Protective Styling


Messy buns are one of my go to protective styles

What Is A Protective Style and Why It Is Necessary In The Fight Against Breakage

Protective styling is a very important aspect of a hair regimen.  It is one of the best ways to minimise breakage because it protects the ends of hair which is where a lot of damage and breakage occurs.

A protective style is a hair style that protects hair ends from everyday exposure to the elements;sun, wind etc.  A protective style should not require heat or too much manipulation (combing, brushing, pulling)  to create.  It should keep hair ends/tips off the shoulders.  This basically means that the ends of the hair, which are the oldest and weakest parts of our hair, should be tucked away or hidden to prevent it from getting dry by exposure to the sun and wind, or from getting damaged from rubbing on your shoulders and clothes.

If we leave our hair down, comb and play with it all the time there will be a lot of wear and tear on our hair.   It may become excessively dry and this could eventually lead to breakage.  Off course our hair can be worn out or down or “enjoyed” from time to time, however wearing it down daily or too often is not advisable.


Protective styles should keep hair off the shoulders and the ends of hair tucked/hidden away.

How Often Should Protective Styles be worn?

Now what I am about to say is the part of a hair regimen that doesn’t go down well with a lot of ladies.  Our hair should be worn in protective styles majority of the time.
I’ve heard several ladies say “if my hair was long I would wear it down and show it off, I would comb and play with it all the time and I would never pack it away,”.
As advised above, the risk of leaving our hair down daily is damaged dry ends and breakage.  The ends may have to be trimmed off resulting in shorter hair.

Several ladies who are on a hair journey wear their hair down once or twice a week max. Some only wear it down on special occasions but have several creative and beautiful protective styles they wear.

Types Of Protective Styles

In my opinion protective styling should be fun and there are so many beautiful styles that we can create with our own hair

Some examples of protective styles are:

1) Buns
This is one of the most popular and trendy protective styles.  It is very popular with ladies on a hair journey because it is very easy to create and effectively protects/hides the ends of the hair.
To avoid causing damage when wearing a bun don’t pack your hair too tightly and don’t pack it in the same spot every time as this will create too much tension on that spot.

2) Up-does
Aside from buns there are many updo hairstyles which can be protective and stylish.
The aim is to create the style with minimal brushing and combing.  The style should keep the ends of the hair hidden and the length of the hair should be kept off your shoulders.
The style should be easy to preserve so that it does not need to be redone every day.  It can simply be tidied in the mornings and redone after 2/3 days

3) Wigs

Protective Styling -Wigs                                                                                                        Wearing wigs made by Hair by Type4 

Wigs are a fantastic option for protective styling.  Wigs allow you to keep majority or all of your hair protected but will allow you to care for your hair properly because it can be removed giving you access to your hair.  You can have a plethora of hair style options which you can switch up as often as you want without wrecking havoc on your own hair.
When wearing wigs, you should still take care of your hair and have a means of keeping your scalp clean and your hair hydrated.  You may not need to spend as much time on your hair as you would if you were wearing you own hair, but you certainly should not neglect your own hair whilst wearing a wig.

4) Extensions- Weaves and Braids
Weaves and braids can also serve as protective styles but only if they are installed, maintained and removed properly.
Many of us have formed a habit of neglecting our own hair whilst wearing extensions however doing this can lead to extremely dry, damaged and weak tresses which may result in severe breakage.  Some aspects of your hair regimen should be continued even whilst wearing hair extensions.
Personally I stopped wearing sew-on weaves and braids many years ago as they were breaking my hair, especially at my front hair line, I wear wigs instead.
If you are lucky enough to not suffer breakage from wearing braids and weaves then by all means please continue to wear such styles, just don’t completely neglect your own hair whilst wearing them.

Practical Tips for Effective Protective Styling

1) Do not style hair that feels dry and crunchy.  If your hair feels this way, moisturise and seal before styling.

2) If you need to detangle before styling, use hands followed by a wide tooth comb if necessary.

3) Avoid unnecessary or harsh combing when creating a protective style

4) Don’t pull hair too tight when creating the style

5) Minimise daily restyling, if possible create styles will last for a few days with minimal daily touch ups.

6) Ensure your tools, e.g. pins, combs, brushes, are in good condition so that it does not snag and rip hair whilst styling

7) Avoid using harsh styling products, hairsprays or gels containing alcohol.

8) Always sleep with your hair covered with a satin scarf. A lose bonnet will allow hair to move around; a scarf tied over the hair however will keep it in place. 

My Approach to Protective Styling

I relax my hair every 18 to 20 weeks.
The table below shows what protective styles I wear during the 18 to 20 week periods between my relaxers.

Week 1 -8 After Relaxer

Week 9 -20 After relaxer

  • Buns
  • Up-does
  • Hair worn free and down once or twice a week