20 Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair: Tips, Ideas & Styles

The kinky nature of our natural hair makes it susceptible to split ends, damage, and breakage. This is why the term "protective hairstyles" is popular in the natural hair community.

Protective hairstyles help to prevent breakage and damage caused by constant styling, combing, and manipulation of the hair..

What are Protective Hairstyles?

Protective hairstyles are hairstyles that protect the ends of your hair from exposure to weather conditions, breakage, and shedding.

Hairstyles like braids or twists help you avoid constantly manipulating your hair, which can help retain hair length.

If you're looking to give your natural hair a break to replenish and grow, keep reading to see some protective hairstyles you can try.                

What is the difference between protective hairstyles and low manipulation hairstyles?

Protective hairstyles conceal the ends of our hair to prevent damage from styling, friction, or environmental conditions.

On the other hand, low-manipulation hairstyles require minimal styling and upkeep. These styles include updo buns, low ponytails, or wash-and-go, which require less touching of the hair.

How long should you keep in your protective hairstyle?

It is recommended to take out your protective hairstyle after 6-8 weeks of wearing them.

The longer you keep your protective hairstyle in, the more your hair accumulates build-up from products or chemicals, which could lead to scalp issues in the long run. 

How to Maintain Your Protective Hairstyles

Wearing protective hairstyles is a great way to skip daily hair styling and combing. However, you need a hair routine to maintain them.

Here are 3 ways you can maintain your protective styles:

1. Moisturize regularly

Since protective hairstyles are intended for the long term, you need to keep your natural hair moisturized at regular intervals.

You can use a detangling moisturizer or a water-based leave-in conditioner to keep your scalp and hair roots moisturized and refreshed.

2. Keep them long enough

You would be defeating the purpose of wearing a protective hairstyle if you remove them after a short while.

At a minimum, these hairstyles should be worn for 4-5 weeks, giving your natural hair enough time to relax before you resume combing and styling.

This also allows your hair to grow out during those weeks.

3. Flaunt them

Since protective hairstyles are worn for an extended period, you have the freedom to restyle them as often as you'd like.

Try different styles for events, hangouts, or the office.

20 Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

For your next hair appointment, here are 20 types of protective hairstyles you can try with your natural hair.

1. Box Braids

This hairstyle is super versatile and will turn heads in your direction. If well-maintained, box braids can be kept in for 4 to 6 weeks.

Box braids

2. Knotless Box Braids

One of the benefits of this hairstyle is that it starts with your natural hair before hair extensions are added.

This reduces tension on your scalp, makes it more comfortable to wear, and reduces the risk of hair breakage. You can choose to make your parts small or big.

knotless braids

3. Bantu Knots

We like to call this hairstyle a 2-in-1 slay. Not only can you wear Bantu knots as shown in the picture below, but when you unravel the knots, you reveal a head of curls that you can rock for another couple of days. This style gives you both Bantu knots and Bantu knot outs in one look.

Bantu knots

4. Double Braids

Consider this hairstyle as a quick go-to look, especially if you don't like spending long hours at the salon.

Double Braids

5. Faux Locs

Faux locs are amazing because they protect your natural hair and look even better the longer you keep them in!

If you don't want to spend time getting them installed at a salon, our Nubian Goddess Faux Locs Wig can work its magic for you. It's lightweight and super comfortable to wear.



6. Wavy Braids

Spice up your braid game with a wavy or curly braids hairstyle.

Wavy Braids

7. Cornrows

For a simple look, consider cornrows. You can also add accessories to spice things up.

For a longer appearance, use hair extensions when making your cornrows.


8. Ponytails

Ponytails give off an extraordinary vibe that turns heads your way. The best part is that you can rock them anywhere, and they look good with everything!



9. Bob Braids

Bob braids are not only protective hairstyles, but also gorgeous styles that require low maintenance to rock. You can also try this style with a wig extension.

Bob braids

10. Two-strand Twist

If you're looking for a tangle-free hairstyle, you should try the two-strand twist.

two strand twist

11. Senegalese Twist

The Senegalese twist is a perfect choice if you are looking for a low-maintenance protective hairstyle that is also stylish.

Senegalese twists

12. Goddess Braids

Goddess braids are oversized cornrows that add a classy touch to your look. They can be worn with your natural hair or with extensions.

Goddess Braid

13. Faux Hawk

The great thing about the Faux Hawk hairstyle is that it works for any hair type. Whether you have type 3C-4C hair or not, you will love this hairstyle.


Faux Hawk

14. Hair Up-do

This hairstyle allows you to flaunt your beautiful kinky curls with levity. You could also add some length by wearing an extension.

Updo ponytail

15. Space Buns

Space buns are an absolute beau. They showcase your edges in their full glory.

Space buns

16. Cornrows Ponytail

Cornrows are already beautiful, but have you ever tried them in a ponytail? Stunning!

Cornrows ponytail

17. Flat Twists

Flat twists have been a go-to hairstyle for adequate protection of natural hair for a long time.

They provide reliable protection and are easy to achieve. Check out this step-by-step guide for flat twisting your natural hair.

Flat twists

18. Halo Braid

If you're looking for a simple yet stunning hairstyle, Halo braids are the perfect solution. They're also a great way to showcase your edges in style.

Halo braid

19. Clip-In Extensions

You can add volume and length to your hair while still protecting your kinky curls with clip-in extensions.


20. Fulani Braids

If you love bold and colorful hairstyles, you should try the Fulani braids. They are cute and stylish.

Fulani braids