20 Beautiful Protective Styles for Short Hair

woman with protective hairstyle


Short hair can seem like a one-hit-wonder, but with a little imagination, there are many ways to style short hair, particularly when it comes to protective styling. Depending on your hair's length, you can try looks without any additional extensions or try shoulder-length styles that can last up to six weeks.

Even if you're opting for a short length protective style, you want to think about your hair type, hair concerns, and hair goals before seeing a stylist or working on your hair at home. For example, if your hair is fine or your edges are tender, you'll want to discuss with your stylist what options will ensure you come out of your protective style with healthy hair. With this in mind, we searched the net for short styles that can be done at home or ideas you can take to your next hair appointment. We found everything from cropped Bantu knots to blue Ombré twists. Keep scrolling for 20 short protective styles that we hope inspire your next styling session.

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Twisted Updo

Twist-outs are among the most popular protective styles, not to mention the most versatile. To keep your twists hydrated, try the LOC (leave-in, oil, cream) or LCO (leave-in, cream, oil) method to lock in the good stuff from your products.

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Bantu Knots

I love a Bantu knot, and Whitney's cropped knots show off her beautiful face while protecting her coils. Bantu knots can act as a simple way to create waves in the hair, so to keep your options open, use a lightweight gel, like Dove's Amplified Textures Shine & Moisture Finishing Gel ($7) for a soft, flexible hold.

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Face-Framing Pop of Color

Amandla Stenberg's braided bob has an element of surprise, thanks to the lavender face-framing highlights. If lavender isn't your color, don't be afraid to try an alternative to add a pop.

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Juicy Twists

Twists are a go-to for most naturals, regardless of hair length. Amanda Stacy's juicy twists are easy to recreate and can be an effective way to combat breakage.

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Braided Bob

Loose ends on a braided bob give this style some texture and make for a beautiful short protective 'do any time of the year.

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Ombré Mini Twists

Hair color wax is one of our favorite products because you can try bright colors without damaging your hair. Since hair color wax rinses out easily, if you grow tired of your blue hair, you can rinse it away without taking out your twists.

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Mini Braids

Krissy Lewis is the mini braids and twists queen. Aside from helping keep hair moisturized, mini braids are easy to wash (or co-wash) without too much disruption.

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Bubble Barrette Braids

Zazie Beetz's braids take me back to my childhood, but of course, she brings them full circle with the addition of a veiled hat.

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Fringe Fulani Braids

We're loving the Erykah Badu vibes of this beaded hairstyle with bangs.

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Orange Braided Bob

No matter the season, this orange bob will protect your curls and turn heads. You may have to get your stylist to custom make this color for you, but it will be worth the wait.

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Bob-Length Faux Locs

Faux locs can be heavy, especially when they're long. Try a bob length so you can still rock the style without the extra weight.

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Short Jumbo Braids

These large plaits offer up a great way to protect and stretch your coils at the same time. If you’re concerned about unraveling ends, try adding poly-bands to your ends. These are a better choice than traditional rubber bands since they won’t snag the hair and cause breakage.

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Gold Embellished Twists

Gold adorned mini twists are a stylish way to minimize manipulation that can cause breakage. If you find your ends getting dry, wet the ends and apply a little olive oil.

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Loc'd Updo

This beautiful updo can work for locs and minis. Be sure to keep your hair and scalp moisturized along the way. To keep my hair and scalp moisturized, I fill a continuous spray bottle with water and aloe and spray it liberally when my hair feels dry.

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Cropped Bantu Knots

If you have a cropped natural cut, these mini Bantus are a great way to switch things up. You'll need a good pomade to keep those edges in place. I enjoy using Oyin's Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade ($14) as edge control because it keeps my 4c hair in place, and is made with a mix of hydrating butters and candelilla wax.

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Box-Braid Bob

If you can't tell, I am a sucker for a bob. What I love about this chin-length cut is how simple yet sleek it is. Take a cue from Lania and let your ends run free for an I-woke-up-like this look.

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Classic Cornrows

Cornrows are a protective style classic. Learning how to braid your own hair can take some practice, but once you get the gist of it, you'll be asking yourself why you didn't learn sooner.

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An Angled Twisted Bob

The slim twists and the angled shape take this look up a notch. You may need to find a way to seal the ends so they don’t unravel.

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Jumbo Cropped Box Braids

Andrea Thomas' cropped braids are easy to install on your own and offer a quick alternative to protect the hair while switching it up.

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The Headwrap

Headwraps are a great go-to protective style. Remember to wrap your hair in a silk or satin scarf first to shield your hair underneath.

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