In the world of black men’s hairstyles, the 90s are back. It’s hard to go anywhere these days without seeing an old school Kid N’Play hi-top fade. But a boxy hi-top isn’t the only way to jump on the 90s trend. What style bridges the gap between the 90s (think “Fresh Prince” era Will Smith) and today (think NFL player Odell Beckham, Jr.)? The answer is the frohawk, and it’s one of the most versatile hairstyles for black men.
What Is A Frohawk?
This style is basically a mohawk for black hair: it’s a mohawk and an afro combined. This look trades Johnny Rotten’s punk style spikes for black hair’s texture and fullness. While a traditional mohawk is just one style (a stripe of hair spiked upward), a frohawk is versatile, taking advantage of the features of black hair and showing them off in fresh ways.
Many variations of this style exist, ranging from fierce and attention-grabbing to surprisingly subtle and appropriate for the office. These haircuts are a great option if you’re transitioning out of braids or dreadlocks. Rather than cut your hair all over or undo all of your braids, you can simply cut and fade the sides while keeping your old style on top as the mohawk “stripe.” For those on the other end of the spectrum who are looking for a way to add edginess to a conservative look, this haircut provides a great way to try out a new style without going all-in.
Types Of Frohawks
Because frohawks provide so many possibilities for customization, it’s good to have a general idea of some common types. We’re listing common variations below, starting with least extreme and moving to complete mohawk commitment.
1. Faux Frohawk
The faux frohawk is for those with long braids or dreadlocks who are considering making the leap to short hair. This “fauxhawk” look is currently popular with young women, so if you have a female friend to help you out, now might be the time to call her. If not, there are YouTube tutorials to help you try out this temporary look.
First of all, if you have braids, take them out at the top of your head while leaving the braids on the sides of your head intact. Use a hair pick to lift the volume of the unbraided hair and get the ‘fro started. As for those of you with dreads, depending on the length and thickness of the dreads, use small hair ties to create little buns over the part of your head where you expect to have your stripe of ‘fro. Experiment with the tightness and amount of hair in each bun to find a height for your ‘fro that you like.
After you have your test ‘fro in place, pull back the braids and dreads on the side of your head as flatly and tightly as possible. Secure the extra hair at the back of your head with a hair pick or hair tie. This should leave you with the general impression of a frohawk, which might help you decide if this style is the next step for you and your hair.
2. Afro Fade
The afro fade is a very popular look in which the sides of the head are gradually faded into the longer hair at the top of the head. This fade can be slight and hardly noticeable, or it can be very pronounced. A light fade with short hair on top will not resemble a mohawk. However, a closer fade with longer hair on top will give more of mohawk impression.
3. Burst Fade
A variation on the afro fade, this style is gaining in popularity. The fade in this cut is circular—like a “burst” of sunlight beaming around your ear. The sunburst shape draws attention to the fade and the height of the ‘fro. If you’re not ready to make the jump to full frohawk, but find the afro fade too mild, a burst fade might do the trick.
If you search for “frohawk” online, you’ll find images of many interpretations of the word. A true frohawk is shaved on both sides of the head, leaving only a stripe of the longer ‘fro in the center. This style is a big commitment because there’s no haircut in the world that will undo a shaved head. If you don’t like the results of your cut, tough luck: you must live with it until the hair on the sides of your head grows out and you can cut the ‘fro even with them…or you can give up and just shave your entire head.
On the plus side, however, having this hairstyle makes a big statement about who you are. It tells the world you’re willing to take risks and stand out from the crowd.
How To Grow/Style A Frohawk?
Frohawks can be styled in many creative ways. The ‘fro section is a fun place to experiment with different looks. Many of these style tips are temporary, which allows you to play with a new product or style without making a big commitment. Just like the list of hawk types above, these tips are arranged in order from least to most extreme.
Conditioner, Pomade, and Curl Sponges
One of the first things you’ll probably want to do after getting your new cut is to play with the ‘fro section. Invest in some quality pomade and curl cream. Depending on the length of the ‘fro, you could use pomade to create spikes or fluff up your ‘fro with a curl sponge. Keep a good conditioner on hand; your hair will get more attention from now on, and you want it to look good every day.
Twists and Braids
Your ‘fro is a great place for trying out braids, mini-dreads, and twist styles. Experiment with different looks…. or better yet, have a friend practice their skills on you. It’s much easier to unbraid a mohawk strip of braids than a full head of braids, so make the most of your new cut by exploring styles you hadn’t considered before.
Temporary hair color has exploded in popularity lately. Check out a beauty supply store for fun colors that last from just one night to a couple of weeks. If you’ve never colored your hair before, bring along a friend or relative who has experience dying their hair. You will have to bleach sections of your ‘fro in order for your hair to show off bright colors, so don’t forget to pick up some deep conditioner to repair damage from the bleach.
Add a Beard
Beards — just like uncommon hairstyles such as the hawk — are becoming more accepted in the workplace. If you choose to grow a beard while wearing your hair in this style with a fade, be sure to have your barber fade your sideburns into the edge of your hairstyle. Connecting your beard to your haircut will add polish to your entire look.
Some people like the look of shaved parts in their frohawks. If you’re a fan of parts, consider adding some on each side of the ‘fro to highlight your unique style. A traditional side part in the front of the head can also contrast nicely with the non-traditional look of your hairstyle.
Shaved designs are probably the most popular way to style a true frohawk. This look is becoming common among many athletes and musicians. There are tons of examples of shaved designs on the sides of celebrities’ heads all over the internet.
One thing to keep in mind when considering whether to include a shaved design in your haircut is originality. A shaved design in a haircut isn’t permanent like a tattoo, but the “tattoo rule” applies here as well. You might admire a celebrity’s design and feel tempted to copy it, but a design you’ve created will give you a feeling of pride every time someone compliments you on it. Copying someone else’s design won’t give you that sense of pride.
When brainstorming for a design you’d like in your cut, remember that your barber is the person who will actually have to shave it into your hair. Design something straightforward, with bold lines, geometric shapes, or simple curves.
Hair is a great way to express yourself. This hairstyle offers a variety of looks for all situations. Simple fades with slightly longer hair on top are a mild introduction to the mohawk look. A complete frohawk is not only an attention-getter, but it’s also an opportunity to experiment with other styles and expand your possibilities for future looks. If you’re the person who’s attracted to this type of hairstyle, think seriously about taking the leap. While there are downsides to having an extreme hairstyle, there are also benefits.
Sometimes hair is more than just the hair. Standing out from the crowd with a truly unusual style can give you a new perspective on life. Embracing a unique look can help you increase your confidence, express your creativity, and develop the strength to face new challenges.