Protective braid styles are hairstyles, usually associated with Afro textured hair, that keep the natural hair from manipulation for a certain amount of time. Protective styles are very important to the health and growth of magnificently kinky, curly, coarse, textured hair. It can get time-consuming, arm-tiring and overall stressful to style your natural hair everyday, especially if you have a lot of it. Thankfully, there’s a solution for that: getting protective braid styles!
Protective braid styles aid hair growth and definition because the natural hair is tucked away and not constantly being manipulated, tugged, brushed, and gelled up with hair products. However, it’s still very possible to apply your favorite healthy and all natural hair products while you’re wearing protective braid styles in order to keep your hair fed and moisturized.
There are many attractive protective braid styles so you can look good while maintenancing your crown. Here, we’ve provided a variety of stylish and lovely options you can choose from to give your natural hair a break from all that shaping and styling.
1. Natural Hair Braids
Braids are a quick, easy and low-cost protective hairstyle. They’re made by parting the hair into any design of your choice and making individual braids without any hair extensions. Braids on natural hair look great in both long and short lengths and they can be styled in many ways.
2. Small Feed-In Braids
This hairstyle is created by making small feed-in cornrow braids in any style or design that you like. They’re called feed-in braids because of the braiding technique used which involves gradually adding braiding hair under the real hair while making the cornrows to give it a natural look. Small feed-in braids can be made into straight backs, lemonade braids, an updo and many more styles.
3. Natural Hair Cornrows
Natural hair cornrows are a wonderfully minimalistic protective style that doesn’t require any hair extensions in order to look tasteful. They’re achieved by parting the hair into sections and braiding the natural hair very close to the scalp to form cornrows. Natural hair cornrows are very easy and don’t take a long time to make, especially if you opt for straight backs instead of designs.
4. French Braids With Weave
French braids with weave is a cute hairstyle that involves sectioning the hair into two parts, either with a side or center part, and making a French braid from the front of the hair to the nape of the neck on each section. Then a weave is attached to the ends of both braids to form a very nice and sophisticated hairstyle. The weave can be straight, curly or wavy.
5. Half-Up, Half-Down Braids
Half-up, half-down braids are perfect for slaying in the summertime and keeping your hair well-protected. It’s made by parting the hair from ear to ear, into two sections, then making cornrows into an updo on only the top part and making individual braids at the back. The cornrow section can be feed-in braids, stitch braids or ghana weaving. Half-up, half-down braids are low maintenance and you always look ready to leave the house.
6. Natural Hair Flat Twists
Natural flat twists are done by parting the hair into any desired style or design and making flat twists without any extensions. The flat twists are made by twisting two strands of the hair very close to the scalp. These natural twists are very unique and a classy hairstyle choice.
7. Two Strand Twists With Extensions
Two strand twists with extensions are made simply by intertwining two strands of braiding hair in individual sections. Two strand twists with extensions can be done with regular braiding hair, Marley hair, passion twist hair, yarn, or any other favorite of yours. They’re also versatile and can be done in any color or length desired.
8. Knotless Braids
Knotless braids are one of the most common protective styles that everyone has come to love because of how painless and flexible they are. This braid style involves using braiding hair to make individual braids without the traditional knots at the roots. The braiding hair is fed under the natural hair until the desired size is achieved. Knotless braids are a great way of protecting your hair because they last for a while and give your hair time to grow.
9. Box Braids
Box braids involve parting the hair into square, or box, shapes and making individual braids on each section. The braids can either be made with knots or with the knotless method. Box braids give the braids some sort of uniformity and make your scalp look a lot neater. A braiding gel can be used to make the box parts even more clean and crisp. It’s important to properly tuck in your natural hair under the box braids so that they don’t look frizzy after a short while.
10. Natural Hair Puffy Ponytail
This natural hair puffy ponytail gives the face an instant face lift. The best thing about this style is that it’s so super simple and easy that you may not even need a salon visit. It just requires you to pack all the natural hair from all sides into a high or low bun, then either attach a puffy ponytail to the end of the hair or fluff out the ends of the natural hair to form the ponytail. If you are using your natural hair for the ponytail part, you can use your favorite curling products to define your curls and an Afro comb to pick out your hair.
11. Twists With Beads
Twists with beads is a fun protective hairstyle that is easy to make. It’s created by making individual twists, with or without braiding hair, and adding beads to ends. Adding beads is a nice way of embellishing regular twists and beads come in a lot of different styles and colors for you to choose from.
12. Butterfly Box Braids
If you want to put some flavor on your regular box braids, you should try butterfly box braids. Butterfly box braids are done by using braiding hair and creating small loops on each side of the braid as you go down, which creates the butterfly wing effect. These braids are similar to passion braids but the difference is the type of hair used.
13. Half-Up, Half-Down Feed-In Braids With Weave
Do you wish you could rock a sew-in and braids at the same time? You’re in luck—you can have the best of both worlds by getting this half-up, half-down feed-in braids with weave hairstyle. It’s easier than it looks too. It’s done by parting the hair into two sections and making feed-in cornrow braids on the top part, then making regular cornrows at the back and sewing a weave on it. And ta-da, you’re done!
14. Natural Braids With Beads
To get the natural braids with beads style, you only need to make individual braids without any extensions and add beads to the ends of each braid. The beads are secured by using a rubber band to prevent them from falling. Natural braids can be styled in so many ways and you can still properly care for your hair while you have them in.
15. Flat Twist Updo With Extensions
Flat twist updo with extensions is created by using braiding extensions to make flat twists from all sides of the hair toward the middle. The twists are the secured into an updo with an elastic band or by wrapping a twist around the base of the updo to hold it together. The best hair extension to use for this particular style is Marley hair or kinky because it has a natural texture.
16. Braided Ponytail With Curls
The braided ponytail with curls is a quick protective style that everyone can and should try. It involves slicking the hair to the top, middle or back of the head and attaching a braided ponytail to the end. The curls can be added to the ponytail by using a crochet pin to pass it through. When securing the slicked hair, it’s important to not hold it too tightly before attaching the ponytail in order to prevent too much tension being put on the scalp and edges.
17. Braided Bantu Knots
Braided Bantu knots have such a distinctive look and give an Afrocentric vibe. Bantu braided knots are made by parting the hair into sections, then using braiding hair to make individual braids and rolling them into knots. The knots can be secured with rubber bands, thread or small pins. The only word of warning is that these braided knots may get uncomfortable while sleeping depending on how big the knots are.
18. Crochet Faux Locs
Crochet faux locs are achieved using pre-made faux locs extensions. They’re installed by making individual braids with the natural hair, then using a crochet pin to attach the pre-made hair to the braids. It can also be done by making cornrows with the natural hair and using the crochet pin to install the faux locs. Crochet faux locs are cost-effective because the extensions can be reused and they’re easy enough to do yourself if you can’t make it to a salon.
19. Ghana Weaving Style
Ghana weaving style is very similar to feed-in cornrow braids with the difference being that the braiding hair is added on top of the cornrows instead of underneath like feed-in braids. The braiding hair is gradually added on top until the braid is thick enough. Ghana weaving style can be done into different styles like all back, updo, tribal braids, etc..
20. Goddess Braids
Goddess braids are also called bohemian braids. Goddess braids are a graceful protective hairstyle that involve making the hair into individual braids and adding curls to them. The curls can be installed by curling left-out strands of braiding hair or attaching pre-made curls to the braids. Adding curls has the extra benefit of giving your braids more volume. Goddess braids are a good way to switch up regular braids and they can be styled in different ways as well.
21. Yarn Braids
Yarn braids, as the name implies, are braids done with yarn or wool. The wool/yarn is usually cut into any desired length and then used to braid the hair. The ends are usually sealed by tying them off, burning them, or securing them with small rubber bands. Yarn braids are lightweight and they come in several colors that you can choose from.
22. Lemonade Braids
Lemonade braids are side cornrow braids that involve braiding all the hair from one side of the head to the other. The braids can face either the left or right side depending what you prefer. Individual braids are done underneath the side where the lemonade braids are facing, to make them fuller and more voluminous. Lemonade braids admittedly aren’t very versatile because the way they’re done limits the way you can style them.
23. Cornrow Low Bun
The cornrow low bun is a simple yet chic protective hairstyle that is done by making neat cornrows to the back of the head and rolling the ends into a bun. You can switch up a cornrow low bun by adding designs to the cornrows or adding some curly pieces to the bun. The length and size of your cornrows will determine how big the bun would be.
24. Two-Layered Tribal Braids
Two-layered tribal braids are artfully created by making a horizontal part from ear to ear to divide the hair into two sections, then making one layer of tribal braids on the lower section and making another layer on the top section. The top section can be done with a center or side part and would still look fabulous.
25. Bubble Braids
Are you tired of the normal braids and twists? Then you should try adorable bubble braids—also known as poodle puffs. They’re usually made with Marley hair but can also be done with regular braiding hair. You can pull off this look by making individual braids with the natural hair then using a crochet pin to attach the Marley hair. Then you’ll use small rubber bands to make small puffs at short intervals until the braid reaches the desired length. Bubble braids or poodle puffs can also be styled in many ways just like regular braids.