Consider Wearing These Protective Hairstyles To The 2024 ESSENCE Festival

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Just ahead of the 30th ESSENCE Festival of Culture, booking a hair appointment in the next few weeks goes hand-in-hand with choosing your next hairstyle. “Festival looks are just that: festive, fun, eccentric,” celebrity hairstylist Tym Wallace tells ESSENCE.

“Pearls, scarfs, tensile, hardware tools (bolts, screws), colored hair sprays, and glitters are always to add fun details to the look.” But first, finding a look to pair your accessories with and protect from the NOLA heat should be at the top of your list.

Below, Wallace breaks down 5 hairstyles to wear to the 2024 ESSENCE Festival.

Bantu knots

Consider Wearing These Hairstyles To ESSENCE Festival 2024
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 05: Tinashe attends the Alexander Wang Runway Show at the Alexander Wang Flagship Store on June 05, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

We’ve seen bantu knots, a hairstyle native to the ethnolinguistic Bantu peoples, be worn by the African diaspora as a cultural symbol of our ancestors. Celebrities like Doechii and Tinashe are the latest to twist their hair into knots, while last night’s Alexander Wang runway show presented Dennis Rodman and supermodel Aweng Chuol in bantu knot-inspired studs. To maintain the look in the NOLA heat, Wallace recommends serums like TPH’s Keep Shining Mist and The Guardian to help with frizz control. 

Half-up half-down

Consider Wearing These Hairstyles To ESSENCE Festival 2024
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 01: Rihanna is seen arriving at the 2023 Met Gala Celebrating “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line Of Beauty” at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 01, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

“Half up half down looks best with texture so if you have straight hair, braid your hair while it’s wet,” Wallace says. “After you let it dry, take the braids down then pull half of the hair up and leave the rest down.” Using a texturizing spray like the TPH Keep It Fresh Wig & Curl Refresher, Big Sexy Hair Volume Flex Texture Spray or Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray can help create the “piecey texture” needed for the look.

Mohawk ponytail

Consider Wearing These Hairstyles To ESSENCE Festival 2024
CHICAGO – AUGUST 08: Erykah Badu performs during the 2010 Lollapalooza festival in Grant Park on August 8, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Legato/FilmMagic)

A shampoo and deep conditioning treatment is standard at any hair appointment. Shockingly, “mohawk ponytails are good when the hair has buildup in it,” he says. “After a style has aged, you can pull the hair into 3 separate ponytails and leave it that way or tie them into fun messy buns.” This style can work as a last minute option if you wind up with less time than expected, or as an alternative style if the 90-degree weather got to your original look.

Natural afro

Consider Wearing These Hairstyles To ESSENCE Festival 2024
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: Lupita Nyong’o attends The 2021 Met Gala Celebrating In America: A Lexicon Of Fashion at Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/MG21/Getty Images For The Met Museum/Vogue)

Rocking an Afro will always be a good idea. Using a deep conditioning treatment (like the KeraCare Intensive Restorative Masque), scalp treatments (like the Rene Furterer Head Spa Complexe) can help your hair and scalp remain protected under high heat. Wallace recommends using a curl cream like the TPH Curls 4 Days Curl Cream to help maintain the look throughout the weekend.


Consider Wearing These Hairstyles To ESSENCE Festival 2024
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 28: Singer-songwriter Solange Knowles is seen arriving to the New York Ballet 2022 Fall Fashion Gala at David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center on September 28, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images)

“Braids of all sorts” are a go for this year’s ESSENCE Festival. A summertime classic, box braids and cornrows meet trending styles like the braided baldie, knotless braids, and platted bobs. Using products that don’t buildup on the scalp and edges – like Fenty Hair’s Hair-Thickening Edge Control, KeraCare’s Edge Tamer and Da Brat’s Kaleidoscope Slick Braid And Grip Gel.

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