Hair Braiding History

Hair braiding [hair brey-ding] verb

 “Hair braiding means a natural form of hair manipulation that results in tension on hair strands by beading, braiding, cornrowing, extending, lacing, locking, sewing, twisting, weaving, or wrapping human hair, natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and hair extensions into a variety of shapes, patterns, and textures.”

Hair braiding is an ancient art form that can be traced back to Egyptians and many African tribes, where it was used to symbolize social status and different religious and social beliefs. Hair braiding has been around for centuries and many styles worn today for fashion purposes used to only be worn to symbolize different things about a person’s life.

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Ancient Egyptian women of high stature would wear their hair braided and beaded over; pregnant Egyptian women would wear their hair braided into a bun. In some African tribes they used hair braiding as an initiation process from childhood to adulthood, and some women would wear their hair braided into a crown to represent royalty.


Hair braiding slowly made its way to the United States where it was mainly worn around the house and used to maintain small children’s hair. Hair braiding services were not offered in a salon until the 1960’s, when the style began to gain popularity. Women would wear their hair in many fashions including geometric designs simulating crowns, similar to their hair braiding foremothers.  As the want for these intricate designs grew, so did the demand for hair braiders. Braiders from all over the country made the transition from home based businesses to traditional salon settings.

As the demand for hair braiding services grew, so did the number of unregulated braiding salons, creating the need for hair braiding regulations.  By the early 1980’s, network gatherings were held in cities like Washington D.C and New York to work together and curate hair braiding laws and regulations.  Hair braiding than became a legal salon service and it is now required by state law that any person practicing hair braiding services must obtain a license by the board of cosmetology for their state.

If hair braiding is for you, check out the Clary Sage College Hair Braiding Technology Program!