17 Colorful Protective Styles For Natural Hair To Inspire Your Next Head-Turning 'Do

There's never a wrong time to give your hair a technicolor makeover. For kinky-curly girls, turning to colorful protective styles for natural hair is a means for tasting the rainbow without committing to a permanent dye job.

If you're a hair chameleon, you've probably tried it all when it comes to rocking pastel and rainbow hairstyles. For color virgins, however, trying a multicolored style can be scary, especially when pink, blue, and green hues aren't exactly traditional hair colors. If it's any consolation, Alicia keys recently debuted neon orange and pink braids and her sherbet 'do had cool girl vibes written all over it. You can charter into technicolor territory, too, even if only temporarily. That's the beauty of braided and twisted extensions— you can remove them and revert to your natural mane if a colorful look just isn't for you. And in the event that you're head over heels for rainbow extensions, switching from one whacky style to the next is just a matter of taking down and braiding up again.

Embrace your inner unicorn or step out of your comfort zone by taking colorful hair inspiration from these 17 beauties proudly rocking vivid twists, braids, and faux locs.

1Neon Box Braids

missjeyarts_makeup on Instagram

Prepare for all eyes to be on you. Highlighter hues make for box braids that can light up a room.

2Multicolored Braids

11tymillion on Instagram

Get festive by mixing every shade of the rainbow into your protective style for harmonious chaos.

3Mix-And-Match Yarn Twists

chloe_richhh on Instagram

Pick your favorite shades and mesh them with mistmatched yarn twists, a look that's equally unique and captivating.

4Ombréd

bluehairguru on Instagram / @luxidarahair on Instagram

You can never go wrong with an ombré color job. It's seriously too mesmerizing to look away.

5Royal Blue Chunky Twists

naturallynata_ on Instagram

Perfect for the bold, bright jumbo twists stand out in all of the right ways.

6Cotton Candy Locs

kellzatlstylist on Instagram / @exquisite_eye on Instagram

Ultra feminine and unique, bright pink locs are worthy of so much praise.

7Rainbow Swirl

https://www.instagram.com/bronica.road/torchestogether_ on Instagram / @bronica.road on Instagram

Secured into a high bun, multicolored box braids create a 'do that looks sweet enough to eat.

8Rainbow Gradient

glamourqueen89 on Instagram

Can it seriously get any better than a gradient protective style that hits every hue in the color spectrum?

9Mermaid Goddess Locs

raychillster on Instagram

Transform into a sea siren with deep turquoise goddess locs. Add braiding beads throughout the style for your chicest 'do yet.  

10Unicorn Locs

theglamsultant on Instagram

Send your mane into color shock with a protective yarn style fit for a unicorn.

11Icy Ombré

themariaantoinette on Instagram

A pastel hue transitioning into an icy grey adds flair to your braids or twists without going overboard.

12Multicolored Tips

persiabrandi on Instagram

If you can't commit to a full head of rainbow extensions, try multicolored tips instead. Faux locs with pastel ends are pure perfection.

13Color-blocked Jumbo Braids

ashhhdolly on Instagram

Jumbo braids in varying hues creates a color-blocked effect that's sure to cause a ton of hair envy.

14Curly Colored Tips

miccheckk12 on Instagram

Rainbow ombré and curly tips are the perfect pair. Take on this look if you dare to to taste the rainbow.

15Colored Streaks

miss_rina_ on Instagram

Spice up a plain 'do with streaks of color here and there for a subtle take on rainbow hair.

16Peek-A-Boo Color

danielle_onyameh on Instagram

If the thought of all-over rainbow hair is too overwhelming, try a peek-a-boo approach. You can wear your hair up to show off colored strands or down to keep them hidden.

17Neon Mix

_leeswa07 on Instagram

It doesn't get any more daring than this. There's no way your braids won't make a statement with a blend of neon hues.

A protective style doesn't have to be plain Jane. All of the colorful hairspiration out there proves it pays to embrace your wild side.