The importance of hairstyles to Nigerian women cannot be overstated. Nigeria has some of the most beautiful women in the world and as such, their choice of hairstyles could range from simple to creative and daring.
While some of the trendy names of these hairstyles have lost some usage with the new generation, the styles themselves appear timeless. Nigerian women naturally are blessed with black woolly hair which can be shaped and reshaped into amazing works of art.
Below are some of the names, backstories, and braiding techniques of the most popular natural Nigerian hairstyles.
“Police cap” as the name implies, is an attempt to imitate the shape of a police officer’s beret. While this is a comical name for a hairstyle, the style itself is more common in corporate spaces.
To make this style, the hair is braided all to the front and drops down over the forehead which mimics a “police cap”
Shuku is a Yoruba hairstyle that involves braiding the hair all to the middle of one’s head to produce a funnel-like appearance. Shuku can be said to be a high braided up-do. This hairstyle is revered in Yoruba culture, formerly reserved for royalty, today it is applicable to all.
Shuku comes in variants, shuku onididi (inverted braids), shuku ologede (banana-shaped braids) amongst others.
This Nigerian hairstyle is so named because on completion, it looks very much like an upturned basket giving it the appearance of an inverted shuku on the wearer.
To make the hairstyle, the hair is braided downwards from the middle on all sides, forming a basket shape.
“Patewo” is a Yoruba word that translates to “clap”. The hairstyle is so named because it resembles two clasped hands, giving it the appearance of clapping.
The hair is divided vertically down the middle and braided horizontally to the division. Patewo has some similarities to the new age “Mohawk”, but it is braided and devoid of shaved hair on both sides.
The patewo hairstyle can be easily combined with all back and a fringe (base) to give it more variety.
This technique is used to stimulate hair growth. Although it sometimes has the appearance of corn-rows, the difference between didi and regular corn-rows is that didi is basically inverted braids. Meaning braiders are positioned in the opposite direction of the braids they’re making to achieve this style.
“Abeti Aja” (which literally translates to “Like dog ears”) is a traditional hairstyle. To achieve this hairstyle, the hair is braided to form two dog ears, kind of like a double shuku on opposite sides of the head.
The hair is then allowed to fall on both sides of the head, over the ears.
All back hairstyle is the easiest Nigerian hairstyle and is popular among black women around the world. The hair is simply braided all to the back. This hairstyle is very functional as it is said to grow the hair, and it’s the most convenient protective hairstyle when wearing wigs.
All back brings out the shape of a woman’s face and accentuates the size of her forehead.
Nigerian hairstyles are beautiful and unique. Although one might see them as regular cornrow hairstyles, their names and backstories make them unique.
These Nigerian hairstyles can be enhanced and beautified further with “attachments”. These days, wigs and weave hairstyles appear to have taken over, however, the younger generation still has a fair share of exposure to the Nigerian hair culture via school hair rules.
In its deep-rooted meaning, the hair of a Nigerian woman is her crowning glory. These hairstyles help to show the beauty and strength of a woman.