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Curly Nikki

Professional Natural Hair Styles

By January 27th, 202122 Comments

Lori P asks Jamila of College Curlies:

Still being somewhat newly natural, I constantly struggle with looking professional while rocking my natural hair- which can get pretty big and wild quickly! I find myself always wearing a headband or smooshing my hair so it’s not so big…any advice hairstyles etc? I just hate feeling like I’m ‘selling out’. Any thoughts would be great!

Jamila responds:

I think a lot of naturals can definitely relate to this. I have been to few interviews and formal events in which I felt obligated to make my hair as small as possible. However, I think that as long as your hair looks as if it’s been styled/that you didn’t just roll out of bed, then you can really have a lot of fun!

Check out some styles that I do that I would consider acceptable for a more professional setting (click on the link above the photo for a tutorial):

Professional Natural Hair Styles

1940s Inspired UpdoProfessional Natural Hair Styles
Tailored Puff with Pompadour
Professional Natural Hair Styles
Low Puff Redone
Professional Natural Hair Styles
Twist out w/ sides pinned back & pompadour

Professional Natural Hair StylesThere’s a lot of discussion about whether natural hair is professional. My opinion is that natural hair is part of the package– an extension of who you are. It’s unfortunate that people can’t understand that. If a company told you that you had to lighten your skin to look more “professional,” [I hope to God] you wouldn’t even entertain the thought of working there. I feel the same way about my hair. This is who I am. It’s not like people with natural hair roll out of bed in the morning and walk out the door looking like Buckwheat. That’s ridiculous. Professional hair is that which is styled and maintained, natural or not.

What “professional” styles do you have? Share!


  • Tolani O. says:

    I'm going to a job fair in the next week. Unfortunately my hair is not long enough to pull back and definitely not long enough for any of these styles. Lately I've been rocking a mini fro with a side swept bang but I fear its not neat enough. Any ideas? I refuse to straighten my hair because it ruins my texture in the back =/

  • Anonymous says:

    These styles are not professional, because they look messy. It is possible to make natural hair appear combed, ya know.

  • Dynamic1Diva says:

    flat twists in the front individual twists for the remaining hair….put in a banana clip and bobby pin the ends in…love it…goes well when I have to give client presentations…

  • kinkyvincy says:

    I am very much in agreement Jamila it's time we accept our hairs'' versatility and it's time the rest of the world accept it too. it's here to stay! I will be going to college soon and have started following these blogs because i will need inspiration!

  • Anonymous says:

    I love this post! I've been trying to research some professional natural hair styles and haven't had the easiest time finding them as my hair isn't long enough for a "real" bun and a braided updo can be a little too time consuming. Please post more pics when possible!

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh my. I love these styles! The 1940s inspired pin updo has my heart 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the stying ideas, Jamila! I'm re-entering the job market as a somewhat new natural and needed these style inspirations!

  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 These styles are beautiful–can't wait 'til my hair grows out to try them.

  • Anonymous says:

    Your hair is gorgeous!!! Your styles are inspiring and beautiful.

  • Yolanda says:

    I prefer braid outs, MINI twists, twist-outs, and SLEEK buns. I have a question: which hairstyles are inappropriate for the office? Are fro-hawks too edgy? Are silk flowers appropriate when it's -7 degrees and snowing outside? How about big hair? Is there a fine line between big luscious curls and a big teased mess? Which styles are too youthful or playful for an office setting? I am just trying to get it right, and I find myself playing it SAFE.

  • Yolanda says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Anonymous says:

    Well…. It depends on your work enviornment.

    My hair, when stretched, is to my collar bone and I wear an afo, twists, braid outs, puffs, faux hawk, (etc.) to work.

    The key is to keep your total package together.

    Anyway, no one really cares about my hair at work; they are more focused on my productivity.

  • Anonymous says:

    excellent ideas!

  • Anonymous says:

    The key is to come up with a style that is not distracting & the same goes for accessories. You're in the interview and you want them to pay attention to your face and what you have to say: so any style which is neat and doesn't have distracting ornaments. This goes for anyone. Think of your hair as an accessory. You wouldn't walk into the interviews with hot pink shoes? would you? or maybe you would…mmmm

  • ShakLand says:

    Over the summer – after I chopped it off and was left with 3 inches – I stuck with a headband and really thin hairnet to reign in my hair (even though it was short, I have really thick hair and needed a way to tame it in the ridiculous NY summer weather). I kept that style pretty much into the Fall and would occasionally wear an Afro puff with headband. My hair is at 5-6 inches now and I do flat twist-outs (it gives my hair more directions so even though it's big, it doesn't look like it's flying everywhere. I pick it out at the roots a bit an they style holds well throughout the day. However whenever I feel like it might be a bad hair day, I pick my hair out a bit, whip out the headband and hair net, and call it a day!

  • Anonymous says:

    I think a WELL MAINTAINED twa, braid out, twist out, various updos or bun can all be very professional. I think if its so big and wild that it draws attention away from the rest of who you are (and the skills you are to do), then that would be unprofessional. I think ANYONE who comes to work with hair or clothing that is a distraction rather than a compliment to who they are is unprofessional.

  • Anonymous says:

    Cornrows into a big bun

  • Simply Melissa says:

    I LOVE those hairstyles! I can't wait until I get some more length so that I can have more options to style. Right now I have a twa, but it's long enough to have flat twists in the front going into 2 french braids in the back. That's my "professional" protective style for now. 🙂

  • Amaralice says:

    For me it's either a twist out with the sides pinned up or with a headband. When I have no time it's a bun and bangs. What I really found was that if I have a good cut and my hair has a gloss to it, then my released curls look "professional"

  • JazBNatural says:

    You have hair JUST like Little B's from Happy Girl Hair. I thought it was her at first. I LOVE your guys hair, and how healthy and shiny it looks. I think anything with a crown in the front looks classy. (like the first pic) Actually, all of these styles are amazing!

  • vonnie says:

    the 1940s updo is WAY too cute for words! that's my favorite one, but the others are quite nice as well. headband or flower with a twist out seems to work for me most times


  • Anonymous says:

    Your hair is beautiful and I couldn't agree with you more. Natural hair has just as much polish and dignity as any other hair texture.

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