Natural hairstyles: 21 inspirational looks for women embracing their texture

From short, medium, to long lengths, these natural hairstyles for women with naturally curly hair are sure to inspire

natural hairstyles tracee ellis ross
(Image credit: Future)

The struggle to find natural hairstyles that fit your personality and curl type is now a thing of the past. Gone are the days where only one or two styles fit the bill. Now, there are endless curly, coily and kinky hair looks you can try that easily work for day and night, regardless of length.

If you're in the market for a new look, you've come to the right place. The woman&home team has rounded up chic and fun natural 'dos that not only enhance the texture and definition of your natural ringlets but highlight your best features, as well as fit seamlessly into your lifestyle.

We hear you: it can definitely be a challenge trying to find the perfect naturally curly look, as well as re-learning how to style it if you've spent years enjoying a straightened or relaxed texture. But there are tons of naturally curly hairstyles out there just waiting for you to try. 

For now, though, we suggest snapping that diffuser on to your best hair dryer and get ready to be inspired. Our edit of the best natural hairstyles for women, from short hairstyles to braided hairstyles, is here to help you enjoy embracing your own texture. 

The best natural hairstyles we love

The wash-and-go hairstyle

If you’re looking to show off your curl definition, wash-and-go hairstyles are definitely for you. Use a light styler, like Ouidad VitalCurl+ Define & Shine Gel-Cream, when applying the product in sections. We love a great conditioner/styler hybrid, and this one definitely delivers without the weigh-down.

The Teeny Weeny Afro

A busy lifestyle—or starting from scratch after The Big Chop—calls for an easy curly hairstyle like a Teeny Weeny Afro, also known as a TWA. This look allows you to move day-to-day thing without worrying too much about styling or complicated hair tools. 

The Twist Out Hairstyle

Twist out hairstyles involve allowing two strand twists to stay in your hair for a longer period of time, before unraveling to get a wavy or ringlet look. You have the option of twisting your hair while wet to get a shorter, very defined style, or you can twist while your hair is dry to get a longer look.

The Braid Out

Braid out hairstyles leave you with tighter waves that can last for days at a time. The trick? The longer you leave in your braids, the better curl definition you’ll experience when you unravel them, as seen with Corinne Bailey Rae's 'do.

The Puff Hairstyle

For days when you oversleep, are late getting to work, or getting the kids to school, the puff hairstyle will save you. To create the perfect 'do we recommend the PuffCuff to avoid too much hairline tension and headaches. This is a handy, gentle tool that snaps into place around your puff, allowing for a much comfortable (and secure!) updo experience.

The Curly Bangs

Sporting curly bangs can be a fun and exciting way to switch up your look. Style them with a product like SheaMoisture Coconut & Hibiscus Frizz-Free Curl Mousse for some crunch-free definition. This lightweight mousse that encourages an even, defined curl and wave pattern. Scrunch into damp locks and let air-dry or blast gently with your diffuser to reveal a set of soft, fluffy, frizz-protected ringlets. See our guide on how to use a diffuser to master the technique. 

The Curly Bun

Curly buns fit any setting, no matter what your plans are for the day. Wear this bun to the office or during happy hour. Use a medium hold cream, like Design Essentials Almond & Avocado Honey Curl Forming Custard, to create the look. Apart from updos like buns and Bantu knots, this also provides great definition and curl elongation for loose hairstyles like the wash-and-go and for finger coils.

The Faux Locs

If you’ve ever wanted to try dreadlocks but weren’t sure if the look was for you, faux locs will give you a trial run. Faux locs look similar to real locs and can be styled in a variety of ways, plus they're very low maintenance.

The Crochet Hairstyle

Crochet hairstyles are a great way to get the look of individual braided or twisted protective styles in a short amount of time. Typically the hair is cornrowed, and then hair extensions are crocheted into the braids. 

The Box Braids

Need a break from your day-to-day hair? Box braids could be your answer. They’re perfect for any occasion and can be styled in a variety of ways. Wear them short or in long hairstyles—or go all out with super long for maximum impact. 

The Passion Twists

Passion twists are a very popular style for women who want a bit of variety, and offer up a glossy yet more natural look than faux locs. As the ends are typically left undone and curly. Style them half up, half down, in a bun, in a low ponytail, or all down—the possibilities are endless.

The Bantu Knots

A traditional Zulu style, Bantu knots are a protective hairstyle comprised of sectioned coils atop the head. Despite their impressive look they're fairly easy to get the hang of, and they can last for days on end. 

The Chunky Twists

Long and chunky twists are a wonderful way to protect your hair from natural elements like the sun, wind, and rain, and allow for growth. What's more, you can wear as many as 10 to 20 twists and still get a very full look.  

The Mini Twists

You can wear endless styles with mini twists, including updos like buns or half up hairstyles. They behave the same way locs do, in that their versatility means you can change your look in a matter of seconds without the usual hassle of daily hair styling.

The Braided Bob Hairstyle

Bob box braids are back! If you wore bob hairstyles with braids in your younger days, it’s time to relive the past and embrace the lightweight look and feel of the length of the moment. We like the lob (long bob) length worn with a slight undercurl for a chic effect. Or, if you're feeling edgy, opt for an asymmetric bob with box braids.

The Curly Pompadour Hairstyle

A variation on the curly puff, a pomp is a fun, slightly retro way to wear your natural curls in an updo. Make like Issa Rae and create a sleek base either with gel or cornrows, then leave the crown/fringe area loose and curly either in a braid-out or texturized with a hair pick and worn with a side part.

The Afro Hairstyle

Though an Afro may seem like an effortless style, they take a little work to achieve the look but always result in a high-impact, super fabulous natural result (just ask the iconic Erykah Badu and her majestic style). Use a hair pick to help shape your afro—we like the sleek design from Pattern. The extra-long teeth are super functional when styling curly or coily updos and giving some volume to loose natural hairstyles.

The Tapered Haircut

Those who seek short, low-maintenance styles will love sporting a tapered cut, like this one seen on the ever-radiant Lupita Nyong'o. Have fun with the sides with fun pins, or even play up the height with a hair pick and some gel, or even razor in some trendy, undercut-inspired clippings if desired.

The Curly Roller Set Style

Curly roller sets are great for low-humidity days when you’re out and about or for doing low-impact activities. Use a product like Floral & Curl Sweet Hibiscus Curl Volumizing Foam when setting your curls. Spray onto palms and scrunch into damp or nearly dry hair before putting in your rollers or flexi-rods for a springy, bouncy, shiny result when unfurled.

The Dreadlocks

The choice to loc your hair can be a big one and oftentimes is a spiritual decision for many women embracing their natural hairstyles. This style will need careful attention to make sure your scalp stays healthy while re-twisting, so invest in a scalp rinse or tonic to keep irritation at bay. The Design Essentials Scalp And Skin Care Anti-Itch & Tension Relief is a dermatologist-tested tonic to refresh, soothe, and stimulate the scalp while preventing flakes and providing instant itch relief. 

The Scarf Hairstyle

For hot days, bedtime, or just when life gets in the way, protect your natural hairstyles with a vibrant headscarf or turban to instantly elevate your updo. If you're trying to push back your next wash day, this option is also a failsafe hairstyle for greasy hair to cover oily roots. 

No matter which style you choose today, know that you have the freedom to choose a different style the next day. Embracing your texture is all about choosing natural hairstyles that are right for you. Have fun with your new 'do!

Victoria Smith

Victoria Smith is a marketing maven and entrepreneur based in Indianapolis. She is the founder of Make It Classy, a plant-based beauty brand, and, a beauty and wellness blog. Her goal is to help women feel confident in their own bodies and take control of their beauty routines.