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Protective Hairstyles for Growing Natural Hair Longer

Updated on January 25, 2016

Hair styling is very important when trying to grow hair long and strong. It can mean the difference of protecting your hair or damaging it. All hair styles are not created equal.

Heat Styling: Friend or Foe?

One of the biggest things you should stay away from if you are trying to grow your hair long is heat. Heat can be very damaging to the hair if not used properly or sparingly.

Heat appliances change the structure of the hair and break the hydrogen bonds that hold the curls together. This allows the hair to become straighten but the appliance. Once hydrogen is reintroduced to the hair via water the hair will revert back to its natural curl.

Thermal styling is temporary but if heat styling natural hair becomes too frequent the hair can become damaged beyond repair. Heat can damage the cuticles of the hair and when the cuticles are damaged the hair losses its strength and will begin to break off.

For curly hair, heat damage may prevent the hair from curling back to its original curl causing the hair to look frizzy.

Some styles may look good but they could actually hinder your growth.

Protective styling is the best way to style your natural hair if you are trying to grow your hair long. Protective styling is used for protect the ends of your hair and prevent them from rubbing against your clothing and being worn down by the outside elements.

Protective styles are for everyone!

A lot of people think that protective styles are boring and not stylish but they actually can be really cute.

Natural hair styles are never ending from braids to buns to twists and combinations of any of them.


One of my favorite protective hair style is a bun. There are so many things you can do with buns.

You can dress them up or down or make them as stylish as you want.

Buns can be messy or sleek; they can be accessorized or left plain. I love buns because they are easy to do and they last the whole week which is really great for low manipulation.

Protective styles are meant to last you a few days so that you don’t have to worry about you hair and so you can manipulate your hair as little as possible. The less you comb your hair or style your hair the better.

If your hair isn’t long enough to do a bun, puffs are a good alternative.


Another way that I like to protect my hair is with braids.

Braids are extremely diverse and can be as complex or as simple as you want. There are many different ways to style braids from French braids, to cornrows, to individual braids, plaits and braid outs.

If you are the type of person who likes to wear cornrows, there are endless possibilities when styling your hair. They look great and they are protecting your hair.

Just make sure that when you are cornrowing or doing any braid style in your hair that you don’t make them too tight. This can cause your hair to come out and even bald in some areas.

My hair type is fine and my edges are very fragile; I like to keep my edges cornrowed down so that they stay protected and grow as good as the rest of my hair.


For the rest of my hair, I like to do braid outs. I’ll plait my hair in about five braids and leave them in until they are completely dry and then I take them out for a wavy stretched out look.

I also like to braid my hair in to many small individual braids. This style will last me about two to three weeks; even longer if I use extensions. Depending on your hair texture, individual braids may last longer or shorter than mine.


If you get bored with buns and braids, the fun with protective styling natural hair doesn’t have to stop there. You can also do twists. Much like braids, twists are very diverse. Pretty much anything you can do with braids you can do with twist, twists will just change up the style a bit.

There is definitely not just one way to twist the hair. Sometimes I like to single strand twist, two strand twist and even three strand twist. Each of these twisting methods make the hair look different and help protect the hair.


Sometimes when my braid outs and twist outs get old I like to throw them up into an updo. Updos are quick and easy.

Tucking and rolling is my favorite way to achieve a quick updo style.

If your hair is shorter you may want to try using bobby pins and clips to achieve an updo style.

Clips and bobby pins were my best friend when I had my shorter hair.

If you are truly dedicated to growing your natural hair as long as possible, you should really consider protective styling your hair 90% of the time.

Save your down styles for special occasions or for the weekend.

Styling natural hair in protective styles does not have to be boring. Find some cool accessories to spice up your hair styles!

I have had so much fun over the years getting to know my hair. Through your hair journey try to enjoy yourself through every milestone. If you are starting off with short hair count yourself as lucky.

You will get the chance to really master your hair as it grows out because it will be much easier to handle.

Styling natural hair is not easy but practice make perfect. Once you get the hang of it you will enjoy your natural hair and all of its diversity!


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    • KySmith profile image

      Kyndall Smith 5 years ago from Milwaukee

      Your welcome and thank you for commenting!

    • profile image

      Unknown 5 years ago

      Thanks , this really helped me .

      - Muahhh !

    • KySmith profile image

      Kyndall Smith 6 years ago from Milwaukee

      Thank you so much for the support! I'm so glad you found my hub helpful. Nice to meet you also! =)

    • TheListLady profile image

      TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

      Love the styles and I like the term and definition of protective styles - I had not thought about that. I suppose I should not give up so easily and spend a bit of time twisting my locs - and I see what you mean about getting some accessories - it would make such a difference and it would be fun. Well, Okay then.

      Meanwhile, thanks for all the reminders about how much damage we can do to our hair. All in the name of beauty? No, the beauty is there, it's the care we need to learn about.

      Rated up and nice to meet you by the way!