There comes a time in every naturalista's life when they reach a standstill. Perhaps they've already passed the big chop or short Afro stage, or maybe they're content with their length as is, constantly trimming to fight fast-approaching new growth at the root. Maybe they're over their summer dye job and ready to go darker, or maybe they're tired of assembling their box braids, twists, or locs into that same tired low bun. Hair boredom is inevitable, no matter what your curl type or length is — but thankfully, there's a wealth of resources for generating natural hairstyle ideas, aside from your favorite Instagram and YouTube gurus.
Thankfully, celebrities who embrace their natural texture (including Lupita Nyong'o, Lena Waithe, Ebonee Davis, and Issa Rae) continue to flaunt their gorgeous curls on the red carpet. And while the looks might *seem* a little advanced, they can easily be pulled off without the help of a glam squad. Even better, many of the 30 looks ahead don't require heat or hoot tools, either — just creativity, time, and edge control. (A whole lot of edge control.) Check out the wavy, curly, coily, and protective styles ahead, and break out of that rut — for good.
Protective Style With A Pop
"Bound golden thread over [single twists]," Vernon François, Lupita Nyong'o's stylist, described of the style in an Instagram.
Nikki Nelms' creation on Janelle Monáe is pretty in the front, especially with those tiny segmented braids separated with mini elastics, but the true party is in the back.
Cornrows And A Low Bun
A style like Amandla Stenberg's could easily be preserved for a few days, with the help of a satin scarf at night. Be sure to moisturize your hair well (As I Am Doublebutter Cream works wonders) before braiding, to minimize breakage — and to maximize hold.
Sasheer Zamata once told O that she uses SheaMoisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Strengthen & Restore Shampoo and Conditioner to care for her curls.
Coordinate Your Accessories
Nikki Nelms used the same freshwater pearl-studded material from Zoë Kravitz's Gabriela Hearst gown to style her client's low pony.
Center-Parted Curls; Curls With Soft Definition
Naturally Curly suggests a strong gel and holding spray to achieve the wet look on, well, naturally curly hair. And as for the look on the left? Try it on your hair a few days after taking down your twist-out, when the shape expands a little bit.
For uniform curls like these, a flexi rod set might be the way to go. After washing or co-washing and prepping with a leave-in, wrap small sections of your hair around soft, bendable rollers. Keep them in overnight, and wake up with pretty spirals all over.
Picked Out 'Fro
If twist-outs aren't your thing, then just rock your true texture. To stretch your hair a bit, lightly blow dry small sections of your hair from root to tip, concentrating on the root to emphasize your length. Or, use an Afro pick (also at your roots) to loosen your curl a bit.
Or, if you just don't feel like doing your hair at all (no judgement here), throw on a satin-lined cap and let a bit of your curls peek through.
Felicia Leatherwood tells us that she uses Fonex Gummy Hair Gel on Issa Rae's edges for hold.
"I got that new do boo. Catch them waves," Danielle Brooks captioned of her first big chop (which looks beautiful!). For people with short hair, a wave brush works wonders for creating texture. See how it's done in this tutorial.
Long Center-Parted Ponytail
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to use heat to wear a sleek ponytail like Thandie Newton's. Using gel and a Denman brush, scoop your natural hair up into a ponytail and secure your extensions to your base. See a tutorial here.
Turban; Braided Bun
Head wraps are appropriate for good and bad hair days, especially when they look like the one on Kiersey Clemons (left).
As for Tarana Burke's bun, use an elastic headband to scoop your braids or twists up — they're bigger than normal ties, and have way more stretch, too.
If stick-straight isn't your thing, flip the ends of your hair with your flat iron for Michelle Obama style, as described by Yvonne Orji on Instagram.
If your braids are long enough, take one plait and pin the end close to your ear for a headband similar to Hannah Beachler's.
"I like Chi products, I love BioSilk, and I love Moroccan Oil Curl Cream," Kára McCullough, Miss USA 2017, told Refinery29. "People actually think it’s perfume because my hair smells so good!"
A bantu knot-out (see tutorial here) is another protective style that also results in pretty curls, with softer definition — especially if you use a curl cream while styling.
"I use everything from Moroccanoil to Paul Mitchell to Sebastian to Oribe to Creme of Nature," Tym Wallace told Refinery29, citing his favorite products for Taraji P. Henson's hair underneath her wigs, or when she blows out her natural. "Whatever products I have, she has. She will shampoo, deep condition, and give herself a hot oil treatment. She can really do her hair herself. She’s a hair girl."
For the CFDA Awards, Condola Rashād swept her hair back into this low, elegant updo.
Halo Of Hair
Ebonee Davis slicked her base down and added a center part before styling her curls into this blown-out 'fro.
Logan Browning looked regal in her box braid updo, done by Nai'vasha Johnson.
Bantu Knots With Braids
Proof that you don't have to wear your curls to do bantu knots.
Puffs And Baby Hairs
Storm Reid's edges looked impeccable, likely in part to a strong edge control product.
Yet another pineapple, angled towards the front instead of the side.
Blown Out Texture
Takisha Sturdivant-Drew used kinky-curly extensions from her own line for Kerry Washington's bouncy, angled 'fro.