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35 Fashionable Protective Styles for Natural Hair

With so much washing, combing, styling and exposure to an unfriendly environment, your kinky hair can be damaged good and proper, even despite all kinds of protective products you use. Then how can you grow your natural hair healthy? Obviously, by avoiding excessive styling and keeping your tresses tucked away from anything that can weaken them. That’s where protective hairstyles for natural hair come into play, offering many ways to wear curls for weeks without everyday styling. Protective styles are invaluable, since besides a flawless look, they protect your natural hair against aggressive factors, prevent breakage, minimize hair loss and help maintain moisture. Here is an ultimate compilation of protective hairstyles for natural hair to get you inspired.

Touchable Texture for Short Natural Hair

Bushy short natural hair is tricky to manage, and it seems that it doesn’t allow for such flexibility in protective hairstyles as longer hair does. It sounds like you cannot go without braids, twists, extensions and faux locks when having short hair, but in fact, you can. “I love that so many women are going back to their natural hair texture, but the problem is that many of them don’t know why they are doing it or how to manage their natural texture,” Vernon François, a top hair artist and a good angel of Lupita Nyong’o, said to Elle. We cannot but agree with the pro and, thus, focus our collection of short hair ideas on hairstyles, showing off its natural texture.

Afro Puff For 4c Hair

via @rosehapuque

What a nice do-it-yourself option for 4c hair! Blend your backswept and twisted bang into an afro puff-styled updo and get this playful hairstyle emphasized with flirty ear locks.

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Very Short Natural Hairstyle With Headband

via @jessicacorreia._

When your hair is very short, opt for a light headwrap version, working your front coils free of the updo. One of the cutest ever protective styles for short hair, isn’t it?

Short Curly Natural Hairstyle With Side Twists

via @annisalimara

This cute hairstyle is rather creative, since it combines a faux hawk, smaller side braids and larger side twists.

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Asymmetrical Sleek Natural Updo With Braid

via @tasalahq

Want to get something smooth out of your kinky hair? Consider Didi hairstyles for natural hair. Try this awesome protective style — an inverted Didi braid going all around your head and holding your curls really tightly.

Black Short Cornrows To Twists Updo

via @touchofheavenartistry

Cornrow patterns make great protective hairstyles for short hair, but there is always room for improvement. Proven with this amazing cornrows-to-twists transition!

Arresting Updos for Medium Length

While shoulder-length hair is easier to manage due to multiple styling options, it is also easy to damage, since it tends to get tangled heavier and the splitting gets worse, too. It is no wonder that ladies with mid length hair often give preference to updos rather than to hair styled down or even to half up hairstyles. Sure, there is freedom to opt for weaves, transforming your medium length into long braids and twists. However, it goes without saying that updos are the best and the easiest protective hairstyles for natural hair. We are going to prove that you can enjoy your natural length and look admirably with our pick of cute updos borrowed from Instagram.

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Medium Length Updo With Flat Twists And Curls

via @e._k.a.h.l.e.r

Who needs braids, when one can get twists? Pack your medium length locks into flat twists at the nape and let your curls hang loose on the top of your head.

Twisted Updo For Medium Natural Hair

via @lawandapierrehair

This long lasting updo with the twisted braid that wraps around the head and meets an elegant chignon at the back is indeed one of the most romantic protective styles!

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Rolled Natural Updo For Medium Length

via @flawlesshairstyle

Make a side parting and just start twisting your hair all around the head, while moving from both sides to the nape. This protective style boasts a lot of texture and chic you cannot resist.

Goddess Braids Updo

via @katahlia.blue

We have seen plenty of faux hawks, but this gorgeous set of twists is definitely among the best protective hairstyles for natural hair.

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Protective Natural Mohawk Updo

via @touchofheavenartistry

We have seen plenty of faux hawks, but this gorgeous set of twists is definitely among the best options.

Fabulous Diversity in Braid Styles

“Most of us remember the iconic moments from the 90’s when we saw Janet Jackson with box braids in Poetic Justice or Brandy in Moesha …but how many of you guys know that Braids can be traced back more than 5000 years ago to about 3500 B.C.?” wrote celeb hairstylist Lacy Redway, commenting on an awesome braided hairstyle of one of her VIP clients. Thank you, Lucy, for reminding of the rich historical and cultural background, which comes with braids, but we also adore them for the endless diversity and creativity they allow. From expressively tribal Fulani braids to classic fishtails, they are widely employed in protective hairstyles, while handsomely supplemented with beads, cuffs, threads, sew-ins and more. And we appreciate the long lasting effect of braids that helps escape everyday styling and, thus, promotes hair growth.

Box Braids With String Wrap

via @slayedby.c

As it was already mentioned, box braids made a remarkable comeback, so it would be a great mistake to miss the chance with this iconic hairstyle. Adding a glimpse of gold is a good idea for creating a modern look. If you want something producing less tension, go for knotless braids.

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Black And Blue Braided Lob

via @jdivastyles

However, don’t limit yourself in color combinations and go for bolder box braids with multiple bright tresses. Bright tresses are your best bet if you want to add individuality to your protective style.

Spiral Braid Updo

via @deecarrington

Get a royal protective style: crown your head with spiral braids, styled intricately to provide a statement contrast in texture and volume.

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Simple Updo With Chunky Braids

via @_whitneythestylist

Do you think that braids around the head are too simple for your style? Then let them be really thick, highlighted goddess braids, tucked into a side bun at the nape. A really cool example of weaving hairstyles for natural hair.

Curly Mohawk With Cornrows

via @vanitybydanit

Nevertheless, cornrow hairstyles are still trending, and you can get some inspo with this lovely Mohawk updo. It features side cornrows merging into a bush of spiral curls down the centre of the head.

Easy Transformation for Black Natural Hair

Not into box braids? We know that wearing black natural hair is a challenge, and achieving elaborate protective hairstyles can be a hell of a job. Fortunately, you can opt for simpler options, which are quick to make, yet fun to wear. They don’t require the entire-head braiding or twisting, and this is both less time-consuming and healthier. There are good reasons why hair experts warn naturalistas from tight weaves and heavy braids – these can cause traction alopecia. “When the follicle comes out at the root, there is nothing else to do. That hair isn’t coming back, so don’t let anyone braid the hair too tightly along the hairline,” Lisa Price, the founder of Carol’s Daughter, explained to Allure. The following protective styles hit the spot, keeping strain and tension to a minimum.

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African American Mohawk Updo With Highlights

via @modelesque_nic

The frohawk is among the easiest protective hairstyles any African American can do right at home. And it is really cool, especially when it shows a variety of hues.

Braided Updo With Curly Top

via @ronesiabarrshair

A version of weaving hairstyles for natural hair: wear your low maintenance curly puff on the top and combine it with pretty cornrows at the back. Extensions of a different color are welcome!

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Two Buns Updo For Kinky Hair

via @transformedbyo

Want to have some fun with your kinky hair? These low buns look jazzy, while curvilinear braids add some sophisticated touch to the hairstyle.

Curly Highlighted Bob For 3c Hair

via @_simplystasia

You can easily switch up your usual 3c hairstyle by blending flat twists into it. This is an asymmetrical version with zest.

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Braided Asymmetrical Bob For Straight Hair

via @ronesiabarrshair

While we are at asymmetric hairstyles, take on board this fancy crisscross braid pattern that can work fine for straight hair too. An excellent example of protective styles for natural hair without weave.

Mixing Textures with Transitioning Hair

Whether you like it or not, but be prepared to put skin in the game while going natural. This covers more attention and care, since your god-given curls are more demanding for revitalizing, conditioning and moisturizing. “Curly hair is naturally drier than chemically treated and straight hair, because it’s easier for the oils secreted from your scalp to travel down the shaft of a straight strand compared to a curly one,” Got2b and Smooth ’N Shine celebrity stylist Larry Sims explained to Cosmopolitan. But TLC is only a part of the story, while finding your new go-to transitioning hairstyle is another journey. It’s not that easy to blend two different textures into one hairstyle, especially in a DIY version. Still, feel encouraged by the following examples of protective styles that do the task brilliantly.

Twisted Updo For Transitioning Hair

via @touchofheavenartistry

Consider this great protective style for your transitioning hair. Hide it with a gorgeous crown twist, snaking from the front of your head down to the back and forming an elegant bun there.

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Natural Updo With Voluminous Twists

via @soglossy

This beehive-styled twisted updo is not easy to make, but it is decisively worth trying. Maybe, younger girls won’t be excited, but middle-aged women are sure to benefit from this protective style.

Mohawk Braid Updo

via @_whitneythestylist

Braids and twists hit the mark when it comes to blending two textures. This updo has them both, flowing into each other smoothly and exquisitely.

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Low Chunky Bun For Transitioning Hair

via @jackofallhair

When a special occasion is right around the corner, the grand chignon is the first thing that comes to mind. But think again and couple it with amazing twists to draw attention to your face rather than to your back. As you see, protective styles can look really chick.

Cute Black Pigtail Buns

via @touchofheavenartistry

If you’re looking for protective hairstyles for natural hair that can help you stand out from the crowd, here’s an idea. This twisted updo is more casual and looks like something you can wear while at work. Still, this pair of lush top knots is difficult to miss.

Rocking Best Protective Hairstyles

Whichever hairstyle you choose, don’t miss the key point – protective hairstyling is not about edgy looks, low maintenance or installing weaves. It originated from the idea of growing your natural hair healthy, and that’s the first thing you should focus on. “If you don’t take care of your scalp, it defeats the entire purpose of what should be a protective style,” Pekela Riley, a celebrity hairstylist and owner of Salon PK, said to Allure. Taking it a step further, you also need to keep your edges hydrated and oiled, if you don’t want to end up with thin and split tresses. If you occasionally need to style your hair with an iron, make sure you use protective styling products. Biting on that, we can move on to fashion and aesthetics, exploring the best ways to nail the most popular protective hairstyles.

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Half Up Bun For Curly Natural Hair

via @jewejewebee

Attention to details is a key. That’s why the best part of this curly hairstyle is tiny, yet dramatically styled ear locks.

Black And Red Twists With Extensions

via @divynedavyna_hairstyles

Adding vibrant hues and beads to the Senegalese twist can change your look drastically, too. Yes, protective styles can be bright and daring!

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Long Wavy Weave With Half Up Pony

via @the_rose_affect

However, why stick to twists, when there are superb weave hairstyles out there, like this amazing half up/half down option crowned with a flirty ponytail?!

Mohawk With Twisted Twist For Relaxed Hair

via @_jimmiefied_

The twisted faux hawk is really a scenic protective hairstyle for relaxed, transitioning or natural hair. And this is a smart idea to balance the volume with a long and thick twist. A cool alternative to natural hair braids styles.

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Asymmetrical Braided Hairstyle For Hair Growth

via @thegriynthumb

Striving to grow healthy, long locks? Consider cornrows for natural hair growth. Artistically done cornrows are among top picks promoting hair growth. And we like how they blend in with twists, creating an awesome mix of textures.

Goddess Braids With Kanekalon Hair

via @nkwulu

When your natural hair is not long or thick enough, don’t hesitate to avail yourself of kanekalon hair and go for stunning goddess braids.

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Pretty Updo With Chunky Twists

via @themariaantoinette

We adore this classy protective styling. This chick updo delivers both volume and texture through a combination of loose twists.

Natural High Bun With Braids

via @nnaturalhairstudio

If you are looking for a more daring updo, get inspired by this lush textured bun supplemented with an extraordinary nape-to-top braid.

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Goddess Braids To Ponytail

via @divynedavyna_hairstyles

And don’t forget that natural hair braids styles work great when coupled up with ponytails. For a striking effect, combine tiny cornrows and goddess braids, making a statement with beads along the way.

Two Pigtails With Extensions

via @the_rose_affect

Be bold to experiment with natural weaving hairstyles! For example, create some gorgeous wand curls on the extensions flowing from side French braids.

We’ve got a great insight into protective hairstyles with so many looks to steal and some nice tips to employ. But we have one last recommendation from hair experts – always choose your hairstyle based on your hair texture rather than current trends. Hey, that’s the whole point of going natural, and you need to learn how to reveal your natural beauty.

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