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Nigerian Hair Culture Documented in Rainbow-Hued Portraits by Medina Dugger


Purple Kinky Calabar. All photographs © Medina Dugger

Lagos-based photographer Medina Dugger documents colorful hair culture in the coastal Nigerian city with her ongoing series Chroma. The collection of portraits pays homage to J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere, a renowned African photographer who documented women’s hairstyles in Nigeria for over 50 years, starting in the mid-20th century.

Prior to decolinization, Dugger explains, wigs and straightening had replaced much of the indigenous hair culture, and ‘Okhai Ojeikere’s documentations sought to celebrate traditional hairdos. She continues, “African hair braiding methods date back thousands of years and Nigerian hair culture is a rich and often extensive process which begins in childhood. The methods and variations have been influenced by social/cultural patterns, historical events and globalization. Hairdos range from being purely decorative to conveying deeper, more symbolic understandings, revealing social status, age and tribal/family traditions.”

While ‘Okhai Ojeikere’ images were in black and white, Dugger updates the documentary style with brightly colored backgrounds, a diverse array of vibrant contemporary fashion, and rainbow hues integrated into the hairstyles with thread, beads, and dyed extensions. You can see more of Dugger’s colorful editorial photography on her website and Instagram.


Blue Coiling Penny Penny


Blue Beri Beri


Golden Eggs


Left: Purple Irun Kiko / Right: Pink Buns


Yellow Tip Twist


Emerald Abebe


Aqua Suku


Left: Violet Irun Kiko / Right: Yellow Monocle


Pink Didi with Cowry Shell


Blue Star Koroba


Calabar Bun Trio

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