Protective styles are clutch during this time of quarantine because most of us aren’t going anywhere so why not give our hair a break while we wait for things to normalize. Protective styles are great for growing out your hair, preventing hair damage and improving your natural hair’s overall health.
If you are looking for ways to protect your hair while at home here are 35 of the best protective hairstyles for natural hair at any length.
The best protective styles for short hair to medium length hair
1. SHORT COMB TWISTS
Simply wash and condition your hair as normal, making sure your hair is fully moisturized.
Use a holding cream to keep the twists from unraveling as you work the hair in small sections. Part and use your comb or fingers to twirl the hair in place creating cute curls all over your head. Make sure the hair drys completely without manipulation. Cover your twists at night to protect them and simply leave your hair alone.
Cornrows are a classic protective hairstyle that is great for all lengths and amazing for those times when you just need to give your hair a break.
You can choose to add hair as you braid the hair from front to back or you can just braid your natural hair without additional braid hair.
Watch this tutorial if you are new to cornrows:
3. SHORTS BRAIDS
Similar to short twists, you can also opt to create short braids throughout your natural hair.
Simply grab sections of hair of equal size and braid a traditional three-strand braid down the length of your hair. Repeat this process throughout your hair.
The best protective styles for medium length hair to long hair
A chignon is an elegant updo that will not only protect your hair but is perfect for those days you have to head out and want something a little different. Watch the below video for inspiration:
5. LOW TWISTED BUNS
Another updo option is low twisted buns or space buns. Create two equal sections in your hair at the nape of your neck and create two buns tucking all the ends.
6. BEADED BRAIDS
Want to take your braids up a notch? Consider adding some beads to your hairstyle! You can apply them throughout your braids, solely on the ends, or on a few braids here and there.
This is a simple way to add your own personality to your braided ‘do. Here is an example using added hair and Fulani inspiration:
7. TOP KNOT
A top knot will not only keep your hair out of your face, it’ll also protect your locks. Add some detail to the style by creating cornrows along your scalp before throwing the ends of your hair into the bun. Check out this post for ideas.
8. SLEEK BUN
A simple, sleek bun looks super chic and can help protect your locks. Consider using a hair gel, like the L’Oréal Paris Advanced Hairstyle LOCK IT Clean Style Gel, to slick back your hair before putting it into a low bun.
9. SHORT FAUX LOCS
On the hunt for a protective hairstyle that you can do easily over and over again. Try short chunky faux locs. These are the cutest locs you will ever install. Watch this for inspo:
10. DECORATED TWO STRAND TWISTS
Who said twists had to be boring? Take them up a notch by adding hair jewels! Need inspo?
11. BANTU KNOTS
In case you haven’t heard—everything ‘90s is back in style, including this protective style. To create the look, take a section of hair and twist it from root to end until the hair starts to twist into itself. Form your twist into a bun on top of your head and secure into place! Repeat this process all over your head.
12. BRAIDED CROWN
Want a protective hairstyle that will be the star of your beauty look? Look no further than a braided crown. Combine the style with a low bun for a look that’s chic, elegant, and beneficial to your strands.
13. BOX BRAIDS
Box braids are another protective hairstyle you’ve likely heard of. This style can be worn on just about any length of hair but is particularly stunning on those with medium and long hair. Check out our step-by-step tutorial, How to Create Box Braids.
14. LOOSE TWISTS
Loose twists are great for 4C natural hair and can be used as a long term protective style. Once you create the base of the style you can do different hairstyles with your twists to jazz things up. I encourage you to read this post to learn more about loose twists and 4C hair.
15. SENEGALESE TWISTS
Senegalese twists are another beautifully-twisted protective hairstyle. First, take a small section of hair and split it into two. Then, split those sections into two so you have four equally-sized sections in total.
Take two strands and twist them around each other as you normally would, then take the other two sections and do the same. Finally, to complete your Senegalese twist, wrap your two twists around each other by moving your right hand in a clockwise motion and your left hand in a counter-clockwise fashion.
16. FLAT TWISTS
Flat twists are a combination of cornrows and traditional twists. They’re great for both natural hair and relaxed hair. Start by using a rat tail comb to section your hair from your hairline to the nape of your neck.
The section should be about one inch wide. Clip the rest of your hair out of the way. Split the section into two and begin to twist as you normally would, starting at the root.
As you continue to twist, incorporate hair from the section into your twist. Once you get to the nape of your neck, twist the remaining length as you normally would.
17. TWISTED LOW BUN
This updo involves the same steps as the twisted side updo, but is at the back of your head instead of the side. It’s the perfect ‘do for any occasion and will keep your mane off your neck and out of your face!
18. BRAIDED FAUX HAWK
Faux hawks are in! Choose what type of braid you’d like to rock (cornrows, twists—you name it!) and braid in an upward fashion all over your head. Then, take sections of your remaining hair and create rolls on top of your head, pinning them into place.
19. PINEAPPLE UPDO
A pineapple updo is a protective hairstyle that can be worn to bed and out on the town. It’s also super easy to do! First, gather your hair at the top of your head as if you were to create a high ponytail.
Loosely secure the hair with a scrunchie. Pull the hair forward and position it how you like for a messy, fun updo. If you want to add a scarf for some added flare then, by all means, add it.
I absolutely loved this style, its half protective and half not, but couldn’t resist not adding it to this post:
20. HALO BRAID
A halo braid is another updo hairstyle that will not only protect your locks but will also steal the show. This intricate ‘do involves gathering all of your hair into a beautiful braid that goes around your head.
21. BUN MOHAWK
Another faux hawk style? A bun mohawk! Slick your hair upward before creating three to four equally-sized buns down the center of your head. Feel free to braid the sides or slick them back with hair gel.
22. SIDE TWIST
Similar to a side twist updo, you want to part your hair to one side and twist your hair to that same side. Rather than twisting your ends into a bun, continue twisting downwards to create a twisted side ponytail.
23. GHANA BRAIDS
Ghana braids involve a combination of cornrows and traditional braids. They’re thick, beautiful, and typically require using hair extensions. First, create cornrows that go to the nape of your neck, making sure to include your extensions! Then, finish the braids off by weaving the remaining length of your hair into traditional three-strand braids.
24. CHUNKY BOX BRAIDS
This variation of box braids is perfect for those who prefer a chunky, more voluminous look as opposed to tight, small braids. If you arent great with braiding you can also try the rubber band version. Looks like this:
25. CROCHET BRAIDS
Crochet braids refer to the style in which hair extensions are added to your hair. First, your hair is braided in cornrows. Then, the hair extensions are crocheted under your cornrows. This is ideal for those who may not want to risk damaging their hair with clip-ins.
26. SIMPLE WET BRAIDS
This is such an easy style to pull off especially on wash day. Your braids can range from 3-4 depending on the look you are going for. Here is a great example you can try:
27. DOUBLE HALO CROWN BRAID
They say two is better than one—and we can’t argue with that when it comes to this double halo crown braid. This hairstyle is the same as a traditional crown braid but has two braids going across your head instead of just one.
28. HAVANA TWISTS
Similar to regular twists, Havana twists are used to incorporate hair extensions into your mane while protecting your natural hair. The style involves twisting two strands of hair around each other, all over your head.
29. TWISTED UPDO
Throw your twisted locks into an updo! Whether you have traditional twists, flat twists, Senegalese twists, or another type of twist, you can switch up your look by gathering your strands into a large, textured bun on top of your head.
30. SADE BRAID
This signature braided hairstyle is sure to turn heads. First, slick your hair back against your head, then secure it with a clear elastic at the nape of your neck. Finally, braid a traditional three-strand braid! You’ll want to have thick, long hair to get the full effect of this style.
Want to see an example? Check out this video:
31. CHUNKY TWISTS
Similar to the chunky box braids on line 24 but just twists, need a visual? I got you!
32. KNEE-LENGTH KNOTLESS BRAIDS
Word on the street is once you go knee length you never go back to waist length. Knee-length knotless braids or braids that hang well below the booty are all the rage. Knotless braids are amazing because they are low tension and super stylish.
Want to create your own? Watch this:
33. KNEE-LENGTH FAUX LOCS
Maybe you are a faux locs kind of girl, these locs are super sexy and fun. Try them yourself!
34. RUBBER BAND BUBBLE PONYTAIL
Admittingly this is a bit fancy but still very protective none the less. If you are feeling slightly extra then this is the style for you.
We just cannot have a post about protective styles and not mention wigs. Wigs are a go-to for many naturals who want to just simply leave their hair alone and focus on hair growth. wigs come in all shapes and sizes, it just depends on your own preference.
Here is an example of how you can prepare your hair for your wig routine: