50 Easy and Showy Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

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How much time daily would you like to spend on your hair styling? I bet minimum but you definitely wouldn’t like going out with your hair sticking out in some sort of explosion on your head. Well, African-American women are blessed with thick dense hair that can be skillfully shaped into breathtaking hairstyles. However, natural dryness and brittleness of kinky hair is the other side of the medal that needs special care. Protective hairstyles aim to limit the stress of environmental factors on natural hair. Here we are going to share 45 easy yet very showy protective hairstyles and tips on how to care for your natural hair.

Benefits of Protective Hairstyles

  1. Protection from the elements;
  2. Maintenance of moisture;
  3. Length retention;
  4. Stylish look.

Protective hairstyles are priceless in themselves, since besides a flawless elegant look, they keep your hair ends tucked and protected from aggressive damaging factors. How can you boost the protective effect?

Tips for Natural Hair Care

  1. Nourish your hair and scalp with natural oils or apply hydrating balms before styling your hair;
  2. Let your hair dry overnight;
  3. Wear a hat to protect your hair from high or low temperatures;
  4. Sleep with a satin scarf on your head.

Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

Okay, so now let’s see how you can style your hair in a protective way.

#1: Protection for Shorter Hair

Cornrows work for short relaxed hair and natural hair that needs to be extended and protected. A quick trip to a salon will leave you feeling beautiful and confident in days to come.

#2: Classic Braids

When it comes to free-hanging shorter protective hairstyles, the bob-length multiple braids all over the head are ideal. The best part of braids? They last for weeks and take slim to zero effort to maintain.

#3: Sealed with a Twist

Smooth out your natural hair and twist toward the nape of the neck. Secure with a low bun and you’re done! This hairstyle is youthful and vibrant, but it can be easily pulled off by a woman of any age.

#4: Braided Crown and Low Bun

One of the easiest ways to elevate a basic low bun is with a braid. The crown style in this look instantly transforms it from informal to formal; an ideal updo for women who need to go to events straight from the workplace.

Chignon With Crown Braid Natural Hairstyle

Instagram/ @sashabasha2

#5: Natural Flat Twist Style

One of the most common protective styles is flat twists because they resemble cornrows, but are easier and faster to do. If you are attempting to do an updo on your own and you want it to last for a couple of days, this is a must-try look.

#6: Pineapple Updo

A pineapple updo is when you pile your hair at the front of your head. It can also be used as a way to sleep with curls and twist-outs without crushing the style.

Natural Hair Updo With Twists And Curls

Instagram/ @jd_winters

#7: Twisted Protective Style

Women with short natural hair have to deal with shrinkage after washing, which makes hair appear more cropped than it really is. Because of this, many updos are out of the question. If you want to add texture or flair, try individual twists or braids.

#8: Updo with Flat Twists

Some protective hairstyles like box braids and jumbo cornrows can pull on edges or weigh your strands down, which is the exact opposite of what you want. In order to combat this, you can opt for twists. They have the same effect but are lighter and easier to wear.

#9: Mixed Textures for Short Styles

You can easily jazz up a short hairdo by mixing two different textures together. Cornrows in the front and twists in the back are a quick and easy way to add visual interest to a style without needing to use heat or hair accessories.

#10: Individual Braids with Beads

Braid clips are extremely popular now thanks to Queen Bey, who can be seen sporting them in various braided styles on her Formation World Tour. Individual braids or Senegalese twists are great for women who want the smooth look of relaxed hair.

#11: Simple and Sweet Natural Style

A Dutch roll is one of the easiest protective hairstyles for natural hair to master. It’s ideal for wash and go mornings or those inevitable times when your twist out doesn’t come out exactly the way that you planned. The simple updo always looks polished and pretty.

#12: Twist and Side Bang

Soft curls like the bangs shown here can work in protective hairdos as long as you don’t use curling or flat irons. Try using flexi rods instead; the larger the rod, the looser the curl.

Twist Updo With Bangs

Instagram/ @modelesque_nic

#13: Side Part Updo for Natural Hair

A low bun is an easy and classic look for any occasion, but if you want to make it more elegant, you can add a face-framing roll. This is ideal if you have a work presentation, lunch meeting or after hours event.

#14: Fauxhawk with Cornrows and Twists

Sometimes you just have to fake it until you make it. Cornrows are an interesting way to achieve a Mohawk appearance and intricate designs without shaving your head. Most natural hair protective styles are not only beautiful, they are also supposed to aid in hair growth.

#15: Multi-Size Bun

Buns are nothing new, but by combining large and small braids you can make them feel fresh. Just ask your stylist to braid your hair into a ponytail, which will give you the versatility to wear it in a coil as well.

High Black Braided Bun

Instagram/ @kiakhameleon

#16: High Bun for Natural Hair

You may not look at a high bun as a protective style, but any hairdo that tucks the ends, does not require heat and puts minimal stress on your hair counts. This is best for those times when you want to take a break between weave installs or blowouts.

#17: Asymmetrical Protective Braided Updo

The one problem about wearing individual braids as protective styles for natural hair is that they can be bulky and their weight could pull on your edges causing breakage. Instead of opting for box braids, consider asymmetrical cornrows that end into a side ponytail or a cute side bun. This will cut down on the heaviness.

#18: Flirty Faux Locs

Faux locs are an excellent way to see how you would look with dreadlocks without the long—and permanent—process of actually locking your hair. Be aware that this style requires twice the amount of added hair that box braids would, so the extra weight of the hair takes a moment to get used to.

#19: Cornrow Bun Protective Style

The best way to prevent breakage for black hair is to cut down on the amount of time you spend processing it and brushing it. Braids will give you this option, but how long they last depends on the size. Smaller cornrows and braids will last about 2-3 weeks.

#20: Goddess Braids in Updo

Luckily, braid crowns are coming back in style because they are perfect for naturalistas on the go. Easy natural hairstyles can be done the night before so that in the morning you simply take off your silk scarf and head out without giving your hair a second thought.

#21: Short Natural Twist Updo

Just because you have short hair does not mean that you don’t have options. Bigger twists allow you to have a textured updo even if your hair is too cropped to grab into a ponytail or bun. An ombre or surface highlights will also add visual interest and dimension to thick natural hair.

#22: Side Bang with Undercut

An undercut is an easy way to experiment with designs that do not require too much commitment because you can simply let your hair down to cover your undercut up. Twist-outs, like the side bang shown, are the secret trick to any loose natural style because they create defined curls without the need to use styling heat.

Natural Updo With Nape Undercut

Instagram/ @sashabasha2

#23: Side Twist Protective Style

Quick natural hairstyles are ideal on mornings when your hair is wet and you don’t have time for a full twist out. The style shown can be achieved with a simple two-strand twist or even a Dutch roll if you are really crunched for time.

#24: Braids and Curls

Braid or twist your hair close to the scalp, starting at the nape of the neck up to the top. Repeat this in small sections all over the head and top it off with a head full of gorgeous ringlets. The stunning explosion of cute curls up top will become the focal point of your hairstyle at front, while the braids will enhance its visual interest from the sides and back.

#25: Sleek and Serious

Protective hairstyles for natural hair often involve a fusion of many components. In this case, a braid, bun and carefully angled hair parts across the scalp work together for a pretty final result.

#26: Protective French Braid

A French braid keeps hair tame and in check. This braid is made more sophisticated with the sea shell design of the swirled braid. Add in your favorite smoothing serum before you braid, and you will find your final result is sleek and shiny beyond belief.

#27: Color and Braids

Want something a bit more edgy? Try coloring or bleaching a single section of your hair, and then add some fun braids down the side. There is no hard and fast rule to how many braids you can include or what types of braids you should use – go with what feels fun and creative to you in particular and express yourself through an edgy and eye-catching style like this.

two-tone natural hair updo with side twists

Instagram/ @simplycre8eve

#28: Multiple Buns

Reminiscent of childhood ‘dos but totally modernized for today, these braided buns won’t let your natural hair go wild and out of control. Part your hair down the center and then make a horizontal parting. Four smaller buns are easier to cope with than one big bun, and they do look very cute!

#29: Short and Sassy

Styles for curly hair can be just as cute and snappy as relaxed styles. This updo pairs traditional cornrows with a twisted crown for a creative protective hairstyle you can do on shorter natural hair.

#30: Bun for Thin Twists

Senegalese twists are among the most popular protective styles for African Americans. You will be able to style cute and simple updos with thin twists or wear them down. Not so sure about the scarf? Give it a try. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is and how much it can really add to your look, especially when its colors are coordinated with your makeup.

#31: Coifed and Controlled

Braiding or twisting your hair tightly and pulling it into a bun might seem damaging, but it can actually be a good occasional practice for ethnic hair that is getting a bit unruly. This is a protective hairstyle that is as sophisticated, as it is easy to maintain.

#32: Woven Bun

Love your weave but want something different? Try a combination of cornrows and long twists styled as a faux hawk. That’s a stunning style that offers a beautiful texture, good length and lovely silhouette – all in one.

#33: Cute and Professional

Natural hair protective styles are really popular, as women of color are being encouraged to flaunt their homegrown hair. This style involves buns down the center of the head – perfect for the office or a day at school.

#34: Grown Up Curly Qs

Crochet braids are a great way not only to extend your hair, but to protect it as well. Here are some perfect extension ringlets for black women, and you don’t have to be a child to pull them off. Flaunt curly bangs and shoulder length hair which is both adorable and sophisticated.

#35: Quick and Easy Beauty

Protective hairstyles don’t need to be time-consuming or complicated. Simply wrapping some of the hair and finishing with a low bun can bring a beautiful new style to your day.

#36: Natural Protective Updo

Protective styles for short natural hair can be as simple as gathering hair into a bun with a side pinned section working as a sort of bangs. Because really, you have more important things on your calendar than fighting with your hair all morning!

#37: Vintage Updo

Here’s a classic look reminiscent of the 1940s that truly accentuates your glamorous side. It can be done on medium-length natural hair or on extended locks.

#38: Easy Side Twist Updo

Who knew that a simple side twist could make such a gorgeous updo? Easy and quick, this style is a windfall for the days when you need an elegant look in no time.

#39: Going Natural with Protection

Natural hair is protected when it’s pulled back and kept under control. For shoulder length hair it can be a cute updo with a crown or headband braid. Add in some fun color to punch up the final look and brighten up your complexion.

#40: Seashell Bun From Chunky Braids

These popular braids are made even lovelier when they are wrapped into a low bun. What a great way to extend and protect your hair getting a gorgeous look as a bonus!

#41: Sophisticated Twisted Buns

Twist and wrap hair into buns all over the head, with a horizontal parting in the center. Perfect for a formal night out or even a casual office day when paired with jeans, this style is universally lovely and brings protection to natural hair.

#42: Color and Style

This hairstyle is so flawless and awesome in texture and color that it really makes a picture-perfect look! The same hairstyle idea can be re-created with Senegalese twists or box braids. An elegant wrap like this one is anything but ordinary.

#43: Natural Updo Style

Protective styles for natural hair can be as sweet and simple as this one shown below. Being a smart combination of braids and top knots, this style has been popular for generations and continues to thrive due to its ease of execution and timeless beauty.

#44: Quick Style for Black Women

For black natural hair, there’s no better way to show off a winning look than to keep it simple with a subtle color and a basic updo. Add some chunky earrings or flaunt a bold color in both makeup and clothing to complete this no-nonsense look.

#45: Pulling It Back

This hairstyle is ideal for a hot summer day or a fancy evening out. It can work on both longer natural hair and extensions, making it a universal pick for African Americans.

Well, these hairstyles will offer you some variety and a high level of protection for your natural hair. Natural hair can be styled in a creative way. Some of the best proofs are above. Feel free to get inspired!

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