Rihanna's Hairstylist Breaks Down Her Best Braids of All Time

Rihanna Best Ever Braids
Getty/Theo Wargo/Karwai Tang

Maybe you also fell in love with Rihanna‘s style for the very first time during the music video for “Pon de Replay” (because who could forget that end-credit dance montage from “Bring It On: All or Nothing”?). In the 17 years since her debut single dropped, her look has evolved and grown into icon status – and we don’t use that word lightly. Rihanna has pulled off everything from layered bangs to a MySpace-era striped dye job and even an edgy mullet, but there’s one style that has us screenshotting time and time again: Rihanna in braids.

“Her focus, intelligence, beauty, strength, and sex appeal are intensified when she wears one of my custom braided styles,” says Naphia White, a Brooklyn-based hairstylist who has worked with the star for more than a decade. “Rihanna is 100 per cent involved with the design of her hair and her overall vibe. It’s a collaboration. We work together, creating fresh new hairstyles that are displayed to the world.”

“Fresh” and “new” are definitely words we’d use to describe the braided hairstyles Rihanna has worn throughout her career. They are sculptural and one-of-a-kind and work for every occasion. She’s worn knotless box braids, cornrows, and braided updos both on the red carpet and in her daily street style. She even stepped out in showstopping braids when she was recently declared a national hero by the Barbadian government (but more on that later).

Between her fashion collection Savage x Fenty, her hugely popular Fenty Beauty, and its upcoming expansion to hair care, Rihanna is busy, which is where White comes in.

“Our braided styles absolutely take a long time,” she says. “They are very meticulous, but because of my experience of over 20 years in the industry, I have perfected my application and am rather fast.” As for how they spend those long braid hours? “Together, we are very precise and detail-oriented. She pays close attention while I am creating a style.”

Keep scrolling to see some of our favourite Rihanna braids over the years, plus a few insights from White about what went into creating each look

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