-toned Fulani braid look. The beautiful dirty blonde tones blend in so seamlessly with the carnation pink tones in this look.
22. Space Bun Fulani Braids
Double the bun, double the fun. This space bun look coupled with those face-framing braids that we love so much are simply gorgeous.
23. Colourful Snap Clip Fulani Braids
These rainbow-coloured snap clip decorated Fulani braids scream haute couture. The warm, summery colors of the clips compliment this model’s rich, chocolate brown skin tone.
24. Twist Out + Fulani Braids
If you’ve recently transitioned to natural hair then you know, the twist out is one of a naturalista’s many best friends. On wash days when you decide to do a heatless twist out, simply add some extensions and wooden beads in your locks to recreate this look.
25. Pretty in Pink Fulani Braids
This neon pink Fulani braid updo will make you instantly glow and radiate. We love the contrast between her mocha brown tones and bright pink tones.
Written by: Ashley Inkumsah