What starts with a Y and is the most affordable and versatile protective style out there? YARN BRAIDS.

Yarn braids are a type of protective style that uses yarn instead of braiding hair. Yarn braids offer many of the same benefits as other protective styles — they help protect your hair from the elements, allow you to grow your hair longer, and give you the freedom to experiment with a wide variety of styles.

But unlike other protective styles, you can create a yarn braid look with one very simple product: yarn from the craft store. It may seem weird to use yarn in your hair, but it’s a common and beloved practice among natural hair stylists around the world. Yarn braids are elegant yet carefree-looking.

Yarn braids are the perfect hairstyle for summer, and there are so many different styles to try!

Why try yarn braids

First, yarn braids are versatile. Unlike regular braiding hair, yarn comes in every color under the sun. If you want to try an unusual color for the summer, like neon green or bright pink, yarn is one of your best bets. It’s easier to find than brightly colored braiding hair, and it’s way cheaper and better for your hair than dying your natural hair. If you want to stick with natural browns and blacks, you can do that with yarn too.

In comparison to regular braids, yarn braids are also remarkably lightweight. (They do absorb a LOT of water, though, so if they get wet, prepare for them to get very heavy and stay wet for a long time.)

How to care for yarn braids

Yarn braids are also great for summer because they’re easy to care for. They lend themselves to a more Bohemian look, which means they don’t require much maintenance. You can enjoy your summer without worrying about touching up your hair every few days. Also, they allow your hair to retain more moisture, keeping it healthier and stronger while in the protective style.

Yarn braids can be kept in the hair for 5 to 8 weeks. If your hair and scalp starts to feel dirty, you can wash your hair to remove build-up. The braids become very heavy when wet, so lay your braids in the bathroom sink to wash them and wring them out thoroughly when you’re done. Alternatively, you can wash the roots and scalp only. If your hair starts to feels dry, hydrate it with a light conditioner or rose water in the mornings.

What type of yarn?

Most people recommend using acrylic yarn for braids. Wool is also in use, but it’s too hot for the summer and it may lock up the hair. (If you want to use an all-natural yarn, a professional braid stylist can help you find a natural blend and style that works for your hair type.)

The amount of hair you’ll need depends on the style, but you can easily do a cute yarn braid look for under $10. Because yarn comes in different thicknesses and can easily be teased apart, it’s easier to customize the size of your braids than it is with braiding hair.

Yarn braid styles for summer

Here are some beautiful yarn braid styles to inspire you this summer.

Yarn Twists

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Photo by @aamoeji

Yarn can be used for a variety of protective styles, not just braids! These chunky yarn twists are simple yet fashionable. Match them to your natural hair and add a pop of color.

Blonde Yarn Braids:

Photo by @jordncole

Experiment with color without going too far outside of the box by finding a yarn that resembles honey-blonde hair.

Dreamy Yarn Braids:

Photo by @perusuxx

These colorful DIY yarn braids would be at home at any summer festival, garden party, or beach adventure.

Yarn Locs

Photo by @tayojr, Model @henribstyles

Faux locs have been all the rage lately, and you can absolutely create the look with yarn, as DMV hair stylists Afriq Hair did here!

Scalp Yarn Braids

Photo by @iamnaymarie

You can also use yarn for scalp braids and cornrows, like this funky blue and purple hair style.

Electric Yarn Braids

Photo by @iammuthonigitau

Whew, can you imagine achieving this vibrant yellow hair color on your natural hair?! It’d take several sessions and a boat load of money. Or you could just go with yarn braids!

Two-Tone Yarn Braids

Photo by @odessa_v2

These magical yarn braids are the work of Southern California hair stylist @odessa_v2. The contrast between the vibrant color and the natural black is everything.

Blue-Gray Yarn Twists

Photo by @ay__mumbae

Experiment with color while also keeping subtle by going for these muted blue-gray twists. People are sure to look twice, and the makeup possibilities are endless.

Multi-Colored Yarn Braids

Photo by @laurenkellybenson

Hair stylist @hairbymelinda at Heritage Hair NYC created this look, which features long, chunky and multicolored yarn braids with total Black Girl Magic vibes.

Yarn French Braids

Photo by @hairstylespizz

If you have non-textured hair (type 2), you can still get in on the yarn braid action! Yarn braids won’t last for long in looser hair textures, but they’re a fun way to add a pop of color to French braids and other braid styles.

What’s your favorite yarn braid look here? Let us know in the comments!