If your tresses are the kind that kink, curl and tangle, the question of what holiday hairstyle to settle on has no doubt crossed your mind. There is always the option, of course, of letting your afro free for a while. But that’s tantamount to surrendering your summer to long detangling sessions and the ever-looming threat of shrinkage. Thinking of tape extensions or a classic sew-in weave? Both are styles that’ll serve you well enough – provided you shun water, sweat and all forms of carefree fun. And let’s face it: when sunny season strikes, it’s all about leisure. Lace units and frizz-foiled leave-outs are the last things you want to contend with.
Enter #frenchcurlbraids: the ’90s trend dominating our feeds. Characterised by clean parts, slim strands and voluminous, curled ends, the braids first popularised by Brandy, Beyoncé and the stars of Nollywood cinema throughout the early Noughties are back in a big way for 2023.
Happily, the chic hair trend is easy to wear, versatile and warm-weather-friendly. But best of all? It tucks your hair away, keeping it protected from the elements. “Braids are the perfect protective style heading into the summer months.” explains Jennie Roberts, resident afro hair expert at Shea Moisture. “If you have curly or coily hair, you’re already prone to breakage as it’s harder for your hair to retain moisture. This low-maintenance style helps keep your hair healthy and moisturised by limiting harmful exposure to the sun and heat damage. An added bonus? No need to think twice when you’re heading to the pool this summer.”
Fashionable and fuss-free? Sign us up. For every texture from 4c hair through to looser curled locks, this is a hairstyle with protective benefits and It-girl appeal. To get the look? Opt for braiding extensions that come pre-curled in the colour of your choice. You’ll need to purchase approximately eight packs of extensions or more for voluminous, bouncy tresses.
“To stop your hair getting dry and brittle, load it with hydration before you put it away,” says Jennie, who recommends moisturising hair with Shea Moisture’s Jamaican Black Castor Oil Styling Lotion. “Remember SPF on your partings when it’s hot too, to avoid a burnt scalp.” Like the pick-and-drop plaits of your childhood, you’ll then need to braid extensions in from the root of your hair, tying a small knot when you reach the length at which you’d like the braid to stop and the spiral curl to begin. Use a knotless braids technique for the ultimate low-tension hairstyle.
If in doubt, ask your hairstylist to take cues from any one of our favourite references below. Nigerian actress Temi Otedola makes a strong and sophisticated case for choosing classic black, while the cascade of mermaid curls on track athlete Temi Ojora is bold and beautiful in beachy blonde. Dare to be different in hues of Ariel-esque auburn or pastel pink, and be sure to hark back to Y2K with the accessories of the era (think: claw clips, headbands, and sinuous baby hairs.) However you wear them, great hair days are guaranteed all summer long.
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