Are Protective Hairstyles Truly As Protective?

Styling natural hair is exciting and fun, but just if you wish to take a break, there is always the option of protective hairstyles. When women opt for a protective hair-do, their primary intention is to shield the mane from the inevitable wear and tear of daily life. An added plus point is the reprieve from the struggle of trying to make your hair look presentable every day. That being said, not all women endorse protective hairstyles as the saviors they are touted to be.

Donning a protective hair-do implies ‘doing’ your hair in a particular way such that it remains safe from environmental elements and other forms of damage. Standard techniques entail tucking away the ends and styling the mane to suffer the least amount of stress. Imagine going through the day without having to tug, pull, struggle, or handle your hair multiple times a day – that explains in a nutshell why protective hairstyles are such a rage. 

But dig a little deeper, and there might turn out to be more than a single catch. 

Fact Check On Protective Hairstyles

Given the warnings about protective hairstyles, it is but natural to wonder if these work. When in doubt, the best option is to dig deeper, and to this effect, discussed as follows are some essential facts that could help you to make the most of this hair-do – 

Not As Protective – Contrary to the common impression, protective hairstyles may not always live up to your expectations. It is indeed a proven fact that despite all the time and effort that goes in, some of them may end up causing more harm. For example, if your hair has been braided too tight or weaved too long, the chances are that it would tug too much at your scalp and lead to breakage and hair loss. Here, in the pictures below, is a protective style I recently paid to have done on me. Unfortunately, as you can see, my temple area’s hair broke off, leaving me bald in that spot.

The trick here is to identify a style that would work well for you in the long run, especially in maintenance and strand health. For a hair-do to be genuinely protective, it should be sufficiently comfortable to continue long-term without causing damage or demanding too much maintenance.  My cornrow braid hairstyle up above was braided extremely tight, which caused small red bumps and soreness. I was very disappointed because I felt the stylist who braided my hair knew all about hair and scalp health. She told me that she started braiding hair at thirteen, so I trusted her. I highly advise you to research the stylist and the style that will work best for your hair.

Regular Moisturizing – If your decision to don a protective hairstyle was meant to cut down on moisturizing, then you could not have been more wrong. Regardless of the style, dryness is a universal problem that afflicts hair, and unless attended to, it can cause the strands to become brittle and eventually break. 

To make the most of your protective hairstyle, ensure that it is moisturized well during the styling and later. Water is an efficient moisturizer. You can also add a hair oil/hair gel for a more prolonged impact before tucking, braiding, tweaking, or twisting so that breakage is minimal and strands also remain well-hydrated.

Types of Hair-do – Protective hairstyles could range from being elaborate to minimalist and everything in between, debunking the myth that these are usually simple. Your choice of style would depend on the amount of time and money that you are willing to spend and how you intend to handle the mane later on. 

While choosing a protective hairstyle, you must remember that it should not be tight to the point of pulling at the roots, tuck the ends inward, and maintained with ease.

Scalp Maintenance – scalp hygiene can never be stressed enough, and this entails frequent cleaning and moisturizing. The scalp is where your hair’s roots reside, which is why its health has a direct bearing on the strands. For your protective hairstyle to appear as neat as intended, follow a scalp maintenance routine wherein it is frequently cleaned and duly moisturized, rather than being left to dry and collect dust. 

Versatile – A versatile hair-do is one that you can sport at any time, and for any occasion, protective hairstyles fit the bill in multiple ways. Not only can these be manipulated in the split of a second to suit the circumstances, but they also keep the ends and the strands safe. 

Braids are universally regarded as being one of the most versatile protective hair-dos. Besides enhancing your style quotient, these benefit your mane in the long run by limiting damage, enabling the scalp to breathe and rejuvenate itself. 

Ripping – When choosing a protective hairstyle, you must guard against one that could cause the strands to stretch beyond their capacity and suffer breakage. Ripping is a genuine danger when it comes to a protective hair-do, and much of it occurs due to excess tension and pulling. Unfortunately, it also leaves the strands frizzy, thus defeating the entire purpose of the exercise. 

Rather than opt for a complicated hair-do that harms your mane instead of protecting it, you would do well to play it safe with a style that does not tug, pull or stretch too much.  

Hair Growth – Doubtful though it might seem, protective hairstyles foster new hair growth, although it might take a bit of time. Demanding that this hair-do is cleansed, frequent moisturizing and minimal tugging provide the scalp with a much-needed break to rejuvenate itself. As a result, a healthy and breathing scalp soon becomes a breeding ground for new growth, which in turn adds to your mane. 

Time-Saving – Indeed, one of the most attractive aspects of protective hairstyles is that they require minimal handling. After the initial effort of having been put in place, these can be tied up in a bun, held by a clasp, or gathered in a ponytail within a matter of seconds. The lesser you handle your hair, the safer it is from damage, and the more you save on time both in the short term and in the long run.   

Protective Hairstyles – Pros and Cons

So, which protective hairstyle would you choose for yourself? Before taking the plunge, you must explore the various options in terms of their pros, cons, and maintenance, and compiled as follows a list to help you with the task –

Crochet Braids

To achieve this protective hairstyle, you need to systematically crochet the hair extensions onto the strands to appear natural and blend seamlessly. Moisturizing is a must with this hair-do, as is the importance of spacing your hair and judging the thickness while installing the extensions. 




Just in case braids give you a headache, twists come across as being the next best alternatives. First, take a small portion of your hair and twist till you reach the tip. Next, wrap it around another part of the hair and twist them around each other until the end. Having handled your entire mane, you will have acquired a sassy hairdo, which is also protective. 




In this protective hairstyle, portions of hair are braided close to the scalp in an upward motion in straight lines or as per a geometric design, forming rows or patterns. Because each row of braids appears somewhat raised, hence the name ‘cornrows,’ these could assume many different forms.




Hair protection assumes priority for someone who is always on the go and cannot dedicate much time or attention to hairstyling or upkeep. A bun comes across as a savior in such a situation, wherein it adds a neat touch to your appearance while protecting the ends from the daily rough and tumble. Tying a bun entails detangling your hair and circling it at the back of your head till the ends are tucked in. 



Bantu Knots

Very useful as a protective hairstyle, Bantu knots entail segregating your mane into sections and twisting each section into a knot. At the end of the exercise, your crown would appear to be dotted with a neat stack of rings, with the ends tucked in. You can sport Bantu knots for days and weeks at a stretch or keep them overnight and unravel in the morning to enjoy curly hair. 



Final Thoughts

Rather than take a hairstyle at face value, a better idea would be to complete thorough research of what it entails, pros, cons, and preparation. More importantly, follow the pre-and post-installation protocols, wherein you must shampoo, condition, and moisturize your mane regardless of the style. 

Ultimately, your objective is to protect the mane. So, the onus is on you to figure out a protective hairstyle that would serve the purpose and provide the best possible results.  

One response to “Are Protective Hairstyles Truly As Protective?”

  1. […] Protective styles like braids, twists, buns, or updos can aid in moisture retention by minimizing exposure to external factors that can dry the hair, such as wind, sun, or friction from brushing. These styles can help preserve moisture levels and reduce the need for frequent manipulation, which can lead to moisture loss. […]

Please, don't be silent.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: