I’m a bit of a braid (or plait, for some) fiend. Of course I rocked braids growing up, but I stopped mid-high school. I started up again in adulthood after going natural and was hesitant at first because my hair was just a few inches long and I didn’t want to look like Coolio.
Since then I’ve become sold on braids for their convenience, ease of installation and maintenance, and length retaining power. This is thanks to a consistent braid regimen.
The other thing I love about braids is the opportunity for creative expression. I recently tried Fulani-inspired braids and I have to say, I’m hooked.
A bit of background first. The Fula people are an ethnic group dispersed throughout West Africa, primarily in Nigeria, Guinea and Mali. About a third of them are nomadic. The Fula have a fascinating culture, and one vibrant feature of it is their intricate hairstyles.
Alicia Keys rocked Fulani-inspired braids back in the day, but they’ve had a recent resurgence. Three features of Fulani hairstyling that women in America have adopted is 1. the incorporation of beads, cowrie shells and other hair jewelry 2. placing a center braid or roll down the middle of the head and a wrap braid around the periphery of the hairline and 3. forward facing cornrows by the ears.
I wanted to give Fulani-inspired braids a try so I went to my trusted Crown Heights braider with a photo in hand. I wanted to try the center braid, forward facing cornrows and beads. The back of my hair would be in individual braids, and I wouldn’t be using any extensions.
I was a little nervous about incorporating beads. It’s been a good two decades — give our take a few years — since I rocked beads in my hair. I was nervous about looking childish, but I didn’t have to worry.
View from the chair…
And at home. (Please excuse my struggly hairline… post partum shedding.)
To say that I’m feeling myself with this hairstyle would be an understatement. My beads swing when I walk or bike around Brooklyn, the style has kept incredibly well (I’m 3 weeks in, done a couple moisturizing conditioning treatments, and it still looks great!) and I haven’t seen anyone with a similar style. (Well I did see a white girl with something similar… which was kind of depressing… but that’s not a conversation for right now.)
If I do try this again I think I will go bolder — do the wrap braid around my hairline, incorporate different bead colors and a few cowrie shells, and put a bead at the end of the individual braids in the back.
If you are thinking of trying Fulani-inspired styles I say YES GO FOR IT!
Have you tried Fulani-inspired braids? What was your experience and would you recommend them?