Black men's hair can range from straight and thick, to coarse and curly. This wide range of textures lends itself to an array of braided hairstyles, which can be both stylish and convenient. Although braids can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to complete, they can be worn for up to one month with proper maintenance. This cuts back on constant trips to the barbershop and can make overall personal care a breeze.
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Black men can secure longer hair in one or two simple french braids. The technique for this style involves creating a central braid by grabbing hair from either side of the head and then overlapping toward the opposite side. Compared with other braided styles, french braids require little time for installation. They can take between 10 and 30 minutes from start to finish, and they can last for up to one week.
The braided ponytail is the quickest and easiest of all braided hairstyles for black men. All hair is gathered at the nape of the head and then braided through to the ends, which can be secured with an elastic hair band. In less than five minutes, the ponytail is complete, though it should be restyled each day to maintain neatness.
Cornrows are a popular choice for black men with both long and short hair. Several small braids are created so that they lie down on the scalp across the entire head. Stylists can make patterns with the braids, although they can simply braid the hair straight back, from the hairline to the nape. If they are covered at night with a bonnet or head wrap, cornrows can last for two to three weeks. Since they can be completed in about one hour, this is a viable styling option for low-maintenance men.
Individual plaits are among the longest-lasting braided hairstyles for black men. The hair is separated into small sections and then braided from the roots through to the tips. Unlike cornrows, individual plaits hang from the head, and they can range in size from very small to large. The amount of styling time depends on the number of individual plaits desired. Six large individual plaits, for example, may take only 20 minutes to complete, while a head of 100 or more small plaits can take three to five hours. In general, smaller plaits last longer than larger ones and can be worn for a month or more. Since plaits can easily be undone, many black men with longer hair who are considering dreadlocks often try small or medium individual plaits before they commit to the dreadlocks process.