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Have you been wishing for a Ghana braids hairstyle? If you’ve been thinking about trying Ghana braids for a while, or they’re a top contender for your next hairstyle, you can take a look at this absolutely gorgeous list of Ghana braids.
Before we get started, you might want to take a look at this list of amazing corporate hairstyles for the office.
Not only are there so many style ideas in the Ghana braids category alone (lookin’ at you, chunky braids and zig-zag parts), but unlike, say, micro braids and box braids that can have you in the chair all day, Ghana braids can be installed in just two hours, depending on the intricacy of the style you choose.
Ghana braids are obvs very similar to cornrows, but thanks to the added braiding hair, you can really play up and customize the shape, thickness, and colours (!) to match your vibes. If you need a little more info before DMing your braider, we chatted with haircare and texture expert, Jasmine “Jazzee” Green and La’Khouri Francis, a D.C.-based Yeluchi hairstylist, to answer all your questions about Ghana braids, starting with:
What are Ghana braids?
“There’s such a great, rich, beautiful cultural history of braiding that has been so diluted,” Santiago says, explaining how Western culture has developed its own simplified take on Ghana braids. “By the time we get to where we are today to talk about Ghana braids, it’s pretty basic,” she says. In the simplest terms, Santiago defines Ghana braids as a braiding technique that takes a basic cornrow hairstyle and adds hair to it. If that sounds a lot like feed-in braids, that’s because it is.
Although both feed-in braids and Ghana braids are very similar in technique, Francis says that Ghana braids should end up looking thicker and fuller than feed-in braids. “What makes Ghana braids different is the substantial amount of hair added through the braid for volume,” Francis explains. “Feed-in braids have hair added through the braid as well, but a stylist is able to manipulate it in a way to where the braid stays the same size.” Another difference? “Hair is usually added for length with feed-in braids as opposed to volume with Ghana braids,” she says.
How long do Ghana braids last?
Although Ghana braids can last up to a month if properly maintained with products and hair coverings while you sleep, both experts recommend wearing Ghana braids for two weeks only (three weeks max, says Francis) so that the hair doesn’t dry out and take your style from protective to damaging.
Do Ghana braids break your hair?
Ghana braids, like any protective style, can damage your hair or scalp if done too tightly—but you can avoid it. Francis explains that although tension is needed for most cornrow styles, too much tension can do the opposite of a protective style, which is why it’s important to see a knowledgeable stylist and try to speak up if you feel pain during your braiding (easier said than done, right?).
Got all that? Good. Now, to help you narrow down your look, I gathered up all the best Ghana braids inspo from Instagram. Ahead, are the 25 prettiest Ghana braid styles of all dang time.
1 High bun
A high bun is a staple hairstyle for a reason: It’s a great and quick hairstyle which, with laid edges like these (and the right edge control products ofc), becomes a definitive lewk. Combine that with these spiral Ghana braids, and I guarantee you’ll have your new favourite braided hairstyle.
2 Triangle-Parted style
The best part about Ghana braids is how versatile they can be, especially when it comes to parting. I mean, how cool is this triangle parting? Even better, this style is made up of only three braids, which means you’ll spend even less time with your braider (no shade—I’m sure they’re great) and more time taking selfies.
3 Half-up braids
Instead of braiding the hair all the way down, stop at your crown and tie your braids back in a half-up, half-down, half-braided waterfall style.
There are very few rules for Ghana braids, including the many directions you can take them in. Switch it up from straight-back braids and ask your braider to recreate this waterfall-esque style. And BTW, as with any braided style, scalp care is crucial, so stock up on scalp treatments like soothing serums and anti-itch treatments.
5 Bun with Loose Curls
Leaving your ends loose and curly is such a fun way to mix up your style. To get this high bun, gather all of your braids into a ponytail, then wrap them around the base to form a bun, leaving a few of the curly ends out of the bun before tucking the rest underneath or securing with bobby pins.
6 Horizontal Ghana braids
Presenting: the perfect example of how customizable Ghana braids can be. As with most braided styles, Ghana braids still leave room to play with your parting, like these horizontal braids. It’s going to require some pro-level parting skills (and a rat tail comb) to get those crisp lines, so if you don’t feel up for it, screenshot this pic for your braider.
7 High Ponytail
Mousse is going to be the answer to keeping your braids this fresh and shiny for the full two weeks you have them. Cover your Ghana braids from roots to ends in your fav mousse (try SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse or Shine-N-Jam Magic Fingers Setting Mousse) and let them set under your silk scarf or wrap until they dry.
8 Half-up style
IMO, any time you’re not sure how to style your hair, tie it off into a half-up, half-down style like this. It instantly gives your style a little extra personality, and it looks especially great with these alternating Ghana braids and cornrows.
9 Half-Braid Half-Loose style
Can’t decide between full braids or a full sew-in? Good thing you don’t have to. Meet them both halfway with this half-braided, half-extension combo. It’s honestly so pretty, and both protective styles will give your natural hair a break from daily life (IYKYK).
10 Alternating Cornrow braids
Francis notes that one common way to differentiate Ghana braids from other styles is the change in size: “The braid starts off small, then gradually grows into a larger braid due to the strategic amount of hair being added throughout the braid.”
11 Ghana-Braided Low Bun
Santiago points out two other key traits of Ghana braids: They’re always attached to your head (unlike an individual braid or box braid), and they always incorporate braiding hair. From there, you can wear Ghana braids in a ton of different ways, like this gorgeous bun hairstyle with ruler-precise lines (I mean, wow).
12 Ghana Braids with Cuffs
There is no braided hairstyle that doesn’t look extra cute with beads and cuffs. And even if you opt-out of the cuffs, those centre curved cornrows are unique and precise enough to make the whole style. Just don’t skip on your silk bonnet or scarf at night (or switch to a silk pillowcase if you haven’t already) to avoid messing with your braids.
13 Ghana Braids and Double Buns
Don’t know which part I love the most about this braided updo: the double braided buns, the beaded and cuffed Fulani-style braids, or how all the elements work so perfectly together at once.
14 Side Ghana Braids
If you like the side-swept look of “Lemonade” braids (who doesn’t?!), try this version of Ghana braids that follows a sideways, side-swept direction.
15 Ghana Braids with Cornrows
Fact: These Ghana braids are anything but basic. The teeny-tiny cornrows not only add a cool contrast to the thicker braids, but the way they cross over each other takes it from a braided style to a literal work of art.
16 Ghana Braided Ponytail with curls
Or ask your braider for Ghana braids around your whole head to create a braided ponytail like this. Instead of stopping at the crown, ask your braider to leave out the ends for a few inches of soft curls.
17 Straight-Back Braids
This straight-back braided hairstyle combines two classic favourites, Ghana braids and itty-bitty cornrows, for a majorly Insta-worthy look.
18 Jumbo Ghana Braids With Cornrows
For a more intricate look, ask your braider for mini braids that follow a criss-cross pattern along with your jumbo braids and straight cornrows. To really make the design pop, incorporate blonde hair or another bright shade of braiding hair (it is the year of blue ombré, no?).
19 Two-Tone Ghana Braids
If platinum-blonde hair is just not for you, try using braiding hair in a warm honey blonde to add dimension to your Ghana braids while still feeling natural and wearable.
20 Ghana Braids With Zig-Zag Part
Important tip from Francis to help maintain moisture while wearing Ghana braids (or really any braids): Keep your scalp moisturized every morning with hydrating leave-in sprays and oils (with a nozzle top) to keep skin soothed and hydrated.
21 Ghana-Braided Bob
When you want to switch it up, try a shorter bob length or play around with your hair part. Instead of following the hairline, these braids start at one point on the side and stem outward with one cool accent braid down the middle.
22 Long Ghana Braids
To keep your hair healthy for braided styles like this, both experts suggest applying hydrating hair products to the hair prior to braiding. How? Francis suggests deep conditioning before and after getting your style, while Santiago stresses the importance of stretching your hair before getting your braids to help keep the hair protected. That way, when you do take the braids out, you’re not left with dried hair and a lot of shedding
23 Small Ghana Braids
Santiago points out that most people here in the states associate Ghana braids with a chunkier cornrow style but argues that the size can also vary. “Ghana braids are just a very basic technique of adding hair to a section of a braid and then adding hair as you go along,” says Santiago, “with the intention of making that braid longer, thicker, or both.”
24 Fulani Braids
Can’t decide between two styles? Incorporate the Ghana braid technique into another braided hairstyle you love, like Fulani braids, for a cool combo like this.
25 Spiral Pattern
Ghana braids and goddess braids (a similar chunky cornrow style) are the perfect go-tos for those who love a versatile hairstyle and don’t want to spend forever getting them done.
Written by Sami Roberts is a beauty assistant at Cosmopolitan and Valeriya Chupinina is a freelance beauty and wellness writer exploring the multifaceted connection between the aesthetic and internal.