Professional Black Natural Hairstyles

By | September 23, 2016

Professional Black Natural Hairstyles

One of the problems facing black women with natural hair, is the common question – ‘How should I wear my hair for work?’

In today’s society with so many women giving up the ‘hair crack’ aka ‘hair relaxer’ to go ‘natural’, they sometimes feel like ‘a fish out of water’ especially when it comes to professional natural hairstyles for the workplace.

It should not be a daunting challenge or a moment of fear or rejection or non-acceptance. Yes, all these words connote the feeling that the newly natural woman goes through when contemplating her professional look.

Well, it is my plan to assuage some of those feelings by providing a few professional black natural hairstyles as possibilities for the newly natural or the veteran natural woman.

To begin delving into this natural world of possibilities, it is without a doubt a fact that natural hair is totally flexible. What makes it overwhelming is the ‘not knowing’ or the lack of information to maximize the potential of black natural hair.

Black natural hair can be styled in various ways as I will outline below :

Using its own natural curl pattern:

  • Finger coils
  • Twist outs
  • Flat twists – one strand, two strand, three strand twists
  • Wash ‘n go
  • Bantu knots and bantu knot outs

Then there is the straightened look:

  • Blow-dried
  • Flat ironed
  • Air dried straight – satin twisted, corded, braided
  • Silk wrapped

And there is the wo-manipulated (personally coined word)/assisted curl pattern:

  • Magnetic rollers
  • Perm rods – various sizes to create various sizes in curls (small too large i.e. 1/4inch diamieter-2-inch diameter)
  • Flexi-rods

And of course, using the natural hair texture, with or without the help of hair extensions:

  • Braids or/and braids out
  • Box braids
  • Crochet braids
  • Marley twists
  • Locks

 

All the above ways are methods of enhancing the black natural hair in the style world. Of course, what determines the professionalism all depends on the sector of work , primarily– what might be considered ‘acceptable’ in one sector, might be scoffed at in another sector; and your sense of style aka common sense.

I will tickle your thought processes with an example of what I mean. Let’s take for example someone in the food industry – a chef. Surely, it is of utmost importance that as a chef, all hair needs to be appropriately covered during meal preparation and delivery to the public – paying or charitable guests. I would choose to believe that ‘hair’ in one’s food will indeed leave much to be desired in more ways than one! That being said, to turn up for work with a hairstyle that says ‘I am here to party’ would indeed cause some ‘eyebrows to be raised’. One needs to ‘dress’ one’s hair according to the professional needs of one’s job.

Now ANY of the above black natural hairstyles can be adapted to suit ’the scene of the crime’! It doesn’t matter whether your hair is long or medium or short. This should be gauged by ‘common sense’; and I say this, hopefully, without ‘bruising’ anyone’s ego! With all due consideration, I think everyone should be more aware of the appropriateness of their individual work scene ethics – whether one’s hair state is in its natural state or chemically altered/adjusted. It is just the basis of one’s upbringing coming to the surface, in my opinion.

So, let’s get into the ‘meat of the matter’ at hand, here, and talk about the creation of all these styling possibilities.

Let’s begin with using the hair’s own natural curl pattern:

  • Finger coils coils

This is a very simple style which can be created using your fingers, a brush or a comb and the results being the same with each method. Of course, like anything else, the perfection lies in the practice, so don’t be disappointed if it does not make the grade the very first time – just remember Isaac Newton – it took him 1,000 ways to create the end product – our light bulb! Of course, I do believe that it won’t take that many times once you get started to create this style, it is best done on freshly cleansed hair that is dripping wet. As the hair dries during the coiling, simply re-wet with a spray bottle.

Finger Method

After the cleansing, apply whatever leave-in that you normally use to keep your hair moisturized. Separate your hair into sections, I usually do four sections – a part in the middle from forehead to nape, and then one across the middle from ear to ear. I then pin up all the sections. I usually start at the back – just because – however, choose whatever feels natural to you.

I will then part the hair horizontally in each section, making each part about one-inch-wide/square – this is also optional – you can ‘guesstimate’ the size of each coil by using your fingers as a comb.

Once I have a small section, I apply some gel – homemade linseed/flaxseed gel or store bought Eco styling gel – to the entire section. I will then separate into smaller sections. I will then hold the hair between my index finger and thumb and then begin to ‘twirl’ the hair section in a clockwise motion with the index finger. I do this to the end, adjust the tension as I go towards the end of the length of the hair.

I must also point out the importance of making sure that the hair is tightly coiled beginning at the root – this will minimize unraveling of the coil. Also, as you move along the length of the hair, you hold it at the finished/coiled section and then continue to the end. With a little practice, this can even be done while watching your favorite TV show!

Brush or comb method

The concept is the same as the finger, i.e. instead of using the finger, you will now use the brush or the comb. The only adjustment is to grip the hair in the root using either implement, and turn in the clockwise direction. Once it gets too tightly coiled, simply move to the next section along the section and continue to the end et voila!

  • Twist outs

This is as the name suggests…the ‘twisting out’ or ‘unravelling’ of a hair twist. To start, after twisting the hair in whatever number of twists, i.e. flat twist, two strand twist, three strand twist, the hair is simply untwisted after smoothing some type of oil or butter to minimize frizz once you are finished. This is an easy style and it does not matter the length of the hair.

  • Flat twists – one strand, two strand, three strand twists

This is where the hair is twisted by sectioning the hair in two parts and then gently crossing one section over the other section while keeping the twisting motion close to the root – the flat twist or one strand twist, as I choose to call this method.

The two strand twist is where the hair is sectioned in two parts and then twisted one over the other from the root to the end of the hair.

The three strand twist is where the hair is sectioned into three parts and each section is crossed over each other from the root to the end of the hair. This method I find more challenging to create because it is more like doing a macramé on the hair the way one section is passed over the other and then under. This might need a little bit of practice yet it yields great curls once achieved.

  • Wash ‘n go

 

Wash n Go

With the wash ‘n go style, it is only as it is called because of the fact that not much is done once the hair has been washed; however, I find that this type of style still needs some ‘creating’ in order to soften the look.

After the hair has been cleansed, a leave in added, and a sealant, you would then take some time to separate the individual or clumped curls. You may use some gel if you like to further ‘mold’ the look of the curls. You can separate the curls using your fingers, or a Denman brush. When the hair is really short and close to the scalp, one can simple do a circular motion with the palm of the hand on the hair, and the curls will pop on their own.

  • Bantu knots and bantu knot outs

Bantu knots

The bantu knots have their origin in Africa and has been elevated to public status. Normally, this form of style would only be done and its wearer would not be caught ‘dead’ outside the home. Nowadays, it is considered stylish enough to burst out of that cocoon.

The hair is parted in sections of about an inch or bigger and then twisted and wrapped around itself. The twist can be separated and twisted in two strands from the root to the tip and then twisted around itself into a small knot. It can be further secured using a bobby pin or any stylish pin or simply left on its own.

The bantu knot out is where the twist is unraveled to really a unique form of curls which are further singled out/separated to give more volume to the style.

Then there is the straightened look:

  • Blow-dried

Blow dried natural hair

Freshly cleansed hair is simply blow dried using low heat to create a more straightened look to the natural hair. This can be achieved by using a brush/pick attachment to the blow dryer or using the tension method.

Using the brush or comb/pick attachment

You can use a round boar’s hair bristle brush or a Denman brush. The trick here to hold the brush as taunt as possible to the root of the hair and direct the heat from the blow dryer as you move it up towards the end of the hair. This ensures a smooth look. With the comb/pick attachment, you simply use it like a comb while the heated air from the dryer does its thing.

Using the tension method

This method takes a little practice but once perfected, it is really easy. After separating the hair in small sections, you simply stretch the hair from the root to create tension and while doing so, direct the nozzle of the concentrator attachment of the blow dryer on the stretched hair. You move it back and forth to minimize over heating this particular section of the hair that you are holding in tension mode. You continue like this all the way down to the end of the hair.

  • Flat ironed

For an even smoother and sleeker look, one can then flat iron the blow dried or roller set hair. As long as one does not go above 450 degrees Fahrenheit, as this is where your hair will burn.

  • Air dried straight – satin twisted, corded, braided

Air drying black natural hair can be time consuming as this will take some time in order for it to be fully dried.

Satin twisted

This is where the hair is sectioned and then wrapped in a satin ribbon from root to end and allowed to dry. Once the hair is fully dried, the ribbon is undone and the hair will be fairly straight and full of volume.

Corded

In this method, the sectioned hair is wrapped around using a cord from root to end and allowed to dry. Once undone, the hair will also be relatively straight and full of volume.

Braided

The hair is braided using three sections of hair crossing over each other once, and then allowed to dry. It is also voluminous once undone and is not so straight, however still stylish, nonetheless.

  • Silk wrapped

download-jpg-silk-wrap-natural-hair

With the silk wrap method, it is not an easy method. It can be done on wet or dried hair. Of course, it takes a lot longer time to dry if done on wet hair. The hair is brushed/combed around the head and secured with bobby pins as you literally wrap your hair around itself using you own head as a mold. Once dry, you undo the wrap and style as you desire. This method is usually used after one has used magnetic rollers first, then blow dry the hair, flat iron it for more smoothness and then wrap the hair for even more sleekness and shine. The results are always amazing.

And there is the wo-manipulated (personally coined word)/assisted curl pattern:

  • Magnetic rollers

As the name suggests, the natural hair is wrapped around magnetic rollers and there are various sizes depending on the tightness of the curl desired. The wet hair is wrapped smooth around the rollers, secured by bobby pins or clips and then allowed to air dry or heat dried under a bonnet blow dryer or a helmet type hair dryer.  The hair is then styled as desired.

  • Perm rods – various sizes to create various sizes in curls (small to large i.e. 1/4-inch diameter – 2-inch diameter)

With perm rods, the curls achieved are luscious! They sometimes tend to mimic finger coils but are somewhat more perfect. This curl can also be decided on by the size of the rod, depending on the curls one prefers – the smaller rod: the tighter the curl and the larger rod: the bigger/fuller the curl. The rods can be used on wet or dry hair.

  • Flexi-rods

flexi rod set

Flexi-rods are easy to manipulate and also will give great curls. You just have to make sure that the hair is completely dried or this will result in frizz. They can be used on wet or dry hair. Once you section your hair, simply twist the hair around the flexi-rod and then once all the hair has been twisted on the rod, just bend it to keep the hair in its form. Once dry, if doing it on wet hair, the curls can be further separated to gain more volume/fullness.

 

And of course, using the natural hair texture, with or without the help of hair extensions:

  • Braids or/and braids out

Here, the hair is braided in small/large sections – from root to tip or braided close to the scalp. Another word is ‘corn rows’ – the hair is just braided in rows against the scalp. Various patterns make this braided style a popular form for a lot of natural haired women and men. And of course, because this style is usually kept for a few days or even weeks, it makes for a very defined braid out.

  • Box braids

Box braids are just braided hair in more precise formation – looking like a box effect all over the head. Sectioned hair is braided using three strand sections from root to tip.

  • Crochet braids

crochet braids

Crochet braids are another method where your hair is braided close to your scalp and then hair extensions are pulled though those braids using a crochet needle. This is also a very common protective style among naturals.

  • Marley twists

marley twists

This method of twists is usually recognized by some nice fat two strand twists, usually enhanced with hair extensions – and needless to say, a work of art and beauty in its form. The whole head is full of these twists and I believe that it is some sort of admiration born out of the way the Jamaican artist/singer/musician Bob Marley wore his dreadlocks.

  • Lockslocs bun

 

This is where the hair is ‘locked’ into a twisted form. This can be done using one’s own hair or can also be enhanced using hair extensions. The hair is separated in very small sections and firmly twisted in a rope-type form from root to tip and then locked into the form using a holding gel. The disadvantage about this particular style is the fact that once the hair is ‘locked’, it stays that way. God forbid it you decided after a few months of locks that you wanted to comb out your hair …oops…no can do, you would have to ‘big chop’ all over again. SO, the long and short of this method is – you must decide if this will be your long term hairstyle and enjoy the ease of it.

 

Now, with all these various ways of styling black natural hair, I cannot stop stressing the importance of a basic hair regimen and LOTS of moisturizing treatment for your hair. Each style will only look its best, if the basic rules of hair care are followed consistently.

What are your favorite professional black natural hairstyles? Please leave a comment below. I would love to hear your thoughts.

6 thoughts on “Professional Black Natural Hairstyles

  1. Sabrina

    It’s sad that natural black hairstyles aren’t yet seen as professional. Years ago, I applied for a summer job at a Disney store and the manager told me he thought I would be great, then asked me if I would be willing to change my hairstyle (I had locs) because it was a “family store.” I also remember hearing about one of my mom’s friends wearing a wig to her job interview, and going back to her natural hair after she got the job. I’m hoping that the more black women wear their hair in natural styles onscreen and in real life that it will just naturally (LOL) become more accepted.

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Dear Sabrina, it is indeed sad that more women are not feeling empowered to embrace their natural hair in the workplace due to social restraints of various kinds. Fortunately, our women and our world are becoming more aware of the beauty of natural hair. As the artist, India Arie sings – ‘I am not my hair’ – we need to spend more time reflecting on who we are and less on what we see ourselves as, in terms of how we look. Of course, this ‘concept’ will take more time in its implementation, but I think we are making baby steps in the right direction. Thanks for your thoughts.

      Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hello there, Dee. Yes, a twist-out is such an easy way to style natural hair. And once you get the ‘hang’ of it, the sky is the limit to the possibilities of the ‘twist’. LOL Thank you for stopping by.

      Reply
  2. Marlinda Davis

    Beautiful hair styles. My favorites have always been twist/braid outs and finger coils. I keep switching between natural and relaxed because I really like both but one thing I always struggle with is styling. tfs, I will bookmark this post 🙂

    Reply
    1. Michelle Post author

      Hello Marlinda, yes, one of my faves is the finger coils – I love them. They are a great protective style and are so cute. The longer you keep them, the more full they (mine) become. It is an awesome natural hair style. Hmm..after doing the relaxed thing for more than 30yrs, I love the versatility of natural hair. I have tried the straight look and in no time, I was back to my ‘curlies’ – I missed them. Of course, in the end, all that matters is that you are happy with your hair and the way it makes you feel and look!

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *