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25 Gorgeous Black Braided Hairstyles That Will Inspire Your Next Look

Protective styles like braids can sometimes take hours to achieve, so of course, you want them to look extrafresh once you finally get out of the braider’s chair. We’re talking about hair that makes you do a double take and then double tap. Braiding, particularly in cultures with a strong African influence, is a tradition that goes back for generations. And classic styles are constantly being reinvented and brought to life with a new-school swag. We’re seeing beads, patterns that swoop and swirl around the crown, technicolor ombré hues, and braids adorned with thread, cuffs, butterflies, and more. The options are endless, which can be a bit daunting if you’re trying to decide on a braided look. But fear not — we’re here to help you navigate it all with some major inspiration spied on celebrities and on Instagram. Whether you’re looking to rock straight backs, Fulani braids, or the ever-popular Janet Jackson Poetic Justice braids, we’ve got looks that will help you achieve ultimate hair goals.

Originally posted at: https://www.allure.com/gallery/black-braided-hairstyles

#1 Down-to-There Platinum Hair

Many an attendee rocked this hairstyle at Essence Fest, so Mary J. Blige brought it from the New Orleans streets to the stage for her performance at the festival. Blige ditched her trademark cropped, blonde hair for the event, choosing instead to wear long, platinum box braids that reached down to the top of her thighs.

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#2 Fulani Fab

Hairstylist Christina "Tina" Trammell gave multi-hyphenate Erica Ash a gorgeous set of Fulani braids, which looked beautiful paired with her head-turning gown. Trammel also added wooden beads at the ends of Ash's braids, tying the whole look together.

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#3 Knot Your Average Pony

This next-level look on the lovely Amandla Stenberg comes courtesy of hair legend Vernon François. François created this multicolor, knotted plait, "because why knot," as he captioned an image of the look on his Instagram page.

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#4 Cinnamon Bun Braids

Hairstylist Sheridan Ward gave Thandie Newton this hairstyle for a panel at Cannes Lions. The cornrows were braided back in a slightly swoopy pattern, brought together at the nape of her neck into a low bun that is making us hungry for Cinnabon.

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#5 Flower Power

For the cover of Allure's June 2017 issue, Zoe Kravitz's signature micro braids (this time in platinum blonde) were accessorized with charming faux flowers and butterflies, courtesy of Nikki Nelms. The result? An ethereal, mystical style.

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#6 Child’s Play

Popular natural hair influencer and comedienne Nneoma is the queen of finessing her protective styles in unique ways. Here, she used one of our favorite accessories from childhood — hair bobbles — and wrapped them around the top and bottom of each box braid for a playful look that's simple to replicate on your own.

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#7 Unicorn Dreams

Known for her colorful style, Brazilian blogger Magá Moura looks like she came straight out of the '90s with her face stickers and unicorn braids adorned with pastel beads on the ends. Here, she styled them in high ponytails, leaving some braids out in the front to frame her face.

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#8 Half Up, Half Down

Insecure creator and actress Issa Rae stunned on the red carpet at the 2017 NAACP Image Awards rocking this half up, half down look with a cornrowed topknot and two loose braids on the side, leaving her hair loose in the back. Consider trying the style out on those extremely hot days when you want lots of volume but also want to keep your hair out of your face.

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#9 Braids and Bouffant

The Voice judge Alicia Keys paired a few braids with a voluminous bouffant for the hit NBC series.

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#10 Mix & Match Plaits

When is Solange Knowles not giving us serious hairspiration? Not only did she shock us by going blonde last September, but when she stepped out with this set of braids by Susy Oludele, aka @hairbysusy, we were, as the kids say, shook AF. We love the mix-and-match feel of these braids, adorned with beads and white thread

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#11 Kandy Cornrows

Not everyone likes the taste of candy corn, but the look of these orange-and-yellow ombré jumbo braids are making me want to eat a bowl full of them. The braids, done by YouTuber Kersti Pitre, are what she likes to call Kandy Cornrows. We think the name fits perfectly.

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#12 Straight Backs

Kerry Washington's straight-back cornrows, which she rocked to shoot Allure's November 2017 issue, were given an easy, earthy vibe with loose edges and a few well-placed cuffs. Here, hairstylist Takisha Sturdivant-Drew shows us you don't always need edge control to serve a polished braided moment

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#13 Beads for Days

Just so you know, we’re still gathering our collective edges from when we saw this hairstyle on Survivor’s Remorse actress Teyonah Parris. Parris took her Fulani braids to beaded glory with this look. Want to copy it? Head over to Khamit Kinks in Brooklyn and ask for the stylist Fatoumata. Tell them we sent 

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#14 Acid Yellow

If Beyoncé lets you do her hair, you know you've got the magic touch. @hairbysusy consistently floods our Instafeeds with major hair porn, and this electric, acid-yellow set of box braids adorned with colorful beads is no exception.

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#15 Halve-sies

Duh, braids are awesome, but sometimes you want to rock them and your loose natural hair. Tamara, owner of Ancestral Strands hair salon in Brooklyn, created this gorgeous braided look on one of her models for CurlFest. BRB, booking an appointment so I can get that adorably loopy fringe.

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#16 Purple Unicorn

Up-and-coming songbird Justine Skye has a girl gang that includes Kylie Jenner and Jordyn Woods. She also has great hair. All the time. The self-proclaimed "Purple Unicorn" made a bold statement with this braided ponytail by master braider @guin_gui. There’s some legit whip-ability with this braid…and we wouldn't have it any other way.

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#17 Braided Bun

Speaking of purple, model/dancer Damaris Lewis was a muse to the late great Prince. They shared the stage and the sensibility to be fly and fierce, which is what this look by Felicia Burrows is. We especially like the zig-zag part in between the braids; it’s a nice touch. Reminder: Screenshot this and bring to salon.

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#18 Orange Soda

Orange Soda

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#19 Well-Fed

Jourdan Dunn rocked a set of feed-in braids by Lacy Redway to the 2015 Met Gala, and of course, absolutely nailed the look

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#20 Cinnamon Bun Braids

St. Kitts–based hairstylist Jalicia created this gorgeous updo, which she punctuated with a bit of colorful thread in the front. The big swirl reminds us of a delicious cinnamon bun.

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