Not Fair: 10 afro hairstyles that will give you major hair envy

Ayesha Muttucumaru 5 November 2014
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10 afro hairstyles that will give you major hair envy

From long hairstyles  to short hairstyles, natural hair to protective styling, there’s never been a better time or place to get some beauty inspiration than the heads of today’s bevy of afro hair beauties.

Whether you’re looking for a new range of hair updos, haircuts, good weave advice  or hairstyles for curly hair, these are 10 of my favourite celebrity hair ideas and useful tips and tricks from the experts for making sure hair looks its best both in the short and long-term. Click through the gallery to see the afro hairstyles that have been making me green with envy...

Image credits: Getty Images

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Ella Eyre

Named Best Newcomer at the 2014 MOBO Awards, the rising star’s glorious mane of curly hair made for one of my favourite red carpet beauty looks in recent times. Thick, defined curls combined with a contrasting head of enviable hair colour makes for the perfect accompaniment to her growing array of trophies.

Expert Tip: “Ella really shows off the diversity of the curl, volume and colour options possible with mixed heritage hair that's kept in good condition with regular hydrating treatments,” says Jasmin Allen, Senior Colour Master at Errol Douglas . “She's young enough to really own a dramatic contrast ombre and it completely suits her vibe and her complexion. By staying close to her natural hair colour around the face, it's framed in the most flattering position to make her eye and skin really pop without any harshness around her features from the dramatic blonde. It's perfectly placed."

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Solange Knowles

Never one to be found hiding away in her sister’s shadow, the younger Knowles sister boasts an edgier more modern style that has become her trademark wherever she’s photographed. A chameleon when it comes to her hair and her wardrobe, Solange’s thick, wavy afro hairstyle possesses the kind of volume and texture that only dreams are made of and it complements her delicate features perfectly.

Expert Tip: Looking to keep you hair in the best condition possible? “If you can, it’s great to spare half an hour once a month to perform a deep oil treatment,” recommends hair stylist  and Afro Hairdresser of the Year Charlotte Mensah . “Hot oils are ideal, as they lubricate and combat scalp dryness. If you fancy mixing up your own at home, I love the combination of coconut, almond and argan oil but MIZANI Supreme Oil , £13.35 also works wonders. Apply to your hair pre-shampooing and use heat to help the oils penetrate further and get to work on your hair. After 20 minutes, rinse your strands and apply a moisturising conditioner for thoroughly replenished hair.”

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The queen of hair extensions and hair length switch-ups, with a well-publicised love for a good weave, there was never a hairstyle that was a better reflection of the Bajan beauty’s attitude than her famous liaison with bold red curls. The ideal hair colour to suit a wide range of dark skin tones, her portfolio of looks and preference for the more adventurous (as chronicled on her Instagram feed ) acts as the perfect dose of hair inspiration should you be looking for a shake up.

Expert Tip: “My number one tip is to always carry oil around in your handbag as this is great for running through your mid lengths and ends to keep your extensions full of moisture,” advises hair stylist and Get The Gloss Expert Jamie Stevens . “When braiding on the scalp, ask your hairdresser to apply some hair cushioning to your braids to help strengthen the plaits and allow your extensions to sit comfortably on the scalp to cause no strain,” he adds.

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Janelle Monae

Hair updos for afro hair don’t come more modern or stylish than from the head of songstress Janelle Monae. Quirky, individual and supremely skilled, her choice of a more vintage pompadour-style updo over wearing her hair loose at the 2011 Grammy Awards, acted as great way to highlight the cut and tailoring of her retro suit.

Expert Tip: “To achieve a pompadour pin up style, do a few jumbo flat twists at the front of your hair and then pin up the back,” suggests Charlotte Mensah.

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Esperanza Spalding

Just wow. One of the most perfect, voluminous, lustrous afros I’ve ever seen, the 4-time Grammy winner makes natural hair look easy, effortless and resoundingly striking.

Expert Tip: “Going natural for periods of the year is a great rest for afro hair and doubles as a look changer that I’m really pleased has come into its own and has really been celebrated trend-wise,” says hair stylist and Get The Gloss Expert Errol Douglas . “Going natural is a great break from processes and styling to really invest in hair health that gives a lot more look choices on season change. This year, the natural afro haircut is cleverly very on trend too.”

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Lupita Nyong’o

Lupita can do no wrong. Whether it’s highlighting issues of diversity in Hollywood , her effortlessly flawless skin  or, you know, winning an Oscar, she exudes an air of elegance and charm that has seen her fast become Hollywood’s golden girl. Always ready to showcase to perfection that short hairstyles  are just at home on the red carpet as they are off it, I especially loved her hair at the 2014 Oscars, where her subtle, princess-like hairband made for the perfect crowning glory.

Expert Tip: “Short natural crops have been one of our most requested as afro women re-discover the impact of a classic confident look, and Lupita of course has been everywhere,” says Errol Douglas. “It looks simple but requires a specific technique for low maintenance daily wear. Ask for a short cut on the sides with slightly longer lengths on top with texture. The texture is created through a specific styling technique which involves twisting sections and unravelling them to create it. This looks particularly good on oval face shapes too.”

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I wish that ‘I woke up like this.’  Beaming from head to toe, Queen B continues to show us that blonde needn’t be reserved for those with lighter complexions. A hair texture switch up pro, her gorgeous head of full bodied curls combined with natural makeup and a show-stopping outfit was quite simply, flawless.

Expert Tip: “The science behind afro hydrating needs is this,” explains Errol Douglas. “Cuticles in need of moisture become brittle. They tend to be raised, open and exposed to the elements. It’s important to constantly re-hydrate the hair and use the right product to seal the cuticle pre-styling so that they lie flat – it’ll show dramatically in the finish and polish achievable, because the hair becomes easier to style and the weight in the product will help it last too. Sealing cuticles with the right product ( Moroccanoil Hydrating Cream , £23.75), a strong barrel brush and as little heat as possible in styling are key too.”

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Jourdan Dunn

Slick, straight with plenty of shine, the supermodel’s dip dye short hairstyle made for a headline-stealing change from her longer locks.

When it comes to styling her hair, she commented in a past interview with Vogue , “I'm obsessed with slicking down the baby hairs so that it's always smooth, it sounds weird but I carry a toothbrush with me everywhere to slick down the flyaways. I'm lucky because my hair texture is workable - it's not like I've got a natural afro texture.”

Expert Tip: Tempted to go for the chop? Book in for a consultation first, recommends Errol Douglas. “Always see an afro specialist and always talk about how much styling time you’re prepared to invest beyond the salon.  Important too is the texture of hair to be styled - relaxed, natural and texturised all require different cutting techniques, sometimes different techniques to achieve similar looks.”

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Tyra Banks

The ‘smizing’ expert showcased an immaculate set of cornrows back in 2003 which drew to attention her gorgeous bone structure, glowing skin and the reason why she’s the head judge when it comes to finding America’s Next Top Model.

Expert Tip: If you’ve opted for loose braids, Jamie Stevens recommends the following in order to keep them looking their best for longer: “Apply oil to your braids and scalp every morning and night to keep the scalp healthy, promoting hair growth while your hair is in braids as well as hydrating your braid too.” He adds, “Wrap your hair in a silk scarf at night as this will help to make your hair shiny and prevent your braids from fraying.”

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Shingai Shoniwa

The Noisettes’ lead singer injected her updo with a dose of rock star flair and femininity with this regal hairstyle. Teamed with subtle contouring makeup , nude lips and dewy radiant skin, her look is the ideal way to pare things back if you’re hoping to make a statement with your outfit.

Expert Tip: To allow a greater degree of manageability, the key lies in the prep says Charlotte Mensah. “First and foremost, moisture your hair daily! I cannot stress how important this is for Afro and coarse hair. Learn the right techniques; your blowdry is key. Never towel dry hair and rough dry. It’s essential to use heat protection and blowdry hair in small sections. Don’t overload the hair with product and use a fork attachment on your hairdryer and a paddle brush - this will be invaluable.”