My favourite protective styles for natural hair

Protective styling is great all year round, but particularly during these cold winter months it is even more beneficial to opt for a protective style. So in honour of protective style season, I decided to share with you my favourite styles and some of the pros and cons of each. I love each of these styles for their own reasons, so let’s dive in!

Passion twists 

I discovered passion twists recently and they are so ridiculously cute. I did shoulder length passion twists myself, but I will definitely be trying longer twists in the future. This style is great because you have access to your hair, as in you can still moisturize your hair while it is in the twists. However, I found that passion twists don’t last very long. The type of hair used for this style is very silky, and you will notice that your natural hair will start to poke through the twists very quickly. The hair also gets very frizzy and tangly with itself, so I’m not sure if I would recommend washing the hair. I haven’t tried it personally, but I would be very careful if you do.

For me this style only lasted about 3 weeks. I think moving forward I would try this style again in a crochet version. So instead of twisting my natural hair with the synthetic hair, I would crochet pre-twisted pieces onto cornrows. I’ve heard that this version will last a lot longer and it would also take less time to install. All in all, passions twists are a great option if you are looking for a fun new hairstyle to try, but don’t expect them to last very long!

Weaves 

I feel like weaves get a bad rep sometimes, but I’m still a fan. When I wear weaves, I always wear it with a closure – I no longer do leave-outs! This protective style is fantastic, because your hair is completely covered up by the weave and it’s nicely tucked away in cornrows. Where weaves lose some points is that there is no access to your hair with this style. You’re not able to properly moisturize or really wash your hair with a weave. For that reason I don’t wear weaves for longer than 3-4 weeks at a time.

However, weaves are lots of fun because they allow you to try hairstyles or colours that you may not want to try on your own natural hair. For example, I don’t like to apply heat to my hair (I have been traumatized by severe heat damage). So if I would like to switch things up with a straight hairstyle, I can achieve that look with a weave – with no manipulation to my natural hair required. Overall weaves are a good option if you’re looking to try a new hair style and you plan to keep it in for less than 1 month.

Mini Twists 

Mini twists are super cute and also very convenient, because it doesn’t require any additional weave or braiding hair. I like to do this style right after washing my hair on my wash day. I will sit down with my leave in conditioner and Shea butter, and simply twist my hair in tiny sections. This does take about 2-3 hours to complete, but it’s worth it! With this style you can easily moisturize and shampoo your hair, as there are no extensions or braids getting in the way. To make this style even more protective, you can place your twists into a bun and only take it down when you are moisturizing or shampooing.

I typically only leave this style in for 2-3 weeks at a time. You could leave them in longer, but my hair starts to lock around the 3 week mark. If you leave these twists in for too long, your hair will begin to lock and then you will be fighting with your hair during the take down. So to avoid the hassle, I only keep this style in for 2-3 weeks. I will take them down, wash my hair and re-twist. Then repeat every 2-3 weeks. This is a great routine to try if you’re looking to grow your hair and you do not want to pay for braiding hair or weaves! Also on a side note, I have never tried mini braids, but it is pretty much the same concept and I believe they would last much longer.

Wigs 

I purchased my first wig this past summer and let me tell you, wigs are a game changer. Honestly, most of the credit goes towards the cornrows. When you’re wearing wigs you will have your hair in cornrows underneath your wig cap and your hair can be tucked away like this for MONTHS. Anywhere between 1-3 months is more than acceptable for cornrows. Wigs and weaves are quite similar in this aspect, but remember weaves are sewn down to your cornrows and there is limited access to your natural hair for shampooing and moisturizing. Unlike weaves, I can take the wig off at the end of the day, or even do a completely different hairstyle with my cornrows. There is lots of versatility and flexibility with wigs and your cornrows. And of course, you can moisturize and wash your hair in the cornrows at any time. This is hands down one of the best protective styles for long term protective styling.

However, let me caution you. When you first discover how to blend your lace front wig with glue you will feel like THAT girl. Yet, constantly installing your wigs with glue may cause damage to your hairline if you are not careful. If you are using glue, please don’t apply it to your actual edges, always apply it slightly in front of your hairline to limit breakage. The only other downside about wigs, is that you can’t simply get up and go in the morning (unless you’re sleeping with the wig glued down). Often times I would have to worry about fixing my wig before leaving the house, whereas styles such as passion twists or box braids require zero to minimal styling. But again, if you’re not glueing the wig down then this isn’t too bad. Either wear a closure wig – not a frontal wig – or pop on a headband real quick and you’re good to go! 

Box Braids 

Let’s just say if I could only choose one protective style for the rest of my life, it would have to be box braids! I think I first began wearing box braids when I was in grade 7. Ever since then she’s been my number one protective style. I have learned how to braid my own hair which makes this style even more convenient for me. It can take me anywhere between 9-24 hours to braid my own hair, depending on the length, style and my mood. However, box braids can last MANY months. Once upon a time, I even had box braids in for 4 months straight! Now this may not work for everybody, but I do believe that you can keep your hair healthy while keeping it in box braids for 2, 3, or even 4 months at a time. A simple hair regimen that you could follow is to wash your hair once a month and moisturize your hair at least once or twice a week. If you simply follow those two steps your hair should be just fine. Our hair flourishes the best when we leave it alone. I will do a separate post in the future about washing and moisturizing your hair while it’s in box braids, as I’m just about due for a wash day myself.

Anyways, this style hits all the major points – access to your natural hair, very long lasting, no styling required and your hair is fully protected. The only con to box braids that I could think of occurs when they are installed incorrectly. If your braids are too tight around your hairline, or if you have a large heavy braid attached to a tiny section of hair, that would be a recipe for breakage. I like to keep my sections medium sized, and I don’t braid them tight at all. As long as your braids aren’t too tight or too big, this style is definitely an optimal choice!

Final Thoughts

These 5 protective styles are each wonderful in their own way. I love being able to try new hairstyles, while protecting my natural hair at the same time. There are still so many styles that I have yet to try such as mini braids, flat twist up-dos, faux locs and more. Maybe I will do a part 2 in the future featuring new protective styles that I have tried throughout this year!

Let me know which protective styles are your favourite or which style you are excited to try. Take care and happy protective styling!