When you take care of your hair by spending countless hours detangling, brushing, combing, setting, rinsing, and conditioning the reward is soft strong locks that you want to show off to everyone. Making sure you have some sexy protective styles for natural hair to rock in between the big beautiful afro days is key to maintaining your healthy 'fro, because all that fussing can make your strands super fragile. I love the way my strands feel when they're bouncing around my face, but some protective styles can be just as sexy and actually help repair dry hair and damaged ends.
The obvious choice to have your cake and eat it too (read: wear your hair long AND keep it protected) is to rock a weave, but that doesn't mean you can just throw on some hair and wear it for two months straight. That would be both counterproductive and keep you in a weave for the rest of your life. According to sources at Black Girl Long Hair, carrying extra baggage on your head to protect your hair can actually give you a damaging protective hair style in the long run. You still should be doing the long list of hair chores listed above to restore curl patterns, retain moisture, and your hair's natural oils, even if you're rocking that weave. There is no such thing as wearing a protective style and not having to worry about it for months. Sorry for the disappointment.
Afro-textured hair is already fragile in its natural state: Pulling and parting your hair too much in the same direction, wearing overly tight braids, using too much product, and basically being a jerk to your hair can make hair breakage pretty much inevitable. These protective styles should get you in the habit of protecting those ends and roots while keeping you looking absolutely stunning.
1. The Coif
This is one of my absolute fave protective styles. It works best on freshly detangled hair that's completely hydrated. You can wear this hairstyle for at least three days, sleep in it and touch it up as needed. To perform this easy style, I separate my hair while detangling with a brush and simply sweep each section underneath my hair with a bobby pin until every strand is neatly tucked and protected.
2. The Bundled Coif
This one IS my favorite protective style, hands down. It's essentially the same deal as the coif above. Section your completely detangled, moisturized hair in four parts; the sectioning in the front is the most important because it'll determine where and if you want a part. If your roots have some breakage from parting in the same place, I say ditch the part all together. Remember, we're PROTECTING our hair with this style. Take each section and twist the ends up into a bobby pin in the middle of your hair.
3. The Two Strand Twist
This is the style for ultimate protection, but it's also the most time-consuming. To be completely transparent, I can never get my twists close enough to my scalp where all my strands are locked up and protected. My pal twists up my hair every so often and I leave them in for about seven days at the absolute most. These twists work best on clean wet hair with a hefty leave-in conditioner.
4. The Crown Braid
For a while, this was my ONLY protective style, so I've gotten pretty decent at it. Section your hair in two parts depending on where you want the part to be. Start a two strand braid at the root of one section, grabbing the hair below. You'll want to get as close to your crown as possible. After you complete the next section, take the ends of each braid and twist them together, this helps further protect your ends. Use a bobby pin to hold the hair if needed.
5. The Wrap
We can't talk about protective styles without talking about head wraps, can we? There are so many ways to make head wraps look elegant while your hair sits carefully protected underneath. I usually have large twists underneath my wrap, making for a true "get up and go" style that you can use for convenience and protection.
Image: Kristin Collins Jackson ; Giphy