(Short Stuff)

The Braided Baldie Is Summer’s Coolest Protective Style

Fake a buzzcut with the trending look.

by Ondine Jean-Baptiste
braided baldie

The heat waves this season are already breaking records nationwide — and finding a beauty routine that won’t have you sweatier than you already are is proving to be an extreme sport. For Black women, our go-to protective styles (ie. braids, twists, sew-ins, and wigs) can tend to weigh heavy, forcing a decision: Will you suffer for beauty this summer? Thanks to 2024’s coolest new hair trend, you no longer have to. The braided baldie that’s been popping up all over Instagram and Pinterest this summer is just as easy breezy as it is beautiful.

Taking one continuous braid all around the scalp, this cropped style is gaining popularity across the country with its intricate designs and fanciful handiwork. New York City-based hair artist Ashley Renée shares how complicated actually plotting out and executing the design can be: “Like every form of art, it can be quite a challenge at first, especially when it’s your first time,” she says. The style takes her three hours to do, stressing the importance of mapping out “exactly how you want a braid to twist, loop, or zig zag.”

Courtesy of Ashley Renée

While the braided baldie may look new, it appears to be a modern evolution of a hybrid of styles — most obviously a variation of freestyle braids without the length. Chicago-based hair artist Shani Crowe and Los Angeles-based Monteria Chisholm are credited as the two whose designs put this style on the map back in May — and soon, iterations of it started popping up all over the Internet.

Brooklyn-based hair artist Helena Koudou saw the tutorials Chisholm uploaded online and began creating braided baldies of her own once the requests started flooding in.

“Clients are coming in with both a reference photo and [requests for me to] freestyle. Some people ask for a specific design, for example, a flower or heart, and they let me freestyle the rest,” she shares. “I couldn’t wait for someone to ask me to do this because doing freestyle braids is my favorite thing to do. I posted [my work] on Instagram and received some love from my followers. So once people saw that I was doing it, I started getting so many requests for the braided baldie.”


With temperatures expected to get even hotter in the middle of the summer, the look will continue to be in high demand as many aim to express themselves creatively while looking hot (and staying cool). Koudou comments on the low-maintenance aspect of the style, sharing “It looks like you’re getting a haircut with designs but in braids. And I think it is really convenient if you want to switch up your style and throw on a wig. I love being a Black woman. Our hair is so fun and versatile.”


A reprieve from the usual braiding styles that can take upwards of four to five hours to braid, the braided baldie has hair artists and braiders alike excited to try their hand at something different.

“We are re- indigenizing our hairstyles, decolonizing beauty standards, and paying homage,” Renée shares. “The one braid all throughout the head was a method used back in the day for weaving styles. [The braids were] used by ancestors as a road map, all while harvesting rice and grains for the journey to freedom and escape from colonizers. I love that now, as the new generation of hair artists and stylists, we remember our roots while moving towards the future with new ways of doing things.”