When you wear your ends tucked away, your hair is in a protective style.


Wearing natural hair is exciting and full of endless styling possibilities. Protective styles are ones that don’t consist of the hair being out loose, which is where the 'protective' part comes in.

What are protective styles?

When you wear your ends tucked away, your hair is in a protective style. This is important because your ends are the oldest and most fragile part of the strand. Frequent and regular washing, conditioning, styling, and detangling requires constant tugging on your hair, making it weaker than the last time. As a result, it's normal to experience some hair fall each time you touch your hair.

In the world of natural hair, rocking protective styles has become an added bonus of having more (better) options for concealing hair on a multitude of levels. Protective styles include but are not limited to twists, braids, updos, and wigs. A lot of times, added synthetic or human hair is added for even more versatility in color, thickness, length, and appearance in texture. These protective styles are extremely popular in our community.

Photo Courtesy of @karinabaileyrae


Photo Courtesy of @amiraavee


Braids can be individual, freeforming plaits with the freedom to fall down loosely. They can also be sections of hair gathered together along the scalp, laying closely to the head with no room for movement. Both types of braids effectively hide your ends from potentially harmful effects of regular styling, manipulation, and the environment.

Popular types of braids

  • Box
  • Cornrow
  • Two strand
  • Three strand
  • Ghana
  • Fishtail
  • Micro
  • French
  • Dutch
  • Waterfall
  • Milkmaid
  • Bubble

Photo Courtesy of @natashaleeds

Photo Courtesy of @yvettecorinne


Many of these styles use a two-strand braiding technique in which, like some braided styles, allow the hair to be separated in freeform sections that have the freedom of movement. Twists are versatile enough to be combined and pinned up, also qualifying them as updos (the third type of protective style).

  • Marley
  • Havana
  • Flat
  • Senegalese
  • Two-strand
  • Three-strand
  • Mini
  • Chunky
  • Kinky
  • Faux Locs (Yarn)

Photo Courtesy of @nae2curly

Photo Courtesy of @africanmelaninnn instagram


A hairstyle that calls for your curly, loose hair to be tucked away, smoothed down, and out of your face is known as an updo. This look tends to be favorable during special occasions and formal events; nonetheless, it's still an easy style that protects your hair.

  • Pigtails
  • Bun
  • Chignon
  • Beehive
  • Top knot
  • Ninja bun

Photo Courtesy of @adoniabree

Photo Courtesy of @goldenn_xo instagram


Why not cover your natural hair up from root to tip? If you'd rather give your entire head a break from constant manipulation and styling, opt for a wig. There are many different types of wigs, and most of them are considered protective styles.


Do you rock protective styles? Which one's your favorite?


Devri Velázquez

NC Content Editor Devri is a passionate writer with a deep appreciation for all forms of expressive art and culture. After being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease in 2011, Devri's personal mission has been to empower other women to focus on their individual self-care and wellness.

Instagram: Devri Velázquez
I wish this had spell check, sorry. "wear" and "scarves"

I'm a tight 3c with some 4ish tendancies towards the back. Anyway, I have not been able to where protective styles since I went natural, anything pulling my hair at all gives me a wicked headache, including headbands and acarves. Is there something I can do? I's been over a year now!!!

I transitioned from a barber cut to dread twists and thanks to Miss Jessies Rapid Recovery Conditioner saw drastic growth in Spring of last year... now its shoulder length. Thanks for the tips to help me grow even longer by protecting my hair from rubbing on my clothing. Right now doing a freestyle curly 'fro...LuvNit! msTextureLuv 4a

the products that i use works for my 4 type hair, i use oyin handmade, miss jesseies,myhoney child,and some store products but got to be natural and sheabutter/cocoanut oil.

Hi, i`am a natural 4, i did my bc 10/09 i wore micro braids and now in may/10 ihave been natural for7mos and by wearing braids or twisting my owe hair my hair have grow alot and using natural products so 2yrs from now am looking at really long hair.i have shrinkage to 75%, i blow dry and air dry whhile my hair is in twist to give me length.i hope this helps..

@MissFey would you be oppossed to doing two strand twists and rolling the ends. Then you can pin your hair up into a pretty style and won't have to worry about it. @Menabug - I am a 4b and I get my ends clipped once every 4 months. I can't answer on the kinky curly it didn't work for me.

Great tips! I'm 4b and been natural for close to two years. I wonder if it will ever grow out to a nice length. I'm ready for nice pony tail. The only thing about 4's hair is shrink a lot once product is apply. How often should I get ends clip. How do you show length when using product such as kinky curl?

Thanks for the tips! I am still trying to get used with the transition. Today I did the real big chop because my hair texture was different from the roots! I tried to stick with the flat twist-out, but its too much of time consuming! Any ideas to help me out please. MissFey