Nneka Ibeabuchi, a creative director and hair stylist originally from Nigeria, came up with the concept on her Instagram page for the “Beads and Braids” photo project when she took a trip to Ghana in December. “I fell in love with Ghana’s culture and wanted to come back and tell everybody how my trip was,” she said.
Adding beads to braids has origins in West Africa, where beads are used to accessorize bracelets, necklaces and anklets. “As soon as I saw them on a woman’s hair, I wanted them on my hair also,” Ms. Ibeabuchi said.
Here, in eight steps, Ms. Ibeabuchi demonstrates how to achieve a hairstyle that can help protect hair in the hot summer months. It’s especially effective for women with thick or curly hair.
Step 1: Start by parting your hair into two sections. Using a tail comb, create a part across the top of your scalp from one ear to the other. Secure the back section with a clip or tie.
Step 2: Section off a small chunk of hair above your ear. Braid that chunk so that it hangs downward. (You will add beads the braid.) You can work with your natural hair, but Ms. Ibeabuchi recommends adding extensions. “The extensions protect the natural hair and make it look neater,” she said. She recommends Marley Kanekalon hair weaves. A beauty supply store can match its extensions to your hair texture.
Step 3: Make a similar braid on the opposite side of your head.
Step 4: Create an inch-wide section in the middle of your head. Start the braid at the front of your forehead and braid close to your scalp, working toward the back. For a more natural look, Ms. Ibeabuchi recommends not adding any weave or extension to this piece. “Every time I add extensions to it, it looks really bulky at the top,” she said.
Step 5: Separate the remaining unbraided hair on the sides of your head into three vertical half-inch sections. Braid the first section downward to create a zigzag pattern. Once you finish that braid, use the hair on the end of the braid to start a braid in the opposite direction. Continue to braid in an up and down pattern. That will create the zigzag look. “You would think we spent a whole lot of money on the hairstyle when we are done, but it’s really cheap,” Ms. Ibeabuchi said. She spent $9.99 on the weave extensions.
Step 6: Pull the hair in the back into a ponytail. Ms. Ibeabuchi adds Marley hair weave extensions to achieve a voluminous bun. “It blends in with the hair texture,” she said. She recommends using Eco Styler olive oil gel on the back of your head to hold the hair in place.
Step 7: The most important part of the look: the beads. Using the beads she found in Ghana, Ms. Ibeabuchi twists the bottom of the braids hanging over the ears and adds three beads. She repeats the step on the opposite side.
Step 8: To keep the beads in place, tie a small knot at the ends of the braids. Ms. Ibeabuchi also recommends burning the tips of the braids to give the hair a neat look.
Bonus tip: To keep the scalp moisturized, she recommends using coconut oil or olive oil three times a week. For the hair itself, she likes Cantu leave-in conditioner to retain moisture.