Naturalistas, gather around! If you’ve found yourself in a beauty rut as of late, and want to stylishly switch up your mane, you’ve come to the right place. To turn your natural hair into a work of art, you need to try out one of these gorgeous protective hairstyles we found on Instagram.
From dazzling braid styles to perfectly-sleek wigs and everything in between, we’ve unearthed 18 non-boring protective styles for natural hair that’ll take your mane game to the next level.
18 boss-babe protective hairstyles to copy, like right now!
1. Box braids
While we know it takes time to get this protective hairstyle done (depending on the size you go for), we can’t help thinking of what we’d give to rock ultra long box braids like this.
2. Bob braids
While we adore long box braids, shorter ones equally deserve some attention, too! Take this Instagram beauty, for example, who has gone for some ultra-stylish blue ombre bob braids (swoon). Credit: @leddi_g
Next read: 5 other short box braids hairstyles you have to see.
3. Braided ponytail
This cornrow style keeps your hair protected while letting you get in on the ever popular high ponytail trend. And what’s more, it’s perfect for days or nights where you want to exude high-fashion vibes (so basically always!). Credit: @eziemela
Editor’s tip: Loving all these protective hairstyles for natural hair? Just because your hair is protected, that doesn’t mean you won’t need a leave-in conditioning spray (like the TRESemmé Botanique Nourish & Replenish Hydrating Mist) in your life.
This must-have product helps give your natural mane a much-needed boost of moisture and will leave your locks smelling like a tropical cocktail. Now, who wouldn’t want that?
4. Fulani braided bun
A sleek, perfect Fulani braided bun (complete with pretty bead detailing) is sophisticated and destined for any oh-so-luxe or casual events you might be attending this year.
Dealing with shorter natural hair? Using braiding hair extensions, like this beauty has done, will easily help you achieve this glam protective hairstyle. Bye-bye boring buns! Credit: @naturalbabe10.11_pro
5. Bantu knots
Looking for party-ready protective hairstyles for short natural hair? Well, believe it or not, with just a few inches of hair, you too can achieve this beautiful bantu knot hairstyle.
Editor’s tip: Give your bantu knots a sleek and frizz-free finish by smoothing a few pumps of the Nexxus Oil Infinite Serum Oil through your strands before you create them.
Box braids aren’t the only protective hairstyles for natural hair you need to know about… In fact, box twists (which this Insta babe totally slays) are equally stunning and super-stylish, too.
7. Faux locs
So, if you’ve always loved the look of dreadlocks (but can’t picture yourself going through the long process to get them), opting for faux locs is your next best option. And as you can see, they look utterly mesmerising when adorned with different accessories! Credit: @lei_smokahontas
8. Crochet braids
Dream of switching up your hairstyle on the regular? Then consider getting crochet braids done. Don’t know what they are? Well, they’re simply created by crocheting hair extensions into pre-cornrowed hair and can be worked with so many different styles…
From voluminous curls to sleek and smooth hairstyles, with this fast method, you’ll be able to live out your mane fantasies (all while protecting your real hair). Yay! Credit: @kiitana
9. Tree braids
This lovely Insta-babe and Alicia Keys have something in common: they’ve both rocked cute and curly tree braids! Unlike crochet hairstyles that conceal cornrow braids, this ‘do works to spotlight pretty plait designs. Credit: @badmonbraids
Next read: Butterfly hair accessories have been fluttering up everywhere and we are obsessed.
10. Shoulder length wig
While most of us turn to braids for protective styles, let us not forget the wonders that are wigs! In this example, this mega-babe has gone for a chic shoulder-length style that’s full of enviable texture. Credit: @crystal_kasper
11. Halo braid
When it comes to romantic protective hairstyles for natural hair, the halo braid is one of our absolute faves. It’ll have all of your strands neatly tucked away, provide you with a style that’s suitable come rain or shine, and give your look a fresh new edge.
Editor’s tip: Want to tame your baby hairs and make them look on-point? You’ll need a gel spray, like the VO5 Mega Hold Gel Spray and an old toothbrush, to help you smooth them down. Easy, right?
12. Head wrap
While every protective hairstyle is a work of art, you can take a more time-effective approach and consider stylishly wrapping your locks up with a printed head wrap, just like this mega-babe has done.
13. Rapunzel wigs
Dreaming of flowing Rapunzel hair like Kim K-W or Nicki Minaj? We don’t blame you. It can take years to grow your hair out that long though, but if you’re impatient there is another option of course – a wig!
Super long wigs have become a favourite of celebs and normal girls alike, the only thing left to decide is how long will you go?! Credit: @yubasorentino
14. Half twisted updos
The best way to add some variety to your styling repertoire is by trying out a new updo. If you’ve always thought updos are way too complicated for you, you might find a simple twisted version easier to take on.
This simple but effective twisted updo is ideal for protecting your natural hair while still allowing you to show off those stunning curls. Credit: @suite15hair
15. Half-up bun
Who says you can’t style braided hair? Box braids are exceptionally versatile, so there’s nothing stopping you from trying all of this season’s hottest looks.
16. Ghana braid ponytail
We’re all guilty of slipping into a rut sometimes with our hair, so if that’s you right now, why not consider this Ghana braided ponytail?
17. Flat twists
While a lot of protective hairstyles require an expert’s touch, there are plenty of braided looks you can do all on your own, flat twists for example.
With a little practice you’ll be able to create all sorts of intricate-looking hairstyles with the basic 2-strand twist method, saving you precious time (not to mention money!) in the salon chair. Credit: @crownedandbrown
Editor’s tip: To keep your twists neat, frizz-free and -even more importantly- well conditioned, apply a small amount of leave-in conditioner to each section before twisting. The TONI&GUY Leave In Conditioner protects tresses against humidity so they look good as new for longer.
18. Cuffed braids
Cornrows are just calling out for accessories. Whether it’s for a festival or just finding a way to make your everyday braids pop, adorning your mane with metallic cuffs and coloured beads will always look amazing. Credit: @zeliasoraya