African braiding shops braid clients' hair, often using hair extensions, in a variety of braided styles, including cornrows, micros, locks and twists. Shops, or salons, may offer other services, such as dreadlocks, straightening, coloring and braid maintenance and removal.
Other braiding styles include box, French, Dutch, herringbone, yarn and lace. Braids are created by taking two or three strands of hair and twisting or intertwining them into a pattern. The thickness of each strand varies, depending on the style of braid. Professional stylists can braid all hair textures and most hair lengths. Different braiding styles vary in completion time, but it may take up to eight hours to complete braiding with extensions.
Braided hair has been a part of human beauty rituals for thousands of years. Ancient artwork, such as the Venus of Brassempouy, depicts women with braided hair. The Venus of Brassempouy figurine, discovered in France in 1892, is carved from mammoth ivory and is estimated to be more than 25,000 years old. Some ancient cultures used different styles of braids to convey information, such as a person’s position in society or whether or not a woman was married or old enough for courtship. Different braid styles could also be specific to certain tribes or nations.