a ablast from the past recycling retro hairstyles

"A Blast from the Past": Recycling Retro Hairstyles

The History of Black Hair

Black hair, just as everything else, originates from ancient African civilizations. Dating back to the fifteenth century, these people were identified by their hairstyles. Hair could indicate a person’s age, marital or social status, family background, religion, tribe, and more. These lasting styles would carry people throughout different stages of their lives, as their hair would reflect their individuality.

The Idea of "Good Hair"

The uniqueness and preciousness of African hair started to decline when the transatlantic slave trade left millions of Africans without the proper hair products/materials for care. Thus, introducing the idea of “good” hair; those with kinkier hair and darker skin were deemed less attractive. Even when slavery ended, the struggle to be accepted in society was no easier for blacks. To be able to go to certain schools or churches, or get jobs, they adjusted their looks to be able to seem similar to their white counterparts. Black people even went to the extent of using heat and chemicals to give their hair a silkier texture to match European standards.

Civil Rights Hair

The rise of the civil rights movement brought attention to the afro - a style that embraced natural hair after years of being shamed for it. Not only was this a period of rebellion and revolution, but also a time of pride and celebration. More young African Americans supported their heritage by taking a stand and wearing their natural curls. On the bright side, experimenting with our hair resulted in a plethora of natural and protective styles for us. As we begin this new year, let us continue to celebrate our versatile hair. No matter the style we choose, we won’t just wear it for the sake of wearing it. Our hair should speak volumes about who we are and where we are from! I’ve created a list of 8 retro hairstyles we can rock and represent in 2018:

The Afro

I had to start with the afro. The afro style is so simple, yet so mutable. It is a sign of power, and there’s one for every personality. There are many different styles of the afro look. Lets go over some popular afro styles.

Geometric Afro

Inspired by ancient Egypt and its geometry, this look is perfect for someone with a bold personality - and a short cut! Depending on your face shape, you can find angles that compliment your face for a rich, edgy look.

Abstract Afro

For looser curls, this is a great time to try abstract afros. This classic fro is just curls long enough to free-form and frame face. The roundness of it will help with the definition of the curls. It is such a cute, perfect afro.

Buzz Cut Afro

Most people who do the big chop only cut off damaged hair, or leave some hair for styling. Who’s trying to just shave it all off and start from scratch? When I got my big chop, I was truly a baldie; all buzzed off! I loved it! The confidence gained from having little to no hair is really like no other because it gives the reminder that although our hair makes us, it does not own us.


I’ve noticed bangs in the mid 20th century but also bangs created from other styles. Also known as faux bangs, they are exciting and elegant styles that can bring life to the room.

Faux Bang with Bun

A faux bang with a bun is a quick and easy style that you can do from the convenience of your own home. Here’s a great video showing how to transform your hair into a chic bun with girly bangs. Faux bangs are perfect for those with long hair looking to change it up without cutting their hair. Check out this "Bun with Faux Bangs" tutorial by Youtuber Alyssa Forever, showing you how to get the look!

Slicked Side Bang

A sophisticated style, pulling off a side bang of curls with a slicked down or short hairstyle can instantly turn heads at any formal event. The formed bang adds body to the hair, making it sexy and giving it attitude! Tapered cuts are also great for achieving this type of style.

Natural Hair Bangs

For medium and long hair, you can create the illusion of bangs many ways. The key to these styles is volume, so whatever you do with the front of your hair has to speak for itself because that is the focus! Create this look with various tuck, twist or braid styles. Even if your hair is short you can add extensions for the thickness; don’t let “natural hair” restrict you from thinking you can’t do a particular style just because your hair isn’t as long or full.

Loose Curls

Just as I mentioned the importance of volume before, you can see lots of big, loose curls that dominated during the 70’s and 80’s. Whether it’s your own hair or weaves, let them flow gently, giving a feathered touch. For the soft-spoken, this style says that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Check out this video "Big Voluminous Curls on Natural Hair" by the Natural Sistas on Youtube.

Head wraps

We all have bad hair days sometimes. How about covering it with a head wrap? Becoming more popular now, many girls tie scarves or pieces of cloth around their head to wear as a style, and they’re killing it! Originally from sub-Saharan Africa, these pieces were worn by women, and it symbolized rebellion even before the civil rights movement. Isn’t it cool to know the impact of hairstyles and how we can still represent today? Here’s a great video showing you "4 Quick & Easy Head Wrap Styles". Choose any color or pattern, and complement it as your own!


Honestly, the best thing about black hair is the ability to mold it into any style. During the 20th century, the detail was outstanding, as women did not take lightly one of the few things they had full control of. Definition of specific hairstyles gave texture and instantly transformed into intricate looks. These styles require time and effort. Ranging from finger waves to finger coils, these are great for shorter hair to ensure precision.


We’ve been accessorizing hair since the beginning of time. In almost all of the ancient civilizations, you can see hair accessories used to symbolize and identify people and principles. A favorite style we see today are beads! Mostly worn by younger girls, it can look just as fun and refined with braids or similar styles for older ladies. They bring life to regular styles and can even give off louder, stronger feels. And you can decorate it exactly how you want it!

Beads on Braids

The style we see the most are beads hanging on the ends of braids (or twists). They help secure the ends as well as give the hair some personality of its own. Fun and highlights the symmetry of the face and hair.

Bead Crowns

This style is so queenly and beautiful! I love the idea of shaping your face with the beads, whether it is in the front or all around. It imitates a crown and gives off the message of a spirited, black woman who is in touch with her roots and self. A queen! One celebrity known to rock this style is Solange Knowles. She rocked this style in the video for her hit song "Don't Touch My Hair", which became a hair anthem!

Miscellaneous Accessories

Sometimes we just want to add accessories to compliment hair, not to take over. For those looking for easier decorations, try adding only a few beads, clips, shell, strings, etc. Rather than an accessory on each braid, highlighting a few will give the hair a twist while remaining less distinct.


When you finally have a face in society, you want to make sure it is visible and not hidden behind loose strands of hair. With all the hair trends back in the day, you can see that it was important for women to make sure no hair was unintentionally covering their face. That is why so many women opted for updos. It is more sophisticated and keeps people less focused on how their hair looks throughout the day when it has been set exactly where they need it. Janelle Monae recreates vintage updos and does so effortlessly; she is an excellent influence for more modernized updos.

Braided Styles

It takes forever to get braids done, but it is always worth it in the end when you look at yourself in the mirror afterward. Good thing we invented crochet and braid wigs for quick styling, but we can never grow tired of classic, timeless braids. They would be even more worth it in the end if you were to do a style that you hand-picked on your own to match your charisma. Synthetic hair is usually used for braided styles making it very affordable. You can purchase synthetic hair from your local beauty supply store.

Patterned Cornrows

In extreme weather, we prefer more protective styling to keep our hair from the cold or heat. Let us take the infamous cornrow styles to the next level. Rather than having them go straight down, consider a pattern!
Did you know slaves used to write maps for each other on how to escape and delivered messages by cornrow designs?
Create your own design or have your hairstylist show off their talent by getting custom cornrows!

“Sculpture” Braids

Now, I know with society it is harder to wear certain hairstyles in school or the workforce, but it is 2018! Our hair is our crown, so of course, it should be treated as such. And in the words of Solange, "don't touch our hair". We should be able to reflect our heritage without worrying about people touching our hair or complaining about it. For anyone trying to break stereotypes and barriers, try stepping outside the norm with these exquisite styles that can only be achieved by professional stylists. The hairstyles we choose are more than just personal choices. They reflect who we are and make us unique. The significance of hair in history has led us to where we are today, but we should not neglect the importance of our styles and what they really mean. As we enter into a new year, let us pay tribute and honor those before us by wearing our hairstyles with purpose. Let us also not let the majority stop us from showcasing our art which is our appearance. Hopefully, you can find a style you’d be willing to try. The beauty of these styles is that you can alter them to reflect your persona accurately, whether it is putting two styles in one, or to wear a cosmopolitan style as an everyday hairdo. Tell us how you’re rocking retro hairstyles in 2018!
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