Browsin’ around for your next protective style? Take this as your sign to ask your braider for Ghana braids. Not only are there so many style ideas in the Ghana braids category alone (lookin’ at you, chunky braids and zigzag parts), but unlike, say, micro braids and box braids that can have you in the chair all day, Ghana braids can be installed in just two hours, depending on the intricacy of the style you choose. (And yes, that is the perfect amount of time to watch your fav rom-com, or exactly two episodes of Succession).
Ghana braids are obvs very similar to cornrows, but thanks to the added braiding hair, you can really play up and customize the shape, thickness, and colors (!) to match your vibes. If you need a little more info before DMing your braider, we chatted with hairstylist and curl experts Jasmine “Jazzee” Green and La’Khouri Francis to answer all your questions about Ghana braids.
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Jourdan Dunn’s Waist-Length Ghana Braids
Jourdan Dunn’s side-swept braided style will never not be one to screenshot. The fact that the flat-braiding stops a few inches in gives Dunn the versatility to twist her hair into a topknot or a high bun without the additional tugging or pulling on her scalp.
These Red Ghana Braids and Waves
I’m callin’ it: Red, Ariel-level hair will be officially trending for the next year, thanks to Halle Bailey’s Little Mermaid. And if you’re a Disney fan—or just a fan of bright dye jobs—these braided waves should be the only thing you show your colorist and braider, regardless of if you go for Ghana braids, zipper braids, or stitch braids.
Dual-Texture Ghana Braid Look
You can’t tell me that the precise angles and lines of these Ghana braids weren’t created with a protractor, because they look legitimately perfect. But what really makes this style ~pop~ is its mix of blonde braiding hair and curly ends, which give the look a softer, chiller vibe.
Can’t decide between curls or braids? Don’t. Just take a cue from this sleek-yet-volumized bun that has a mix of cornrows, stitch braids, loose curls, swooping edges, and zigzag parts. Just make sure to keep a good oil mist on hand, says Santiago, for shine and moisture.
These Ghana Braids with Cornrows
Okay, we won’t pretend that these braids are the quickest and easiest of all Ghana braids, but if you want to level-up your look in exchange for some extra time in the chair, show your braider these alternating straight and curved cornrows.
These Zigzag Ghana Braids
We all know ’00s and ’90s hairstyles are back and more popular than ever. And even though abstract parting has never not been trendy in braided styles, the sleek, zigzag parting on this Ghana-braided ponytail feels more timely and selfie-worthy than ever. Pick up some honey-blonde braiding hair for a gorgeous ombre effect, or channel your inner-teen self and play around with unexpected shades.
This Zigzag-Braided Ghana Bun
These Small Ghana Braids
Santiago points out that most people here in the states associate Ghana braids with a chunkier cornrow style but argues that the size can also vary. “Ghana braids are just a very basic technique of adding hair to a section of a braid and then adding hair as you go along,” says Santiago, “with the intention of making that braid longer, thicker, or both.”
This Ghana Braid High Bun
A high bun is a staple hairstyle for a reason: It’s a great and quick hairstyle which, with laid edges like these (and the right edge control products ofc), becomes a definitive lewk. Combine that with these spiral Ghana braids, and I guarantee you’ll have your new favorite braided hairstyle.
This Triangle-Parted Ghana Braids Style
The best part about Ghana braids is how versatile they can be, especially when it comes to parting. I mean, how cool is this triangle parting? Even better, this style is made up of only three braids, which means you’ll spend even less time with your braider (no shade—I’m sure they’re great) and more time taking selfies.
Ghana Braids with Cuffs
There is no braided hairstyle that doesn’t look extra cute with beads and cuffs. And even if you opt out of the cuffs, those center curved cornrows are unique and precise enough to make the whole style. Just don’t skip on your silk bonnet or scarf at night (or switch to a silk pillowcase if you haven’t already) to avoid messing with your braids.
Ghana Braids with Cornrows
Fact: These Ghana braids are anything but basic. The teeny-tiny cornrows not only add a cool contrast to the thicker braids, but the way they cross over each other takes it from a braided style to a literal work of art.
These Waterfall Ghana Braids
Ghana Braids Bun with Loose Curls
Leaving your ends loose and curly is such a fun way to mix up your style. To get this high bun, gather all of your braids into a ponytail, then wrap them around the base to form a bun, leaving a few of the curly ends out of the bun before tucking the rest underneath or securing with bobby pins.
Horizontal Ghana Braids
Presenting: the perfect example of how customizable Ghana braids can be. As with most braided styles, Ghana braids still leave room to play with your hair parting, like these horizontal braids. It’s going to require some pro-level parting skills (and a rat-tail comb) to get those crisp lines, so if you don’t feel up for it, screenshot this pic for your braider.
Ghana Braids in a High Ponytail
This Half-Up Ghana Braids Style
IMO, any time you’re not sure how to style your hair, tie it off into a half-up, half-down style like this. It instantly gives your style a little extra personality, and it looks especially great with these alternating Ghana braids and cornrows.
This Half-Braid Half-Loose Style
If you can’t decide between full braids or a full sew-in, meet them both halfway with this half-braided, half-extension combo. It’s honestly so pretty, and both protective styles will give your natural hair a break from daily life.
These Alternating Ghana and Cornrow Braids
Francis notes that one common way to differentiate Ghana braids from other styles is the change in size: “The braid starts off small, then gradually grows into a larger braid due to the strategic amount of hair being added throughout the braid.”
This Ghana-Braided Low Bun
Santiago points out two other key traits of Ghana braids: They’re always attached to your head (unlike an individual braid or box braid), and they always incorporate braiding hair. From there, you can wear Ghana braids in a ton of different ways, like this gorgeous bun hairstyle with ruler-precise lines (I mean, wow).
These Ghana Braids and Double Buns
Don’t know which part I love the most about this braided updo: the double braided buns, the beaded and cuffed Fulani-style braids, or how all the elements work so perfectly together at once.
These Side Ghana Braids
If you like the side-swept look of “Lemonade” braids (who doesn’t?!), try this version of Ghana braids that follows a sideways, side-swept direction. It’s not an exact replica, but still has the Bey vibes we love.
These Half-Up Ghana Braids
Instead of braiding your hair all the way down, stop at your crown and tie your braids back in a half-up, half-down, half-braided waterfall style.
This Ghana Braided Ponytail With Curls
Or ask your braider for Ghana braids around your whole head to create a braided ponytail like this. Instead of stopping at the crown, ask your braider to leave out the ends for a few inches of soft curls.
These Straight-Back Braids
This straight-back braided hairstyle combines two classic favorites, Ghana braids and itty-bitty cornrows, for a majorly Insta-worthy look.
These Jumbo Ghana Braids With Cornrows
For a more intricate look, ask your braider for mini braids that follow a criss-cross pattern along with your jumbo braids and straight cornrows. To really make the design pop, incorporate blonde hair or another bright shade of braiding hair (it is the year of blue ombré, no?).
These Two-Tone Ghana Braids
If platinum-blonde hair is just not for you, try using braiding hair in a warm honey blonde to add dimension to your Ghana braids while still feeling natural and wearable.
These Ghana Braids With Zig-Zag Part
Important tip from Francis to help maintain moisture while wearing Ghana braids (or really any braids): Keep your scalp moisturized every morning with hydrating leave-in sprays and oils (with a nozzle top) to keep skin soothed and hydrated.
This Ghana-Braided Bob
When you want to switch it up, try a shorter bob length or play around with your hair part. Instead of following the hairline, these braids start at one point on the side and stem outward with one cool accent braid down the middle.
These Long Ghana Braids
To keep your hair healthy for braided styles like this, both experts suggest applying hydrating hair products to the hair prior to braiding. How? Francis suggests deep-conditioning before and after getting your style, while Santiago stresses the importance of stretching your hair before getting your braids to help keep the hair protected. That way, when you do take the braids out, you’re not left with dried hair and a lot of shedding.
These Fulani Ghana Braids
Can’t decide between two styles? Incorporate the Ghana braid technique into another braided hairstyle you love, like Fulani braids, for a cool combo like this.
This Ghana Braids in a Spiral Pattern
Ghana braids and goddess braids (a similar chunky cornrow style) are the perfect go-tos for those who love a versatile hairstyle and don’t want to spend forever getting them done.
What are Ghana braids?
“There’s such a great, rich, beautiful cultural history of braiding that has been so diluted,” Santiago says, explaining how Western culture has developed its own simplified take on Ghana braids. “By the time we get to where we are today to talk about Ghana braids, it’s pretty basic,” she says. In the simplest terms, Santiago defines Ghana braids as a braiding technique that takes a basic cornrow hairstyle and adds hair to it. If that sounds a lot like feed-in braids, that’s because it is.
Although both feed-in braids and Ghana braids are very similar in technique, Francis says that Ghana braids should end up looking thicker and fuller than feed-in braids. “What makes Ghana braids different is the substantial amount of hair added through the braid for volume,” Francis explains. “Feed-in braids have hair added through the braid as well, but a stylist is able to manipulate it in a way to where the braid stays the same size.” Another difference? “Hair is usually added for length with feed-in braids as opposed to volume with Ghana braids,” she says.
How long do Ghana braids last?
Although Ghana braids can last up to a month if properly maintained with products and hair coverings while you sleep, both experts recommend wearing Ghana braids for two weeks only (three weeks max, says Francis) so that the hair doesn’t dry out and take your style from protective to damaging.
Do Ghana braids break your hair?
Ghana braids, like any protective style, can damage your hair or scalp if done too tightly—but you can avoid it. Francis explains that although tension is needed for most cornrow styles, too much tension can do the opposite of a protective style, which is why it’s important to see a knowledgeable stylist and try to speak up if you feel pain during your braiding (easier said than done, right?).
Jasmine “Jazzee” Green is a hairstylist at Collective Plus salon in New York, NY, where she is an expert in working with all hair textures, braiding, and haircutting. She has worked with celebrities like Jill Scott, Quincy Tyler Bernstine, and Angela Lewis.
La’Khouri Francis is a D.C.-based Yeluchi salon hairstylist who specializes in braids and hair of all textures.
Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan with nearly 10 years of experience researching, writing, and editing hair stories that range from the Curly Girl Method to cleansing conditioners to hair types. Though she’s learned to be an authority in all hair categories (especially thanks to a lifetime of working with her own 2b/3a curly hair), she worked with braiders and experts within the natural-hair community to spotlight the best Ghana braid ideas on models, influencers, and everyday people.
Sami Robertswas previously the beauty assistant at Cosmopolitan with four years of experience researching, writing, and editing health, social media, and beauty-related stories, including the best hair-straightening products to hair volumizing products. Her initial Ghana braid ideas picks were based on research and trends.
Valeriya Chupinina was the beauty assistant at Cosmopolitan with five years of experience researching, writing, and editing haircare stories that range from the best hair toners to the top-rated heat protectants.
Chloe Metzger Deputy Beauty Director Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life).
Sami Roberts Sami Roberts was the previous beauty assistant at Cosmopolitan.
Valeriya Chupinina Valeriya Chupinina is a freelance beauty and wellness writer exploring the multifaceted connection between the aesthetic and internal.