A good way to explain protective styles is any style that protects the ends of our hair (which are the oldest hence the most fragile parts of our hair) and decreases over manipulation (where you do not need to keep handling your hair in terms of styling it) which in turn preserves hair length and prevents hair breakage, split ends, dry hair and so on. Proper protective styling does not allow for the use of constant direct heat. 

Protective styles can similarly be described as styles that protect the hair from damage such as mechanical, environmental or chemical damage. Such damage results from everyday wear and tear such as when your hair brushes on your clothes, gets caught in your bag straps or car seat belt, or clothes zips (this stuff always happens to me when I wear my hair down), cold, hot or dry weather conditions, using relaxers too frequently, excessive use of hair straightners/flat irons or blow dryers. These styles ensure that we do not manipulate our hair too frequently and allows our hair to stay moisturised and well hydrated.

In my opinion, protective styles can be grouped into two parts long and short term protective styles:

Long term protective styles: A long term protective style is one where our hair is left protected for an extended period of time.  For example if you leave your hair in a protective style for more than one week such as in a bun, french twist, braids , twists, corn rows, (where you do not take it down to redo it, this will be viewed as a long term protective style, therefore you moisturise and seal as is without taking the style down The other kind of long term protective style is done with the help of braided extensions/weaves, wigs (if you braid your hair underneath and leave it that way for more than a week). However if these styles are done too tightly, or a drying gel or glue is used this defeats the essence of a protective style which is for our hair to retain length. 

Short term protective styles: These are hair styles such as buns, french twists,updos when the hair is covered with a scarf/beanie/hat (as long as the ends of the hair are not exposed) which may be taken out at the end of the day so that the hair can be moisturised, these styles should also not be too tightly done. This means in effect that styles such as a pony tail where the ends of the hair are exposed will not qualify as a protective style.

My formal updo – it is a protective style as the ends of my hair are tucked in

I would advise that everyone tries out protective styles to help with retaining hair growth. If you have shorter hair i.e. your hair does not even touch your neck then you do not need to protective style as the short hair is a protective style in itself. As soon as your hair is long enough where it touches your neck, then protective styles are necessary, however if your hair is not long enough to be put in a bun, do not try to force it, you can just try tucking the ends in with a hair pin/bobby pin.

Kindly share your favorite protective styles in the comment section below.


Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh