Everything You Need to Know About Protective Hairstyles

box braids

Black hair is very unique in that it can be styled in many different ways. Protective hairstyles have been around for thousands of years. From the Stone Age to slavery to present day, Black women have worn hairstyles to protect their hair from various forms of damage. Because of its longevity there are a plethora of protective styles to choose from and they are manageable for many different hair types.


Before diving into which protective style you want to try, it is important to understand what exactly a protective style is. A protective style is any style that keeps the ends of the hair tucked away, minimizes manipulation, and lets your hair sit healthily stretched in a detangled state.


The purpose and benefits of these hairstyles is to grow healthier, longer hair by retaining length and reducing split ends and knotting. Many women also choose protective styles while they’re transitioning their hair from a relaxed state to a natural state. This time period can be tricky for Black women to style their hair because the hair is delicate and vulnerable. So, a protective style can allow your hair to go through the process untouched.


Protective styles are also oftentimes used when trying to grow the hair back out after a short cut. The in between stage when trying to get your length back can be very frustrating and hard to style because it is too short for updos but too long to be styled the way it once was. Protective styles are a great option to give your hair versatility.


Some protective styles include extra hair weaved in and others do not. Styles that incorporate extra hair are faux locs, box braids, wigs, and sew ins. Some protective styles that do not require extra hair weaved in are braided bun updos, braided bun updos, cornrows, flat twist, and halo braids. Styles that incorporate extra hair are also a great option because you can include more color to your hair, add length, and help a style last longer.


Before choosing a protective style, it is wise to consider the things you will be doing while your hair is in that style. For example, if you’re going on vacation and plan to get in water, box or knotless braids are a great option because the dry quickly and all you have to do is lay your edges and go. If you only need a style for a few days, then stitch braids are a great stylish option.


Here are a three more protective styles that are great for all types of hair.


  1. Crochet – crochet hair is a unique braiding technique where your hair is braided down into rows and a needle is used to weave and thread hair through those braids. This style is quick and affordable and can last 2-4 weeks.
  2. Wigs – wigs are one of the more common protective styles because they’re easy. Once your hair is braided down, all you have to do is choose a wig you like and place it over your braids. It is then able to be curled, braided, straightened, or crimped. The type of hair you purchase will effect the price and quality. Synthetic hair is cheaper but will not last as long, while human hair is more expensive but better quality.
  3. Pineapple puff – pineapple puffs are updos where your hair is slicked down into a ponytail on top of your hair. This is quick and only require water, gel, and a hair tie.


When considering a protective style it is important to remember that you still have to moisturize and maintain your hair even though it is tucked away. Prepping your hair in anticipation of wearing a protective style is key in your hair routine and you can do so by washing, conditioning, and detangling your hair. Then, once you hair is in your desired protective style, it will require daily and weekly care because failure to do so will defeat the purpose of the style, which is to allow your hair to be healthy and grow, and instead cause damage.


Some tips to maintain your hair in a protective style include: keep your hair and scalp moisturized, washing your hair weekly or biweekly (depending on the style), sleeping with a sating bonnet, and not creating too much tension on your hair to avoid breakage.


Protecting hair is beneficial to all types of hair textures, relaxed, and natural. Protective styles are a great way to see these benefits when accompanied with consistent hair care.

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