Braiding African hair is the art of plaiting hair using regular hair extensions, kinky hair extensions, weave wefts, natural hair, acrylic woolen string or other materials that are interwoven with a person’s natural hair.

One should always ensure that their hair has been washed, blow dried and moisturized prior to starting any African hair braiding. This is to prevent the hair from drying out. Braiding chemically relaxed hair should not be done over a long period of time as it can cause damage to the hair, making it weak and brittle, which can lead to hair loss.

When choosing braid types, it is preferable to use high grade human hair also known as Remy hair, that gives a more natural finished look. However, it maybe better to stay away from Remy hair when one is learning how to braid African hair due to the steep price. You can also choose to add synthetic hair while braiding, which will help make the braids look thicker and longer.

If you decide to braid using synthetic hair, you should be aware that if you buy poor quality synthetic hair your scalp may itch. Poor quality synthetic hair may also not last long as the braided ends can fray and unravel. However, some African American braiding techniques such as braiding twists with kinky hair extensions or African bob braids using hot water hair extensions require synthetic hair.

Below Are Ten Techniques For Braiding African Hair. Click On An Image To View A Larger Photo.

Very Thin Micro Braids

Three Strand Braiding With Regular Hair Extensions

This technique is the most popular type of African hair braiding. Micro braiding and tree braiding using regular hair extensions also fall within the domain of 3 strand braiding using regular extensions. The technique entails using three strands of hair extensions that are woven together to produce an elegant, durable hairdo that has been known to last up to six months with minimal maintenance. If you are on a tight budget, synthetic hair extensions can be easily reused if they are washed. Many people however usually opt for the pricier human hair extensions which are ideal if a more natural look is desired.

Braiding Very Thin Cornrows

Braiding Cornrows

Cornrows are the most fundamental form of braiding. Three strands of natural hair are braided in an interlocking manner in columns (hair is normally plaited from the front hairline to the nape). Once one has mastered how to cornrow hair from the front hair line to the back, mixing horizontal, circular and diagonal cornrows can produce dazzling hairstyles. Cornrows are also the foundation that builds other African American hair braiding techniques such as weaves and African bob braids.

Braiding Very Thin Twists With Regular Hair Extensions

Two Strand Twist Braids With Hair Extensions

This striking African American braiding technique is among the easiest to do. Braiding two strand twists with hair extensions entails folding a hair extension strand (forming 2 strands) of varying thickness that is intertwined in a rope like manner with natural hair creating a polished look. Normally, synthetic hair extensions are used to make two strand twist braids.

Thin African Bob Braids Using Hair Extensions

African Bob Braids Using Hair Extensions (Question Mark Braids)

Question mark braids or African bob braids using hot water hair extensions are at the pinnacle of sheer elegance. This African hair braiding type uses three braiding techniques. They are: Cornrows, braiding while wrapping hair extensions as well as three strand braiding while using hair extensions. The ends of bob braids using hot water extensions are always burnt to give them weight and to allow the braided piece to curl inwards. African bob braids are always done using synthetic hair extensions.

Braiding While Wrapping Medium Size Regular Hair Extensions

Braiding Hair Wraps With Hair Extensions

Braiding hair wraps with extensions entails wrapping hair extensions around strands of one’s own hair. The results are quite stunning as the hair appears springy and neat. Normally a knot is tied at the braid end or the ends are literally burnt to keep the hair wraps from unraveling.

Braiding Medium Size African Hair Twists With String

Hair Twists With String

Many people are stunned when they are told that they can twist hair with string or thread. The string in question is four ply acrylic wool or synthetic knitting wool. One adds and combines equal lengths of wool to form a thicker strand of wool. This thicker strand is then used to create rope like braids. African two string twists or hair twists with string have great advantages such as their ability to resist shrinkage and are cheap to buy.

Braiding While Wrapping Kinky African Hair Extensions

Braiding Hair Wraps With Kinky Hair Extensions

If you are looking for a more contemporary dreadlocks look, then braiding African hair wraps with kinky hair extensions maybe the way to go. To recreate this African hair braiding technique, one just wraps an unraveled kinky hair extension around a section of hair, then ties a small knot at the end. Be aware though, kinky hair extensions normally come in synthetic flavors only.

Braiding Medium Size Twists With Kinky Hair Extensions

Braiding Kinky Twists With Kinky Hair Extensions

For sheer redefined elegance, it is tough to beat kinky twists that have been braided using kinky hair extensions. This hair braiding technique is accomplished by splitting a section of hair in half, then twisting kinky hair extensions around each half. One then overlaps the two newly created hair strands in a rope like manner. To finish simply tie a knot at the braid end or if you are braiding micro twists with kinky extensions, dip them in hot water.

Braiding Short Hair Weaves

Braiding Hair Weaves

When it comes to braiding African hair, sewn in hair weaves really are a timeless classic. Well sewn-in weaves have a natural feel even though the weave weft maybe synthetic. The journey towards creating the perfect weave traditionally begins with braiding cornrows. Plait thick cornrow lines covering the entire scalp. Hide loose cornrows that are not attached to the scalp by sewing them against the cornrows that are not loose. Finally, sew-in weave pieces horizontally in an overlapping manner using acrylic wool.

Wrapped Thin Braids Using Thread

African Hair Wraps With String or Thread

Braiding African hair wraps with string is yet another African hair braiding technique that only requires 100% acrylic wool. As always, one has to measure out equal lengths of thread before any hair braiding can begin. After the desired thread lengths have been cut, braiding is done by tightly wrapping single or combined multiple threads around a section of hair. You can either tie a knot at the ends or burn the tips for a more radical look.


Many African Americans braid their hair because braiding requires minimal maintenance. Some braid types like micro braids, last for months and still look neat and elegant. In addition, African hair braiding also strengthens the underlying original, natural hair. Braided African American hair also grows at a much faster rate than plain natural hair. Finally, dazzling braided hairstyles can be created from combining different African hair braiding techniques.