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Everything You Need to Know About Protective Hairstyles for Natural Curly Hair

Updated: Jul 11, 2023



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Natural hair is more than just your hair; it is the ultimate mode of self-expression. We often tend to go wrong in our efforts to bring this self-expression through our curly hair to life and make the wrong choices. Consequently, we have to deal with damaged curls. We forget that maintaining natural hair's health and strength requires special care and attention. Protective styles are vital in safeguarding curly hair from damage caused by external factors like harsh weather, manipulation, and styling tools. These hairstyles, such as braids, twists, and updos, provide a shield that minimizes breakage, retains moisture, and promotes hair growth. A Protective hairstyle is one of the most effective ways to protect and preserve natural hair. This comprehensive blog will delve into the benefits of protective hair styling, discuss various types of protective hairstyles, provide tips on maintenance and cleanliness, explore potential risks and precautions, and emphasize the importance of incorporating protective styles into your hair care routine.

What is a protective hairstyle , and how does it help curly hair?

If maintaining the health of your curly hair is a priority for you, it's essential to give it an occasional break from the damaging effects of heat styling tools, chemical treatments, and environmental factors. Fortunately, a protective hairstyle on natural hair offers a solution that safeguards your curls and allows you to rock a stylish look. This practice holds true for textured hair when worn in its natural state.

Protective hair styling shields your hair from physical, chemical, and environmental damage. While there may be some debate about which styles qualify as protective, the crux remains the same: these hairstyles create a barrier that helps preserve the health and integrity of your hair. Some popular protective styles on natural hair include box braids, crochet braids or twists, cornrows, flat twists, weaves, and twists.

The Benefits of Protective Hair Styling:

Protective hairstyles offer numerous advantages for natural curls.

  • A protective hairstyle can protect the ends of our hair which are the most delicate and vulnerable, as they have endured the most exposure to damage over time. Protective styles reduce the risk of breakage and further damage by concealing and securing the ends from damage by environmental factors, manipulation, and friction.

  • These hairstyles' protective nature helps retain moisture, preventing dryness and promoting overall hair health.

  • Protective hair styling minimizes stress on the hair by reducing the need for regular styling and manipulation, allowing it to grow and thrive.

  • A protective hairstyle aids in length retention and helps preserve the natural curl pattern, providing versatility in styling while maintaining your hair in a healthy state.

Types of Protective Hairstyles:

Braided Styles:

Box braids, cornrows, and twists are some protective hairstyle ideas that can be worn for an extended period. These styles are versatile in size, length, and pattern and easy to maintain. They also provide the added benefit of protecting the hair from external elements.

Twisted Styles:

Two-strand twists, flat twists, and Senegalese twists offer a protective option with multiple styling options. These styles create a defined and textured look while protecting the hair.

Bantu Knots:

Bantu knots involve creating tiny knots all over the head. This style protects the ends of the hair, leading to a beautiful curl formation when released.

Wigs and Weaves:

Synthetic or human hair wigs and weaves provide a protective covering with versatile styling options. They are the safest way to switch up your look without compromising the health of your natural hair.

Duration of Protective Styles:

The duration you need to keep a protective hairstyle for hair growth depends on your preferences, hair type, and chosen style. Protective styles can generally be kept in for two to eight weeks. However, paying attention to the health of your scalp, hair growth, and style maintenance is crucial. If the style becomes excessively frizzy or your scalp feels irritated, it may be time to remove or refresh it.

Maintaining and Cleansing Protective Hairstyles:

Here are a few tips for maintaining the longevity of any protective hairstyle:

  • Prep protective hair: Removal of chemicals from the protective hair can aid in the longevity of your style. It will also create a better environment for your hair and scalp to thrive. Washing synthetic or human hair in a mixture of warm water and apple cider vinegar can remove the harsh chemicals that are placed on packaged hair for these styles.

  • Cleanse your scalp: Use a pH-balancing shampoo like Loving You by TLP or a specialized scalp detox like Nice/Thing to remove product buildup and maintain a healthy scalp before applying these styles and during the time that they are installed is very important to your hair health.

  • Daily hydration: Hydrating your scalp and hair daily while in protective styles can prevent an itchy scalp and breakage. To hydrate daily, use Bounce Back daily hydration spray. It will add a level of moisture retention to your curls that will give your style longevity.

  • Moisturize regularly: Use a natural leave-in conditioner like Good Thing by TLP to moisturize your hair and scalp. It would help if you focused on the ends, as these areas are the driest. To safeguard the roots of your hair, moisturize your scalp with Heaven Scent hair growth oil. Applying this oil to your fingertips and massaging it into your scalp a couple of days out of the week will guarantee a healthy foundation for hair growth.

  • Avoid excessive manipulation of your protective hairstyle, including touching, tugging, or too much styling, to prevent breakage and ensure longevity.

  • Protect your hair at night: Cover your hair with a satin or silk bonnet or use a silk pillowcase to minimize friction and protect your protective hairstyle for sleeping.

Potential Risks and Precautions:

While protective hairstyles offer many benefits, it is essential to take appropriate precautions:

  • Avoid tension and traction due to excessively tight hairstyles that can lead to tension on the hairline and cause traction alopecia. You must ensure your protective hairstyle is secure but not overly tight.

  • Get the help of a professional or educate yourself on the correct techniques to prevent breakage or damage while doing or removing a protective hairstyle.

  • While sporting a protective style, it's essential to maintain a clean and healthy scalp. Neglecting proper scalp care can lead to dandruff, itchiness, or product buildup. Use a pH-balancing shampoo to keep your scalp fresh and free from any irritations.

  • Excessive product use can lead to buildup. Though using leave-in products to moisturize your protective hairstyle is excellent, You need to be mindful when you layer up one leave-in product after another. The best solution for this problem is to detox your scalp at least once a month. Nice/Thing by TLP is a detox that nourishes and infuses nutrients, vitamins, and various hydrating agents into the scalp and each hair strand to improve elasticity and strength.

  • Shed hair tends to get trapped in Protective Hairstyles. The 50-200 strands of hair we are pre-programmed to lose daily can get trapped and cause unnecessary tangles. So, when you undo your protective hairstyle, all that shed hair can come out at once, sometimes taking healthy strands along with it. This is why it is so crucial to be gentle with your take-downs to prevent unnecessary hair loss.

  • Give your protective hairstyle a breather with breaks between Long-Term Styles! Avoid doing them back-to-back, especially when it comes to braids, weaves, and crochet braids. Taking them out to put them right back in can strain your natural curly hair. It would help if you allowed your locks some time to rest and recover.

Lock in moisture with a natural hair butter for hydrated hair, like Whip It by TLP, to combat moisture loss. This magical organic butter will help your hair stay hydrated, revitalizes curls, clarifies skin, emulsifies hair, and moisturize the scalp while rocking those protective styles.


If you love showing off your natural curls, incorporating protective hair styling methods into your curly hair routine can benefit or even improve your hair health. These hairstyles protect your hair, promote growth, retain moisture, and allow for versatile styling. However, it's essential to consider factors such as the proper installation of a protective hairstyle, maintenance, and the necessary precautions to ensure the overall health of your hair.

Remember, every individual's hair is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another, even if labeled as protective. You may need to experiment with different protective styles, consult a professional stylist, and listen to your hair's needs. By correctly understanding the benefits of protective styles on natural hair, following proper maintenance practices, and being mindful of the dos and don'ts, you can enjoy the beauty and versatility of protective hair styling while promoting the health and strength of your natural curls.

About The Author: Paula Bland


The founder of TLP, Paula Bland, is a medically qualified Nurse Practitioner, Hair aesthetician and also a psychiatric Nurse Practitioner known for her highly effective hair consultation. Paula has a non-traditional approach to hair care and advocates a chemical-free, natural, and holistic approach. The Love of People is her brainchild, and its products reflect her approach to hair health and have helped women with naturally curly hair manage their curls in a chemical-free and organic way.



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