If you haven’t done so, it’s time to embrace the beauty of your type 4 hair. Afro-textured hair, most commonly found among people of African descent, is notable for its unique strength, springiness, kinkiness, and resilience.
All these characteristics come together to create a type of hair that’s distinct in appearance and texture and is pliable enough to be styled in various ways. Locs, cornrows, coils – all of these are prevalent ‘dos for type 4 hair. But there’s another style that’s making a comeback, and that’s fulani braids.
What is Fulani Braids?
Fulani braids are a hairstyle that women commonly wore in Senegal. This style consists of beautiful, ornate braiding patterns that denote a woman’s ancestry, social status, and marital status. Fulani braids are also occasionally called Fulani tribal braids or Ethiopian tribal braids.
Fulani braids feature two or more long braids on each side of the head. These braids are adorned with accessories such as beads, rings, shells, or other jewelry.
Best Fulani Braids Styles
The modern take on Fulani braids doesn’t play by any hard and fast rules, and with time and patience, you too can sport this fashionable and beautiful hairstyle. Here are some of the best Fulani braids hairstyles for women today.
Half Fulani Braid – Half Puffy Hair
The use of contrast in your Fulani braids can greatly amplify both the impression they make on others as well as your self-confidence. By combining two elements that generally oppose each other – such as well-structured Fulani braids and puffy hair– you can achieve an exceptional experience that will turn heads.
When I say puffy, it doesn’t have to be “ball puffy.” Wear your puffy hair however you want – fixed, braided, bunned, or anything else you want. The important thing is to maintain the element of contrast between your front Fulani braids and puffy hair behind.
Fulani Braids with Beads
Speaking of accenting your Fulani braids, one of the easiest and fastest (but still very effective) ways to give your hair some extra wow factor is by accessorizing it.
Beads are among the best accessories for Fulani braids. Not only do beads harken back to Senegalese tradition, but they’re also fantastic for taming braided hair and keeping it in shape. By pairing beads with neck-length or long hair, you can create a look that’s neatly elegant and beautiful while remaining easy to maintain!
Half Up Fulani – Half Down Braids
Speaking of contrast, half-up and half-down are simple and easy ways of emphasizing your Fulani braids. It’s about mixing highly-structured and well-organized front braids with the loose, casual appearance of down braids. This style creates a look that’s versatile, clean, pleasant, and well-suited to any social situation, whether it’s a night out or a corporate meeting.
Our hairstyles are an expression of individuality. And in the modern age, even our hair color is easy to change. By dyeing your Fulani braids, you can create a look that’s wholly and uniquely you.
Remember: when it comes to dyeing and especially bleaching type 4 hair, less is more. Experiment with a single lock of hair and see how that plays out first.
Alternatively, you can choose to go very light on the dye and just color the tips of your Fulani braids. If you’ve got susceptible hair, go with darker colors, such as warm browns, and the lower ends of the red spectrum, such as burgundy.
High Pony Fulani Braids
Another great way of wearing your Fulani braids is through this blend of modernity and tradition. Wearing your Fulani braids as a high pony allows you to stay active and, most importantly, keep your hair out of your eyes and face. At the same time, you’ll be able to benefit from Fulani braids’ distinct beauty and style.
Fulani Braids with Scarf
If you’re going for a more tribal or urban look with your fulani tribal braids, try accessorizing with a simple headscarf.
Scarves aren’t just fashionable. These accessories also provide good protection from heat, dirt, and from tangling. This goes doubly so for people with thin and sensitive hair or for those who are dealing with hair loss.
Apart from these benefits, scarves can add a splash of color or accent to your Fulani tribal braids. Be judicious when selecting colors, especially if you’re running with dyed Fulani braids. A splash of the correct color can go a long way in establishing your look.
Fulani Tribal braids in Low Ponytails
Low ponytails are wonderfully comfortable, practical, and super low maintenance. However, one thing they aren’t is distinct. If you’re planning to use a low ponytail in tandem with your Fulani braids, you’ll want to add face-framing strands to draw attention toward your braids.
This can be done via extensions or through your own hair if it’s long enough – and it probably is if you need to tie it in a ponytail. If your face-framing strands are prominent enough, they’re also good candidates for accessories such as beads.
Ethiopian Fulani Braids
Fulani braids by themselves are gorgeous, but by combining them with tribal hairstyles or cornrows, you can achieve a unique hairstyle that’s way more than the sum of its parts.
Let’s get it out of the way first: there’s no hairstyle called “Ethiopian Fulani braids.” Fulani braids and Ethiopian Fulani braids are pretty much the same things. What you’re probably looking for is Fulani braids with a more tribal edge. Again, this is a misnomer, as there’s not too much distinction between Fulani braids and tribal braids.
Regardless of what this style is appropriately called, the vital thing to note is that it combines the unique characteristics of type 4 hair to create a blend of hairstyles framed by Fulani braids. Whether its with cornrows or locs, the end result is the same: beautiful.
Fulani Boho Braids
Boho braids – short for Bohemian box braids – are not just one of the best loc styles. They’re also one of the best styles to incorporate into Fulani braids. Boho braids give off a chic and casual look through the use of unplaited curly ends, and when combined with elegant Fulani braids, creates a look that’s out of this world.
Unlike most Fulani braid hairstyles on this list that are simple enough even for first-time stylists, Boho braids can be very complex. Despite its devil-may-care appearance, Boho braids require careful hands and a well-trained eye to complete them. Poorly-made Boho braids can put a lot of strain on your hair and tangle a lot.
If this is your first time wearing Boho braids, I’d highly advise seeking the expertise of a professional.
Fulani Tribal Braids with Striking Patterns
Fulani tribes were used in the past to create patterns that spoke of their wearer’s history. Today, we can use this practice to make designs that are important (or fashionable) to their wearers. Here are some examples of patterns you can use.
Heart, Butterfly, and Snake Braids
Hearts, butterflies, and snakes are powerful images that are very easy to accomplish with careful styling. Each pattern evokes certain feelings in viewers and can mean something unique to the person wearing them.
Note that, like in the images above, it’s an excellent idea to relegate your designs to certain parts of your head. This position will help you plan ahead and allow your Fulani braids to accommodate these designs better.
Of course, your patterns don’t have to make sense to the outside world. Sometimes they’re just beautiful, and they make you attractive – and that’s all the purpose they need. However, as we’re talking about hair, it’s wise to get the assistance of a professional with this, as mistakes with braiding or sectioning, or worse, cutting your hair, can be hard to recover from.
Styling Fulani Braids
Patterns aren’t limited to just your braids. You can style your hair using various accessories or products to achieve a look that’s all you.
While beads, rings, scarves, and shells can be used without any worries, you’ll need to be more discerning when it comes to products such as hair gel or hair dye. Type 4 hair is strong, but it’s also more vulnerable to drying out.
If you’re looking for the gel to hold your hair, get something moisturizing, such as Mielle Organics Moisturizing Styling Gel or Curlsmith Curl Defining Styling Souffle.
For those looking to color their Fulani braids, look to well-known brands such as Clairol or L’Oreal. These dyes have been formulated to be as light as possible on your scalp and strands.
FAQs about Fulani Braids
What’s the difference between Fulani braids and tribal braids?
Most modern stylists agree – the difference between Fulani braids and tribal braids is literally just splitting hairs. From a historical point of view, however, Fulani braids were worn by Senegalese women and were distinct because of two long braids on either side of the head.
Are Fulani braids good for your hair?
Yes, they are. Fulani braids are a great protective style that will give your hair a much-needed vacation from chemicals and other treatments.
How long do Fulani braids last?
Well-made Fulani braids can last from 2 to 5 weeks.
Can you get Fulani braids wet?
Yes, you can. But you should also maintain them well. In particular, be sure to dry them out if you go swimming, lest you run the risk of a fungal infection. Yikes!
Fulani Braids Are Here To Stay
The resurgence and popularity of Fulani braids have proven beyond any doubt that this hairstyle is here to stay. And if you haven’t yet had the chance to try styling your hair this way, now’s your chance. Remember, though – always be kind to your type 4 hair, and listen to what it has to say, especially if you’re trying out a new hairdo!
Mel is a licensed Chemist in New Jersey who has worked in several cosmetics companies and has years of experience formulating hair care and beauty products. She uses her knowledge in cosmetics to distinguish and find the best products to recommend to Union Of Barber’s readers. When Mel’s not writing, you can find her walking her dogs or cooking and baking at home!