Crown Jewels: Celebrating Caribbean American Heritage Through Hair

This month, as we celebrate Caribbean American Heritage Month, I want to dive deep into the beautiful, intricate world of Caribbean hair. We'll explore the unique styles from different islands, the cultural significance behind them, and how we, as Caribbean Americans, navigate this heritage in a new land.

Whether you're a fellow immigrant rocking your braids on a bustling city street, a child of the diaspora embracing your natural curls, or simply someone curious about the vibrant culture of the Caribbean, this blog is for you!

June is Caribbean American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the vibrant culture, rich history, and enduring spirit of the Caribbean diaspora in the United States. From the sun-kissed islands to bustling cityscapes, Caribbean Americans have woven their traditions and stories into the fabric of American life.

The hairstyles seen in the Caribbean today have a rich and complex history, influenced by a blend of African traditions, European colonialism, and the development of unique cultural identities on each island. Here's a breakdown of the key factors that shaped Caribbean hair:

African Roots:

  • Braiding Techniques: The foundation of many Caribbean hairstyles lies in intricate braiding techniques brought over by enslaved Africans. Braids offered not just a practical way to manage thick, textured hair, but also served as a form of cultural expression and a potential way to communicate messages during slavery.

European Influence:

  • Straight Hair Preference: European colonizers often favored straight hair, leading to the adoption of straightening techniques and hairstyles associated with European ideals of beauty. This influence can be seen in styles like Dominican blowouts and the use of relaxers.

Island Identity:

  • Adaptation & Innovation: Over time, Caribbean people adapted African braiding techniques and European styles to create unique hairstyles that reflected their own cultural identity and traditions. This resulted in the diverse range of styles seen on different islands.

Specific Examples:

  • Dreadlocks: While dreadlocks have roots in various cultures, in the Caribbean, they became associated with the Rastafarian movement, symbolizing spiritual connection and resistance.
  • Dominican Blowout: This voluminous style reflects a Dominican preference for bouncy and glamorous hair, often seen as a symbol of confidence and success.


A little bit about Dreadlocks: 

Dreadlocks, with their iconic coiled strands, have a long and multifaceted history. While their exact origin is debated, they appear in various ancient cultures, including Egypt and India. In the Caribbean, dreadlocks took on a new significance during the 20th century. Rastafarianism, a religious movement emphasizing African roots and liberation, adopted dreadlocks as a symbol of their faith. The tightly coiled strands represent a connection to their African heritage. They symbolize a rejection of European colonial beauty standards and a return to African roots. Dreadlocks for Rastafarians represent a vow of separation, a commitment to natural living, and a spiritual connection to their heritage. Dreadlocks for Caribbean people became a symbol of their cultural identity, spiritual connection, and resistance against oppression. They continue to be a powerful statement of self-expression and pride.


The Caribbean hair story is one of resilience, adaptation, and creativity. People of African descent used their hair not just for aesthetic purposes but also as a way to express their heritage, cultural identity, and resistance against oppression. Today, Caribbean hairstyles continue to evolve, drawing inspiration from tradition, innovation, and the ongoing celebration of cultural diversity.