Protective Styles for Natural Hair (Pictures)

Wearing different protective styles is one of the best ways to retain length and help your natural hair grow long.

When your hair is worn out, meaning your ends are exposed, it is more prone to breakage because…

  • Your hair exposed to the elements (extreme heat, cold, etc.)
  • Combing and manipulating causes wear and tear
  • Your ends can get snagged on your clothing

All these things can cause dryness and your ends to split or get weak, which ultimately results in breakage and prevents you from retaining and gaining length.

Protective Styles vs. Low-Manipulation Styles

The biggest difference between these two styles is protective styles keep the ends tucked away.  Low-manipulation styles may have the ends exposed but they don’t require combing or lots of manipulation.

The picture below is an example of a protective style I wore when I was transitioning.

This isn’t the best example because I have bangs and my ends are exposed in the front, but the majority of my ends are tucked away.  (Watch how I created this flat twist hairstyle.)

Another example of a protective style would be a bun with all your hair pulled back and tucked under.

So basically any hairstyle that has your ends tucked away is a protective hairstyle.

The next picture is a low-manipulation style.  I tend to wear more of these than protective styles simply due to preference.

Hairstyles like twists, rod sets, coils, or any hairstyle that doesn’t need to be combed or manipulated, but the ends are still exposed, would be a low-manipulation hairstyle.

Both of these kinds of hairstyles are great for retaining and gaining length with transitioning or natural hair, but protective styles are the best — especially during the winter.

So if you live in a climate that gets extremely cold, your best bet is to moisturize and seal your hair and wear as many protective styles as you can.


  1. Ashley Dorsett says


    I have been struggling to retain length for four years. My ends always break…I am in my senior year of college and it is getting very frustrating. Since it is about to fall, I was thinking about doing box braids or a sew-in..then again I could always just get a blow out on my hair per the usual (I typically get three a year, around the same time I dye my hair). What do you suggest?

    • lisa says

      Hi Ashley

      I recently had to cut 5 inches of my hair in April and it was frustrating because my hair was as long as it’s ever been.

      But I let my ends go too long without getting trimmed so I ended up in “repair mode”. Now I dust my ends (take a smidgen off) every month. The other suggestion is to wear more protective styles so your ends are hidden and not exposed to the elements.

      The dye is also probably drying your hair off and causing weaker ends. Do you deep condition regularly? You should especially do it before the dye treatment.

  2. Alex says

    I’m starting to transition! The back of my head is tappered so its a lil harder to mange. Any tips on how I can style?

  3. Chameta says

    I am wondering since my hair is half and half will the twist stay with me still having straight ends. I am 9 months in my transition, it’s hard and i’m debating whether I should perm my hair or continue to try the natural hair process. Just looking for more insight.

  4. kelly says

    hiiii. First of all thank u soo much for your help :) iv recently come across this hair oil called kuza ; indian hemp.have u heard of it? Is it good for our hair? Thank uuuu

  5. Angie says

    What would you consider a break in between braiding. I ask this because I love braids but I usually don’t go pass 2-3 weeks with them, so how long should I wait before getting them back in?

  6. LaToya says

    I’m thinking about getting individual braids done with human hair for the fall/winter. I am transitioning, is this a good or bad thing to do.


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