Braids vs. Curls: Which Hairstyle is Right for You?


Whether worn naturally or as part of a wig, braids and curls are two universally flattering hairstyles admired for their texture, movement and ability to frame the face. But with so many hair types and lifestyles to consider, how do you choose which style is best for your unique hair? Let’s break down the key factors to help you determine if braids or curls are the better option.

knotless braids

1. Hair Type

1.1. Thick, Coarse Hair

For thick, coarse hair, braids are generally the preferred option. Thick hair tends to be heavy and prone to breakage, but braids help distribute the weight of thick strands across the scalp. By dividing hair into sections and securing it in a braid, there is less tension on roots and hair stays nourished at the scalp. Braids also keep thick hair tied away from the face to prevent it from becoming frizzy.

1.2. Thin, Fine Hair

Those with thin, fine hair strands may benefit more from curls. Curls add volume and body to hair that can otherwise appear limp. The spiraled curl texture amplifies the appearance of thickness. Additionally, curls stay gentler on fine hair versus tight braids that could lead to breakage over time for fragile strands. Curls allow hair to keep its natural lightweight movement.

1.3. Hair Texture

If your hair has lovely natural texture, whether wavy, curly or coily, curls will let that texture shine through. Curls frame features while showing off a person’s unique hair pattern. However, braids can sometimes be too restricting on hair that is naturally prone to spirals and coils. Over time, tight braids could potentially stretch and train hair into an unnatural straight pattern rather than its God-given coils.

long black hair

2. Lifestyle

2.1. Time Commitment

For those with busy schedules, braids have a clear advantage when it comes to time. Braids can generally be done faster than curling all over, whether with rollers, rods or heat tools. Braids also last longer between washes compared to curls that may loosen with activities and sleep cycles.

2.2. Activity Level

An active lifestyle with sports or sweating also suggests braids over curls. Braids stay secured no matter the activity level, from high intensity cardio to rowdier games. Curls can fall flat with moisture or movement. Braids withstand sweat and remain neat longer than curls between wash days.

2.3. Sleep Position

Tossing and turning sleepers should opt for braids. Curls designed to last all day may get smashed by morning if you’re a side sleeper or restless under your pillow. Braids can better withstand movement and pillow crushing compared to curls that would need refreshing.

3. Versatility for Wigs

3.1. Wig Wearability

For wig wearers, braids also have advantages in terms of upkeep. Because braids lay flatter, they show less when a wig slips or starts to ride up during the day. No one wants their real hair texture peeking out randomly beneath a lacefront. Braids also last longer between refreshings underneath wigs since they’re not exposed to as much friction or pull from the wig cap.

3.2. Breathability

However, the tightness of braids could potentially cause scalp irritation for long periods underneath wigs without breaks. Curls are looser and allow more ventilation at the scalp. Any heat or friction from a wig would dissipate better on curled hair. Overall, braids withstand wigs for extended wear but curls offer more scalp breathability during wear.

boho braids

4. Styling Options

Braids showcase intricate patterns and cornrows can be styled in countless winding designs that transition well into ponytails, buns and updos. Curls on the other hand have soft, rounded shapes that cascade freely down shoulders or frame the face. While braids may offer more structural styling variety, loose curls can easily be tousled whichever way looks best each morning without much effort.

Recommendations Based on Needs

To synthesize the above factors, here are some recommendations on whether braids or curls likely suit your needs best:

– Thick, coarse hair types – Braids to distribute weight and prevent breakage

– Thin, fine hair – Curls add volume without tension

– Wavy, curly or coily texture – Show off your texture with curls

– Busy lifestyles – Braids style and last longer

– Active jobs/sports – Braids stay secured no matter what

– Side sleepers – Braids won’t smash overnight

– Wig wear – Braids last longer under synthetic caps

– Beginner skill level – Braids take practice; start with curls

– Low maintenance priority – Curls are simpler initially

– Creative styling – Braids offer structure for updos

Of course, with practice most hair types can pull off either curls or braids with the right techniques and products. Consider your skill level, desired look and unique hair needs when deciding. Some women alternate between the two styles routinely depending on their plans for the day or week. The best choice maximizes your hair’s health and flattering qualities while fitting your lifestyle.

short curly hairstyle

5. Maintenance

One factor to not underestimate is the level of maintenance required for braids versus curls long term. Curls generally need looser, nightly refreshing between washes either with fingers, picks or hair sticks. But braids may require tightening every few days to maintain their shape. Professional braiders are also needed one to two times a month to re-braid sections that come loose. Overall, braids have less daily touchups but more frequent full braid-ups compared to loose, natural curls. Consider your long term commitment to upkeep.


Whether braids or curls, both universally flattering styles can beautifully frame any face when adapted to individual hair traits. Most hair types can thrive with either given the proper techniques. Consider your unique hair texture, lifestyle demands and skill level to determine the ideal hairstyle that complements your hair’s natural qualities while fitting your daily routine and preferences. With some experimentation, braids and curls offer endless gorgeous looks for any occasion thereby suiting you best.

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