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, politics, culture, and fashion at Marie Claire and at publications including The New York Times, HuffPost Personal, Bustle, Alma, Muskrat Magazine, O'Bheal, and elsewhere. Her personal essay in The New York Times' Modern Love column kickstarted her professional writing career in 2018, and that piece has since been printed in the 2019 revised edition of the Modern Love book. Having studied history, international relations, and film, she has made films on politics and gender equity in addition to writing about cinema for Film Ireland, University College Cork, and on her personal blog, Before working with Marie Claire, Gabrielle worked in local government, higher education, and sales, and has resided in four countries and counting. She has worked extensively in the e-commerce and sales spaces since 2020, and spent two years at Drizly, where she developed an expertise in finding the best, highest quality goods and experiences money can buy.

Deeply political, she believes that skincare, haircare, and sexual wellness are central tenets to one's overall health and fights for them to be taken seriously, especially for people of color. She also loves studying makeup as a means of artistic expression, drawing on her experience as an artist in her analysis of beauty trends. She's based in New York City, where she can be found watching movies or running her art business when she isn't writing. Find her on Twitter at @GabrielleUlubay or on Instagram at @gabrielle.ulubay, or follow her art at