The 10 Best Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

Whether you’re trying to grow out your hair, grow back your hair, or prevent hair damage, protective hairstyles can help and make all the difference in your hair’s overall health. What is a protective hairstyle? As you may have guessed, a protective hairstyle involves wearing your ‘do in a way that protects your hair from elements of your environment that have the potential to damage your hair. And when it comes to scoping out the best protective hairstyles for short hair, medium hair, and long hair—we’ve got you covered. Read on for the 30 best protective hairstyles for natural hair of all lengths.


Have short hair and want to learn about protective hairstyles to try? Look no further!


Twists are a relatively easy way to style your mane into a protective fashion. Simply take a section of hair from your root (use a smaller section for a smaller twist or a larger section for a chunkier twist), divide it into two, and twist the section all the way to your ends. Once you get to the ends of your hair, gently release the pressure to allow the twist to settle into place. This protective hairstyle works well on natural hair because the curl at the ends of your locks will help your twist stay intact.


Cornrows are another classic protective hairstyle that can be done on all lengths of hair. First, take a section of hair starting at the front of your head from the root. Then, split that section into three even sections. Braid your hair as you normally would, but after you’ve braided the hair once, add hair to each strand as you continue to braid down the back of your head. When you reach the end of your scalp, continue braiding normally down the length of your hair before securing the hair with a clear elastic. Repeat this all over your mane.


Similar to short twists, you can also opt to create short braids throughout your mane. Simply grab sections of hair of equal size (choose their size based on how big you want your final braids to be) and braid a traditional three-strand braid down the length of your hair. Repeat this process throughout your hair.


Want to get your hair out of your face and off your neck? A chignon is an elegant updo that will also protect your locks.


Another updo option is to create two low twisted buns. Think space buns, but at the nape of your neck rather than on top of your head. Separate your hair into two equal sections, create your buns, and secure into place!


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.


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.


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.


Another elegant updo option, this side twist updo hairstyle can be worn anywhere from work to a wedding. First, create a side part. Then, split your hair into two. Split those sections into two and twist as if you were creating a traditional twisted hairstyle. Make sure to twist towards the side of your part! Once both sections are formed into two large twists at one side of your head, twist your ends together. Finish the style by twisting that remaining hair into a bun and pinning into place. Phew—that’s a lot of twists!


Can’t get enough of twists? Neither can we! 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.

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