The Fulani or Fula people are an ethnic group in the Sahel and West Africa. They are a nomadic pastoral community and are primarily Muslims. Many Fulani people were captured and brought to America between the 16th and the 19th century during the slave trade. Most originated from Mali, Senegal, Guinea, and Cameroon.
Hair plays a major role in African culture and civilization. It can symbolize origins, social status, wealth, religion, or marital status. In this regard, Fulani women decorate their hair with bead hair accessories and cowrie shells. They are characterized by long hair which is braided into four or five braids and sometimes looped on the sides. The women would add silver coins and amber to those braids as ornaments.
As a tradition, some of these coins are passed down in the family. Stylists took inspiration from the unique hairstyle of the Fulani people and named the hairstyle after them, thus creating the Fulani braids we know and love today.
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What Are Fulani Braids?
Fulani braids, also known as tribal braids, have a pattern where cornrows are braided from the back to the front with traditional front-to-back cornrows.
The tribal braids pattern of Fulani Braids is identified by a cornrow braided down the center of your head from front to back. Additional cornrows are braided going forward on each side of the head and hanging. It is very common to include attachments and decorations such as Afrocentric wooden, metal, or plastic beads.
How to do Fulani Braids?
Fulani braids are essentially completed by using the cornrow or feed-in techniques. There are many ways you can choose to wear this style, but the style has distinguishing features. Having the braids on either side of the head being braided from back to front is a feature that must be included to consider it a Fulani braid hairstyle.
Tribal braids are sometimes faster to install than other protective styles such as box braids or faux locs. They are relatively easier to maintain as well. Women tend to go longer between washes when they have protective styles; but thanks to their spacing, Fulani braids offer easier access to the scalp. This also makes the style convenient in case you need to moisturize your scalp. Moisture can be maintained using a spray, leave-in conditioner, or essential oils.
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Are Tribal Braids Versatile?
Tribal braids can be extremely versatile because they can come in a variety of braid patterns. A common look is a braided swoop where the one braid coming forward hangs on only one side of the head, while the other braids are braided normally swooped to the other side.
Other styles include:
- Tribal braids side-part
- Braided high bun
- Space buns
- Crown braids
- Half-up half-down styles
Although the designs you can get with Fulani braids are numerous, the style can be limiting in the fact that once you have that style, you’re stuck with it. It isn’t a style that lets you create several other styles out of it. Unfortunately, this makes them less versatile. So, make sure you pick a beautiful braid pattern that you can see yourself wearing over and over for a few weeks.
How Long Do Fulani Braids Last?
Fulani braids can be long-lasting. The style is safe to keep in for at least 3 to 5 weeks, however, the style can lose its neatness faster than that.
The front of the braids tends to frizz up more quickly, so you may have to get them retouched. To keep them as neat as possible consider sleeping with a silk scarf tied around your braids to combat the frizz.
Who Are Fulani Braids Suitable For?
This style is great for all hair types ranging from 3C to 4A. The style is even great for relaxed and transitioning hair. However, the style may produce a problem for those with sensitive scalps. The style is essentially a cornrow/feed-in style, which requires some tension to secure the neatness and longevity of the style.
For people with more tender scalps, this could be uncomfortable for you. Make sure after the first few braids that you are checking to make sure they aren’t causing too much tension on your scalp, and if so, have your stylist loosen their grip.
When to Wear Fulani Braids?
These braids can be worn at any time but consider getting them in the warmer months. Since this style leaves your scalp more open, having this style in the winter may make your scalp more open to the cold and cause discomfort. Choosing to have this style in the warmer months will allow your scalp to breathe during the hotter days. Also, this style looks great on warm, beachy vacations.
Pros and Cons of Fulani Braids
- They allow for easy access to your scalp. These braids will give your scalp a lot of necessary room to breathe. If you like to be able to feel our scalp even when protective styling, this style is perfect for that. The access to your scalp this style allows you, will make it easier for you to continue moisturizing it with your favorite oil of choice.
- They don’t take as long to complete compared to other styles. Depending on how intricate of a design you want, the braids can take anywhere from 2 to even 8 hours to complete. This style can take less time than many other styles but be sure to give a reference picture to your stylist for a better estimate.
- They are great for protective styling. Fulani braids are a great protective style. These braids will give you and your hair a needed break. If you’re looking for a protective style outside of the normal box braids and twists, you will probably fall in love with Fulani braids.
- They may have to be refreshed. Fulani braids can be long-lasting. The longevity of the style ranges from 3-5 weeks, however, the fronts of the braids may become a bit frizzy. For this reason, many people either take them out within a couple of weeks, or they must get them touched up.
- The accessories may get in your way. The accessories that are typically added to this style can be very fun. However, be aware that they can cause a bit of noise by them clanking together. Also, they can easily swing and hit you or someone else, so be mindful.