updo and bun hairstyles 17 Hot Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

Conserve your coils in one of these gorgeous looks.

July 20, 2022
Best Protective Styles For Natural Hair

Whether you’re trying to grow out your hair or prevent hair damage, protective hairstyles can help make all the difference in your mane’s overall health — especially for those with curly and coily hair


As you may have guessed, a protective hairstyle involves wearing your ‘do in a way that shields your strands from elements that may have the potential to damage your hair, such as heat, excess styling and color. Braids, twists, and faux locs are just a few of the popular protective hairstyles you may come across while scrolling through your social media feeds. 


If you’re looking for hairstyle inspiration to decide on what your next protective style should be, we’ve got you covered. Read on for 17 of the hottest protective hairstyles, complete with products you can use to create these stunning looks. 

 

1. Marley Twists 

These twists get their fluffy appearance from the required hair extensions that are aptly named after reggae legend Bob Marley, who was also well known for his freeform locs. Marley twists allow you to flaunt a gorgeous pattern while keeping your natural strands tucked away. The style involves wrapping your length over and under itself with Marley braid extensions to create a two-strand look that gives off a textured, natural finish. Marley twists can serve as a versatile, easy-to-do, low-maintenance style.

2. Box Braids 

Box braids are another protective hairstyle you’ve probably seen on everyone from your neighbor to your favorite A-list celebrity. This style can be worn on just about any length of hair and looks stunning when hair extensions are added to create longer and thicker braids. A day before your braids are installed give your hair a quick wash with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner so you start your style with a clean foundation.

3. Knotless Box Braids 

Knotless box braids are a form of the aforementioned that are also versatile and easy to style. The hairstyle is created using a feed-in braid technique instead of creating a knot at the root like with traditional box braids. As a result, there’s less tension on the scalp, which can help minimize the risk of hair breakage. Once your knotless braids are done, you can use the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray to add different hues to your lengths for a colorful look.

4. Senegalese Twists

Senegalese twists, aka rope twists, are a beautifully twisted protective hairstyle that has roots in the West African country Senegal. The most commonly used types of braiding hair for these twists are Kanekalon (silky braiding hair) and Toyokalon (yaki braiding hair). As the name suggests, this style requires dividing sections of your hair and twisting them around each other to form larger twists. Book an appointment with a hairstylist to get the best results.

5. Faux Three Strand Braided Ponytail 

Braided ponytails are having a major moment in the beauty world right now, and we can see why. They are easy to style, low maintenance, and can pull together any look in seconds. 


To get the look, Rub a small amount of the L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In through your strands to smooth out any hair flyaways. Then, grab some hair extensions and start creating a long braided ponytail. Remember not to gather your hair too tight — your protective style isn’t that if it’s not really protecting your hair from damage.

6. Bantu Knots

In case you haven’t heard — everything ‘90s is back in style, including this protective look. Take a section of hair and twist it from root to end until the hair starts to twist into itself. Form your twist into a bun on top of your head and secure into place. Repeat this process all over your head. Grab some hair gel, like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Clean Gel, if you need to add a little hold to your roots.

7. Long Faux Locs 

Faux locs can look gorgeous on both women and men and it’s a pretty simple style to maintain. You can use two different methods to install your faux locs — wrapping your braids with hair extensions or by crocheting the hair onto your braids. Book an appointment with a faux locs specialist as this style does require time and specific techniques depending on the length you’re going for. 


Editor’s tip: Be sure to use a hair mask, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Power Restore Multi Use Treatment before and after installing faux locs to give your mane a dose of nourishment. A protective style should never be a neglected style.

8. Passion Twists 

Can’t get enough twists? Neither can we. Passion twists (also known as spring twists) are a mix between Senegalese twists and goddess locs. They are formed with two-strand twists that are created using wavy hair extensions. Book an appointment with your stylist to get the look.

9. Goddess Locs 

Speaking of goddess locs, If you’re looking for a more relaxed faux locs look, this is the style for you. Goddess locs are generally lightweight, easy to style, and the locs are left loose and curly to give off a more carefree vibe. For this style, book an appointment with an experienced loctician, as it requires specific braiding and wrapping techniques.

10. Fulani Braids 

These tribal West African braids are a versatile and detailed hairstyle that sport a few cornrow braids down the center of the head and several cornrows braided in a row going out towards the temples on either side. Fulani braids are stunning and pair well with beads and metallic hair accessories.

11. Flat Twists 

Flat twists are a combination of cornrows and traditional two-strand twists. If you look up the #flattwists on Instagram, you’ll find a ton of variations on the style. Flat twists are also a great hairstyle to opt for when you want to get a more uniform curl pattern. To create clean and neat-looking twists, be sure to apply a bit of styling gel to give your twists some hold, and finish it off with a spritz of the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Hold, Light Hairspray Unscented.

12. Butterfly Faux Locs Bob 

This chic and short take on faux locs is great for those who want the style but don’t want to sit around in the chair all day (installing long locs can take several hours). To achieve this distressed hairstyle, you’ll need to get packs of curly hair braiding extensions to wrap around your braids. Be sure to check out an online tutorial if you opt to DIY at home.

13. Pineapple Updo 

A pineapple updo is a protective style that can be worn to bed and out on the town. First, gather your curls at the top of your head as if you were to create a high ponytail. Apply a curl-enhancing product, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner, then scrunch, and air dry for soft, bouncy curls. Loosely secure your mane with a hair scrunchie or satin hair tie, pull the hair forward, and position it how you like for an effortless, fun updo.

14. Jumbo Cornrows

For a braided hairstyle that doesn’t require sitting for hours on end in the salon chair, opt for jumbo cornrows. There are so many different ways to spice up the look if you don’t want simple straight-backs, including  stitch braiding, pops of color and unique parts.

15. Crown Braid

If you want a hairstyle that will be the star of your beauty look, look no further than a braided crown to help you look like the queen you are. Combine the style with a low bun for a look that’s chic, elegant, and beneficial to preserving your strands.

16. Side Swept Cornrows 

As we mentioned, cornrows are one of the most versatile ways to style and protect curly and coily hair. For a side-swept look, create a deep side part and divide your hair into two sections. Take the larger section and weave it into thin, sleek braids that run perpendicular to the part. Allow the rest of your hair to hang free for extra movement.


17. Glueless Lace Front Wig

Wearing a wig isn’t sometimes seen as a protective style, but it can be a great way to shield your natural hair for those who like to switch up their look often. Your hair can stay safe and sound in braids underneath, so you don't have to worry about any damage. Glueless lace front wigs are particularly protective because you don’t have to apply hair glue or adhesive products to your edges, both of which can thin out the hair and damage the edges. This will keep your hair protected from the elements without causing any further harm to your mane. 

Next: 10 Cool Box Braid Hairstyles for Men


Edited by: Shannon Stubbs, Photo Credit: Katlyn Pierre

1. Marley Twists 

These twists get their fluffy appearance from the required hair extensions that are aptly named after reggae legend Bob Marley, who was also well known for his freeform locs. Marley twists allow you to flaunt a gorgeous pattern while keeping your natural strands tucked away. The style involves wrapping your length over and under itself with Marley braid extensions to create a two-strand look that gives off a textured, natural finish. Marley twists can serve as a versatile, easy-to-do, low-maintenance style.


2. Box Braids 

Box braids are another protective hairstyle you’ve probably seen on everyone from your neighbor to your favorite A-list celebrity. This style can be worn on just about any length of hair and looks stunning when hair extensions are added to create longer and thicker braids. A day before your braids are installed give your hair a quick wash with the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Push Shampoo and L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Moisture Seal Conditioner so you start your style with a clean foundation.



3. Knotless Box Braids 

Knotless box braids are a form of the aforementioned that are also versatile and easy to style. The hairstyle is created using a feed-in braid technique instead of creating a knot at the root like with traditional box braids. As a result, there’s less tension on the scalp, which can help minimize the risk of hair breakage. Once your knotless braids are done, you can use the L’Oréal Paris Colorista Hair Makeup Temporary 1-Day Hair Color Spray to add different hues to your lengths for a colorful look.


4. Senegalese Twists

Senegalese twists, aka rope twists, are a beautifully twisted protective hairstyle that has roots in the West African country Senegal. The most commonly used types of braiding hair for these twists are Kanekalon (silky braiding hair) and Toyokalon (yaki braiding hair). As the name suggests, this style requires dividing sections of your hair and twisting them around each other to form larger twists. Book an appointment with a hairstylist to get the best results.


5. Faux Three Strand Braided Ponytail 

Braided ponytails are having a major moment in the beauty world right now, and we can see why. They are easy to style, low maintenance, and can pull together any look in seconds. 


To get the look, Rub a small amount of the L’Oréal Paris Dream Lengths Frizz Killer Serum Leave-In through your strands to smooth out any hair flyaways. Then, grab some hair extensions and start creating a long braided ponytail. Remember not to gather your hair too tight — your protective style isn’t that if it’s not really protecting your hair from damage.


6. Bantu Knots

In case you haven’t heard — everything ‘90s is back in style, including this protective look. Take a section of hair and twist it from root to end until the hair starts to twist into itself. Form your twist into a bun on top of your head and secure into place. Repeat this process all over your head. Grab some hair gel, like the L’Oréal Paris Studio Line Clean Gel, if you need to add a little hold to your roots.


7. Long Faux Locs 

Faux locs can look gorgeous on both women and men and it’s a pretty simple style to maintain. You can use two different methods to install your faux locs — wrapping your braids with hair extensions or by crocheting the hair onto your braids. Book an appointment with a faux locs specialist as this style does require time and specific techniques depending on the length you’re going for. 


Editor’s tip: Be sure to use a hair mask, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Total Repair 5 Power Restore Multi Use Treatment before and after installing faux locs to give your mane a dose of nourishment. A protective style should never be a neglected style.


8. Passion Twists 

Can’t get enough twists? Neither can we. Passion twists (also known as spring twists) are a mix between Senegalese twists and goddess locs. They are formed with two-strand twists that are created using wavy hair extensions. Book an appointment with your stylist to get the look.


9. Goddess Locs 

Speaking of goddess locs, If you’re looking for a more relaxed faux locs look, this is the style for you. Goddess locs are generally lightweight, easy to style, and the locs are left loose and curly to give off a more carefree vibe. For this style, book an appointment with an experienced loctician, as it requires specific braiding and wrapping techniques.


10. Fulani Braids 

These tribal West African braids are a versatile and detailed hairstyle that sport a few cornrow braids down the center of the head and several cornrows braided in a row going out towards the temples on either side. Fulani braids are stunning and pair well with beads and metallic hair accessories.



11. Flat Twists 

Flat twists are a combination of cornrows and traditional two-strand twists. If you look up the #flattwists on Instagram, you’ll find a ton of variations on the style. Flat twists are also a great hairstyle to opt for when you want to get a more uniform curl pattern. To create clean and neat-looking twists, be sure to apply a bit of styling gel to give your twists some hold, and finish it off with a spritz of the L’Oréal Paris Elnett Satin Extra Hold, Light Hairspray Unscented.


12. Butterfly Faux Locs Bob 

This chic and short take on faux locs is great for those who want the style but don’t want to sit around in the chair all day (installing long locs can take several hours). To achieve this distressed hairstyle, you’ll need to get packs of curly hair braiding extensions to wrap around your braids. Be sure to check out an online tutorial if you opt to DIY at home.


13. Pineapple Updo 

A pineapple updo is a protective style that can be worn to bed and out on the town. First, gather your curls at the top of your head as if you were to create a high ponytail. Apply a curl-enhancing product, like the L’Oréal Paris Elvive Dream Lengths Curls Non-Stop Dreamy Curls Leave-in Conditioner, then scrunch, and air dry for soft, bouncy curls. Loosely secure your mane with a hair scrunchie or satin hair tie, pull the hair forward, and position it how you like for an effortless, fun updo.


14. Jumbo Cornrows

For a braided hairstyle that doesn’t require sitting for hours on end in the salon chair, opt for jumbo cornrows. There are so many different ways to spice up the look if you don’t want simple straight-backs, including  stitch braiding, pops of color and unique parts.


15. Crown Braid

If you want a hairstyle that will be the star of your beauty look, look no further than a braided crown to help you look like the queen you are. Combine the style with a low bun for a look that’s chic, elegant, and beneficial to preserving your strands.


16. Side Swept Cornrows 

As we mentioned, cornrows are one of the most versatile ways to style and protect curly and coily hair. For a side-swept look, create a deep side part and divide your hair into two sections. Take the larger section and weave it into thin, sleek braids that run perpendicular to the part. Allow the rest of your hair to hang free for extra movement.


17. Glueless Lace Front Wig

Wearing a wig isn’t sometimes seen as a protective style, but it can be a great way to shield your natural hair for those who like to switch up their look often. Your hair can stay safe and sound in braids underneath, so you don't have to worry about any damage. Glueless lace front wigs are particularly protective because you don’t have to apply hair glue or adhesive products to your edges, both of which can thin out the hair and damage the edges. This will keep your hair protected from the elements without causing any further harm to your mane. 


Next: 10 Cool Box Braid Hairstyles for Men


Edited by: Shannon Stubbs, Photo Credit: Katlyn Pierre