12 on-trend low manipulation hairstyles for natural hair

Amra | 11 October 2018

Low manipulation hairstyles you can rock while protecting your natural hair.

Bored of protective hairstyles? Want to spice up your life (and your natural hair)? Well, there’s no need to stay stuck in a beauty rut any longer, because there are tonnes of low manipulation hairstyles you can try.

Not sure what low manipulation hairstyles actually are? They’re basically hairstyles that don’t involve too much handling of the hair, so they tend to be easier than more intricate, fiddly styles. And as if that wasn’t enough of a plus point, they’re also protective — yep, it’s a win-win situation here, ladies! Here are 12 looks you should consider trying out this season.

Low manipulation hairstyles: Young black woman with a high bun pineapple hairstyle sitting on stairs, wearing blue jeans and a white and red striped t-shirt
What would we do without our go-to bun? Credit: Verity Jane Smith

1. High bun updo

Some days, natural hair textures can’t don’t want to co-operate – we’ve all been there! But instead of turning to heated styling tools, fashion your coils into this polished high bun updo.

Rock this cute topknot with accessories to work, a night out or even the gym — really, anywhere you’re headed, ’cause you’ll #slay.

Low manipulation hairstyles: Side view street style shot of a woman with curly natural hair in a '90s inspired bun with braided strands at the front, wearing red retro sunglasses and standing in front of a brick wall
Win at ’90s style with these braided strands. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

2. ’90s bun

’90s hairstyles are having a major moment right now and leaving two single strands of hair loose has to be the ultimate defining ’90s style.

For an easy way to spice up your basic bun, channel TLC’s Left Eye style vibes with these front braided strands – because they’re baby braids they won’t put strain on your hair.

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up shot of women with bantu knot hairstyle posing in a field of yellow flowers
Beautiful and budge-proof bantu knots! Credit: Verity Jane Smith

3. Bantu knots

One look at this natural beauty and you’ll see that wearing bantu knots is the way forward. Although simple, these beautiful knots sure do pack a stylish punch (all while protecting your strands!).

But before you get major envy, you can check out our step-by-step tutorial on how to get bantu knots, here.

TIGI Bed Head Calma Sutra Cleansing Conditioner

Editor’s tip: The best low manipulation hairstyles start in the shower. So, make sure to invest in a cleansing and conditioning system to make your black hair easier to style. We can’t get enough of the TIGI Bed Head Calma Sutra Cleansing Conditioneras it deeply nourishes and removes any product build-up on the scalp for clean, fresh curls.

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up shot of black model with half up bantu hairstyle, wearing orange coat and white shirt, street style shot
Want to show of your beautiful texture? Try this on-trend style!

4. Half-up bantu knots

Wearing low manipulation hairstyles doesn’t mean you can’t show off your curlicious hair, too. Own those strands (and care for them, too) by fashioning them into a half-up, half-down bantu knot style.

As this naturalista shows, this look gives the best of both worlds, allowing you to tap into the ever popular half-up hair trend (psst, keep reading for another half-up look you can try!).

Low manipulation hairstyles: Photo of a young black woman with natural hair styled in a halo braid updo
You’ll look positively angelic with this beauty of a hairstyle. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

5. Romantic halo braid

Halo braids are great a low manipulation hairstyle and also look super gorgeous. Plus, with all that natural hair pulled back + some pretty wisps around your hairline, your facial features will really pop!

But the best thing about this style has to be that it keeps your hair out of the way and under control. Who’s ready for their close up? You are!

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up shot of woman with space bun hairstyle that's braided, posing at the afropunk festival
You don’t have to travel to space to get these buns! Credit: Verity Jane Smith

6. Sassy space buns

If sweet styles aren’t really your vibe and you’re after something a bit cooler, you’ve got to take a look at this edgy low manipulation hairstyle.

If you look closely, you’ll notice how she’s incorporated braids into her space buns as well as metallic hair ring details, for a playful and stylish effect. To get your perfect festival ‘do, shop our favourite hair rings.*

Low manipulation hairstyles: close-up of a young black woman with half-up space buns in natural hair
Our love for space buns reigns supreme. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

7. Half-up space buns

You’ve heard of the hun (aka the half-up bun), right? But we bet you haven’t tried this season’s newest take on the look yet: double half-up buns. A combination of space buns and half-up buns, it’s officially the coolest natural hairstyle you could wear this summer. So what are you waiting for?! Get on it asap!

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up shot of black girl with cornrow hairstyle that has flowers in it, posing at afropunk london festival
Cornrows are everywhere! Credit: Verity Jane Smith

8. Cornrows

Cornrows have long been the style of choice for naturalistas wanting to transform their look. Opt for tried and tested classic ‘rows, like this beauty has done to protect your strands, especially during the colder months.

Since this is a great alternative to getting box braids (another fabulous low manipulation style!), remember not to make your plaits too tight as you don’t want to cause any damage.

Love these flower hair accessories? Grab your own daisy hair clips, here.*

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up profile shot of a black woman with natural hair styled in two boxer braid ponytails wearing a yellow top
You don’t need to be a hair styling pro to be able to create amazing DIY looks. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

9. Boxer braid ponytail

This sporty style is one of our favourites, for obvious reasons. It’s super stylish and on-trend but the real bonus? Because the boxer braids flow into ponytails rather than continuing all the way down, it’s quick to do – and isn’t that what we all want from our hairstyles really?

Low manipulation hairstyles: Close up of black model with pigtails hairstyle, wearing pink jacket and white shirt, street style
You can still get in on the French girl hair trend with your natural strands.

10. Flat twist pigtails

If you’re struggling to braid your hair (via the 3-strand method), you should consider the flat twist method instead. Why? Because they’re lot quicker and easier to achieve than regular cornrows and much more beginner-friendly.

Instead of the braid being formed of 3 separate strands, this technique is made up of two strands that are twisted tightly together. Just look at how this mega-babe rocks flat twist pigtails, they look just as good as braids and they’re simpler, win win.

TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist

Editor’s tip: Another product you’ll need to keep your low manipulation hairstyles looking on fleek? A leave-in conditioner spray to keep your curls hydrated.

It’s no secret natural hair is prone to dryness and using a conditioning mist, like the TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mistwill help give your mane a much-needed moisture boost, defining your curls in process.

low manipulation hairstyles: close up shot of black model with heatless curls posing outside
If you aren’t using flexi rods, now’s the time to give them a whirl!

11. Heatless curls

Want to know the best thing about cornrows and flat twists? You actually get 2 hairstyles for the price of 1! Confused? Well, after rocking your low manipulation hairstyles for a day or 2, after unravelling them you’ll be left with a uniform and poppin’ curl pattern — completely heat free. Nope, you’re not dreaming!

Still need more guidance on getting this head-turning low manipulation hairstyle? Here’s how to create heatless curls on natural hair with flexi rods!

Low manipulation hairstyles:
Wigs let you try out any style you like while letting your natural hair grow underneath. Credit: Verity Jane Smith

12. Wigs

Hate committing to any one hairstyle? Wigs give you the freedom to try any hairstyle you want, while your curls are tucked away safe underneath in cornrows. With all kinds of colours (like this gorgeous autumnal cinnamon hue!), lengths and textures, the possibilities are endless.

Plus, as you’re able to simply take off a wig at the end of the day and do your hair care routine, the strain on your hair is minimal compared to more permanent weaves or sew-ins. The only problem will be deciding which ‘do you want to rock every day!

Love the look of this beret? Grab this French-inspired look by getting your own beret, here.*

*At All Things Hair, we want to help you navigate our modern world with ease. All our market picks are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.