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15 Traditional Ethiopian Hairstyles: Celebrating East African Elegance

Traditional Ethiopian hairstyles are diverse and deeply rooted in the country’s rich cultural history. 

These hairstyles have been passed down through generations and serve as a means for self-expression and creativity while showcasing Ethiopian heritage. 

Two iconic Ethiopian hairstyles are Albaso and Shuruba braids, often worn by Habesha women in Ethiopia and present-day Eritrea. Albaso braids are generally five to seven thick cornrows alternating with thin ones and a voluminous front hair section. Shuruba braids are tiny, intricate twists or cornrows, usually heading straight back. These braids are typically half-up styles, ending in loose, curly hair.

In this article, you’ll learn about 15 traditional hairstyles that highlight the distinctive artistry of Ethiopian hair culture. 

15 Traditional Ethiopian Hairstyles

1. Traditional Albaso Braids

A woman wearing a black and yellow dress with traditional Albaso braids.
By Instagram @hiwot__kassa

Albaso braids are thick, prominent cornrows created by braiding or weaving the hair over rolled hair tubes.

Traditionally, Albaso braids feature five to seven thick cornrows alternating with thin cornrows and ending with loose hair enhanced with extensions or a weave.

2. Traditional Shuruba Braids

Side view of a woman with traditional Shuruba braids.
By Instagram @makeup_by_japi

Shuruba braids are a cultural hairstyle worn by Habesha women in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

This braiding technique focuses on small, intricate patterns tightly woven to the scalp.

3. Eshem Braids

Eshem braids are similar to Dutch or double Dutch braids.

This hairstyle is low maintenance and easy to achieve, making it an ideal choice for daily wear.

4. Natural Curls With Hair Accessories

Side view of a woman with natural curls with hair accessories.
By Instagram @afroprincesses

Embrace your natural curls by adding traditional Ethiopian hair accessories.

These embellishments can include vibrant beads, colorful thread, elaborate combs, or bold headbands, adding a cultural element to your look.

5. Cornrows With Hair Accessories

A woman with cornrows with gold hair accessory, gold earrings and gold necklace.
By Instagram @seni_stylist

Adding hair accessories to cornrows adds a personalized touch to this stylish look.

Be creative with your accessories and incorporate beads, shells, or colorful threads to elevate this classic style.

6. Albaso Braids With Hair Accessories

A woman with Albaso braids with gold hair accessory.
By Instagram @fre_beauty_salon

Albaso braids can also be enhanced with various hair accessories, including beads, threads, crowns, rings, and cuffs.

Adding these elements allows you to showcase your originality and express your personal style.

7. Crown Braid

A woman with a crown braid.
By Instagram @dozendesigns_

The crown braid is an elegant hairstyle with a large braided updo resembling a crown.

Crown braids are often adorned with accessories, such as combs, beads, cuffs, or colorful threads, to create a polished, ethereal look.

8. Shuruba Braids With Forehead Braid

A woman wearing gold earrings and gold necklace with Shuruba braids with a forehead braid.
By Instagram @makeup_by_japi

Add a striking touch to your Shuruba braids by incorporating a forehead braid.

This additional braid can be worn straight across or styled in various ways, generating a unique and eye-catching look.

9. Small Albaso Braids

A woman wearing a white t-shirt with small Albaso braids.
By Instagram @glow_city1

Small Albaso braids are a delicate and intricate variation of traditional Albaso braids.

Smaller Albaso braids maintain cultural significance while offering a more lightweight and manageable hairstyle.

10. Albaso Braids With Colorful Extensions

For a modern touch, consider adding colorful extensions to your Albaso braids.

These extensions can be woven into the braids, producing a bold and captivating look.

11. Half Rubber Band Braids

Side view of a woman with half rubber band braids.
By Instagram @fre_beauty_salon

Half rubber band braids mix small, box braids held together with rubber bands with free-flowing hair.

This hairstyle strikes a balance between traditional braiding techniques and contemporary fashion.

12. Jumbo Albaso Braids

A woman with jumbo Albaso braids.
By Instagram @fre_beauty_salon

Jumbo Albaso braids feature prominent, thick braids that definitely make a statement.

These oversized braids are dramatic and voluminous, creating a look that stands out.

13. Half Cornrows

A woman with half cornrows.
By Instagram @ghanaianhairstyles

Half cornrows combine traditional braiding techniques with a half-up, half-down hairstyle.

This style is less intricate and time-consuming, suitable for both casual and formal occasions.

14. Middle-Part Shuruba Braids

A woman wearing traditional Ethiopian clothes with middle-part Shuruba braids.
By Instagram @hub_ofstyle

Middle-part Shuruba braids are characterized by a defined center part, with the intricate braiding pattern on both sides.

This hairstyle offers a balanced and symmetrical look for those wanting a refined and sophisticated Ethiopian hairstyle.

15. Albaso Braids With Forehead Braid

A woman with Albaso braids with forehead braid.
By Instagram @naturalhollywood

Incorporating a forehead braid into your Albaso braids can create a visually stunning and unique appearance.

Combining the Albaso technique and forehead braids showcases the versatility and creativity of Ethiopian hairstyling.

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