The Most Timeless Hairstyle (and How to Get It)

Over the years, the Afro has taken on different shapes, sizes, lengths, and meanings. But if one thing remains constant it's the fact that no matter who is donning it, it's a fittingly bold way to express your personality. See our favorite Afros of all time and get tips on how you can foster your own.

Most Popular

The history of the Afro hairstyle is as varied as the style itself—in the '60s and '70s, the hairstyle spoke to the political and social mood of the civil rights movement, during which African-Americans embraced the mantra "black is beautiful" and, in celebration of their heritage, began to embrace the natural texture of their hair, forgoing chemical straighteners. (The word Afro derives from the term Afro-American.)

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The most fashionable shapes and styles of Afros have evolved many times over in the years since then, but never has the style been more ingrained in mainstream culture than it is now, making frequent appearances on runways, red carpets, fashion editorials, and on film and television.

i-D senior fashion editor Julia Sarr-Jamois is often photographed because of her eclectic style and fun, free-flowing curls. She's pictured here after the Hermès show during Paris Fashion Week, fall/winter 2016.
Most Popular

If you're considering growing out an Afro or if you already have one, here are some tips that will help you kick off (or maintain) a stellar look. While you take notes, check out some of the best 'fros that span decades.

Tip No. 1: Change Up Your Tools

If you are currently using small-tooth combs, put them down! Instead, go for wide-tooth combs or picks.

Detangle hair with a wide-tooth comb and conditioner, that way curls will be moisturized and stretched when they air dry. Divide hair into sections and comb from the ends toward the root— this process will help diffuse tangles and kinks from the source, so you don't have to yank them out with the comb.

Sly Stone of the musical group Sly and the Family Stone wears his Afro in a dome-like shape, while in the swinging Hatchetts Club in London.
Singer, model, and writer Marsha Hunt in 1969. She always wore her hair natural in photo shoots, which went against the conventional beauty standards of long, straight hair at the time.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Tip No. 2: Don't Wash Too Often

Build a regimen that focuses less on cleansing and more on conditioning, since coarse, curly hair is weakened when stripped of its natural oils. Cleanse once a week (use a conditioning wash for added moisture!) and apply a deep conditioner every other week, or once a month, depending on how dry your hair gets. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Political activist Angela Davis, seen here in 1969, is still noted today for her signature style of Afro.

Tip No. 3: Use Your Favorite Oil and Butters

If you haven't noticed already, one of the most important factors in maintaining an Afro is a lot of hydration. Find a good, natural essential oil or butter such as coconut, jojoba, olive oils, or shea butter and integrate them into your regimen.

Create a deep conditioning mask with olive oil, or add coconut oil post-wash—whatever you do, just keep up with it so your Afro doesn't dehydrate and deflate. 

Singer Kelis in 2000. She is known for experimenting with different colors and textures in her hair.

Tip No. 4: Get It Shaped

As an Afro grows, the shape can change (for example, getting longer in the back rather than the front), which you can fix by getting your ends trimmed every six months. But a cool cut can also add great dimension to your Afro—go for a TWA (otherwise known as a teeny weeny Afro) with tapered sides, or get a geometrically designed undercut by the nape of your neck. 

Singer Nina Simone during a performance in 1967—she often had a teeny weeny Afro, which she decorated with jewels, headbands, and headwraps.
Lenny Kravitz at the American Music Awards in 2002. He's gone through many phases of hairstyles, including dreds and straightened coifs, but he's most known for his Afro look.
Solange Knowles in New Orleans on her wedding day. Knowles is often referenced for her hair, makeup, and fashion—for good reason!
Most Popular
Dante de Blasio, son of New York mayor Bill de Blasio, has made headlines with his full 'fro (which we love!). Here he is celebrating New Year's Eve in 2014.

Tip No. 5: Get Creative With Your Style

If you've grown out your hair for an Afro, you can still style it lots of different ways. Give it more body with looser curls by doing a two-strand twist-out or add a front crown braid right at the hairline (which is basically the DIY version of a headband!). Add highlights or a high-fashion pastel color with hair dye—but be sure to consult a professional colorist before going this route. 

Model Michael Lockley, who updated his look with a honey-blond color, outside of the Missoni fall/winter 2016 show during Milan Men's Fashion Week.
Jillian Harvey of the music duo Lion Babe, performing (and swinging her long, amazing hair) at Coachella 2016 in Indio, California.
More from sweet: