| Hair

All About Protective Styles! “Natural Hair”

Hey Guys!

I’m asked, quite often, about my protective styling habits: If I do it, How often, and If I think it’s necessary… So I figured, it’s a good time for me to talk about it in a post!

First of all, what is “Protective Styling”?

Well, “Protective Styling” can mean a lot of things! But in general, it’s any hairstyle that when created, shields the hair from a variety of elements and harmful situations! This includes extreme weather, both hot and cold, to prevent the hair from drying out, as well as stress caused to the hair follicles from daily styling and manipulation. In order to give your hair a “break,” you can install a protective style so that you can go a certain amount of days, weeks, or months without having to pull, comb, brush, or tug on your hair! This reduces the amount of damage to your hair, and gives it the opportunity to grow out stress-free!

It’s usually a style that can be worn for long periods of time without having to be taken out, such as braids or twists. But it can also be a style that focuses on strategically hiding, tucking, and protecting only the ends of your hair, made to last anywhere from a month to even just one day.


For example, braids and mini twists are protective styles that last for months at a time. They protect the hair from the stress of daily styling, tugging, combing, and brushing. On the other hand, a French twist, bun, hat or scarf style can also be considered protective styles, even though they are usually made to be worn for one day and removed at the end of the night. Although their wear is brief, it’s considered “protective” because the ends of the hair have been completely covered or hidden!


Note: The ends of our hair are the oldest and therefore, the most fragile, so tucking or hiding it into younger, less-weathered hair closer to the scalp, such as in French twist styles and buns, or tucking it into a scarf/hat helps to shield and protect it from the elements! So, a “Protective Style” can be one or all of the above; the possibilities are endless!


So what do I think of Protective Styling?

Well, I think they’re great! (Tony the Tiger!?) Although, I do enjoying wearing my hair out most, and will usually have it hanging free about 90% of the time. However, the other 10% of my time is spent wearing buns and other styles that allow me to tuck in the ends of my hair, which usually only last the day. In the time that I happen to be wearing a protective style, it’s most often for the sake of style, and the “protection” factor is usually a second thought for me. But I have had occasions when my hair felt extremely dry, so I would purposefully wear a hat of scarf to protect it, but those times are few and far between (usually on extremely frigid winter days when I’m fearful of extreme weathering).

In terms of long-term protective styles, I really don’t do many of those. It’s just because I enjoy wearing my hair free and loose! But as you guys know, I LOVE my mini twists! They’re my favorite protective style, although the hair can be pretty fragile when twisted in such small sections, they do protect the hair from daily stress caused from styling.

So in a nutshell, I am a fan of protective styling. I think that sometimes the hair needs a break from daily styling and that the ends need to be protected from time to time! Is it completely necessary? Mmm,… I guess I’d say yes! I don’t like having to say that anything having to do with hair care is “required” or “necessary,” but I do think that the hair will benefit immensely from a day, week, or month of protective styling. I’ve seen the benefits of protective styling and know for sure it works. I really should try and wear more long term protective styles for my own hair just to keep it healthy and strong, hmm… maybe!

Okay, so I hope it helps guys! Let me know what your favorite protective style is in the comments below!

Talk to you soon!

XoXo Whit


Reader Comments

I am still trying for a favorite style. It seems as if everything I try doesn't really wow me. I did love the break from my hair and I'm going to keep trying until I find a protective style that works for me.

I loooove twists as a protective style..I find that when I leave my hair out, it gets tangled alot more so I'm always doing twists when I can…I sometimes braid my hair too but twists is much easier to take out…
I currently have them in braids…can't wait to take them out..I miss my hair!!

I love wearing my hair in a high bun!!!! Although it doesn't always come out perfect when I do it, it is still my favorite protective hairstyle and I am going to keep doing it until I become a "PRO" lol!!!.

My absolute favorite protective style would have to be twist. I wash & condish weekly at most & twist my hair right up with your sticky pomade Shea butter recipe. Moisture daily w/water & seal it in with creamy based coconut oil pomade. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like it, it works and I stick with it!

When I mini twist I still suffer from the frizzies! After two or three days I have a fuzzy halo so they only look good for about a week – two with headbands but I do love them.

I love the protective hair styles but in Dallas, Texas the braiders are always doing stuff, like I paid $85.00 to have my hair twisted when, I 1st had it chopped, when I woke up the next morning it had all untwisted, which means it was not done properly, I was disappointed, I see the messed up braids and the half done styles to get the money because you have to pay before they braid so they do not care and they mistreat your hair….

I thought for protective styles the ends of the hair must be hidden so buns and other updos can be considered protective but twists and braids will be low manipulation style. Yet twists and braids are versatile and you can change them to be protective via buns, french twists and what have you.

As soon as my hair gets longer, I will definitely try my hand at frenchtwistiing. You make it look so easy I swear.

Twists are my main go-to protective style. I think since last summer in 2011, protective styles have truly been my friend because although I love my big hair in a braidout or something, when that humidity hits and it swells all over my face, it. Is. HOT! Buns quickly became a favorite as well as mini twists. But I soon quicly became tired of twisting for hours and hours on end so now, a set of smedium (smallish medium) twists sets are truly my best friend. Whether on wet or blowdried hair, I can always count on this style! And then rock my braidouts when the sun isn't so BLINDING. (O_O") lol

I loveeeee how you have your hair in the picture right above where it says "So, what do you think about protective styling??". You have great tips! And just look at your mane! Who can doubt your expertise?? You should write a book and the title should be "The Natural Hair Growth Bible". You rock Whitney! Much love from NY.

Wow, so much detail! This must have taken you ages to write. I especially loved your 'Tony the Tiger' reference.

Usually I just buy hair products from https://www.reds24.co.uk but as of late I've noticed how popular this natural range has become, and I might have to look into it more.

Great tips and information for all. Keep up the hard work!

The very last pic is my favorite! It is sooooo easy and convenient. I do not have patience to twist my hair at all, so right after I wash my hair, I just put a little part in the front and then roll both sides and then pin it in the back and I get so many compliments! Thanks for the tips!

I love coils as a protective style. They take some time to install but they last so long and are so low-maintenance! People always ask who did them and compliment me on them. I love to tell them I did them myself. Even though they take time to do, it's still easy. And they can be styled into updo's or whatever…and they don't unravel on me like two-strand twists do. Love coils!

Thanks for emphasizing SHORT term protective styles (like a day or two). This is the way to go for some of us. I don't wear twists, braids or buns for more than a few days, and I wear my hair out most of the time. Twists left in too long cause tangles. I also need to wash my hair weekly and washing in twists is a disaster for me. I prefer low tension styles (loose twists or braids, loose tucked buns, covered with a fun hat or scarf a few days a week). If not wearing long term protective styling works for you, don't feel the need to change please! I know wearing braids, weaves, or wigs, for months and months is effective for some, but not all. There aren't many hard and fast rules with natural.

Hey I am 16 years old and I'm deciding to go natural but I can't remember what my natural hair looks like from when I was a child. I was wondering if having your hair relaxed, will change the way your natural hair grows forever. I was also wondering when is the best time to bc after the transition? Because i am currently transitioning and I am only one month in. thanks(:

My favorite protective style at the moment are poetic justice braides because they r so big that i feel like its less stress on the new growth

First of I love, love, love your post on protective styling! ๐Ÿ™‚
You are definitely a leader in terms of natural hair health!

Now; I have read some other natural hair care blogs/ articles and I never hear to much about weaves being considered a protective style?
I found one article on Curly Nikki's site on Angela Simmons who just keeps her hair braided in a weave as a protective style. I personally do a full head weave and do not touch my hair. I do a deep conditioning treatment once a month and just let it grow. I have experienced much health and length from doing a weave as a protective style. My goal is to get it to a length that I am happy with so that I can just leave it out from time to time…however I would still do a weave on occasion to be proactive and protective for my hair health.
What are your thoughts?

I've heard that individual braids like box braids or micros cause too much stress on the hair and can be very bad for it, is that true?

As another commenter wrote: The last photo of you of you is "Stunning!" Truly it is a gorgeous picture and so representative of the beauty our people. If you look through vintage pics of our Grandmothers and Great-Greats… This is the beautiful, beautiful natural face and hair that we see. I am so glad to live in this time when we are Confident enough to love ourselves again. Enough with trying to be someone else. We are so very beautiful. Thank you for you wonderful, informative video's. Your lovely spirit shines through. I have come full circle from hot press and Shirley Temple Curls of the 1960's… Broke out into my Angela Davis wannbe 'Fro of the 1970's…. Got addicted to the "Creamy Crack" until April of 2013. Free at last… Free at last… you feel me? Be blessed and keep us informed. I will go drink my water. Ciao!

Can not stop loving the post: It's usually a style that can be worn for long periods of time without having to be taken out, such as braids or twists.

Here you can find what you love.

Amazing! I so love the hair styles. Nice photos and videos too. Thanks for posting this! ๐Ÿ™‚

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