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 it, 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 protective style, you'll 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.

01 of 20

Twisted Updo

Protective Styles for Short Hair Lupita Nyong'o

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Twist-outs are among the most popular protective styles, not to mention some of 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.

02 of 20

Bantu Knots

Protective Styles for Short Hair Rihanna

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I love a Bantu knot, and Rihanna's cropped knots show off her beautiful face while protecting her natural texture. 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.

03 of 20

Face-Framing Pop of Color

Protective Styles for Short Hair Amandla Stenberg


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.

04 of 20

Juicy Twists

Protective Styles for Short Hair Amanda Stacy Wicks


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

05 of 20

Braided Bob

Protective Styles for Short Hair Marsai Martin

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

06 of 20

Ombré Mini Twists

Protective Styles for Short Hair Harris Janae


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 protective twists.

07 of 20

Mini Braids

Protective Styles for Short Hair Jourdan Dunn


A bunch of little braids, like these seen on Jourdan Dunn, are an easy and fun way to keep short hair protected for summer—or any time of year. Aside from helping keep hair moisturized, mini braids are easy to wash (or co-wash) without too much disruption.

08 of 20

Beaded Braids

Protective Styles for Short Hair Yara Shahidi


Yara Shahidi's braids take me back to my childhood, but she makes the look, well, Grown-ish with muted regal colors and soft glam makeup.

09 of 20

Fanned-Out Braids

Protective Styles for Short Hair Danai Gurira

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A truly regal protective style for short hair, Danai Gurira's set of braids stays close to her head at the top, then evolves into a statement bob, with loose ends creating a silhouette that stands out from the crowd.

10 of 20

Pink Braided Bob

Protective Styles for Short Hair Cleopatra Coleman

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No matter the season, this pastel pink 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.

11 of 20

Bob-Length Locs

Protective Styles for Short Hair Kelela

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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.

12 of 20

Short Jumbo Braids

Protective Styles for Short Hair 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.

13 of 20

Gold Embellished Twists

Protective Styles for Short Hair Candice


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

14 of 20

Loc'd Updo

Protective Styles for Short Hair Willow Smith

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

15 of 20

Flat Twist Bantu Knots

Protective Styles for Short Hair Halle Berry

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If you have a cropped natural cut, mini Bantus are a great way to switch things up. Incorporating flat twists elevates the style even further. You'll need a good pomade to keep the flat twists in place. I enjoy using Oyin's Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade ($14) because it keeps my 4C coils in place, and is made with a mix of hydrating butters and candelilla wax.

16 of 20

Box-Braid Bob

Protective Styles for Short Hair Zazie Beetz


If you can't tell, I'm a sucker for a bob. What I love about this chin-length cut is how simple yet sleek it is.

17 of 20

Classic Cornrows

Protective Styles for Short Hair 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.

18 of 20

An Angled, Twisted Bob

Protective Styles for Short Hair Jaleesa Moses


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

19 of 20

Beaded Cornrows

Protective Styles for Short Hair Issa Rae

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A protective style that doubles as a Met Gala-worthy updo, Issa Rae's cornrows look has a sleek profile. Achievable with a short to medium length, the style's highlight is face-framing pieces with bold beading, a creative aesthetic that takes the place of a statement earring.

20 of 20

The Headwrap

Protective Styles for Short Hair Cee Cee's Closet


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

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