If you’re transitioning to natural hair, you need to make sure you’re giving your hair the best chance of growing strong and healthy. There is a long-standing myth that tightly curled, or kinky hair doesn’t grow, but that simply isn’t the case – it just tends to break off more often, as it’s more brittle and drier than straight hair.
You can protect your hair from breakage and damage from wind, sun, or water by wearing it in a protective style. These styles shield your hair and look fantastic.
Here are 20 of the hottest protective hairstyles of the moment. Which one will you choose?
Table of Contents
- 1 Protective Hairstyles
- 1.1 Knotless Box Braids
- 1.2 Box Braids
- 1.3 Bobbed Braids
- 1.4 Faux Locs
- 1.5 Yarn Faux Locs
- 1.6 Goddess Locs
- 1.7 Rope Twists
- 1.8 Crochet Braids
- 1.9 Crochet Twists
- 1.10 Colorful Twists
- 1.11 Flat Twists
- 1.12 Marley Twists
- 1.13 Bantu Knots
- 1.14 Faux Ponytail
- 1.15 Havana twists
- 1.16 Wigs
- 1.17 Cornrows
- 1.18 Big Cornrows
- 1.19 Sisterlocks
- 1.20 Fulani Braids
Knotless Box Braids
Simply put, these knotless braids are so-called because your natural hair is left at the root (rather than starting with extensions), so there’s less tension at the scalp. They’re a little more comfortable than their traditional counterparts.
Box braids are a perennially popular classic, and for a good reason – they’re an easy way to add length and can last weeks without needing to be touched up. However, they’re not a style you can do at home; you’ll need a professional stylist to braid your hair for you.
Many people assume that box braids always have to be worn long -as most people do choose long extensions – but this simply isn’t the case. They can be as long or short as you want them to be! In fact, wearing your box braids bobbed can protect your hair better even than the long ones, as they’re lighter and place less stress on your scalp.
Locs in natural hair occurs when hair that would usually be shed in coming locks into and around itself, creating thick ropes. Developing true locs can take time, but it is possible to get the effect using extensions and saving your natural hair.
Locs can be worn both temporarily and permanently, with synthetic hair woven around your real hair. You can even choose a wild color if you’d like!
Yarn Faux Locs
These offer tons of room for creativity as you’re not limited to hair colors; the yarn used to construct these locs can be any color you like! Go on – be adventurous!
Goddess locs are a little more ‘rough around the edges’ than traditional locs, so are ideal for a more relaxed look. The ends are left unsealed, so choose natural hair for maximum impact and shine.
Sometimes called Senegalese twists, this stunning style is great for people who don’t want braids, or don’t know how to achieve them. The hair is divided into two sections instead of three and twisted until it looks like a rope. Easy.
Another one for the professionals! Crochet braids are clever because they mimic the look of natural hair, with extensions added to cornrows using a crochet needle. They take a while to put in but are absolutely worth the wait.
A variation on crochet braids, crochet twists use the same crocheting technique, but the hair extensions are formed into twists instead of being left to roam free. Make sure you keep them hydrated to avoid frizz!
Yet another twist (get it?) on twists, colorful versions involve placing twists of colored hair throughout your style, adding flashes of vivid red, blue, pink – anything you can think of – to help you really stand out from the crowd.
Often worn as an alternative to traditional cornrows, flat twists keep your natural hair close to your scalp – this helps it stay moisturized. They’re also easy to boost with hair extensions.
Another type of twist named after the type of hair used, Marley twists are smaller than Havana twists and kinkier than Senegalese twists. This is because Marley hair is coarser than other hair types.
If you want to make an instant style statement, this is the protective style for you! Bantu knots are easy, too; once you’ve moisturized and detangled your hair, divide it into sections and twist each section until it forms a knot close to your head. Pin in place, and you’re good to go!
They may be eternally stylish, but ponytails aren’t necessarily known for protecting your hair. You can transform your ponytail into a protective style by using a faux ponytail instead of your own hair; just make sure to match the color and texture of your natural hair as well as you can.
Havana Twists, named after the type of hair extensions used, these twists are created using two strands of hair instead of the three needed for braids. They’re easy to adjust too – wrap tighter for thinner twists, and more loosely for bigger ones.
If you don’t want to commit to higher-maintenance styles, opt for a custom wig – invest in good quality synthetic or real hair that can be washed and styled without getting damaged.
Cornrows are an instantly-recognizable protective style formed by rows of small, tight braids that sit close to the head in uniform, straight lines. You can also go for a more geometric or curved shape if you prefer. Cornrows are great because they’re super-easy to maintain, but you’ll probably have to redo them every few weeks.
A modern take on traditional cornrows, these are achieved by simply dividing the hair into chunkier sections. The resulting braids are big, bold, and certainly make a statement!
About half the size of traditional locs, Sisterlocks are the ultimate protective style. Done using a specific locing technique, they are intended to be permanent (although they can be taken out, it just takes a lot of work) and are about half the size of traditional locs. Make sure to leave plenty of time for your appointment – they are so intricate they can take days to put in.
Fulani braids are distinct from traditional cornrows by their pattern – they usually include one cornrow that runs back-to-front, and the rows at the side of the head hang on each side. These braids are often adorned with beads. They are very thin and lightweight, which makes it easier to moisturize the scalp than some other protective styles.