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Give Your Mane Extra Black Girl Magic with These 8 On-Trend Haircuts for Black Women

These styles are functional and fashionable.


Don’t get me wrong, I love a long hairstyle. Long box braids have gotten me (and my hair) through many special occasions. Still, I sometimes like to shake things up and show off my natural hair with a short haircut.

If you’re looking for a bold new hairstyle for the fall and upcoming holiday season, it may be time for a short haircut. Whether you dye your hair, try bangs for the first time, or explore waves (where you normally rock curly or straight), there’s a short haircut or protective hairstyle that’s perfect for you.

There are a few key factors to consider before cutting your hair short. These include your hair’s volume, texture, thickness, health, and color. You’ll also want to think about what hairstyles and designs will be most flattering to your face shape and best highlight your natural beauty. These are just some of my favorite hairstyle ideas for keeping my hair healthy and stylish.

1. Pixie Cut

Angela Bassett in 2013
Angela Bassetts_bukley/Shutterstock

A pixie haircut tends to be short and cropped close to the head on the sides and in the back. The top section may be a little longer to add extra volume and enable finger waves. Bangs are typically short but can be adjusted to a style that accentuates your facial features. Short pixie cuts have been trendy for a while now because they provide a flattering, easy-to-style frame for almost all face shapes.  

If you have thin hair, a pixie cut is a good option because of its volume on top. This cut doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or upkeep, and it looks fabulous with bright balayage highlights. 

2. Side-Swept Bangs

Taraji P. Henson in 2012
Taraji P. HensonTinseltown/Shutterstock

It’s generally agreed that side-swept bangs (also known as side bangs) flatter every face shape. That’s perhaps why this look is worn by both young Black girls and more mature Black women. Cut at an angle to add shape to the face and draw the eye to your best features, side-swept bangs are reminiscent of silver screen Hollywood glam. They work on every hair length, but for short haircuts in particular, they’re a great way to add shape and definition. If you really want to take your side-swept bangs to the next level, consider curtain bangs, which look especially nice on curly hair. Just be sure to cut your bangs long enough to leave room for shrinkage.

3. Bob Hairstyles

Viola Davis in 2016
Viola DavisDFree/Shutterstock

The short bob is likely what comes to mind when you think of short hairstyles, and there’s a reason for that. Thanks to its classic lines and customizable shape, it’s one of the most iconic and versatile short haircut options. Most often, bobs fall to around the jaw, but they can be as long as the shoulders. If you like a short hairstyle that isn’t too short, you could try a lob (a portmanteau of “long” and “bob”). Like the pixie cut, a bob haircut is low maintenance and versatile.

4. Cornrows

Tracee Ellis Ross in 2019
Tracee Ellis RossKathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Cornrows date back thousands of years and are an important part of many cultures in Africa and the Caribbean. In U.S. history, cornrows have been used to cue one’s position and ideologies within African-American society — from faith and wealth to marital status and age — and they remain an iconic style to this day. As the name implies, cornrows are typically styled in straight lines, with braids close to the scalp, and they may be adorned or accessorized with beads and cuffs. If you want to explore different cornrow options and styles, organic or geometric lines (straight ones) are fun alternatives. You’ll need a few inches of hair in order to create cornrows, but otherwise, you can style them as long or short as you like. Cornrows are relatively low maintenance and can last for two to eight weeks with basic care.  

5. Short Curls

Kerry Washington in 2019
Kerry WashingtonKristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

If you’ve been growing your curly hair or ringlets out for a while, you’ve likely noticed that they’ve lost some of their bounce. As curly hair or thick hair gets heavier, it can get weighed down and may no longer have the movement or shape it once did. That’s where a short, curly hairstyle like a curly bob comes in. Even the slightest cut to curly hair increases lightness and bounce and improves hair texture and volume. A proper haircut will remove tangles and excess weight, giving your natural hairstyle a healthy sheen. Style your natural curls into a curly pixie, shag, or afro to get a look that reflects your personal style. 

6. Box Braids

Gabrielle Union in 2019
Gabrielle UnionBroadimage/Shutterstock

Box braids are an enduring part African culture. They’ve been a tool for communication and the preservation of ancestral rituals throughout colonialism. In the US, box braids had a role in the Black Power movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s and ’90s R&B music

A protective hairstyle that can be worn for a long time with limited maintenance, box braids — as the name implies — have a box-like design that’s created by splitting the hair into quadrants. Box braids aren’t as tight to the scalp as cornrows because they are braided out from the scalp (where cornrows are braided against the scalp). Think of this as the difference between French braids and a standard braid. The former starts at the crown and is braided tight to the scalp until all hair is incorporated into the braid. The latter merely starts at the scalp, typically from a ponytail, and flows loose and away from the scalp. 

This makes for more versatility and options when it comes to styling your box braids in updos, braid crowns, and ponytails. Box braids look playful and elegant at any length, and you can style them short with side parts or set them as a bob for a more personalized look. 

7. Undercut

Alicia Keys in 2014
Alicia Keys Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock

Do you love bold, cutting-edge styles but loathe the weight of long hair? Then the undercut is the short hairstyle for you. This big chop, tapered cut owes its name to short, buzzed sides and longer top hair. In many cases, you’ll buzz just the lower layer of hair, so you can hide the shortness until you put your hair in a bun or updo. 

Undercuts, which have a long and controversial history, are currently making a comeback. For confident women looking to strut, the undercut is a unique, high-fashion style guaranteed to make you stand out. 

8. Ombre or Balayage

Jennifer Hudson in 2019
Jennifer HudsonKristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

If you want to take your short hairstyle to the next level and experiment with platinum blonde hair, consider adding ombre or balayage highlights to your natural hair color. Both are unique and beautiful ways amplify a short style. Balayage blonde highlights tend to look a little more organic because they’re hand-painted, and their movement sweeps in a more vertical direction than ombre highlights. Ombre coloring moves from dark to light, typically from the roots to the tips, for an added sense of movement. While shades of blonde are a common option for both ombre and balayage designs, you can choose any color you like. 

In short… 

You deserve a natural haircut that will give you confidence and comfort at work, school, and home. These short hairstyles for Black women make it easy to look great every day without spending hours in the bathroom or a ton of money on products and visits to the hairstylist. Short hairstyles are especially helpful for busy women because they’re easy and inexpensive to maintain, and they protect tresses from heat and product damage. 

When it comes to short hair ideas, options abound: cornrows, box braids, pixie cuts, bobs, undercuts, side swept bangs. Which short hairstyle will you choose? (And will it be ombre or balayage?) Whatever you decide, have fun with it, and let your magic shine. 

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