Protective Styles for Short Natural Hair: 20 Styles Beyond Braids

It's not just about braids. 

Having options when it comes to protective styles for short hair is key to helping you make the chop. No matter what hair type you have, protective styling is vital if you want to maintain the healthy look and feel of your hair. It’s so easy to damage your locks with daily styling and with the use of color treatments. Many women choose not to experiment with protective styles for short natural hair since they aren’t aware of the many options actually out there for them.

Ladies, braids are just one way to protect your natural texture; it doesn’t stop there! Below is a list of other protective styles for short natural hair for you to try. Read on:

1. Bob Wig

protective styles for short natural hair:
Try a new style with a wig.

One of the easiest and fun parts of protective styling is experimenting with wigs. Have you ever wondered how a short bob would look on you? Try it out with a wig while you protect your natural hair underneath.

2. Updo Bun

protective styles for short natural hair: bun
Perfect style for lazy days.

If you’re looking for easy protective hairstyles for short natural hair, this is a great hairstyle for both bad hair days and lazy-hair days alike. If you have hair that’s long enough to be gathered into a bun, use this as your protective hairstyle for short natural hair.

3. Crochet Braids

protective style for short natural hair: crochet
If you miss your hair, you can use crochet braids.

Just because you’re using protective styles for short natural hair doesn’t mean you don’t have a chance to still wear fun natural hairstyles. Crochet braids offer you the flexibility to wear twist-outs, braid-outs and more.

4. Crown Twist

protective styles for short natural hair: crown twist
The perfect twisted halo. Photo credit: Dvora

This twisted style can be achieved in a matter of minutes. Opt for this hairstyle if you’re looking for something that requires minimal daily maintenance.

5. Curly Wig

protective styles for short natural hair: curly wig
Miss your curls? Get a curly wig.

While you tuck your curly hair in to protect it from damage, there’s no reason for any type of #FOMO. Wear a curly wig if you miss your curly styles.

Protect your hair underneath by treating it with an oil, like SheaMoisture Wig & Weave Tee Tree & Borage Seed Oil Scalp Soother. This oil provides immediate relief to any tightness or discomfort from protective styles.

6. French Braids

protective styles for short natural hair: French braids
Use this look as a protective style.

You can use this braided style as a way to preserve your braid out, or as a protective style. We also love this as a workout look.

Use a gel, like Dove Amplified Textures Define ‘N Moisture Styling Gel to smooth down any stray hairs.

7. Head Wrap

protective styles for short natural hair: head wrap
Change up your head wrap to match your outfit.

That same scarf you use to protect your hair at night is the same scarf you can use to protect your hair out and about. There are so many stylish ways to wear a scarf on your hair. Change it up from day to day!

8. Loose Braids

protective styles for short natural hair: loose braids
Wear loose braids to prevent tension.

If you are concerned about tight braids pulling at your hairline, opt for loose braids instead. If your hair to too short for braids, you can use braiding hair as an extension.

9. Pineapple Updo

protective styles for short natural hair: pineapple updo
Wear it from night right into the next day.

This updo can be worn every single day until wash day. To dress up your pineapple, pull out some hair at the front to create a curly fringe.

If your curls need a touch-up, spritz with water and define with Suave Professionals Castor Oil & Mango Butter Defining Gel.

10. Scarf Headband

protective styles for short natural hair: scarf headband
Protect your edges with a scarf.

Sometimes, women with natural hair, no matter their hair length, experience hair loss around their hairline from tight hairstyles. If protecting your hairline is your concern, use loose updo hairstyles as your hairstyle of choice. To conceal or protect your hairline, you can cover up with a silk scarf.

11. Short Box Braids

protective styles for short natural hair bob box braids
Give your box braids the chop and go for a cute bob length!

If you’re used to having short hair, and rather this length when protective styling, one hairstyle idea is short box braids. Ask your stylist for box braids at bob length. If you plan to wear your box braids in other ways, go a little longer so you can create hairstyles like braided ponytails.

12. Space Buns

protective styles for short natural hair: space buns
Space buns for adults.

Want to play around with different bun styles? Make sure to throw trendy space buns, a.k.a. Bantu knots, into the mix.

13. Flat Twists

protective styles for short hair: flat twists
Perfect protective style for any occasion. Photo credit:

This is such a great hairstyle for any occasion that designers took it to the runway. Opt for this flat twist protective style if you have some fancy occasions on your agenda that call for an elegant look.

14. Curly Half Updo

protective styles for short natural hair:updo
Protect your hair at the back.

The traditional half updo calls for hair out at the back and up at the front. This protective style, however, is reversed. If you’re looking to protect just the back of your hair, try this version of the look.

15. Bantu Knots

protective styles for short natural hair: Bantu knots
Set your hair with Bantu knots.

Bantu knots can be done on short or long hair. Create these knots as a protective hairstyle or use it to create coily curls once you remove them from your hair.

16. Braided Space Buns

protective styles for short natural hair braided space buns
Add a little fun to your space buns style.

If you want to add a little something-something to your space buns style, braid two face-framing sections and add some beads to the mix.

17. Colored Bob Wig

protective styles for short natural hair bob wig
Go for a fun. unique color! Photo credit: Shaquille Dunbar

Give your bob wig a trendy refresh with a unique color. We love how wearable a darker blue color can be, not too bright but still very bold.

Add shine and a frizz-free finish to your wig by applying some SheaMoisture Wig & Weave Tea Tree & Borage Seed Oil Flyaway & Wrap Mousse.

18. Curly Twists

protective styles for short natural hair curly twists
Give your protective twists and little curl. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

Add some texture and movement to your twists with a curl at the bottom. This protective style is perfect for anyone who wants some curl without all the curly maintenance.

19. Twist Bob

protective styles for short natural hair bob twists
This length with twists is almost too good. Photo credit: Craig Alexander

How fashionable and chic is this style? We love a bob twist look for any occasion. Dress it up with statement hair clips for some added flair.

20. Twist Braid Updo

protective styles for short natural hair twist braid updo
Have fun with a twist style and create an intricate updo.

Experiment with your twist updo by adding some accent braids on the side. This top knot demands attention, so make sure it’s resting high on your head.

Try out any of these protective styles for short natural hair to give your strands a break from heat styling and damage. All of these styles are easy to achieve and are great for anyone looking to go shorter for the season.

Prev Article
Next Article

Stay inspired

Sign up to the newsletter and get exclusive hair care tips and tricks. Subscribe
Hair Quiz
All Things Hair
All Things Hair US
Need some style inspo? Let's chat! I'm Athena, your personal Hair Assistant.
Chat with All Things Hair in Messenger