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There are different types of hairstyles from all around the world, but none has gained the popularity that braids have over the last few years! From being a protective hairstyle to now becoming a fashion must, braids have come a long way that comes from a storied history. However, most people feel that out of all the braids, there are two that noteworthily are of distinct types, the European braid and the African braid.
There is a lot of history behind these two types of braid hairstyles and both are noticeably different from each other. That is why I have decided to dive into the world of these braids and show a comparison between the based on certain factors and which one you can choose for your hair type! So let’s go through European braids vs African braids!
European Braids and African Braids
European braids, also known as traditional or standard braids, have its roots in European cultures. These involve dividing the hair into three equal sections and intertwining them to create a simple, woven pattern. There is a wide range of popular European braids including Roman Vestal Twists, Greek Goddess Braids, Celtic Knots, French braids, milkmaid braids, etc which are feminine and elegant. These types of braids are commonly seen in various cultures across Europe and are often used as a foundation for more complex hairstyles. Braids had significant cultural importance for ancient Europeans. Six carefully chosen women, who vowed to virginity and purity, were known as Vestal Virgins in ancient Roman culture. These women wore sini crenes braids as a sign of their virtue and served as the empire’s spiritual leaders. Ancient Celtic and Gaelic tribes also gave their hair symbolic meaning. French braids have become the most recently popular braid in Europe. This twist originated in northern Africa, even though it is commonly assigned to France. However, this style was quickly embraced by early European cultures like the Greeks and Celts, and the European continent has come to be strongly linked with it.
African braids have a rich history in African cultures and have been passed down through generations. These involve dividing the hair into a few sections and twisting the natural hair strands with artificial hair. The braids also come in a wide variety of popular styles, including box braids, cornrows, Goddess Braids, knotless Braids, micro braids, and many more. African braids are often more complex and involve complex patterns and designs, reflecting the diversity and creativity of African hairstyling traditions. Tribes all over the African continent have valued a woman’s hair greatly going back to ancient Egypt. There have been variations between these tribes and across the ages, tribal members continued to hold many of the same beliefs regarding hair. Only one person could braid another person’s hair and women were not allowed to cut men’s hair. People of African origin have altered hair, particularly braids, since the earliest days of their ancestors’ tribes. Because of the negative effects that the slave trade had on persons who were forcibly moved to this continent, braids have special significance in America. Today’s braiding fashions honor and revive the historic past of African hair culture.
European Braids Vs African Braids
European braids and African braids have unique origins, cultural significance, and techniques to wear. Now, let’s compare and contrast the two braids!
European braids are popular as a fashionable hairstyle while African braids are popular as a unique beautiful hairstyle. European braids are influenced by fashion trends with a focus on the complex process of weaving. It is mainly considered a hairstyle choice. While African braids are influenced by deep cultural roots featuring heritage and complex patterns of styles. It holds diverse social importance.
For weaving the braids, long hair strands are necessary in the case of European braids. On the other hand, for weaving braids in African hair, you won’t need long hair strands necessarily since it is weaved very near to the scalp. So, braids can be created with the help of short-length hair.
European braids are very loosely twisted from the scalp. It results in the appearance of thicker and fuller braids if the braids are not excessively thin. While African braids are very tightly twisted to the scalp which dry out their fluffy and coiled hair. Compared to European braids, African braids take more space around the scalp which helps those to well secure the hair to the scalp. For European braids, 3 parts of the braids are thick but the parts are extremely thin for African braids. In European braids, hair is weaved loosely so that it stays far away from the scalp. As a result, it transforms the thin hair into a fuller and voluminous appearance. The scalp is not very exposed in the case of European braids while African braids expose the scalp in between each of the braids.
European braids are easier and far more convenient to style or twist than African braids. You will need a period of 40 minutes to an hour to create typical European braids. On the other hand, to create African braids, you will need hours after hours or even days. French braids need only about 90 seconds to complete. While cornrows and box braids need about 5 to 6 hours in case someone has long hair.
The durability of braids depends on the preparation of hair before and the well-maintenance of braids after the installation of braids. European Braids last on hair for a maximum of 8 weeks if you take care of the braid properly. While African braids last for a while, it lasts for a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks of wearing and a maximum of 10 weeks if taken care of.
6. Type of Waves
European braids result in wider waves. The wider waves appear to be pretty natural. On the other hand, African braids result in smaller waves and additional waves to the hair. Those waves leave the hair with a crease look.
7. Braiding Process
European braids follow a unique braiding process. It is favorable for the hair roots. For starting the process, separate the 3 thick hair strands between the fingers. Both the right and left parts of the strand move over the middle strand. The strands get twisted in a criss-cross pattern resulting in a braid. For example, if you want to create French braids, start with a few strands of hair and continue to braid with extra hair strands. Each of the sections within the braid is pulled to result in a voluminous and fuller hair look. Some braids may not be similar and differ in size and thickness.
On the other hand, African braids follow a more complex process of braiding. For starting the process, first, part the entire hair into several thin sections to further part those into 3 more sections. This parting results in a thin line on the scalp. Add a layer of moisturizer on the hair roots of each section. 2 of the side strands are moved over the middle strands. The strands are twisted together in a tight manner resulting in a smaller and thinner braid. In some of the braids, add some beads and extensions to the braids gradually. Each of the braids is similar.
European Braids Vs African Braids: Which One to Choose
Both braids are unique. Which one you should choose depends on many factors. If you have soft hair, and you want to give protection, you can choose any of the braids. While consider the following factors for choosing the perfect braids hairstyle for you.
- Criticism: Wearing African braids might be criticized when you have belongingness to another culture. On the other hand, wearing European braids won’t leave you with any criticism. So, if you fear criticism, go for European braids.
- Benefits: African braids give protection to your hair and retain moisture. So, if you want protective and moisturizing benefits, go for African braids.
- Durability: European Braids last on hair for comparatively less time than African braids. If you want to wash your hair after several weeks, go for African braids. While if you want to keep the braids hairstyle only for a few hours, you should definitely go for European braids.
- Personal Preference: Both European and African braids look great. European braids are both modest and useful. While African braids don’t only give protection to hair but also reflect social, marital, and tribal status. So, it is up to personal preference which one you should choose.
Let’s look at the key differences at a glance.
|Points||European Braids||African Braids|
|Popularity||European braids are popular as a fashionable hairstyle.||African braids are popular as a unique beautiful hairstyle.|
|Precondition||Long hair strands are necessary.||Long hair strands are not necessary.|
|Characteristics||European braids are very loosely twisted from the scalp which results in the appearance of thicker and fuller braids. The scalp is not very exposed too.||African braids are very tightly twisted to the scalp which dry out their fluffy and coiled hair. The braids expose the scalp in between each of the braids.|
|Convenience||A time period of 40 minutes to an hour is needed to create typical European braids.||To create African braids, hours after hours or even days are needed.|
|Durability||The braids last on hair for a maximum of 8 weeks.||The braids last for a maximum of 10 weeks.|
|Type of Waves||European braids result in wider waves which appear to be pretty natural.||African braids result in smaller waves and additional waves to the hair which gives a crease look.|
|Braiding Process||European braids follow a unique braiding process favorable for the hair roots. For starting the process, separate the 3 thick hair strands between the fingers. Some braids may not be similar and differ in size and thickness.||African braids follow a more complex process of braiding. For starting the process, part the entire hair into several thin sections to further part those into 3 more sections. Each of the braids is similar.|
Nigeria. It is in the topmost position for the best braids for their attractive and precise braid work. Also, reports say that braids are worth $19 or 6,000 Naira in Nigeria.
Other than the likely origins in Africa and Greece, some people think that the women of China’s Song Dynasty may have been the first to wear French braids. The earliest representation of the three cultures is found in the rock art of North Africa.
Evidence says that the Himba people of what is Namibia at present were the first to braid afro hair. Braiding patterns are thought to have been utilized to indicate tribe, age, wealth, marital status, and religion throughout the African continent.
The Dutch braid, like many other braid hairstyles, was discovered in Africa as a technique to retain hair in place while simultaneously protecting the head from the scorching sun. The Dutch were the first outside culture to use Dutch braids in their daily life.
Braids, in particular box braids, have been a part of Egyptian history since the time of the ancient Egyptians. A woman who was buried in Egypt more than 3,000 years ago had a complex weave with 70 extensions included in her hair.
You will see the existence of braids all over the world, it is not a hairstyle for any specific culture only. Although the significance varies from one culture to another, both European and African braids have gained popularity globally, with people of different backgrounds embracing these hairstyles as expressions of culture, fashion, and personal identity.
European braids are commonly seen in various cultures across Europe and are often used as a foundation for more complex hairstyles. While African braids are often more complex and involve complex patterns and designs, reflecting the diversity and creativity of African hairstyling traditions. The two braids vary in many ways so which one can suit you will depend on your hair type and how you want to make your appearance look.
- European braids, also known as traditional or standard braids, originated in European cultures and are popular in various cultures.
- African braids have a rich history in African cultures and have been passed down through generations. Popular African braids include box braids, cornrows, Goddess Braids, knotless Braids, micro braids, etc.
- There are differences between the two braids in terms of popularity, precondition, characteristics, convenience, durability, type of waves, and braiding process.
- European braids are fashionable and intricate, while African braids are unique and beautiful, influenced by cultural roots and cultural patterns, showcasing diverse social importance.
- European braids are easier and far more convenient to style or twist than African braids. 40 minutes to an hour will be required to create typical European braids. On the other hand, to create African braids, you will need hours after hours or even days.
- European braids is a modest and useful hairstyle. While African braids don’t only give protection to hair but also reflect social, marital, and tribal status.