15 Protective Styles for Natural Hair

15 Protective Styles for Natural Hair 

I love that natural hair is becoming more and more common, finally! With so many women ditching their relaxers and learning to fall in love with their curls,I find myself doing protective and natural hair styles all day long.

When I first graduated from Paul Mitchell, I knew right away that I wanted to be a texture specialist. Natural hair is such a passion of mine!

Protective styling is the art of wearing your hair in a style that shields the ends and keeps them tucked away to avoid drying out and becoming damaged. Keeping your hair styled also helps to retain as much moisture as possible. There are a million different ways to style natural hair, here we will touch on fifteen different styles to help shake up your hair routine!

1). Two Strand Twists
Arguably one of the most common natural hair styles, this style uses just your natural hair woven together into a style. You twist two pieces around each other, giving the ends a little twirl to keep them sealed together. You can make your twists any size but the smaller you do them the longer they last. Be careful not to make them too chunky, it won’t allow for very good definition for your bonus style, your twist out!

Two Strand Twists 

2). Cornrows
We all know that this style has been around for a million years. Cornrows are three strands of hair braided against the scalp to keep them braided “attached” to the scalp. Cornrow designs are endless, there are many, many ways to style these braids. Small cornrows last longer than large ones do. You can do combination styles and do cornrows with twists or even a flat iron. It’s easy to get to the scalp and oil your hair. For my clients who’ve had to battle scalp itchiness, a few drops of tea tree smoothed over your scalp will help to give you some relief!


3). Box Braids
Box braids will always be my first love. This style is individual braids with kanekalon hair added for extra length and thickness. Using pre-stretched braiding hair makes for a world of difference. This is a really fun style because it allows for quite a bit of versatility. If you’ve ever had a reaction to braiding hair, dipping it in apple cider vinegar will reset the hairs property and make the installation more comfortable for you. My only word of caution would be to be mindful of how much tension you're putting on your hairline. Be careful not to style your braids too tightly or too often!

Box Braids 

4). Hair Bun
Easy and quick, who said a protective style has to take several hours? As long as your ends are tucked up and protected, it’s a protective style. Moving the placement of your bun allows your hair to “wear evenly” without repeatedly putting stress on the same point. A high bun one day, a low bun the next, just be sure not to comb your hair each day! Your fingers make great tools. Misting your hair with a leave-in, smoothing some gel over it and tying it down in the style you desire is a great heatless way to change styles a bit!

5). Bantu Knots
They make the most bonus beautiful style when removed! Bantu knots give your hair the ultimate amount of protection! Hair jewelry can further dress up this ‘do. This style is created by wrapping your hair around itself into a ‘knot’. You get bonus points if you do this hairstyle on dreadlocks! You can do a few cornrows on the side or add a braided headband along your hairline!

6). Flat Twists 
Flat twists are similar to cornrows, they both are styled against the scalp. Cornrows are created with three stands while flat twists are created using just two strands! These are a great cheat style if you’re not as comfortable with cornrowing. Flat twists leave the scalp exposed so oiling is easy! You can keep the hair moisturized with a leave in spray, focusing on the ends since they’re the oldest part of your hair. You can flat twist your hair up into a ponytail, a bun, into a mohawk style, a half up, half down with flat twists in the front and two strand twists in the back, to name a few of the possibilities.

Flat Twists

7). Seneglase Twists
This style uses kanekalon hair to add ample length and often thickness to the traditional twist hair style. Similar to box braids, this style allows for quite a bit of versatility. The take down is very easy.

8). Havana Twists
Similar to Seneglase twists, this style requires kanekalon hair added in. The biggest difference between the two twists styles is that the Havana twists are very large. These twists are roughly the size of sidewalk chalk.

9). Halo Braid
I once did a wedding party where every woman got this style. Definitely one of my favorite wedding parties! This style uses hair added in to create a large cornrow (typically a Dutch braid, sometimes a French braid) to circle the head. Oftentimes you can add in either hair jewel or accent braids or cornrows.

Halo Braid 

10). Crochet Braids
Crochet braids have made quite the comeback over the last few years. There are four main ways to do this style; either using box braids, twists, faux locs or loose hair crocheted in. You’ll need to cornrow the hair down first into the desired pattern and then, using a latch hook, add the synthetic hair in to create the style. The Bohemian and water wave crochets are two of my favorite loose hair to work with.Box braids and twists are great because you can unravel them after awhile and wear them in a bonus style.

Waterwave Crochet 

11). Spring Twists
I always tell my clients that spring twists will get you spoiled. They’re low maintenance and can last up to several months. They’re an easier install than box braids, Havana or Seneglase twists, they’re worn around your shoulders so they don’t take as long to have installed or to remove. Super lightweight, spring twists have always been a personal favorite!

12). Flat Twist Updos
These are easy to install and are easy to dress up or down. Using your natural hair flat twisted upwards towards the top of your head, you can either twist, braid, tuck and pin or roller set the top. Most updos can be completed in an hour and can last up to a month at a time. They’re easy to maintain and make for a very pretty way to wear your natural hair.

13). Comb Coils
This style is typically done with shorter hair, but if you’re patient enough, any length can rock this style. This style looks different on everyone because it mimics the clients curl pattern. This is my go-to style for my daughter. On clean, wet hair, rake gel through a small section and, using a fine tooth comb, twirl the hair around starting from the roots and work your way down to the ends. Once the hair has completely dried, coat your hair with a little oil and you can seperate the coils out into a fuller hair style.

Comb Coils that have been separated 

14). Dreadlocks
The most protective style there is, haha! I like to do a very thorough consultation with my clients thinking about locking their hair. This is pretty much a permanent hairstyle. You can remove locks, but it is a very time consuming, expensive process. There is interlocking, palm rolled, freeform and sisterlocks to choose from. Interlocking is great for clients who are active and need to wash their hair on a weekly or daily basis. Palm rolling is the traditional way for locking, but it does take the longest to lock. Freeform is for the free spirited natural who wants their hair to lock in its own accord. Sisterlocks (or brotherlocks if you’re male) are very small dreadlocks interlocked in a grid pattern.Sister locks are a form of interlocking and can only be installed by a certified consultant.

Dreadlocks that have been styled into an updo

15). Sew In
I love me a good sew-in, but not all were created equally. This style involves your hair being cornrowed into the desired pattern and wefts sewed down on tops of the braids. You’ll often find me rocking a partial sew-in because I love how natural a leave out looks, but allyour hair is not protected. A full sew-in leaves out a small amount of leave out. Frontals and wigs will have all your hair covered, but frontals and lace fronts do require regular maintenance. If you’re interested in wearing this style regularly, you’ll want to invest in quality bundles.

Well, there you have it. Fifteen different hairstyles can help to protect your hair and promote hair growth. Regular trims and conditioning will help your hair to flourish when it is not styled.

What hairstyle is your favorite? Which hairstyle is on your bucket list to try soon?

About the Author

Dominique is a licensed cosmetologist. She’s been doing hair professional since she graduated from Paul Mitchell the  School of Nashville. She owns her own hair studio in Brentwood, TN  where she resides with her husband, son and daughter. In between working and juggling her family, she enjoys shopping and working on her website; Coily-Hair.com.

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