Protective braided styles are the go-to hairstyles for many in the natural hair community.
One of the styles that have grown in popularity in recent years is tribal braids.
The term tribal braid describes a braiding pattern that has roots in African cultures.
The hairstyle incorporates different types of braids and decorative accessories like beads, rings and shells.
Fulani braids, Ghana braids and box braids are some of the most popular tribal braid styles.
These tribal braids versions are a new take on traditional styles that have been around for decades.
So, what’s the origin of tribal braids?
Ideally tribal braids originated from the Fulani tribe of West Africa.
Women wore them to celebrate their culture.
Traditionally, the braids featured middle-parted cornrow braids that went straight back against the head and were decorated by beads.
Like many traditional African braided styles, these styles evolved and changed over the years.
Today women with natural hair get to experiment with braids of different widths and unique patterns while doing tribal braids.
The cornrow look, though, is what sets this style apart.
If you are looking for a unique baddie hairstyle why don’t you try one of the many versions of tribal braids?
This article will examine some of the most popular tribal braids in modern times.
Table Of Contents
- 34 Most Popular Tribal Braid Hairstyles
- Swirled Cornrow Braids
- Side-Parted Tribal Braids With Natural Ends
- Thick Tribal Braids
- Layered Beaded Braids
- Heart-Shaped Braids
- Classic Tribal Braids
- Long Straight-Back Braids
- Low Ponytail Tribal Braids
- Tribal Braided Pigtails
- High Ponytail Look
- One-Sided Look
- Braid Ring Hairstyle
- Half-Updo Beaded Design
- Beaded Tribal Braids
- Fulani Braids
- Ghana Braids
- Feed-In Braids
- Tribal Box Braids
- Senegalese Tribal Braids
- Criss Cross Tribal Braids
- Multi-Texture Topknot
- Front Fan Part Tribal Braids
- Glam Tribal Braids
- Swirl Pattern Tribal Braids
- Thigh Length Tribal Braids
- Two Layer Tribal Braids
- Short Tribal Braids
- Jumbo Tribal Braids
- Cute Tribal Braids
- Pink Color Tribal Braids
- Funky Tribe Braids
- Braided Bun with Chunky Loose Braids
- Medium Tribal Braids
- Neon Color Tribe Braids
- Small Tribal Braids
- Long and Middle Part Tribal
- How to Style and Maintain Tribal Braids
34 Most Popular Tribal Braid Hairstyles
Traditionally women wore tribal braids to communicate age, status, relationships and more.
Today, while they may still be culturally significant, tribal braids are all about showing off your style and personality.
They are a huge part of protective and mixed-girl hairstyles.
Let’s look at some of the most popular tribal braid hairstyles:
Swirled Cornrow Braids
Get out of your comfort zone and experiment with different hairstyles by trying new patterns like the swirled cornrow look.
The braids will still protect your hair, but the ability to personalize this style makes it one of a kind.
Ask your hairstylist to suggest exciting patterns that might look good on you.
Side-Parted Tribal Braids With Natural Ends
Side-parted hairstyles are perfect for diamond and square-shaped faces. Why? The side parting draws attention to your cheekbones and eyes while showing off your angular jaw.
When you combine a side parting with tribal braids it helps create a soft and feminine look.
The hairstyle pairs well with thick styles like goddess braids.
Thick Tribal Braids
When choosing tribal braid styles, you can go as thick as you want. Thick tribal braids pop more and help add fullness to any updo.
Consider this style if you are looking for a voluminous hairstyle.
Layered Beaded Braids
Layers look just as good in braids as free-flowing hair. Layered hairstyles have taken the world by storm, and there is no reason why you shouldn’t ask for layers within your braided style. Adding beads to the ends only makes the layers stand out more.
If you want to add an extra feminine touch to your style, try heart-shaped braids. This style is perfect whether you are going for that festive look for Valentine’s Day or wants a unique braid pattern that turns heads wherever you go.
Classic Tribal Braids
If you want something simple you can’t go wrong with classic tribal braids. For a modern touch use castor oil or edge gel to layer the edges in a trendy design that makes you stand out.
Long Straight-Back Braids
This is another classic look that is perfect for women who want a simplistic style that’s easy to maintain. The braids run from front to back.
It’s a simple style that works for a wide variety of occasions. It’s the perfect look to show off your beautiful face since the style keeps the focus on you.
Low Ponytail Tribal Braids
Whenever you think about sleek styles ponytail hairstyles come to mind. Gather your braids into a ponytail for a powerful look in this particular look. Adding beads will add the perfect touch that makes you stand out in the best possible way.
Tribal Braided Pigtails
Thanks to TikTok a lot of 2000s trends are making a comeback. One such trend is the pigtail hairstyles that have appeared all over social media and on the red carpet in recent years.
If you have natural hair you can create a voluminous version of the pigtail style with your tribal braids.
High Ponytail Look
If you want to give your tribal braids a modern and chic twist, style them in a ponytail. Gather the braids up to the crown of your head.
While doing so avoid pulling at the braids, as this can cause tension on the scalp and result in breakage.
Take two or three braids and wrap them around the base of the ponytail, looping them through so they hold the other braids in place.
The result is a stunning ponytail without the need for elastic.
If you are thinking sleek and sophisticated, think of the one-sided braided look. Your scalp will need some serious TLC between washdays, so consider investing in quality cleansing shampoo to clean your scalp between wash days.
Braid Ring Hairstyle
If you are considering adding accessories to your braids but don’t fancy complicated styles or a drastic change consider the braid ring hairstyle. Hair rings are the perfect way to add a touch of shine to your braids with little hassle.
Half-Updo Beaded Design
If you want to keep your braids off your face but still show off your look then the half-updo beaded design will do the trick.
Beaded Tribal Braids
Beaded braided hairstyles are a part of many African cultures. Society traditionally used these styles to identify a woman’s social standing. Today beads are added to braids to reflect one’s style while paying tribute to their heritage.
Glass, wood, metal or colorful beads do an excellent job adding a unique and individual twist to whatever braid style you choose.
This is one of the most popular tribal braiding styles and is why many braid styles exist today.
Fulani braids originate from the Fula people of West Africa.
The signature part of the braided style is a central braid or twist sitting at the crown of the head and is decorated with beads and rings.
It is paired with thin to medium-side braids, which may be plaited into an updo style or left to hang loose.
It is versatile and vibrant, a testament to why Fulani braids continue to be popular as the years go by.
Like the Fulani braids Ghana braids also have roots in African cultures. Ghana braids are a traditional hairstyle that originated in Ghana.
The term’ Ghana braids’ describes various braiding patterns with a unique tapered effect.
To create the look, the hairstylist will create thin micro braids which taper to more full and thicker plaits towards the end.
If you’ve always wanted to try highlights in black hair do so with Ghana braids since you can use braids of different colors.
Feed-in braids involve a knotless technique that adds extensions to your natural hair, creating longer, fuller, thicker braids.
Since no knots are required, like with other braided styles, feed-in braids put less tension and stress on your scalp.
This makes them an even more protective style. They are a great option if you don’t want to try a crochet hairstyle.
Feed-in braids are popular since they can create beautiful, thick braids even if you have delicate or short hair.
Tribal Box Braids
Box braids became famous in the 1990s because of Janet Jackson. In reality tribal box braids are believed to have originated among tribes of Namibia and the Nile Valley thousands of years ago.
They get their name from the signature square patterns from which each braid is formed.
Senegalese Tribal Braids
Senegalese tribal braids are also referred to as Senegalese twists. They feature a silky, rope-like pattern that helps add glamor to your overall look. The style originated in Senegal and became popular in the 2000s. Senegalese tribal braids are a twist rather than a braid.
Today, the twists are still based on the traditional technique but use modern synthetic hair instead to create a glossy and smooth look.
Criss Cross Tribal Braids
Crisscross tribal braids are the perfect opportunity to put a balance to otherwise simple hairstyles.
The hairstyle is one of the simplest to recreate and takes less time.
If you like rocking multiple styles and textures in your hairstyles try the two-layer tribal braids.
The braids in the top layers provide smoothness and structure, while the natural hair beneath adds a softer backdrop.
The knot gives the whole look height and becomes another point of interest.
Front Fan Part Tribal Braids
Rather than using braids, this hairstyle incorporates a fan design that draws attention to the face.
From the fan the braids form a beautiful curtain that helps frame the face.
Glam Tribal Braids
If you want to glam up your look go for beautiful tribal braids with a bun and loose curly hair.
This is one of the most versatile braided styles since it incorporates multiple stylish looks in one hairstyle.
You can even include a balayage look on black hair with curly locks.
Swirl Pattern Tribal Braids
Long braids are a hit right now and are the perfect option to add length to a style.
The swirl pattern at the top adds a funky vibe to the whole look and is ideal when you want something unique in your braid style.
Adding a bit of red at the ends is the best way to round out the whole look.
Thigh Length Tribal Braids
Thigh-length tribal braids are exactly what they sound like – braids that reach the thighs and beyond.
Long braids are perfect for women who have naturally long hair. However, they can also be created with feed-in and knotted extensions.
As a tribute to your heritage you can add shells to the ends of the braids to complete the look.
Cowry shells are treasured in many African cultures and symbolize womanhood, protection and wealth.
Two Layer Tribal Braids
Short Tribal Braids
Jumbo Tribal Braids
Cute Tribal Braids
Pink Color Tribal Braids
Funky Tribe Braids
Braided Bun with Chunky Loose Braids
Medium Tribal Braids
Neon Color Tribe Braids
Small Tribal Braids
Long and Middle Part Tribal
How to Style and Maintain Tribal Braids
So, you’ve made up your mind that your next hairstyle is going to be a stunning tribal braid look.
How do you go about choosing a style and maintaining it?
Step 1 – Choose the right hairstyle
When choosing a braid style think about how you like styling your hair. If you don’t mind doing a little work in the morning, partially braided styles with natural hair extensions will do.
If you want braids that make styling unnecessary go for full braids that weave every hair and leave no loose strands.
Likewise, if you are getting braids because you want to protect your hair and encourage healthy new growth go for braids that encompass every hair on your head.
Lastly, consider the discomfort when braiding your hair, especially if you already have a sensitive scalp.
Step 2 – Crucial styling tips
If you are getting full braids that weave every hair strand, go with a picture of the hairstyle you want.
The same goes for partially braided styles.
If you are braiding your natural dreadlocks look into other things like hair color for dreadlocks to make your look pop even more.
Step 3 – Maintain your chosen hairstyle
Once you’ve invested in tribal braids you want them to last for as long as possible.
So like many women you might wonder whether you should wash your braids.
Most stylists recommend washing long-lasting braided hairstyles every three to four weeks.
Use shampoo, apply conditioner and let it sit in your hair for a few minutes before rinsing it.
You can use a hooded dryer to dry your braids or leave them to air dry.
Once the hair is dry apply a hair sheen or oil to keep the braids looking healthy and shiny.
Best Hair Care Products to Use
Your products will depend on the braid styles, from box braids to cornrows and many short haircuts for black women.
Cornrows are attached to the scalp, therefore rubbing them creates friction that leaves them susceptible to frizz.
In that case, invest in a shampoo foaming cleanse. Also, have a foam or mousse after wash in your grooming kit to keep your braids looking neat post-wash day. You may also need shine mist and edge control to keep the braids looking polished.
Are tribal braids a protective hairstyle?
Tribal braids are one of the best protective hairstyles. They are the best option when you want to rock a protective braided style but want something more intricate.
Are tribal and Fulani braids the same thing?
No, tribal braids and Fulani braids are not the same. Fulani braids are braided into cornrows before being wrapped in extensions that are added to add texture and volume. Tribal braids refer to cornrows that are combined with Fulani braiding techniques.
What is the cultural origin of tribal braids?
Tribal braids originated from West Africa among the Fulani people. However, there were many braiding traditions and techniques among different African tribes. Each tribe had its signature braid.
The braids’ style, size and shape varied from tribe to tribe, as did the tools used to create the braids.
Some tribes used fingers, bone and wood, while others used metal tools.
How much do tribal braids cost at a salon?
The price for tribal braids depends on factors like the complexity of the braiding pattern, the length of the braids, how thick your hair is, the quality of the braiding hair, the stylist’s expertise and where you live. On average, you can expect to pay between $70 to $250.
How long do tribal braids last?
Tribal braids on the tighter side, like the Fulani braids, can last for five weeks, while box braids last a little longer – six to eight weeks.
With braided hairstyles ensure that you don’t leave them in too long, as this can lead to product build-up on the scalp and even breakage.
How long does it take to get tribal braids?
It can take about three to six hours to complete your look. Since many stylists are busy, you need to plan well ahead of time and book your appointment in time.
Can you get tribal braids wet?
This is a common question asked by those who are new to the world of tribal braids. The answer is yes, you can get tribal braids wet. However, it is important to take certain precautions to ensure that your braids stay in good shape.
Vinnie is one of the members of the Beardoholic writers team. He’s also a barber and hairstylist for 15 years now and he has a kick-ass beard of his own, so he surely knows what makes a magnificent beard and hair and how to achieve them. He’s our go-to guy for all the latest beard and hairstyle trends and he always has a tip or two on how to grow and style a thick beard fast.