July 25, 2024

Styles Extension

A Touch of Style, Undeniable Elegance

41 Protective Hairstyles You’ll Want to Try in 2023

3 min read

Protective hairstyles are a perennial wonder for natural hair. They’re beautiful in any season, keep your natural hair healthy, and allow for experimentation without a major commitment.

Not only are they tried-and-true methods for preserving our natural hair; they’re also just plain fun. They can easily be switched up to add length, or you can mix in different colors and textures to change up your look. Our hair can truly do anything. But before you decide on your next style, make sure you know the basics.

How do protective styles protect natural hair?

Protective styles often involve synthetic hair wrapped around or on top of your natural locks, shielding them from the elements and allowing them to grow unbothered. However, there are plenty of protective styles for natural hair without weave. Braiding your natural hair is protective in and of itself, and less likely to damage your hair without the weight of additional extensions.

In short, protective styles help keep textured hair healthy by limiting its exposure to any damage caused by the sun, the heat, the cold, or overmanipulation. Natural curls—and particularly type 4 coils—are already drier and prone to breakage, so a great protective style can both help your hair retain moisture and help it grow faster. Still, it’s important to make sure your natural hair is in good shape before getting a protective style, says Christiana Cassell, a stylist in Los Angeles: “It’s better to get a good cut or trim before braiding so your hair can withstand having any tension.”

Once you’ve settled on your look, you’ll want to be mindful of scalp tension and ensure the foundation isn’t too tight, says Kamara Brown, a crochet-braids specialist: “Otherwise it may lead to traction alopecia, headaches, and scalp soreness.” While many of us grew up believing that pain was the name of the game when it came to getting braids installed, we now know that overt tightness can actually cause hair loss—the exact opposite of what you want when opting for a protective style.

What’s the best way to maintain protective styles?

To keep your protective style looking as crisp as it did when you left the salon, one of the most important things is to make sure you wear a silk bonnet or scarf at night. Unlike cotton, silk helps your hair retain moisture and eliminates frizz, which will help you extend the wear of your look. Simply put: “If you’re not sleeping with a bonnet on at night, don’t expect your hairstyle to last for two months,” says Helena Koudou, founder of Slayed in Braids.

Koudou also recommends adding a hair oil to your routine to prevent dryness. “My advice is to apply oils directly to your scalp and your edges and give yourself a nice three-minute scalp massage,” she says. “Do this at least twice a week and your scalp will thank you later.” Inevitably, you’ll start to notice your protective braids looking less smooth after a couple weeks, even if you’re diligent with your wrapping at night. To bring your style back to life, Koudou suggests grabbing some mousse. Her favorite? Vigorol Mousse Olive Oil Mega Moisture.

How long should you keep protective styles in?

There isn’t a steadfast rule for how long protective hairstyles should last, but according to Koudou, styles with extensions like knotless box braids can typically last up to two months, while you’ll likely want to take out your feed-in cornrows after a week. Wear them any longer, and you risk dehydrating your hair and minimizing its growth.


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