The 22 Best Protective Hairstyles for Curly Hair during the Summer

Having curly hair is beautiful, but just like all precious items, it requires delicate care and attention. If you have curly hair, then you have probably experienced hair breakage, at least, once in your life. That is because our ends are vulnerable to extreme conditions like heat waves during the summer, heat or chemical styling, etc. which cause hair damage. To prevent this we turn to protective hairstyles. Here are the 22 best protective hairstyles for curly hair!   

What is considered a protective hairstyle?

A team is safer and stronger in numbers - that's exactly what protective hairstyles do for you. It protects your strands from harsh conditions by putting them into groups. No wonder braids and twists are so popular! Protective Hairstyles also tuck your hair (especially your ends) away to limit its exposure to manipulation, the sun, cold, and any factor that can cause hair breakage and damage. It also does this without tugging on your front hair or causing scalp tension that will lead to excessive hair shed and loss. So whether you choose to do protective hairstyles with or without extensions, always ensure they're not too tight at the roots. This is very important, especially for fine hair like type 4 hair and dyed hair

Protective Hairstyles without weave

Bantu knots on natural hair

Protective hairstyles Natural bantu knots on type 4 hair

Pride in the royal twirls of Bantu knots. Originated from the Zulu people of Southern Africa, this hairstyle is perfect to keep your strands compact and secured from manipulation and damage.

Colored box braids

Protective style Colored box braids natural hair
This protective style takes us back in time to the simpler days - and it's even better with a twist of hair color from brands like Curlfit. Curlfit hair paint wax give your hair extra protection against UV rays and hair damage whilst coating your strands in a burst of rich color. They are also enriched with essential oils like argan oil and ingredients like silk protein to nourish and hydrate your strands.

Bubble braid half up half down

Protective hairstyles Bubble braid half up half down curly 3c hair
We're convinced bubble braids are here to stay. You can jazz them up with different colored clips, rubber bands, scrunchies, and different styles like a bubble braid ponytail or full-on bubble braids. We love this half up half down bubble braid look because it's super creative and super protective for your ends.

Pineapple Hair

Protective hairstyles pineapple hair updo with color
This hairstyle has single-handedly won the easiest protective style award because you don't need any special skill or a bunch of hair clips to do it. With just a shoelace, you're good to go! You can go in with some hair makeup at the tips to give it a unique look. We love this copper color against her dark hair!
Pro-tip; it's best to sleep with your hair up loosely, to prevent tangles and matts. This is especially for long hair.

Flat twist

Come rain or sunshine, flat twists will always be here for you. If you haven't gotten a hang of cornrows and you want to do a quick DIY protective style, do flat twists. It's a pretty straightforward process and it protects your crown perfectly.

Small straight back cornrows

Protective hairstyles Small straight cornrows on 3c hair dark girl
We can't leave the basics out of this list. Straight cornrows are super easy to do and protect your ends from damage as well. If you feel it's too common or simple, try embellishing it with gold clips and hair accessories. You can add a subtle burgundy hair color to your look if you like!

Side-parted crown braid

Protective hairstyles Crown braid on light skin
If you are tender-headed and want a protective style with no scalp tension, opt for this crown of goodness! 

Mini twists

Protective Hairstyles Small mini twists on dark skin
Mini twists might be our bias. This low manipulation hairstyle is perfect for all lengths and hair types.   

Cornrows with beads

Protective hairstyles Cornrows with beads dark girl
Turn your classic cornrows into rows of beaded mysteries with hair beads!

Side parted two jumbo twists

protective hairstyles jumbo twists flat twists
Twists never fail to show us how versatile they are. Jumbo twists always showcase the health and juiciness of your strands. Plus, it protects your ends with less scalp tension.

Space buns

Protective hairstyles space buns on curly hair
Sleek hair buns are the champions of low manipulation hairstyles, because who would want to touch their hair after sleeking it up? We love this space bun bang look most especially because of how they automatically make every outfit you wear cute!

Mixed colored box braids

Protective hairstyles Blonde multi colored box braids
Why remain stuck between a bunch of hair colors when you could just get them all? Hair makeup is a great way to add your creative spark safely to your protective style. 

Protective hairstyles with weave

Classic 2 strand twist updo

Protective style long 2 strand twist on sunkissed girl

Twists are a protective style classic, that has made its mark in the natural hair world (especially natural coily hair). Regardless of your hair length, 2 strand twist protect your ends from damage, has minimal tension at your roots, and helps hair growth. Plus, it's just drop-dead gorgeous.

Cornrows with ponytail extension

Protective hairstyles Straight back cornrows and ponytail extension
Here is another easy protective style you can do when you're on a run. Use a clip-in ponytail make you look fabulous

Tribal Fulani braids with beads

Protective style tribal Fulani braids with beads fine fair girl
If you're going for a sophisticated protective style for your natural hair, you should try Fulani braids. Out of all protective hairstyles on this list, this should be the most sophisticated, and adding beads will accentuate the style further. 

Faux Locs

protective hairstyles long faux locs on black girl
Locs have always been the easiest protective style to upgrade to Goddess in a blink of an eye!

Marley twists

Jumbo Marley twists protective hairstyles

One thing we love about Marley twists is, that the older the better. In fact the messier the more sophisticated. Named after the legendary reggae artist, Bob Marley, these twists were meant to look like dreads but it's still stunning irrespective.

Medium knotless box braids

protective hairstyles knotless box braids with curls

Out of the many protective hairstyles out there, these medium knotless braids with curls take us deep into the ocean of mermaids. We even love knotless box braids more when embellished cowries and gems!

Two buns hairstyle 

Protective hairstyles two buns two puffs light skin
We love seeing this easy protective style on natural hair most especially. You can add more texture to those two buns with defined baby hairs

Head wrap

Protective Hairstyles Head wrap scarf type 4 hair

Also called a pineapple hair wrap, this easy protective hairstyle is the perfect way to protect your hair while sleeping. So it's an at-home and going-out type of hairstyle. If you're wondering how to tie a head wrap, here is a tutorial on six ways you can do just that!

FAQs on Protective Hairstyles

How long should a protective hairstyle last? 

When your hair is in a protective style, especially for braids and twists, it accumulates daily shed hair. If this is left for a long time, it can lead to tangles and mats and we all know how frustrating tangles can be. Depending on your hair type, you should leave it between 1-2 months (2 months being the maximum for all hair types).

How do you moisturize natural hair with protective hairstyle? 

For protective hairstyles on natural hair without weave, moisturizing your hair is fairly easy. You can go in with an anti-microbial oil like tea tree oil and creams like Sulfur8, to prevent yeast from creating flakes. Spritz your hair with water and finish with a water-based leave-in-conditioner. The same goes for styles with weave. With extensions, you can wash your braids or twists once every two weeks or less, depending on your daily activities and how you sweat. Use a clarifying shampoo to gently scrub your scalp and natural hair. Rinse off and air-dry for some minutes. When it's not dripping wet, go in with a blow dryer, then seal the remaining moisture in with your favorite essential oil. 

Did you like these protective hairstyles for curly hair? Comment down below your favorite one!


  • Noemi

    I have 3c4a coily afrotexture hair and I’ve been sporting braids in my hair since I was 11years old. I am Afro-Latina with african descendants thru my dad side who is Afro-Guatemalan. I believe anyone with curly, coily, and textured hair can wear any kind of braids without being overly too cultural appropriating.

  • Yve

    Hi, I would like to do many of these styles on my 3C hair. However, I’m not black so would that be bad for me to do?

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.