10 Decades of Black Hairstyles: Reflecting on the Trendiest Black Hair-do’s from Each Era

Here's to an amazing 100 years of black hairstyles, and another 100 year's to go! #BlackHistoryMonth

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, All Things Hair is taking a step back in time to honor all the strides the black community has made in the beauty community, especially through hairstyling. To honor the impact black beauty icons have made in hair trends, many of which we still love and build on today, let’s take a trip down memory lane to explore some of the trendiest hairstyles from the past 10 decades, beginning with our current times in the 2020’s all the way down to the 1930s! 

It’s no secret that black women have set the trends in hair care and styling for decades now! Let’s take a deep dive into some of the hottest t hair trends from each of the last 10 decades. 

1.) 1930’s – Hair in the Harlem Renaissance 

1920's Hairstyles
Popular black jazz performers contributed to making the short, layered curls, haircut a trending look during the 30s. Photo by Frankie Cordoba.

The Harlem Renaissance brought about a revitalization in the black community’s music, arts, literature, politics, fashion, and more. Of course, a plethora of looks and beauty trends came about in this era as well! The women of the time began experimenting with new hairstyles that were nontraditional to time. For instance, popular black jazz entertainers created signature looks through short cuts, with swooped edges, and layered curls. 

Thinking about recreating this look? Swoop your natural hair into layers with a strong holding hair gel such as SheaMoisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil + Flaxseed Strong Hold Styling Gel. Complete the look by swooping out your edges using this hair gel as well. 

We ran a survey among our readers and asked them how natural hair could be best represented and their answers are as follow.

BHM 2022 survey

2.) 1940’s  – The Influence of Jazz on Black Hair

1940's hair trends
Hair accessories such as flowers were worn by popular black woman jazz musicians of the 40’s to decorate their performance looks. Photo by Jessica Felicio

Popular black-women jazz musicians of the 1940s wore their hair short. Elegant hair accessories such as flowers were worn to keep their looks together! 

3.) 1950’s – A Progressive Era in Society + Beauty

black hair in the 1960's
The Pin Curl Bun was a favorite among black beauty trends in the 1960s. Photo by Frankie Cordoba

The 1950s were a trailblazing time for black women! We see the first black woman become a licensed architect, the first black woman to be nominated for an Oscar, the first black American/woman to win a Pulitzer prize, and more! Although there was still a long way to go in terms of equality, black women were making new strides and the beauty trends they cultivated reflected that! 

One of the most popular hairstyles from the era was the pin curl bun. This hair-do consisted of parting the hair in the center and holding the last half of your hair in a back, or high-up bun. The front side of the hair was left in a quiff or slight hump to almost reflect a bang. Many women would top the style with cute headbands, scarves, or bow accessories! 

4.) 1960’s – A Decade of Defying Standards

1960's black hair trends
Natural hair textures and afros were worn more openly in the black community during the 1960s as a political statement to deft European beauty standards. Photo by Juan Manuel Merino.

As the civil rights movement picked up traction, and groups such as the black panther movement began to emerge, natural hair and natural hair textures were worn and embraced more in the black community. This was with the intention to defy Eurocentric beauty standards. In a sense, afro became a huge political statement of the era. 

5.) 1970’s  – Age of the Afro 

1970's black hair trends.
The ’70s were all about big afro’s in the black community as cultivated by the biggest dance music stars. Photo by Yonko Kilasi

Big afros took over and the natural hair community thrived in the 1970s. For the first time, black women in the United States began embracing their afros as a fashion statement. The biggest dance music stars at the time helped cultivate this trend. As afros became trendier, they also were worn out bigger and bigger. 

6.) 1980’s – The Decade of Defined Curls

Black women in the 80's
Big hair, defined curls, and curly bangs were at the heart of black hairstyling in the 80’s decade. Photo by Joshua Oyebanji.

In the 1980’s the big hair trend from the ’70s stuck within the black hair community. However, there was a huge emphasis on looser/more defined-looking curls. Curly bangs were also all the rave! 

If you plan on recreating the 80’s curls look whether it be on your natural hair or on a synthetic wig, For Every Hair Type’s Smooth & Style Mousse. It works to elongate the timespan for any human hair or synthetic hairstyle and works especially great on curls. 

We also asked our readers how said representation could be improved and below are their responses.

BHM 2022

7.) 1990’s -The Decade of Intricate Curls & Updos 

1990's black hair trends
The 1990s brought about the popularization of symmetrical short cuts and intricate yet elegant curly updos. Photo by Joshua Oyebanji.

As black talent began to become the face of pop culture in the 1990s, the black community began to pioneer a revolution of the newest and hottest fashion and beauty trends that were so impactful that they have become timeless. Out of the several hairstyles that came out of the 1990s, the ones that became true to their time were symmetrical cuts and intricate curls/updos. 

8.) 2000’s – The Braids of Pop Culture

2000's half braided hairstyle
Half braided hairstyles were among many of the trendiest black hairstyles that became favorites of the 2000s. Photo by Good Faces.

Coming out of the ’90s the 2000s were a huge time for making a fashion statement through natural hair and protective styling. Among a handful of new hair trends in the 2000s, wearing straight-back cornrows became a major black hair trend in pop culture. Adding on to this, wearing your hair in half braided cornrow styles was on the rise. 

9.)  2010’s – The Decade of Spunky, Fun Hairstyles

2010's black hair trends
Photo caption: The pouf and bright red hair were two of the biggest black hair trends in the early 2010s. Photo by Tammie Allen.

The 2010s, especially the early 2010s were all about experimenting with fun, spunky hairstyles. We saw everything from sock buns to ombre hair, to hair feathers, and more. During the early 2010s, a hairstyle that was especially trendy was the “the pouf” or having hair that was elevated at the top. Not to mention bright hair became trendy as some of the top pop stars and celebrities were cultivating and embracing the trend. 

Thinking about hopping back on the red hair trend? Use a color retention shampoo such as SheaMoisture’s Purple Rice Water Strength & Color Care Shampoo to help maintain the vibrant red look on natural hair to its fullest potential. 

10.)  2020’s – Endless Possibilities   

lace front wig
Lace front wig technology allows black women to wear their hair in a variety of styles while making it look natural. Photo by Tani Olorunyomi.

The 2020s is a combination of all the hairstyles we’ve seen in the past 10 decades leading up to now. However, with advanced hair technology being more advanced, and more accessible than ever before, black women have the choice to rock a variety of styles such as lace front wigs, crochet hair, knotless braids, and more when they want to, and whenever they want to. 

Which decade of black hair tends was your favorite? Tell us in the comment section of @AllThingsHair. Also for more natural hair history, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter below.

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