100 Years of Black Hair: Black Hairstyles Throughout the Decades

From Afros to box braids to weaves.

Black women have pioneered hairstyles that have influenced cultures all over the world, such as locs, box braids, twist outs and Bantu knots. To say Black hair is so versatile is definitely an understatement, which is why we’ve taken to discussing this interesting history by looking back at 100 years of Black hair.

For Black History Month, we looked at several iconic Black hairstyles throughout the last century and explore how these looks have influenced today’s modern looks. Read on:

The 1920s

100 years of black hair 1920s
The Flapper look typically consisted of shellacked hair with some waves.

During the infamous Roaring Twenties, Black women had very few trendy styles. In the 1920s, there was a cultural rebellion, where many women found themselves going against societal norms, which included completely changing the way they wore their hair. The hairstyles that were worn in the 1920s were short Flapper-esque haircuts.

100 years of black hair finger waves
Finger waves were a 20s classic. Photo credit: Shaquille Dunbar

Flapper hairstyles were short, ear- or jaw-length bobs that hugged close to the head, sometimes styled with waves or pin curls. Other notable styles during this time included finger waves and short bob cuts with bangs.

Recreate the look with some firm-hold gel, like TRESemmé Extra Hold Hair Gel, which also helps impart some shine.

The 1930s

100 years of black hair 1930s
Pin curls and fancy accessories were mainstays of the ’30s. Photo credit: MiniMarley

In the 1930s, women started wearing more traditionally feminine looks. During this era, deep waves with fashionable hats were a big trend. Well-known hairstyles in this era included water waves, finger waves and windblown hair.

The 1940s

100 years of black hair 1940s
Victory rolls were a common look during the WWII era.

In the 1940s, Black hairstyles took a more elegant spin. During this era, people were becoming more interested in style and aesthetics as they were depicted on the silver screen, giving rise to Hollywood-inspired glamour and screen siren beauty. Soft curly hairstyles and updos were becoming more highly requested during this time.

Rollers became very popular, perhaps due to the rise in recognition of pin-up fashion during World War II. Hairstyles prevalent during this time included curls, rolls, scarves, snoods and sleek buns.

A few spritzes of curl hairspray, like Nexxus Weightless Style Ultra Light Hair Spray, helps maintain the structure of these elaborate rolls.

The 1950s

100 years of black hair 1950s
Pompadours, or “pomps,” were fashionable for fancy occasions in the 1950s.

Many styles of the 1940s were still huge in the 1950s. During this era, wigs and super-volumized looks started to come onto the scene and became fashionable among women. Stylish hairstyles during this era included the pompadour and the beehive.

The 1960s

100 years of black hair 1960s
Natural hair and Afros came to the fore during the Civil Rights Movement. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Natural hair became a movement during the 1960s: This was the time of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power. Many women started wearing their hair natural during this time. Afros were very popular.

The 1970s

100 years of black hair 1970s
The disco era saw lots more Afros and big statement ‘dos. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

During this era, afros started to become more and more of a fashion statement. Celebrities rocked big afros and made them very popular during this disco-laden time.

100 years of black hair braids
The 70s also brought more traditionalAfrican braids to the scene.

Other trendy hairstyles of this decade included cornrows, braids and afro puffs.

The 1980s

100 years of black hair 1980s
Asymmetrical cuts, like a mullet-inspired natural bob, were big in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, Afros were not as widespread, but new hairstyles like Jheri curls and asymmetric bobs, as well as fades, started to come into the fore.

The 1990s

100 years of black hair 1990s
Box braids, forehead wisps and high ponies were hallmarks of the ’90s. Photo credit: indigitalimages.com

Many of the hairstyles that were big in the 1990s are still well-loved today. Popular hairstyles of the ’90s included box braids, micro braids, relaxed strands and baby hair.

A serum-gel hybrid, like Suave Professionals Define & Shine Serum Gel, helped prep strands before braiding.

The 2000s

100 years of black hair 2000s
Relaxed flipped bobs and spiky pixie cuts were big during the Early Aughts.

Relaxed, layered hair with side-swept bangs inspired many looks during the 2000s. Many women wanted to rock these side-lying bangs.

100 years of black hair cornrows
The 2000s saw lots of cornrow styles popping up. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

Other popular hairstyles during the 2000s included short spiky hair/pixie cuts, cornrows with patterns and short bobs with flipped ends.

The 2010s

100 years of black hair 2010s
Creative crochet locs and weaves characterize the latter part of the 2010s.

Black women tried many hairstyles during this era. Some of the most popular hairstyles from this most recent decade include crochet braids, weaves, natural hairstyles and faux locs.

100 years of black hair bantu knots
Bantu knots increased in popularity in the 2010s, and it’s easy to see why!Photo credit: Craig Alexander

Another style that grew in popularity was Bantu knots, a traditional African style that demands attention with its beautiful twisted and spiraled knots.

The 2020s

100 years of black hair curly bangs
Curly bangs are a definite trend in the 2020s. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

As the 2020s are still fresh and new, we haven’t seen the full scope of hair trends in the Black community, but we’re seeing the beginnings of it. Curly and natural textures continue to come into the spotlight and gain popularity as embracing your hair type becomes the norm (finally!).

One trend we have been loving is the curly bang. This look is so chic and proves that curly haired gals can most certainly rock bangs without needing to use a hot tool or blowdryer.

Give your curls the hydration and definition they need with some TRESemmé Curl Refresher Leave-In Conditioner.

What was your favorite style throughout the years?

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