21 Tribal Braids to Switch up Your Protective Style

Protective braided styles make up many of the go-to hairstyles in the natural hair community. One style that has become very popular recently is tribal braids. These versions of tribal braids are a whole new take on the traditional style that has been around for a while.

Tribal braids originated from the Fulani tribe in West Africa and were a way to celebrate the culture. The look traditionally consisted of middle-parted cornrow braids that go straight back against the head, decorated with beads. Like many styles, this look evolved and changed over the years. Today, people experiment with different widths of braids and unique patterns too while doing tribal braids. However, the cornrow look is what always sets this style apart.

Scroll down to check out tribal braid styles to try.

Tribal braids are a great option if you want to still wear a protective braided style, but want something a little more intricate than typical box braids. Keep scrolling to get some style inspo!

1. Swirled Cornrow Braids

girl with tribal braids
Add a unique pattern to your braids. Photo and styling credit: instagram.com/busybry_

Get creative with your look! Try out new patterns like this swirled look. This will still protect your hair but makes the style feel more personalized to you. When in doubt, ask your stylist about interesting patterns you can try on your strands.

2. Low Bun and Mini Braided Tribal Braids

girl with low updo and tribal braids
Gather your braids into a low bun. Photo and styling credit: instagram.com/busybry_

Create a unique look with mini braids women into your regular tribal braids. To keep your hair pulled back, gather it into a low bun. This look can be casual or used for a fancier event.

3. Side-Parted Tribal Braids with Wavy Ends

Show more cornrows off with a side part. Photo Credit: @KhatBrim

A side-parted look is a fun way to change up your look without doing anything too drastic. Plus, you can leave the ends out of the braids and show off their curly texture.

4. Thick Tribal Braids

girl with thick tribal braids
Opt for a thicker braid.

Thick braids are another option when it comes to choosing tribal braids. This type of braid pops more and can add fullness to the updos you end up creating. Consider this if you’re looking for a more voluminous style!

5. Pink Tribal Braids

girl with pink braids
Try out a fun color!

Ready for an unexpected change? Weave pink hair into your braids for a bubblegum-inspired look. This is a great way to play with color without sacrificing the integrity of your natural hair.

6. Red Tribal Braids

girl with dark red braids
Try adding hair cuffs to your braids.

Not feeling pink braids? Red, especially a deep maroon shade is a great everyday color when you’re wanting something different. This deep shade is flattering on a range of skin tones!

7. Layered Beaded Braids

girl with beaded braids
Accessorize your braids with beads. Photo Credit: Gina Tigere

Who says you can’t have layers with braids? Hop on to the layered hairstyle trend and ask for layers within your braided look. Adding beads to the ends will make your layers stand out too.

8. Heart-Shaped Braids

girl with heart tribal braids
Try out a creative shape in your braid. Photo and styling credit: instagram.com/busybry_

Heart-shaped braids add an extra feminine touch to your style. Whether you need a festive look for Valentine’s Day or just want a unique braid pattern, this style is perfect for that!

9. Classic Tribal Braids

girl with straight tribal braids
Photo and styling credit: instagram.com/busybry_

You can’t go wrong with a classic tribal braid look. For a modern touch, use SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil + Flaxseed Black Edge Gel to lay your edges in a trendy design.

10. Long Straight-Back Braids

girl with casual braids
Go for a simple, casual look. Photo Credit: Joshua Ovebanii

A classic long, straight-back tribal braid style is a perfect go-to look. It’s simple and works for such a wide variety of occasions. Show off your beautiful face with a style like this that keeps the focus on you!

11. Low Ponytail Tribal Braids

girl with beaded braids in a ponytail
Add beads and gather your braids into a low pony. Photo Credit: @maimaiapplepie

Want a sleek look? Gather your braids into a low ponytail for a powerful look. Plus, the beads add the perfect touch to make your style standout in the best way possible.

12. Tribal Braided Pigtails

girl with high pigtail braids
Create high pigtails with your braids

Thanks to many of the 2000s trends making a comeback, pigtails have made their appearance all across TikTok. Create a voluminous version of this style with your tribal braids.

13. High Ponytail Look

girl with high ponytail braids
Go for a sleek high ponytail. Photo credit: @braidedbytee

A high ponytail never fails to impress no matter what occasion it’s for. Chic and elevated, this style adds instant height to your look and will have you ready for just about any occasion.

14. Goddess Tribal Braids

girl wearing goddess tribal braids
Goddess braids are often combined with tribal braids.

When modernizing tribal braids, many people love to mix Goddess braids into the look by leaving the ends curly. We love the variation in texture this look creates and how beautifully this style blends two unique looks together.

15. One-Sided Look

one sided tribal braids
Gather all of your braids to one side. Photo Credit: @freshlengths

A one-sided braided look creates such a sleek and sophisticated style. However, your scalp may need some TLC between wash days. Use SheaMoisture Moringa & Avocado Power Greens Hair Tea Rinse to lightly cleanse your scalp between wash days. We love how it helps soften and smooth your strands.

16. Braid Ring Hairstyle

varied tribal braids
Incorporate a variety of sizes into your tribal braids. Photo Credit: @braidedbytee

Looking to dress up your braids a little bit, but don’t want to deal with a complicated style or drastic change? Hair rings are the perfect way to add a touch of shine without dealing with any hassle.

17. Half-Updo Beaded Look

girl with
Try out a half updo. Photo Credit: @kersti.pitre

Want to keep your hair from falling into your face, but still want to show off your look? This half-updo bun is the perfect solution! This look also includes that bright pop of red hair color mentioned above!

18. Blonde Hairstyle

blonde tribal braids
Try a bold, blonde look.

Are you in need of a big change to your look? Go blonde! To maintain your color and help prevent it from turning brassy use a purple shampoo like SheaMoisture Purple Rice Water Strength & Color Care Shampoo and Conditioner.

19. Accessorized Look

girl with accessorized braids and styled edges
Accessorize your braids and style your edges for a super polished look.

Make your braids stand out with accessories. Try everything from colored yarn to hair cuffs for a change in your look. This is a wonderful way to experiment with your braids with ease!

20. Combinations of Braids

thick and thin braids
Create a combo of thick and thin braids. Photo Credit: Shaquille Dunbar

Many people love adding variation to their tribal braid looks. This combination of skinny and thick braids creates an amazing contrast. It’s a perfect way to stand out without straying too far outside your comfort zone.

21. Classic Middle-Parted Tribal Braids

middle part tribal braids
Try out a classic middle part tribal braid style.

A middle-parted style with beads at the ends is a classic tribal braid look. For a traditional style, opt for a look like this. We can’t get enough of this beautifully intricate style.

Looking for more hairstyle inspiration? Be sure to follow us over @AllThingsHairUS!

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