7 Simple Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

Written by Sierra Hamilton | Reviewed by Linda Simko Last Updated: March 16, 2024

Curly hair can be a lot of work but, if well-maintained, it can impress masses. Protective hairstyles can give your hair the boost it needs to grow healthy and long. This article covers seven protective hairstyles, from the most complex to the simplest, to help you keep your hair in mint condition.

What Are Protective Hairstyles?

Curly hair is made up of a lot of contradictions: it’s dry and coarse, yet soft and fragile. Left to itself, curly hair can easily break down and split, making it difficult to grow to any substantial length. Protective hairstyles defend your hair against everyday damage caused by friction, combing, and heat. It allows your hair to grow healthier and saves valuable time wasted on everyday maintenance.

A lot of women turn to weaves, relaxants, and wigs to maintain their curls. If you’d rather save money and avoid chemicals, there are a lot of natural protective hairstyles you can use that look amazing.

 7 Simple Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

1: Cornrows

an african american woman with cornrows hairstyle

Although ancient, cornrow braids are one of the most popular protective hairstyles. Cornrows come in all shapes and sizes, allowing you to choose a style that fits your personality. Cornrows are a three-strand braid, woven tightly to your scalp. You can make the braids chunky or tiny, few or numerous.

There are several tutorials available, but don’t get frustrated if you can’t quite make it perfect. Braiding cornrows is somewhat of an art and can take a lot of practice. Try going to a stylist for more complex cornrows. The session will range between $50-100 and can last for a few hours. However, if you properly take care of a well-braided cornrow, you won’t have to return the salon for up to six weeks.

2: Cornrow Bun

an african american woman with a cornrow bun hairstyle

Like cornrows, a cornrow bun can either be relatively simple or very complex, depending on the thickness of your braids. If your hair is already braided into cornrows, you can easily pull it back into a low bun. Creating a jumbo cornrow bun is an easy style to create at home.

You can begin by dividing your hair into four equal sections and braiding cornrows. When you reach your desired bun height, tie the cornrows together with an elastic band, creating a low cornrow bun. You can also create a partial cornrow bun by adding several lines of cornrows, stopping at the crown, and pulling the unbraided portion into a bun.

3: Bantu Knots

the before and after of a bantu knots hairstyle

Like cornrows, Bantu knots are indigenous to Africa. This hairstyle is funky, great for hot weather, and a stylish way of showing off your ethnic heritage. Bantu knots are also relatively simple to make at home.

When you part your hair, keep in mind the overall design; the parts and coils make the Bantu knots unique. If your hair is dry, you can use gel to twist it into ropes. Once you’ve twisted the hair, coil the strand around itself. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your coil thickness or height.

4: Dutch Braid Roll

a thick dutch braid hairstyle

This elegant style is perfect for a quick date-night updo or an everyday work style. The most difficult aspect of this hairstyle is the braid. If you don’t know how to french braid, there are several tutorials that can make this hairstyle very easy to recreate.

Start by portioning out your hair into a braid section and bun section. French braid a thick strand from one temple to the end of the opposite side, running across the top of your forehead. When you’ve finished, gather the braid into the bun section and tie it back with an elastic band.

5: Two Strand Twists

an interesting and cool protective hairstyle worn by a young woman

As the name suggests, this is a two-strand braid. This style is much easier to create at home than cornrows or Bantu knots. This can be a very simple style or elaborate, depending on the thickness of the twists.

It’s important to create this style with moisturized hair. Damp hair is preferred, but you can add a dab of argon oil to dry, stretched hair to make it more manageable. Weave two strands together, creating a spiral section. Experts recommend weaving the strands together in equal lengths, otherwise, you may run into tangles when you unravel later.

6: Flat Twist Bun

a flat twist bun hairstyle close-up

If you’re not so savvy at braiding, don’t worry. Flat twist buns are easy to create and can look great for casual or formal outings.

You will want to style your hair either damp or with the assistance of pomade. You can braid the side or twist a thick strand inward to create a simple twist. Gather the decorative strands in the back with the rest of the hair. Tie it into a bun with an elastic wrap.

7: High Bun

an african american woman on the bus, wearing a high bun hairstyle

High buns never go out of style and can be a lifesaver in a time crunch. There are several types of high buns to experiment with. The most popular high buns are the messy buns, where loose curls frame the face and escape from the main bun, or the top bun, which sits smoothly on the top of the crown with the help of gel and hair pins.

When creating your high bun, just remember not to pull your hair too tight. This can cause your hair to stretch and break.

Bottom Line

Don’t let everyday wear and tear ruin your curls. Protective hairstyles make your hair manageable and healthy and can be a fun way to show off your style. Cornrows, cornrow buns, and Bantu knots are stunning styles that can make heads turn.

If you prefer a more simple style, Dutch braid rolls, flat twist buns, and two strand twists are good alternatives. For a quick and easy protective hairstyle, try the versatile high bun. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find a protective hairstyle that uniquely expresses your personality.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8


  • Sierra Hamilton

    Hi, I'm Sierra Hamilton, the founder and main author of AllSalonPrices.com. My journey began as a salon enthusiast, and over time, I came to recognize the challenges many face when comparing services and prices across different salons. Tired of the opaque pricing in the beauty world, I was inspired to launch AllSalonPrices.com. My mission is simple: to offer a platform where visitors can access accurate and up-to-date price listings for a myriad of beauty services, streamlining the decision-making process. I'm deeply committed to ensuring everyone can make informed and confident choices about where to indulge in their next beauty treatment.

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