20 Stunning Protective Hairstyles for Curly Hair

Admit it, even though we all treasure our curls because of their magnificence and versatility, it’s their fragility that we often find as a major turn-off.

featured image of protective hairstyles for curly hair

I bet you’ll confess to those sleepless nights you had because of your breakage-prone single-strand knots or ever-unyielding split ends. Neither will you deny your craving for curls that are luscious, naturally gorgeous, and glistening with life.

The simplest solution to these issues doesn’t lie in harsh chemicals, hot tools, or intensive mask treatments. Instead, it lies in wearing a protective hairstyle.

It’s your no-hassle, no-mess method for gaining length and boosting growth. Besides, there are so many protective hairstyles for curly hair for every mood, celebration, and season allowing you to change your look at any time.

Keep reading to find more about protective hairstyles, why you should wear one, and whether it works on every curl. Also, I have twenty super-effective style ideas that you can use to help you along. So, stick around!

What Are Protective Hairstyles? Why Should You Wear One?

The category of protective styles is enormous! Put simply, protective styles are any hairstyle that guards your hair against physical, environmental, or chemical stressors. As you know, curly hair is extremely fragile, and it’s vulnerable to breaking when overstressed.

So, what are the most common causes of curl damage?

It’s typically hot tools, chemicals, frequent styling, and improper maintenance. Yes, you heard that right! Even if you give up heat styling and go no further with chemical or color treatments, even the simple act of detangling your locks can progressively weaken them.

The ends may not be exposed when your hair isn’t worn out, but instead, they might get tucked away as they’re the oldest and more fragile. Then when you wash, style, and pull on those hairs more often, they get weaker.

That’s why if you want to maintain your curls’ health and natural growth, you will need to give them a break now and then. And having protective styles on your curls is a great way to provide them with some relaxing time. They give your hair a chance to rest, whether it’s for a few days or a few weeks.

Having protective styles during the summer is even more crucial since it’s hot, humid, and you’re likely to be exposed to chlorine and saltwater. Additionally, these styles are renowned for reducing knots and tangles, accelerating hair growth, and more!

Does Protective Hairstyle Work for Every Curl?

It’s ideal to go for protective styles if your hair is particularly susceptible to tangles, shrinkage, breakage, damages, and dryness. While such styles help minimize damage and shorten styling time, they also help cover up the visible damage during your transition stages.

However, despite protective styles’ goal of giving your curls a well-deserved break, you don’t have to have damaged hair to wear one. Additionally, they are great for any hair length, type, and re-styles (if you find one for the particular) without radical, irreversible changes, saving you time and making you look more attractive.

20 Protective Styles to Try Out on Your Curls

The right hairstyle will depend on several factors, including your hair type, length, and texture. There is more fragility and breakage in type 4 hair, so choosing a protective style that supports healthy growth is vital. When selecting a style, know your hair type, identify your goals, and be aware of what you may be doing with it. You can choose from these many styles accordingly:

Bantu Knots

One of the most calming, protective short hairstyles for natural curls at night is the Bantu knot. The roots remain straight and smooth as you sleep or work out, and the ends stay neatly curly without requiring too much heat.

bantu knots hairstyle

To begin, segment your curls into the preferred knot size with clean, dry hair. Pick out the first section and start creating knots by applying any hydrating product you like. Tie two-strand twists from there (scroll down to Two-Strand Twists).

Afterward, wind those twisted strands horizontally up to your scalp. By doing so, you’ll achieve a secure, tight knot. Finish the knot by pinning it with bobby pins or folding it inward.

Box Braids

Box braids can last for up to 5-6 weeks, depending on how well you maintain them. Many naturally curlies find it the ideal hairstyle for summer because it keeps their natural hair safe and secure by all means. Besides, they rarely fag out when you hit the gym or do your household, and that’s why they’re a good choice for active individuals.

box braids hairstyle

Because braids can get wet, wash them every week if you wish to keep your scalp in good condition. As you may already know, it is possible to make your braids last longer by undoing them around the perimeter, rinsing your hair, and then braiding all over again.

Box braids work as one of the most excellent protective hairstyles for long hair after washing. And it can also significantly cut back the time styling after swimming.

Box braids can take anywhere from five to eight hours, depending on the complexity of the braid to install, so many women dread the process. Nevertheless, there’s no doubting the extent of protection they can offer to curly hair.

Chignon Buns

Just like classic bun hairstyles, chignons and topknots are always accessible and elegant. We can assure you that you’ll enjoy this sleek, easy-to-create style, but you’ll have to promise that you’ll remember to take time out at least once a week. By doing so, you’ll prevent adding further woes to your thinning edges.

chignon buns hairstyle

Start with smoothing out your flyaways with a curl gel or curl mousse and put on a ponytail; it’s up to you whether to wear it high or low. Then, twist your hair into a bun and pin it in place.

Afterward, you’ll want to prevent the ends from drying out. Products like Shea Moisture Black Castor Oil Strengthen and Restore Edge Treatments or Cantu Extra Hold Edge Stay can be great in this regard, as they’re free of alcohol and help keep your buns perfectly moist.

Pineapple Puffs

There is no easier or quicker protective style than the pineapple. In addition to being a method for protecting your curls in your sleep or after a recent run of twist-outs, it’s also a style that you can wear casually.

pineapple puffs hairstyle

Use a wrap or a hair tie to tie all your curls on your head loosely. If you wish, you can also add some curling gel for a good hold. Using a leave-in conditioner or a curl-enhancing cream will keep your puff fresh every day.

You can also replicate this look with shorter hair by parting it into three or more sections before pineappleing.


Cornrows are undoubtedly one of the most effective protective hairstyles for transitioning natural hair, and they are ideal for expert hands that know how to braid.

cornrows hairstyle

For a quick cornrow style, begin by blow drying your hair until it’s stretched evenly. Be sure to moisturize it well with a leave-in conditioner afterward. If necessary, you can add a hold-enhancing mousse or curling gel. Then apply some hair oil to seal in moisture.

By picking up hair from the scalp, you can secure braids while wearing cornrows in the same way you would French braids. Next, make two thick three-strand braids on your scalp’s top. Avoid applying too much tension while braiding.

One other tip- before you slip on a weave or wig, you can tie your hair in cornrows first, so your hair doesn’t get tangled.

Senegalese Twists

Senegalese twists, also known as rope twists, have traditionally been an elegant protective style originating from Senegal, West Africa. In terms of braiding Senegalese twists, the most common types are Kanekalon (silky hair braids) and Toyokalon (yaki hair braids).

senegalese twists hairstyle

It is characterized by dividing your hair into sections and twisting each section around one other to create rope-style twists. Many people add hair extensions to their natural hair to keep it looking nice and maintain its health.

As an alternative to the free-flowing style, you can wear ponytails, twisted buns, and half-up half-down styles. It’s one of many protective hairstyles that promote natural hair growth.

Two-Strand Twists

Do you still believe bangs are suitable only for the straights or wavies? This two-strand twisty bang with a flat twist will make you change your mind.

two-strand twists hairstyle

It’s easy to create this hairstyle by using curl cream or foam on wet hair. Wearing the twists knotted or unraveled after they have dried is also a popular method to show off a curly set for a few more days, which you can do as well.

Most new naturals find this style too challenging because of their straight hair. However, adding just a tiny Flexi rod at the end of each twist can effortlessly create the impression of naturally curly hair.

Reverse Twists

Do you want to do something different with those classic twist looks, something that has some extra finesse and glitz? If yes, a few reverse curly twists are surefire to satisfy your craving.

reverse twists hairstyle

Start at the back of your head and work your way up until you see the curls cascading. While it helps square away your unruly strands, it also brings out your naturally voluptuous textures! Adding a few nicely-placed hair cuffs should also appear as a bonus. Short to medium hair works perfectly for this look, and you can extend its longevity with a light serum.

Crochet Braids

Crochet is a distinctive braiding technique that involves braiding your hair down into cornrows and then weaving your preferred synthetic hair through the braids using a crochet needle.

crochet braids hairstyle

It’s a quick and affordable style that doesn’t require a lot of expertise. Crochet styles typically last from two to four weeks if properly cared for since synthetic hair entangles easily and frizz up too quickly.

If you have your hair in a crotchet style, you can get it wet most of the time. You can easily maintain the curls using a leave-in conditioner or a curl-enhancing cream. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea not to get your hair wet when using Marley Hair.

Two-in-One Twisty Pigtails

Those who love natural hairstyles consider multi-trend looks to be the most stylish. If you aren’t sure how to in this way, take a look at this mega babe who twisted her pigtails into a headband!

two-in-one twisty pigtails

If you desire a similar effect on your medium to long hair, you may want to roll the twists outward instead of letting them inward as you might have done before. Twisting off your face will give you that headband look, along with some height and volume. Moreover, adding a volumizing spray can enhance the intensity even further.

Banded Ponytail

Homemade banded ponytails are one of the cutest protective hairstyles for curly hair and are pretty easy to wear and maintain. Hairstyles with crown braids are popular among young girls with denser, longer hair, and you can make them easily using the following method.

banded ponytail

Make sure to ready your curls by cleaning, drying, and moisturizing them. Next, divide your hair into two halves evenly. It’s necessary to attach elastic bands at the base of each section without braids. Place three or four elastics down each ponytail to create the bubble effect, depending on your hair’s length.

Flat Twist French Rolls

For neatly tucked-away ends, French rolls with flat twists work great. On top of that, it blends the flavors of chunks, cornrows, and buns all at once. Except for long tresses, the style is relatively easy to create.

flat twist french rolls

It’s as simple as rolling up the twists behind your head and interlocking them one by one. Once secured, you can either stick the ends below the twisty piles or fasten them firmly using bobby pins, along with a bit of light-hold spray. This style is self-sustaining and lasts for up to five days.

Chic Flat Twist Updo

No matter what the occasion, you’ll appreciate this flat twist style’s versatility. Besides being a cute protective style, it keeps long to medium hair tucked away and keeps ends from becoming frizzy.

chic flat twist updo

The style involves adding several braids out of different twists and tucking them face-up towards the nape of the neck. It’s necessary to protect this look by wrapping your hair in a satin bonnet or scarf after applying a curl serum spray before you sleep. By doing so, the effect may last two weeks or longer.

Halo Updo

Halo Updos look complex, but the use of flat twists instead of Dutch braiding means it’s much simpler than traditional halo braids. It’s also one of the fastest flat twist styles for naturally long curls, requiring just a few wrappings.

halo updo hairstyle

Take hair from either side of your temple. Then twist it into a halo by wrapping the hair in a circle. And when you’ve pinned the twists in place, you’re all set!

Due to the tight-spiral-shaped structure of black hair strands, the oil barely has an easy time finding its way down the hair. So, you may want to hydrate it more. And the Pureology Color Fanatic Leave-in Conditioner can be a convenient option to use on the move because it’s spray-based.

4c Afro Updo

You can see how deftly celebrity hairstylist Vernon Francois has done this stunning, artistic afro updo on Lupita Nyong’o. While the updo looks simply breathtaking, it’s also a super-effective protective style for 4c hair. And you can always hire your favorite professional to do this style on your head, whether you get Vernon or not.

4c afro updo

Remember to place a bonnet over your head and tie a loose scarf around your neck while sleeping so that you can maintain that flawless look for longer. And the style already being in an afro, losing definition shouldn’t be a problem.

Faux Locs

You can get awesome transitioning hairstyles with faux locks if you’re looking for versatility with little effort. Furthermore, they allow for more flexibility when it comes to protective hairstyles than traditional braiding.

faux locs

If you wish, you can install these extensions yourself or hire a professional to do so. Simply decide which design you prefer and divide your hair accordingly. You can then weave the locks to cover up your natural hair once the extensions are placed down the roots.

After cleansing your hair, make sure to drape it in a microfiber towel for at least 15 to 20 minutes. It will prevent water from soaking deeply into your roots, which could result in damage.

Marley Twists

Extensions work well with Marley Twists, much like box braids. A kinky Marley hairstyle adds more length and an appearance of a natural twist. It’s one of our favorites, especially when the hair is going through an awkward growth stage.

marley twists

You can do it yourself (with the help of YouTube videos), and it looks fantastic if you use hair accessories. When using Marley Twists, you can wear several different styles while keeping your hair well-moisturized and your scalp healthy.

Roller Sets

The use of a roller set is another popular method of reducing heat damage through a protective hairstyle. With this method, you can stretch and extend your kinky roots without excessive heat.

roller sets

To style with roller sets, apply a flexible, soft hold mousse right after cleansing your hair and section it out. Afterward, put each portion on the roller and leave it there for a bit. You may also consider blow-drying your hair to speed up the process. Using different rollers and rods, you can curl with any speed or direction of your choice when blowing it out.


The versatility of wigs makes them a great protective style. Synthetic wigs and human hair wigs are both available in several variants.


A synthetic wig usually lasts only a few months, while a wig made with human hair can last a year, although a human hair wig will cost you much more. Both your wig and your natural hair need regular washes to remain in good condition.

Hair Wrap

We often overlook the importance of wearing a scarf as a protective style. But wrapping a scarf in a chic style around your ponytail or plait is a foolproof ‘protective style’ that you can wear at any time of year. And the most fun part- you can adjust your look according to your ever-switching mood by playing around with scarfs with all kinds of colors and intricate patterns.

hair wrap

Final Thoughts

Any curly girl can choose from hundreds of different protective styles, making it difficult to decide which one to use. So it would help if you remembered that understanding your hair type and how well it can adapt to manipulations holds the key to determining what style is suitable for you.

And now that we’ve discussed the most fashionable protective hairstyles you can rock the next few days, all you need to do is pick the first one before experimenting with the rest.

Do you have any experience with any of the above styles? Let us know in the comments below!

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