For the next few posts we are going to look at the various names given to different protective braided hairstyles. For purposes of this very long 3 part post I have divided braided hairstyles into three major categories braids, cornrows and twists with plenty of variations of the three. I deliberately omitted using the term plaits while categorising because I am aware that some people refer to braids as plaits and others refer to cornrows as plaiting and others use both interchangeably. Is it just me or is the use of the word plait/plaiting slowly disappearing? I still use it sometimes; I would say I am getting my hair plaited especially when getting cornrows done or say I am plaiting two braids in my hair. They can be done with or without extensions depending on the length of your hair and preference. Let’s start with the all too familiar;
Commonly referred to as braids, plaits, box braids, individual braids, single braids, single plaits, singles or individuals. These are known as Rastas in Kenya and Ghana I honestly do not know how this name came about in either country but I am guessing it has something to do with dreadlocks aka locs that were predominantly known to be worn by Rastafarians for a long time before other groups of people started locking their hair. Same hairstyle is known as Oxfowl in Sierra Leone I am still wondering how this name came about none of my Sierra Leonean friends seem to know so if anyone knows please do tell in the comments. In the Shona language from Zimbabwe they are known as Ma One One. Done bigger without extensions (think braid out size) in Kenya they are referred to as Matuta. This has got to be the most common braiding hairstyle ever.
What they are called also depends on the size and braiding technique, for example done really tiny they are referred to as micros done very big they are called chunky or jumbo braids. Pick and drop is where the hair is braided using extensions up to a certain point usually where the real hair ends especially if short, a knot is tied and the rest of the extension hair is left unbraided. Can be done with straight, wavy or curly braiding hair but it seems to be more popular with wavy or curly braiding hair. I am aware that some people also refer to what I know as pick and drop which is a name common in the UK and parts of sub Saharan Africa as micros which is understandable because pick and drop is normally done very tiny. They are called touch and leave/go in Sierra Leone because you are touching the hair for a bit and then leaving it or letting it go. I stopped doing micros and pick and drop, my hairline asked me to. They look really nice on my head but are disastrous to my nape and hairline. Also pick and drop in my opinion is only a protective style if the hair is braided all the way up to the ends of your real hair I say this because with hair longer than ear length usually the ends of the real hair is left out; the hair is only braided up to a few inches usually less than three from the root exposing the ends of the real hair . I just realised that I was a serial pick and dropper! The throwback photos below were taken 6 years apart and I had pick and drop in both of them. Well maybe it’s because I am a serial extension hair protective styler and try different styles each year. But this kind of pick and drop is not seeing my hair ever again I have done the ones where they braid up to the ends of your hair as well in a box braid size and those are much better as protective styles. .
|Front pick and drop, back sew in weave. Excuse the shiny forehead was in a very hot and humid environment at the time.|
|Full head pick and drop|
How do you call any of the hairstyles mentioned here where you are from or live?
Thanks to Stella for the Ghanaian names, Tendayi for the Shona-Zimbabwean names and Vicky for being my box braid model.
UK: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland