Everything You Need to Know About Fulani Braids

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Everything You Need to Know About Fulani Braids featured image
Steve Granitz / Raimonda Kulikauskiene / Getty Images

If you’re looking for your next braiding style, look no further than the iconic and versatile Fulani braid. Braids come in a million different variations and styles, and these are no exception. Fulani braids are some of the most beautiful and protective braiding styles to wear with a rich history. The Fulani people in West Africa have been wearing the eponymous braids for centuries, and they symbolize wealth, beauty and even marital status. The sky’s the limit when it comes to rocking your own Fulani braid style. Not only is this braiding style unique and fully protective, but it’s also incredibly versatile and can suit an array of different styles, from straight backs with face framing layers to designs as intricate as you like. Take a peek at the styles below for a little inspo before you make that appointment with your braider.

What are Fulani Braids?

Fulani braids are a type of cornrow style that originated from the Fulani people of West Africa. While women of African lineage have been wearing braids for thousands of years, the Fulani people made this particular style popular. Fulani braids are a kind of tightly braided cornrows that vary in size from smaller braids to medium braids and are styled as box braids in the back. Typically, these braids offer more room for designs, whereas traditional cornrows are often straight back and more uniform in size. Fulani braids are characterized by one or a few braids in the center of the face going back and braids “looping” near the ears. The best thing about these braids is that there is room to explore a plethora of different styles, from face framing curls on the ends to braids with wavy designs at the scalp—there’s a style for everyone, and best of all, just like all other braiding styles, they can be as short or as long as you like.

How Long Do Fulani Braids Last?

Just like with any other braiding style, Fulani braids vary in how long they last but typically last around six to eight weeks. Many stylists recommend getting the braids trimmed. Maintaining your braids is the most important thing to consider—the better they are maintained, the longer they’ll last! Sleeping in a silk or satin bonnet or scarf will help keep your braids looking fresh for longer. Refreshing braids with washes and leave in conditioner as needed will also help the longevity of your braids.

How to Get Fulani Braids

While all braid styles vary in the time that they take—Fulani braids can take anywhere from three to six hours to complete, depending on the length you’re going for. All braids can be time consuming, but for those with quick fingers who want to achieve the look at home, ensuring you start on freshly washed and dried hair will make the process that much easier. Fulani braids take about five to six packs of hair, but it never hurts to have extra, just in case you’re wanting a more dramatic length and look.

Fulani Braid Looks We Love

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Classic Pulled Up

Joan Smalls looks breathtaking in this Fulani braid style that is gathered in the back. Not only is this look classic, but it’s striking no matter what the occasion.

fulani braids joan smalls
Steve Granitz/FilmMagic/ Getty Images
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Two Top Knots

Willow Smith shows us how Fulani braids can be worn as two top knots for that extra cool-girl factor.

fulani braids willow smith
Edward Berthelot/Getty Images
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High Pony

A high ponytail style feels so effortless and chic. Add in a few face framing pieces for the ultimate look.

fulani braids high pony
Raimonda Kulikauskiene/Getty Images
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Knee Length

While knee length braids may take longer than a usual visit to the salon, they’re absolutely worth it when they look as good as they do on Jodie Turner Smith.

fulani braids jodie turner smith
Karwai Tang/WireImage/ Getty Images
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Half Up

Fulani braids look absolutely adorable when clipped up in the back for a half up, half down effect and curled ends.

fulani braids half-up
Claudio Lavenia/Getty Images
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Clusters of Beads

Another fun way to include beads in your Fulani braids is to add a few clusters of large beads in the same colorstory.

fulani braids cluster beads
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Beautiful Beads

Why not try styling your Fulani braids with a stack of beads on the ends? It’s a fun way to explore mixing in your favorite colors, and they instantly add personality.

fulani braids beads
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
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Blended Braids

Style your Fulani braids for a night out by braiding them into large sections for a look that feels like an entirely different style.

fulani braids blended
Raymond Hall/GC Images
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Top Bun

Few hairstyles are as effortless or cool as a wrap bun accented by face framing braids. Not to mention, it only takes a few minutes to achieve. Who doesn’t love that?

fulani braids top-knot
Valentina Frugiuele/Getty Images
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Side Pony

Back in the early aughts, Alicia Keys was wearing some of the cutest styles out there, including this side pony with beading.

fulani braids alicia keys
J. Vespa/WireImage/ Getty Images
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Mixed Layers

You can absolutely still wear Fulani braids when you have layers! Just make sure when you’re taking them down that you don’t essentially trim your shorter layers.

fulani braids mixed layers
Paras Griffin/Getty Images
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Short and Sweet

Face framing Fulani braids accented by a short updo or pony feel chic and sleek. Try adding just a touch of gel to the ends of face framing braids to keep flyaways at bay.

fulani braids short
Amy Sussman/Getty Images
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Classic Shoulder Length

We personally don’t think we could forget when Kim Kardashian called her Fulani braids “Bo Derek braids”, however, as controversial as the look was, it still is a perfect example of the iconic style.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/ Getty Images

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