Protective Styles to Help Your Short Hair Grow

Updated 05/30/19

Leandro Crespi/Stocksy

Let's say you've recently done a big chop and you're enjoying total hair freedom. After a while, though, you may be looking for more versatility, and you really want your long locks back. A protective hairstyle will help you get there. But if your hair's only a couple of inches long, traditional styles like braids and twists might be difficult.

Fortunately, there are protective styles for short hair that'll keep your delicate ends from drying out and breaking off. Plus, all of these styles multitask; you can wear them as-is for several hours or days, then undo them and enjoy another style.

Protective Styles for Short Hair

Experimenting with protective hairstyles can be really inspiring. Here are a few options.

Comb Coils or Comb Twists

You can try comb coils or comb twists even if your tresses are super short. These would work on hair as short as one inch. You only need a rattail comb, plus gel or pomade to style. Try Organic Root Stimulator Lock and Twist Gel ($6) or Nothing But Mold & Hold ($9).

Take a half-inch section of hair and wrap it around the end of the comb, starting from the root to the ends, then gently releasing the comb at the ends. Repeat with the rest of your hair. You can also style coils with your fingers.

Bantu Knots

These are fun and funky. Either create simple parts that travel from the front to the back of your head, or get fancy and design diamond-shaped patterns with your parts. Apply gel or pomade to each section, then gently twist into knots. Natural hair only needs to be tucked into the base of the knot to be secured. Once released, your hair will come out as well-defined waves or kinky curls.

Twists

Twists are also possible even if you don't have long hair. This works on hair as short as two inches. If you want a more controlled look, direct the twists the way you want them to fall (e.g. toward one side or toward the back). Again, gel or pomade works well to create this style. When you're ready for something different, simply undo the twists and enjoy a twist-out.

Other Tips for Growing Out Hair

You could also keep your hair protected with wigs or braid extensions as it grows out. If you go that route, don't forget to clean and moisturize your hair regularly. Wigs should be removed every night to let your hair and scalp breathe, and extensions shouldn't be too tight.

A major advantage to having short hair is that it doesn't rub against shirt and coat collars the way longer hair does, so there's already less stress on your tresses. Sometimes, there's not much more you can do than cover your mane at night or sleep on a silk or satin pillowcase. 

One of the great things about cutting your hair and starting anew is that with each inch you gain, you get to explore more possibilities. Instead of rushing through the journey, enjoy each stage by learning what styles you can do at every length.

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