How to Care For and Maintain Goddess Braids, According to a Hairstylist

Channel your inner goddess.

Zoe Kravitz
(Image credit: Desiree Navarro/WireImage)

When it comes to natural haircare and styling, there are dozens of chic looks to indulge in. From striking natural styles to luxe protective styles, you’re bound to find a look that suits your mood and tastes. One of the most popular options? Goddess braids, which celebrity hairstylist and Eco Style Brand Ambassador Ursula Stephen calls “the best of both worlds."

"Goddess braids are box braids with strands of curly hair added throughout the entire length of the braid strands or solely at the ends of the braid," she explains. The result is a long, voluminous look that, according to ancient African tradition, is meant to evoke feelings of inspiration and creativity.

To learn more about goddess braids, I asked Stephen to unpack everything there is to know about the protective style, including the best products out there for maintaining this show-stopping look.

Creating Goddess Braids

When it comes to crafting the perfect goddess braids, Stephen says that there are three main items you need. The first is synthetic hair—"preferably pre-stretched kanekalon hair." The next, she says, is textured hair of any curl pattern.

"Some like a kinky texture and some like a loose wave," she explains. It's completely up to your personal preference.

Finally, she says an edge control or braid gel is essential for solidifying the style and promoting moisture. Below, her specific recommendations.

Caring for Goddess Braids

While you may love your goddess braids, they're intended to be a temporary style. Stephen explains, "I usually recommend wearing braids or any type of protective style for no more than six weeks. Keeping them past this time can be damaging to the hair, because the hair can become dry and brittle or lock at the root."

In the meantime, to extend your style's luxe look, she says it's important to take care of them as diligently as possible. In terms of cleansing, she says "it’s ok to shampoo your braids - lightly! Focus on the scalp." Then, when you're done, she advises to "be sure to dry the hair and scalp completely."

Caring for goddess braids also means keeping them conditioned. "Daily care is very important," says Stephen. "We cannot allow the hair to become dry and brittle."To prevent that dryness, it's important to choose nourishing products that keep strands healthy from root to tip. Here, her top picks.

Meet the Expert

Ursula Stephen
Ursula Stephen

Ursula Stephen is a celebrity hairstylist known for crafting looks for celebrities like Rihanna, Laverne Cox, and Mary J. Blige. She has worked with legendary fashion photographers like Annie Leibovitz, Norman Jean Roy, and more for a number of fashion magazines; has collaborated with brands; and owns Ursula Stephen The Salon in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently based in New York and Los Angeles.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Beauty Writer

Gabrielle Ulubay is a Beauty Writer at Marie Claire. She has also written about sexual wellness, fashion, culture, and politics both at Marie Claire and for publications like The New York Times, Bustle, and HuffPost Personal. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, including two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.