Protective hairstyles for natural hair is my favorite topic to discuss with my fellow natural-headed friends. For those naturals who are not sure of what to do with their hair, take a look at these 6 go-to, low maintenance, hairstyles you can try and how to achieve them.
What Is A Protective Hairstyle?
For those who are not familiar with what protective hairstyles for natural hair refers to, here’s the low down: it is a term used in the natural hair world in which one’s texture is being protected by concealing their ends to prevent breakage, tangling, and constant manipulation. These styles may require added hair for braids, twists, and locs, or could be done by simply using nothing but the kinks and coils sprouting from your head. Let’s check them out!
1) Senegalese Twists
Senegalese twists are one of my all-time favorite protective hairstyles for natural hair. The best part about them is that they can be done in any size and last for weeks! You’ll notice in my icon photo that I am wearing this protective style in it. These twists allow you to create a variety of looks for any occasion – whether you want an updo for a wedding or an Earthy-look for a summer festival, Senegalese twists will have you covered!
If you are thinking of trying this protective lookout, Mane Addict gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to get the perfect Senegalese twists. WARNING: Be prepared to sit for a few hours with this style. It personally takes me a full day to do these, but the result is 100% worth it!
2) Box Braids
Box braids are another protective hairstyle that conceals ends, giving your natural hair a break from the elements. This style is similar to the Senegalese twists, however, I find these to be more secure. This protective hairstyle can be worn up in a bun, half up half down (as seen to your right), or in a high ponytail using the braids as a hair tie. They are perfect for naturals who want a protective hairstyle that they can run out the house with and not worry if a strand is out of place.
Box braids are in the category of protective hairstyles for natural hair that are true classics. The process for this hairstyle is quite similar to Senegalese twists. For a detailed breakdown on how to get this look, Curl Centric’s – The Complete Styling Guide for Beginners gives an easy to follow guide on how to accomplish it.
3) Crochet Braids
You may be thinking, “those don’t look like braids.” Well, to simply explain, the process of installing crochet braids involves braiding your natural hair into cornrows and looping, or “crocheting,” hair to the cornrow braid. Crochet braids could be considered the savior of protective hairstyles for natural hair because you can use this technique to easily produce other protective styles such as Senegalese twists, box braids, and faux locs. They can also give off an illusion of a curly crown, so you can either purchase the hair pre-twisted or in a curly hair texture.
Un-Ruly.com gives a very informative guide on everything you need to know about crochet braids – from the hair itself, the braid pattern (or braid-less), and maintenance. I’ve tried these myself plenty of times and find them to be quick and easy to do. If you don’t have the time or patience to sit for long hours doing single twists or braids, crochet braids are the cheat code.
4) Faux Locs
Faux locs are in my “need to try” protective hairstyles. I absolutely love seeing these on naturals. The great thing about faux locs is they’re not permanent, making them the perfect commitment-free way to rock locs. This is one of the protective hairstyles for natural hair that does take practice to master, especially if you do them yourself. Faux locs are installed by twisting your own hair and wrapping additional braiding hair around it to create a “loc.” You should make sure they are installed properly as you do not want to twist too hard and hurt your scalp. No one wants to walk around with a cute hairdo and a scalp that is screaming for help.
If you want to try this look as one of your protective hairstyles for natural hair, Elle magazine has a useful guide on everything faux locs.
Did you know that wigs go as far back to the BC period in Egypt? Egyptians wore wigs created from palm leaf fibers and wool. I’ve always associated them with being for older women or those who were bald, but boy was I wrong! Anyone can rock a wig. It is a protective hairstyle for natural hair that allows you to try different colors, textures, and lengths without the commitment. I love having the option to throw on a straight-haired wig or short bob wig and not have to apply any heat to my curls or cut my hair (and cry about it later…I’ve made this mistake before).
Wigs today can be inexpensive or very high in price depending on how it’s made (synthetic or human hair). I was hesitant about trying wigs as a protective hairstyle for my natural hair, but they are perfect to throw on and keep the heat tools away from your head. If you’re considering a wig as your next go-to look, How To Install A Wig for Beginners by Style Caster provides a detailed step-by-step process.
6) Space Buns
One of the 90s most well know protective hairstyles for natural hair has made a major comeback this year – space buns! For the most part, naturals have been sticking with the top knot or low, sleek bun for a quick, easy do, but these buns will radiate serious intergalactic vibes from your crown.
The space bun look can be done on your own hair, or within another protective hairstyle like box braids or twists. The cool thing about this being in the “protective hairstyles for natural hair family”, is there’s no limit to the size. They can be tiny or out of this world big, up to you! To get the look, simply part the hair down the middle and create two pigtails. Wrap the hair in each tail around until it creates a bun-shape. Make sure to use bobby-pins to secure the ends and prevent the space buns from unraveling. Voila! You are now the flyest natural in all the galaxy.
Maintaining Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair
Knowing about protective hairstyles for natural hair shows that you can do so much with you hair and it doesn’t need to be straightened or chemically treated to look good. We do have to remember that although protective styles are low maintenance, this doesn’t mean no maintenance is required.
So, before you go, check out these tips on maintaining your protective hairstyle:
- Moisture regularly. This can be done by adding a mix of leave-in conditioner and water into a spray bottle and lightly spraying your hair every other day.
- Ensure your scalp is clean before installing it. Shampoo and condition the night before.
- Make sure you wrap your hair at night. Use a silk scarf to keep the style intact.
- Don’t forget to wash your hair, even if your hair is tucked in a protective hairstyle.
- Keep the style in for awhile. Good protective hairstyles for natural hair last for up to 4 weeks.
- Own the look! Many naturals do their own hair, which is not easy! Confidently embrace your hard work and be inspired to try other protective hairstyles for natural hair.
All photos courtesy of Pexels.com