African Braids: Braiding Is A Social Art

African Braids, that’s our topic this week as promised.


 African hair braiding, you can give your hair a rest, it is an easy and cool way to forget about hair styling for months. Most black women are sporting braids since they are gifted with strong black hair which can hold braids well.


African Braids History


African braids are an old form of art that is a part of Africa’s tribal customs. It actually originates way back in 3500 BC in Egypt. Every region and tribe in Africa have its own distinct style of hair braiding.


African braids are traditionally a social art

Because of the time it takes to braid hair, people have often taken time to socialize while braiding and having their hair braided. It begins with the elders making simple knots and braids for younger children. Older children watch and learn from them, start practicing on younger children, and eventually learn the traditional designs. This carries on a tradition of bonding between elders and the new generation.

African braids were means of communication

In some regions, a braid was a means of communication. At a glance, one individual could distinguish a wealth of information about another, whether they were married, mourning, or of age for courtship, simply by observing their hairstyle. Braids were a means of social stratification. Certain hairstyles were distinctive to particular tribes or nations. Other styles informed others of an individual’s status in society.

In the 1950s, braids seemed to make a resurgence. At the same time, the Afro also was becoming popular for blacks in America. With race relations on its way to becoming a heated issue, black artists, scholars and activists began looking to African hair styles. By 1969, the styles came to symbolize a movement.

In the 1970s, West African immigrants brought even more styles of braiding to America. In 1972, actress Cicely Tyson wore intricate Nigerian braids during a television appearance and became the first to wear cornrows on TV.


Cornrows : A Trademark Of The Hip-Hop Culture

By the 1990s, cornrows had become a trademark of the hip-hop culture, as artists like Ludacris and Lil’ Bow Wow began sporting the look. Athletes such as basketball star Allen Iverson also wore cornrows.

Over the years, cornrows, along with dreadlocks, have been the subject of several disputes in the American workplace as well as universities. Some employers and educational institutions have deemed them unsuitable for the office and have banned them – sometimes even terminating employees who have worn them. Employees and civil rights groups have countered that such attitudes evidence cultural bias. Some such disputes have resulted in litigation.

African Braids


Traditional African Braids

We are mesmerized at how perfection is achieved so effortlessly when an African American sets her hands to braiding. These are trophy winning braids … Perfect sections, perfect tension and perfect braids !



African Braids Today

Today, the care and maintenance of black hair styles has become a multi-million dollar industry. Shops all over the country specialize in weaves and cornrows. At Iles Formula, we don’t specialize in white hair or black hair, we believe in ” natural hair ” whatever is the color or type.

One of our formulas is especially good to use when weaving. Iles Formula Finishing Serum is made from nut oils, vitamins, plant extracts and raw silk, it does not only give you wonderful control when braiding but feeds the hair with great nutrition and protects it from humidity, heat and UV damage.



African Braids Hairstyles

African braided hairstyles are quite common among modern women, especially traditional looks like box braids and large long braids that go well with the 90’s revival and street wear fashion trends that are popular at the moment.

Get inspired ! Here’s some inspiration we have gathered for you from the streets of today.



African Braids


African Braids

African Braids


The music industry today has had a huge influence on reviving African braids. To mention a few names Beyoncé, Rihanna, Alicia Keys … of course they wear them perfectly.



For those of you who do not have an African descendant to teach you the braiding tradition, here’s a little tutorial video to help, enjoy ! If you have some tips to share with us, we would be happy to hear them.

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