Braiding is one of the most popular methods of styling hair, whether African-American or European. Human hair braiding has existed for hundreds, if not thousands, of years; as early as the 1600s, the term "pigtail" was used to describe braided hair.
Here's a brief rundown of some popular human hair braiding styles.
Human Hair Braiding Style #1: Cornrows. These are a traditional human hair braiding style of African origin, wherein hair is braided very close to the scalp. Popular on both men and women, cornrows can be simple straight lines or complex geometric patterns. Be careful, though: It's only a myth that cornrows should be very tight, and braids pulled too taut can result in hair loss.
Human Hair Braiding Style #2: French Braid. More of a temporary measure than the others on this list, the French braid is a popular "dressing-up" style that looks great with an evening gown. A single braid beginning at the crown of the head, with more hair added to the braid as it progresses down the back.
Human Hair Braiding Style #3: Microbraids. Also known as pixie braids, these braids are so small that from afar they may not even appear to be braids. Best for long hair, microbraids are composed of hundreds of tiny, delicate braids that go from scalp to ends. Don't try these at home -- it's a long process best left to a salon professional.
Human Hair Braiding Style #4: Box Braids. Interestingly, this style of human hair braiding often requires two stylists to complete. Start at the bottom -- the narrowest part of the head. The end result creates a series of "boxes" across the scalp -- each with a braid coming from the center -- that give the style its name.