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8 Best Protective Styles for Maximum Length Retention

Beautiful black women in all shades and hairstyles

We all wear protective styles — or so we think. Protective styles are hairstyles that keeps the ends of the hair tucked away, designed to minimize manipulation and exposure of the hair to environmental damage. The truth is not all styles we labeled as “protective styles” are “protective.” If your natural hair is not prepared correctly, styled appropriately, nor cared for and maintained while put away, these styles can be more harmful to the health of your hair than it protects it. Some hairstyles are tight on the scalp, pulls on the edges, and can even result in scalp conditions like traction alopecia.

When done and maintained correctly, protective styles can be the catalyst to your hair growth, preventing excessive breakage, reducing split ends, and retaining long lasting moisture. Over the years, it’s become apparent which protective styles naturals with waist length hair and beyond have favored.

Here are the 5 best protective styles for maximum length retention.

1. Mini Twists

Bra Strap Length Mini Twists on Natural Hair

Mini twists are undeniably the most effective protective style for length retention of them all and there is evidence to prove this. Mini twists are now back in style and the natural hair community is now embracing this timeless style like never before! This past January, our brand conducted a study on the hair routines of 25 black women with type 4c-b waist length hair and we found that 21 of 25 of these women wear mini twists as their everyday hairstyle. In addition, our founder herself admitted that the time her type 4a waist length hair grew at an exponential rate was when she blow dried her hair (on cool), styled it in mini twists monthly.

Preparation & Care

To care for your mini twists, apply a non-water based leave in such as our Retain Butter 1-2x weekly to restore moisture into your hair without reverting your hair back to its curly state. If you have normal to dry scalp, use herbal oils such as our Rapunzel Serum to massage your scalp to seal your hair and stimulate hair growth.

2. Cornrows

Black women with cornrows and jewelry

The beauty of cornrows is that it provides easy access to much of your scalp, unlike any other protective style. Whether you are wearing cornrows under your wig, sew-ins, feed-in braids, or on your natural hair, this style is by far the most popular protective style and has proven to be an effective protective style to retain length on your natural hair if done correctly. For the healthiest results, preparation and styling is key to get the most out of your cornrows. To encourage healthy styling:

  1. Ensure that your hair is blow dried on cool air.

  2. Apply a non-water based sealant such as our Retain Butter to your strands to retain long lasting moisture while tucked away.

  3. Advise your stylist to not braid too tightly, especially near your edges. (Constantly pulling back your hair tightly can cause traction alopecia)

  4. Braid all the way down to your ends, leave zero hair out)

  5. If your scalp type is dry-normal and you have no scalp condition, oil your scalp with a herbal oil such as our Rapunzel Serum to stimulate hair growth at least 2-3x times weekly while in cornrows!

3. Box Braids

Butt Length Box Braids on black woman

Box braids are the most popular protective styles that includes extensions. This style is the epitome of black girlhood and is perfect for all seasons and occasions. Box braids is the average black girl’s ideal protective style, as it is widely accepted within social, educational settings, and corporate spaces, in comparison to other protective styles such as the previous two. In addition, unlike cornrows, box braids can be styled in a multitude of ways!

Preparation & Care

To prep your natural hair for your box braids, follow the same steps as the cornrows. To maintain your braids, we recommend using a non-water based hair cream such as our Retain Butter to seal moisture into the portion of the braids that your hair is fed into weekly and ensure that the braids do not stay in any longer than 8 weeks! 4-6 weeks is the recommendation for takedown. If you have dry-normal scalp, oil your scalp at least 2x per week!

4. Marley Twists

Long Marley Twists on Natural Hair

If you wish to add extensions and you’re in search for a style that mimics the texture of your natural hair, look no further! Marley twists are the most suitable option! This hair style complements our coarse, coily/kinky hair so well that if done around the length of your hair, it will most likely be perceived as your natural hair by strangers and even some of your own family members. Marley twists originate from Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley's signature locks. They are lighter in weight than Kanekalon hair and provides your hair with a softer finish. They also tend to be much looser on the scalp and hair than box braids, as it blends flawlessly with your natural hair, omitting the need for manipulating your hair and smoothing it to blend with an extension that doesn’t resemble your hair type. Unlike box braids, this style can be done successfully without blowdrying your hair, but for length retention, blow drying (on cool) is highly recommended!

5. Senegalese Twists

Senegalese Twists on dark skinned woman

Senegalese twists are superb spring and summer hairstyles. It is fun, free, and flirty, perfect to wear on vacations. Senegalese twists originated from Senegal, West Africa. They're a popular braiding style characterized by intricate twists using synthetic hair extensions. The twists are a terrific protective style as they are typically looser at the roots and ends in comparison to cornrows and box braids. Since the twists aren’t styled tightly, Senegalese twists reduces friction on the hair and allows the hair to breathe while still protecting your ends. The downside is that it does not last as long as the Marley twists, but still provides a much silkier finish if you are going for that look! To prep and maintain your hair, follow the steps of the box braids and cornrows!

6. Fulani Braids

Fulani Twists with beads on dark skinned black woman

Fulani braids are an expressive hairstyle that combines both cornrows and plaiting techniques. If you are looking for a hair style that is more festive and youthful, this is excellent. Fulani or feed-in braids trace their roots back to the Fulani (Fula) people of West Africa and the Sahel region. This traditional hairstyle, cherished and passed down through generations of women in the large, nomadic community, is characterized by its distinctive length and intricate patterns, with braids cascading or looping along the sides of the head. This style protects your roots and your ends. Just ensure the cornows are not too tight and doesn’t pull at your edges too much. To maintain this style, I recommend oiling the cornrows 1-2x weekly if you have dry to normal scalp and use a non-water based cream such as our Retain Butter on the braids to restore moisture into your hair without reverting your curls.

7. Glueless Wigs

Black women in glueless short curly wig

Throw out the lace glue, it’s ripping out your edges and receding your hair line. Invest in a glueless wig instead! Glueless wigs can save you a headache (literally) from the long term consequences of gluing your frontals down and the most depressing part about this is, most women do not recover from this avoidable damage. Glueless wigs allows you to care and maintain your cornrows and twists underneath much easier than glued on wigs. You don’t have to worry about ripping your edges out, you can easily remove it from your head in seconds.

To prep your natural hair for a glueless wig, follow the steps of the cornrow (#2) or mini twists (#1), depending on which style you prefer to style your natural hair with underneath. We recommend oiling your scalp with an herbal oil underneath your wigs and applying a non-water based leave-in such as our Retain Butter to restore moisture into your hair without reverting your curls!

8. Goddess Braids

Woman with waist length goddess braids

Goddess braids truly live up to their name, invoking a sense of otherworldly beauty. These braids, entwined with curly strands along the midsection or ends, exude a relaxed, bohemian charm. They effortlessly capture the essence of leisure and adventure, perfect for vacation escapades, while bestowing upon you an ethereal, almost regal allure. The result? Luxuriously long locks that inspire creativity and evoke a feeling of transcendence. Goddess braids are exceptional protective styles. They are versatile, and can last up to eight weeks, depending on how well you care for them and your hair’s growth rate. We recommend sleeping on a satin pillow to maintain the curls and appearance. To care for your braids, we recommend oiling your scalp with an herbal oil such as our Rapunzel Serum 1-2x weekly once the scalp starts to become a bit messy!

Simple Guide for all Protective Stylees

No matter which protective style you opt for, the preparation, styling, and upkeep remain largely the same across the board. It's crucial to start on freshly washed and deep conditioned hair, stretch your hair, steer clear of tight styles that stress your roots and strain your edges, and ensure your hair stays moisturized while in the chosen style. Let us know which style you choose next!

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1 comentário

I’ve been using mini twists for a few years now.

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