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There are many different types of African American haircut styles, but for women, most of these designs revolve around styling rather than cutting the hair. Men's haircuts are equally numerous, and may involve cutting the hair in unique designs or styling it in sections when it is longer. Many people whose hair has the spiral characteristics typical of African American hair are moving away from tight braiding, relaxing chemicals, and other potentially harmful styling techniques towards those that do not harm the hair or scalp. Like all other racially specific hair types, nearly any haircut is possible with enough time and energy, even if the hair does not naturally form a given pattern.
Some of the most common types of African American haircut styles involve braids of varying types. Small braids, sometimes called micro-braids, can be used to create long flowing styles. Larger braids may shoot off directly from the scalp or may follow the head either in straight lines or decorative patterns. African American haircut styles involving braiding often need to be redone when the hair grows longer or the braids begin to come undone.
For men, some of the common African American haircut styles include fades, Caesar cuts, and other short, buzzed styles. Men also commonly wear braids, dreadlocks, and other sectioned styles. Haircuts that involve wearing the hair long and natural are also popular, and these can be combined with braids and other sectioned styles. Natural styles are sometimes called Afros, but they are also sometimes simply talked about as wearing the hair naturally.
African American haircut styles for both men and women may involve dreadlocks, twisting the hair, and braids. When these are combined, they can create any number of different hairstyles and looks. Many hairstyles that consist of long beaded or dreaded strands can be altered using jewelry, cuffs, or beads, sometimes made specifically for this purpose. Sectioned hairstyles are highly adaptable, but rely primarily on the skill of the stylist for their unique appearance. In a sense, styling hair in this way is an art, involving elements of design not seen in many other cultures.
Many African American haircut styles revolve around applying chemicals to the hair to straighten it. This is often seen as problematic, particularly when dealing with children, because these chemicals can be dangerous and may permanently damage the scalp and hair. Even so, chemical alteration is at the heart of many different African American haircut styles. Relaxing the hair often makes it look straight and shiny, and it can then be cut in any haircut appropriate for that texture of hair.