When thinking about a hairstyle for black men, most people imagine an afro. Most people who are not of color, of course. That’s partly because the afro is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic hairstyles of all time and it just so happens that it belongs to the black culture as a whole. But it’s also due to pop culture and cinema. Somewhere along the way Hollywood decided that this would be the best way to depict men of color both on the big screen and in TV series. And it simply stuck. That’s how it went down in history. That black men wear afros.
But the truth is so much richer and more interesting than that, as you are about to see. The hairstyle for black men has a huge history behind it as well as a major cultural significance. Not to mention the fact that there is an entire plethora of haircuts to choose from, one more interesting and better looking than the next.
So let’s dive right into the best hairstyle for black men ideas, how to style them, and what is their history and importance. We’ll also take a look at what products you need to use most if you have black hair as a man, and how you should take care of it.
The History of Black Hair
One thing we can say for certain. Black men have always been incredibly creative throughout history where their hair was concerned. But even so, it wasn’t until the 60s rolled in that they were allowed to use their locks as a means of expressing themselves and even send a message.
The reason is clear enough. Black people in America have their roots in Angola, Cameroon, Togo, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast. They arrived on the continent during the massive shift of slaves. As far as their hairstyles were concerned, it all had to do with social engineering. In other words, in their native countries, men wore long hair as a symbol of wisdom and power. But once they were brought to America, they were denied the right to practice their old customs. Their hair was cut short so as to make it more hygienic and not disturb them while they were working.
Hairstyle for Black Men in the 20th Century
Once slavery was over, black men started integrating more into society. But they were still not seen as full citizens. Therefore, they tried to copy white men’s hairstyle, so as to be accepted. Black men started to use the now famous ‘hair relaxers’ which would help them get rid of their natural curls or kinks.
Their hair would become softer, shinier, and easier to comb. Moreover, they used to shape into hairstyles that the white society would easily recognize. Therefore, black men continued to relax their hair until the 1960s. That’s when the Civil Rights Movement took place. At that moment, they finally felt they could use their hair to express themselves.
The afro was chosen as a hairstyle proud of the African American men embracing their roots, their culture, and their own personas. In fact, studies show that in the 70s some two thirds of all black men shaped their hair in an afro. The same concept continued in the 80s when they wore the biggest hairstyles possible. It was a sign of rebellion against the decades in which they were not allowed to show who they were.
What Does a Hairstyle for Black Men Mean?
As pointed out above, despite common belief, there is no such thing as one hairstyle for black men. Of course, pop culture and Hollywood media would have you believe it’s an afro or maybe even cornrows.
But the truth is it can mean anything. We’ve selected a few of the most iconic hairstyle for black men versions of all time along with some info on what they are and how you can get them. Here they are.
The Flat Top
This is a hairstyle for black men that was extremely popular during the 80s and 90s. For all of you out there who are now too young to have experienced that period, you know this hairstyle, even though you don’t know it’s called a flat top. You’ve seen it most likely on Will Smith in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
It’s a hairstyle for black men with faded sides tapered almost all the way down to the skin. The top is extremely high, actually as high as it can get and shaped like a cylinder. The top is very flat, as if you’re seeing a freshly mowed lawn. Hence the name. The flat top not the freshly mowed lawn. That would not have been as cool.
Of course, as you might have noticed for yourself, the top part of this haircut has long gone out of style. No one wears it anymore. However, the faded sides have still remained as a super trendy cut mixed with other styles. But you can still get a flat top if you want it. Simon Cowell had a (bad) one.
The Buzz Cut
This is a hairstyle for black men a lot of people are very familiar with because we still wear it today. It’s the epitome of manly haircuts because it doesn’t require any kind of styling. Plus, you won’t have to put any effort into it at all. Did we mention that you can give yourself a buzz cut? Because you can.
In fact, that’s how it all started. The buzz cut was first and foremost a military haircut. It helped soldiers ward off lice and stay clean. Plus, in times of need, they cut their own hair or each other’s. You can do it too. That’s because all you need is an electrical razor and a mirror. Still, when it comes to African-American hair, make sure you run the clipper keeping the grain on top. This will remove all the weight and ensure the finish is clean.
The Natural Afro
We have come to the hairstyle for black men everyone in the world will probably recognize. The afro saw its peak of fame in the 70s for both men and women, actually. Back then, afros were circular, looking a bit like giant globes of hair surrounding heads everywhere you went. Mixed with glittery and metallic makeup, they must have been a sight to see.
Today, however, we still wear afros, of course. But they are much more organic. Hence the name natural afro. But what does that mean? That you, the proud owner of African-American hair have to work with the texture. Apply a series of products designed to enhance your curls and lengthen them. But without making them look all the same. In this way, they will grow rugged and wild, producing a superb natural afro.
It’s worth mentioning here that man braids have been around for literally thousands of years. They have only recently reentered popular culture and the world’s attention because celebrities started wearing them again. But man braids have been worn by different cultures and tribes around the world since antiquity. It’s also worth pointing out that they are not a staple of black culture. Everyone from the Celts to Japanese warriors has been wearing braids since ancient times.
But in modern times braids are, indeed, a hairstyle for black men worthy of your attention. If we were to try and find a definition, we could say that braids are a loose category of dos that hold under their umbrella any plaited style possible. The only criterion is that they have to be loose from the scalp. At the opposite end are cornrows, for example. They are rows of braids organized neatly or not. But they are always close to the scalp and are not able to move freely.
Of course, one thing is essential when it comes to braids. The length of your hair. Your hair has to be at least a few inches long, otherwise you won’t be able to braid it.
And yes, to answer a question asked by many people, braids are a different hairstyle than dreads.
Since we mentioned this hairstyle for black men, let’s take a look at a few details about dreads, dreadlocks or locs. Just like braids, dreads have been around for thousands of years. However, they came back into focus and popular culture in the 70s and 80s when Bob Marley made them famous once more.
As a definition, we could say that dreads are medium or long strands of hair that have been twisted or knotted and then palm rolled. Despite popular belief, you can unravel dreads, so they are not a permanent hairstyle. If you want to go for that, your hairstylist will soak them in hair oil or moisturizer and then pick at them with a rat tail comb. It will take a long time, but your hair will be untangled at the end.
Another misconception is that once you cut off your dreads, you’re done. That’s not true. They can be reattached. Therefore, relax! Dreads are actually a lot more versatile than people would have you believe.
Don’t worry, we have an explanation for this one too. It’s a short haircut with sharp edges and a straight hairline. You’ve seen this one before as well, probably in the street. That’s because it’s a cool hairstyle for black men that a lot of people wear. Apart from that, it requires very little maintenance or styling. All of that will be provided for you by your barber. All you need to do is take a shower and be on your way.
Another reason why men get it is because it’s super liberal. There are tens and tens of versions of the shape-up. This means that you can get it no matter what kind of hair you have or what type of facial structure you might be dealing with. Drake has a shape-up. If that’s not reason enough to get one, we don’t know what is!
The Hard Parting
There are still a few men and even some celebrities who have a hard part these days. Think of Will.I.Am, for example. But the hard part was truly in its heyday a long time ago in the 80s. If we were to define it, we could say this. A hard part is just like a natural parting of your hair. Except that your stylist or barber will use a razor to create it. He or she will try to make it straighter and more defined. As a consequence, you won’t have to bother redoing it every day by yourself with a comb.
The great thing about this hairstyle for black men is that it’s super versatile. You can wear it at the office for an amazing business look, but you can also take for a spin in the club. It all depends on how you choose to style the rest of your hair and the accessories you wear.
The Best Products to Use for Black Hair
Black men struggle with one thing when it comes to their hair. Keeping it soft and moisturized. That’s because their natural texture is brittle and dry, and the hair itself is tangled. The result is breakage as well as the fact that loss of or insufficient moisture does not promote growth or healthy hair on the whole. So let’s take a look at some products you can use.
But, first of all, it’s important that you identify what type of hair you have. It’s the only way in which you can make sure you are buying the right products. After all, you don’t want to treat you hair to inappropriate products that might end up hurting it instead of healing it.
There are a few types of African-American hair.
- Straight hair – it grows normally and it does not bend at all. After it gathers a little length it lays down around your head and your shoulders.
- Wavy hair – it is still bendable but you can feel it’s starting to veer toward coarse rather than fine. Another sign you have this type of hair is that it shapes into a pattern of ‘S’ when it grows.
- Coiled hair – the curls look like corkscrews, they are defined and will get frizzy if you don’t moisturize them.
- Kinky hair – it is represented by very small and tight curls that start right at the scalp. It has a lot of texture and gets extremely coarse and frizzy.
What Products Should I Use for My Hairstyle for Black Men?
Let’s start with shampoo because it’s the first thing on everyone’s list when it comes to hair. You will need a shampoo that has no sulfates but that is very rich in oils. Argan oil is one of the best for hair. It will prevent your hair from breaking and leave it feeling incredibly soft and smooth.
Conditioner comes second but it’s equally as important. You must use a conditioner that is rich in natural butters. Some good examples include shea butter, coconut, and argan again. The creamy texture will make your hair feel like a dream.
Add some leave-in moisturizer on your list as well. This doesn’t mean you can forget about the classic one. The leave-in goes on top of the one you use in the shower for added moisture. Choose one that has almond oil, olive oil, milk or silk proteins.
A hydrating mask will do wonders for men with kinky hair. If it has essential oils and naturals extracts it will help your hair seal in moisture and feel more elastic. It will also revitalize your cuticles and make it a lot easier for you to style it.
You can also try a hair mask for after you’ve been in the sun. The ones based on honey will restore your tresses’ good health.
What about styling products for my hairstyle for black men?
When it comes to styling your hairstyle for black men, you have your pomades, of course. Try choosing one that’s water-based. The other ones, based on wax and oils could be difficult to wash out of your kinks.
Grooming creams are also a good idea as are styling gels. They will both tame your frizz and moisturize your hair at the same time. Some of these styling products even come packed with incredible goodies. They include honey, ginseng, vitamin B5, and sage. All of them will not only style you hair and make you look good, but they will also nourish it from the inside, treating it all day long.
And last, but definitely not least, don’t forget about scalp and hair tonic. Yes, your hair gets all the goodies of the products we described above, but your scalp needs some attention as well. A tonic can do that!
Tell us what you think about the hairstyle for black men
Are you planning on getting a hairstyle for black men soon, like an afro, braids, cornrows or maybe even a flat top? Or do you think they’re just really interesting? Leave your comments down below and tell us what you think!