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25 Stunning Natural Hairstyles to Help Inspire Your Next Look

Photo by Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty Images

From every day to full on glam—there are countless hairstyles that highlight the beauty of your natural hair. “As of late, many women are embracing their natural texture,” says Alicia Bailey, hairstylist and global education manager at Design Essentials. “Style choice mainly depends upon lifestyle and especially how much time one wants to spend doing their hair on a daily basis.” Trends play a huge part, too. “Short, tapered sides with intricate, clipper cut designs, and a naturally curly faux-hawk are very popular right now. Naturally curly wash-and-gos, twists, locs, knotless braids, stitch braids, and lace-front wigs/units are also favorite go-to styles.”

Hair has been a form of self expression for Black women for well, forever. And although the CROWN Act, which was first passed in California in 2019 and protects against discrimination based on hair has garnered nationwide support, there is a long way to go in. Black women and men are still facing discrimination in schools, the workforce, and more. “I believe the country as a whole is going through a transition, however, there is still work to do,” says Bailey. “Women can still lose their jobs or be sent home because of how they may wear their hair in many states.” Still, she adds, “There has definitely been a level of increased awareness for men and women of color. National Crown Day [observed on July 3] marked a step in the right direction.”

Whether you want a new natural hairstyle to make a statement or simply to change up your vibe, there’s no shortage of inspiration. Keep scrolling for 25 celebrity-inspired looks for every hair type—from straight to kinky—and length—from short to long hair and everything in between, along with Bailey’s expert insights.

About the Expert:

Alicia Bailey has over 30 years of experience as a licensed Master Cosmetologist and is the Global Education Manager at Design Essentials. She is a former columnist for Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine and the former owner of Flawless Hair Salon.

25 Natural Hairstyles for Inspiration

Zendaya in a orange and yellow floral dress posing
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/Getty Images

1. Brushed Out

“It’s all about the freedom of expression with this look,” says Bailey, who is all about the volume. “Zendaya has embraced her natural tresses and rocks them with grace.”

Janet Mock in a grey suit smiling against flowers background
Photo by John Lamparski / Stringer/Getty Images

2. Sleek and Straight

One of the most versatile looks possibly ever, pin-straight strands look just as gorgeous with jeans as they do dressed up with a suit, as Janet Mock proves here.

Janelle Monáe rocking a top bun embellished with crystals
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

3. Embellished Bun

We can always count on Janelle Monàe for a style upgrade: Take a topknot to the next level with a sprinkling of crystals, pearls, or any other embellishment of your choosing.

Erica Ash in a tribal patterned outfit rocking her braided hairstyle
Photo by Leon Bennett / Stringer/Getty Images

4. Fulani Braids

“Beautiful tribal braids are the rave right now,” says Bailey of Erica Ash’s stunning braided hairstyle. “These are one of the favorite protective hairstyles of the summer. They are low maintenance and can be worn up to a month with tying them up at night with a satin scarf or sleeping on a satin pillowcase.” Bailey recommends applying a hair oil “to soothe the scalp and promote healthy hair growth while wearing the braids.”

Teyana Taylor rocking her pixie cut hairstyle in a silver dress
Photo by Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty Images

5. Short Crop

A classic pixie requires minimal hair care (all you need is a bit of pomade to keep it in place), chic AF, and, as Teyana Taylor proves, the perfect cut for showing off your gorgeous face.

Angela Bassett rocking her curls in a black, lacy dress
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

6. Full Curls

“Full, voluminous curls worn by Angela Bassett scream classy like the woman she is!” raves Bailey of the actress’s look. “To get this style, the hair should be wand curled with a small curling wand and curls should be separated to create volume.” To maintain it, Bailey recommends “sleeping on a satin pillowcase or pulling the hair to the top of the head into a ‘pineapple’ and applying a satin bonnet, [which] will help maintain moisture in the hair and minimize frizz.”

Winnie Harlow with long, straight hair posing
Photo by Nicholas Hunt / Staff/Getty Images

7. Straight Length

A healthy amount of hair extensions may be needed for this ultra-long, ‘70s-inspired look (seen on Winnie Harlow here), but it’s one look worth the extra effort.

Zoe Kravitz in a nude pink, fringed dress rocking her micro braided hairstyle
Photo by Pascal Le Segretain / Staff/Getty Images

8. Micro Braids

Zoë Kravitz pulls off every look—and this one is no different. “Knotless, individual pencil braids have become increasingly popular and look beautiful on Zoë,” says Bailey. “Classic, effortless with very little maintenance, these braids highlight her natural beauty and accentuate her minimalistic style.”

Kelly Rowland rocking her braided top bun hairstyle in an offwhite turtle neck sweater and grey coat
Photo by Vivien Killilea / Stringer/Getty Images

9. Braided Top Knot

For Bailey, the brilliance of Kelly Rowland’s look lies in the versatility of her braids. “This style looks amazing on her because she can wear the bun by day during her meetings while on the go or she can wear them down by night. The beauty is, they can be worn in various ways depending upon the occasion offering flexibility for a busy mom and wife on the move.”

Gabrielle Union in a black and silver sequined dress rocking her pinned back natural curls while smiling
Photo by Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty Images

10. Pinned Back

Grab a couple of pretty clips or bobby pins. Add to one side of your part, like Gabrielle Union did here. Et voilà—a pretty, easy hairstyle you can do in about one minute flat.

Solange Knowles in a silver suit rocking a slicked back hair style embellished with 5 hair clips
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/Getty Images

11. Stacked Clips

Leave it to Solange to take the beloved-but-basic metal hair clip and turn it into a moment, paired with a matching silver suit. The musician wore hers with a slicked-back low bun, but you could easily recreate it with natural curls, a top knot, or just about anything else.

Cynthia Erivo rocking her platinum hair in a dark blue satin dress
Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris / Staff/Getty Images

12. Bleached Chop

Going bleach blonde is already a major moment, made all the more impactful on short natural hair. “The bold statement of her platinum TWA (teeny-weeny afro) speaks volumes,” says the expert of Cynthia Erivo’s style. “She exudes confidence and natural beauty rocking this style.”

Keke Palmer rocking her high ponytail hairstyle and smiling
Photo by Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty Images

13. High Pony

If your ponytail isn’t snatched, what’s the point? OK that may be dramatic, but sky-high, super-tight styles like Keke Palmer’s are popular for a reason; they not only look great, but they give the entire face a more lifted appearance. Pro tip: Try it half-up too.

Jourdan Dunn in a white dress rocking her textured curly hair
Photo by Tim P. Whitby / Stringer/Getty Images

14. Albaso Braids

“Adding small, braided designs to Jourdan Dunn’s textured, curly hair leaves her looking like an ethereal goddess,” says Bailey. “For maintenance, sleeping on a satin pillowcase and using the Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Overnight Recovery Treatment will ensure that her hair stays moisturized and frizz free.”

Rihanna in a black satin dress rocking a wet hair look
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

15. Wet Look

Your hair doesn’t have to look like you just washed it to embody this trendy runway look (although these days pretty much anything goes). Rihanna’s super-shiny curls can be attained using your go-to styling products like hair gel or gloss.

Amandla Stenberg rocking a blue, braided hairstyle in a cream satin dress
Photo by Neilson Barnard / Staff/Getty Images

16. Waterfall Pony

Each braid in Amandla Stenberg’s eye-catching look was customized in a unique shade of blue, according to her hairstylist, Lacy Redway. “The beauty of wearing braid extensions allows one to be versatile while experimenting with color,” adds Bailey of the colorful style.

Issa Rae in a white suit sporting a side-swept, braided hairstyle
Photo by Amy Sussman / Staff/Getty Images

17. Sweeping Braid

“I love the modern twist of a long ponytail with the braided design,” says Bailey of Issa Rae’s hairstyle. “She looks stunning and this style provides a low-maintenance option that can be tied up at night with a head wrap and worn for up to a week.”

Alicia Keys in a purple suit rocking her cornrows
Photo by Frazer Harrison / Staff/Getty Images

18. Cornrows

“Alicia has opted for [more] minimalist looks ever since she stopped wearing makeup,” Bailey explains of Keys’ recent looks. “I love how she embraces her natural beauty and the cornrows without added extensions are perfect for her.”

Ayesha Curry in a leopard-print dress rocking hair straigh, low ponytail hairstyle
Photo by Mike Coppola / Staff/Getty Images

19. Low Pony

Another ponytail we love, a low-slung ponytail takes a little less work (and arm strength) to DIY than a snatched style. We particularly love it paired with a deep side part, like Ayesha Curry did here.

Lena Waithe in a black and gold tuxedo rocking her faded top bun hairstyle and kissing her Annual Primetime Emmy Award
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Staff/Getty Images

20. Faded Bun

Additional proof that there are countless ways to wear a bun, Lena Waithe’s fade and braiding make the look entirely her own.

Megalyn Echikunwoke smiling and rocking her curly bangs
Photo by Monica Schipper / Stringer/Getty Images

21. Curly Bangs

Who says the only way to wear bangs are straight, blunt, or sideswept? Curly hairstyles like Megalyn Echikunwoke’s are redefining the style—and they happen to be gorgeous, too.

Ava DuVernay rocking her locs while smiling
Photo by Dia Dipasupil / Staff/Getty Images

22. Locs Beret

“Wrapping her small locs around in the shape of a small hat is a beautiful look for Ava DuVernay,” says Bailey, adding that “Locs are very versatile and provide her with limitless styling options.” The hairstylist also recommends using a nourishing oil with vitamin E, as “Scalp care is essential for maintenance of locs.”

Lupita Nyong'o rocking a glamorous look paired with an updo hairstyle
Photo by Gregg DeGuire / Stringer/Getty Images

23. Retro Updo

Lupita Nyong’o may have worn this hairstyle on the red carpet, but it has more day-to-night appeal than you might realize. “Natural, textured updos are versatile and beautiful,” says Bailey, who recommends using a hydrating shampoo and conditioner to maintain moisture balance.

Angell Conwell looking glamorous in a black dress with silver sequin accents and rocking a braided hairstyle with headband
Photo by Paras Griffin / Stringer/Getty Images

24. Wrapped Up

When in doubt, add hair accessories. “Braids are low maintenance and provide style versatility. They can be dressed up or down by adding the headband,” explains Bailey, who adds that Angell Conwell “created a regal look for the occasion.”

Da'Vine Joy Randolph in a white, feathery dress rocking a blunt bob hairstyle
Photo by Amanda Edwards / Stringer/Getty Images

25. Blunt Bob

Another chic idea for short hair, the ‘90s-inspired chin-length haircut is back, and more glam than ever. Exhibit A: This smooth, angled style seen on Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

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About the author
Lindy Segal
Lindy is a contributor at IPSY, a beauty and lifestyle writer, and Real Housewives aficionado. She was an editor at People and Glamour, and her freelance work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Who What Wear, and Cosmopolitan, among other publications.
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Article Last Updated April 2, 2023 12:00 AM