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90s Black Hairstyles Were Everyday Wearable Art

90s Black Hairstyles
Photo Artwork: Joy Adaeze

Growing up as a child in the 90s was an experience. Music was at it’s creative peak, Movies were breaking barriers and fashion was groundbreaking. But one thing stands out to me the most. 90s Black hairstyles. 

Updos that defied gravity, finger waves that could make anyone seasick and braids that took hours to create— 90s Black hairstyles commanded your attention. But the most amazing thing of all, these intricate forms of wearable art were not reserved for special occasions. It was anything but. Black women wore these fly hairstyles on a regular workweek. They were a mainstay in our culture and our way of expressing ourselves.

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Decades have passed, and although I was a young girl in the 90s, the beautiful works of art known as 90s Black hairstyles still fill me with a sense of pride and joy. So you can imagine my excitement when Allure celebrated these iconic looks in a recent article. Celebrity hairstylist Nikki Nelms recreated the most popular styles of the decade: finger waves, updos and box braids. “They were wearing three hairstyles in one,” says Nelms of Black women in the 90s. “They’d want two crimps in the front, a French roll in the back, and a waterfall on top. You always wanted height and volume. What I love about these looks is that they were so…normal to us. When we wanted to give it, it didn’t need to be for a special occasion. We are the special occasion.”

And yes, yes we are.

Joy Adaeze | Reflect Beauty author
Joy Adaeze

Joy Adaeze is a Nigerian-American Beauty and Style Editor, Content Creator, and Social Media Manager based in NYC. Her writing credits include ESSENCE, Huffington Post, Hello Beautiful, PopSugar, NY Mag’s The Cut as well as her personal style blog: www.JoyLovesFashion.com, which she created in 2009. You can find her on IG and TikTok: @joy_adaeze.

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