7 Protective Hairstyles for Every Skill Level

Updated 06/11/19

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Protective hairstyles can be a saving grace no matter the season. They keep your hair free of the damage regular styling and manipulation induces, and free up your time by reducing the need for maintenance (read: some much-needed extra "me" time in the morning). They also keep hair soft and retain growth. So whether your goal is to protect your hair while it grows out or simply cut back on the amount of time devoted to making it look 10/10, a protective hairstyle can be a saving grace.

A common misconception is that protective styles require extensions, but in reality, the term applies to any style that saves hair from regular styling, even when it means braiding your natural hair. Unfortunately, tons of people have gotten the idea that daily protective styling is boring. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, as long as you use some creativity. Individual braids can be worn loose, with a headband or scarf, pulled back with an attractive elastic, worn half-up/half-down, and that's just a few ways. The same can be done with two-strand twists.

Here are seven protective hairstyles for natural hair to add to your repertoire. Once done, these styles require little maintenance, but come with a big payoff.

Zoe Kravitz
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Box braids are one of the most popular protective hairstyles. Zoë Kravitz has worn them in long iterations in both her natural hair color and gorgeous platinum blonde.

Meagan Good
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Goddess Locs

For a statement look that's a gorgeous mix between braids and dreadlocks, goddess locs are the answer. A lightweight iteration of faux locs, goddess locs use thinner twists and end in loose waves.

Rihanna
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Bantu knots give you two stunning hairstyles with one go. When worn up, the miniature buns make a statement on their own. When let loose, you're left with beautiful curls without subjecting your natural hair to the damage of heat.

Kelly Rowland
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Crochet braids are commonly achieved by braiding natural hair into cornrows then looping extensions through with a crochet hook. From there you can opt from a number of styles, like Kelly Rowland's voluminous curls.

Serayah McNeill
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Cornrows are versatile styling that can be worn a number of ways to ramp up the cool-factor. Here, actress Serayah McNeill sports side cornrows for a sleek, glamorous 'do.

Gabrielle Union
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There are a number of different types of twists—flat twits, Senegalese twists, Havana twists. The variations are determined by the technique or even size of the twist or the type of hair used.

Danielle Truitt
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A protective hairstyle doesn't require you wear your hair down. Opt for an updo that makes use of cornrows, as seen here on Danielle Truitt, or box braids.

Wondering how to work out with natural hair? A trainer tells us her secrets to maintaining her natural hair at the gym.

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