protective hairstyles for 4c hair

Once you start your natural hair journey, your ultimate goal becomes healthy hair and growth. When I did the big chop it was very important to me that I now grow my hair beyond the length it was before. 

Daily moisturizing and bi-weekly deep conditioning became my new routine. But what to do with your hair in between? How do you promote natural hair growth every day without having to constantly take care of it? 

The answer is through protective hairstyles. Hairstyles that maintain natural 4c hair without you having to style them daily.

What are protective hairstyles?

Protective hairstyles are low manipulation hairstyles that allow black women to tuck away their hair for a few weeks at a time without having to constantly touch or comb it. Because natural 4c hair is prone to breakage and damage, protective styling is essential to its health and growth.

Common protective styles include flat twists, natural hair braids as well as an easy-to-do high puff. Thankfully, you have come to the right place for breathtaking hairstyles. Below I share very fun, elegant, and easy protective styles for black hair. Here are 10 of my favorite protective hairstyles for 4c hair.

Do protective styles help hair grow?

As usual, the short answer is yes. Protective styles do help hair grow. However, not because they make your hair grow faster, but because they help with length retention.

As mentioned before, a great protective style is heat-free and keeps the ends of your hair concealed. Meaning your kinky hair is safe from friction and shedding. Your hair strands stay moisturized which decreases breakage and leads to longer hair.

However, there is a wide range of what is considered true protective styles. Not all of them will promote hair growth the same way. With some, you will retain more length than with others depending on how strenuous the style is on your hair. If there is a lot of scalp tension because you have short natural hair and the style is too tight, then you might be doing yourself a disservice.

The best protective hairstyles don’t just tuck away your ends and retain the moisture, but also ensure strong follicles and a relaxed scalp. No matter if you have shorter hair or medium-length 4c hair.

Luckily, with all the great natural hair vloggers nowadays, you can watch a youtube tutorial to find natural hairstyles for hair growth. Here are the 10 best protective hairstyles for 4c hair.

10 protective hairstyles for 4c hair

Many African-American women face the exact same problem as me. We want to rock a cute short 4c hairstyle without having to straighten or manipulate our hair. But that is easier said than done. Especially, when society makes you feel like curly hair or coily hair is not good enough for a formal event or professional look. Lies!

1. Twists

protective hairstyles for 4c hair

One of the main reasons why you want to install the right protective style into your hair is to avoid pulling on your edges or weighing down your hair strands. And one of the best styles for that is two-strand twists. 

This chic but easy protective hairstyle is a great solution for women with thick dense hair that want to save time while keeping their hair strong. 

Try out twists for yourself, by following this easy tutorial.

2. Cornrows

cornrows for natural hair growth

Long gone are the days when cornrows were only worn by men or the mandatory trick to install a weave. Now cornrows, thick or thin, can be rocked for any occasion and with any hair type while helping your hair grow healthy and fast. 

However, when you use cornrows for natural hair growth, you always want to make sure that you don’t braid them too tight, otherwise, you may pull your edges out and break your roots. A simple way to upgrade your cornrows is to use braiding hair for a thicker and more elegant look.

Here is a great example of how to do it.

3. Box Braids

protective styles with extensions

Probably the most common protective style is box braids. It’s very popular because it is relatively easy to install and lasts for a good amount of time. For women that have a very busy schedule and don’t have the time to style their hair every day, this option is perfect. 

When installed correctly, loose without putting too much tension on your hair, the braids will maintain the health of your follicles and scalp. Box braids can easily last up to 6 weeks, are very affordable, and look cute. Full step-by-step guide on how to install Box Braids here.

4. Bantu Knots

protective hairstyles for relaxed hair

While Bantu Knots are definitely not the easiest hairstyle to do on yourself, they look absolutely stunning. And because your hair is first twisted and then nicely wrapped in a bun on top of your head, it is a good protective style to grow your 4c hair. Curious? Try them out for yourself.

5. Short braids

protective styles for winter

Now, these braids are pretty much a nice little twist on regular box braids. If you are a fan of the classic bob and prefer short hair during summer, then this new look might be a better fit for you.

Similar to box braids, they can be worn for 4 weeks and more. And the best thing is, that short braids are easier to install, maintain, and wash due to the length. And they are super cute too. Check out this tutorial to get started with short braids.

6. Senegalese Twists

braiding natural hair with extensions

If you are not that much into braids and prefer a simple protective hairstyle that is less heavy and low maintenance, then Senegal’s twists might be a good move. This protective style will give your hair a much-needed break and can be worn in many different styles. Learn how to do chunky Senegalese Twists here.

7. Passion Twists

protective hairstyles for transitioning hair,

Passion Twists are a mix between Senegalese twists and goddess locs. This natural and easy-to-maintain hairdo is perfect for summer because it radiates straight island vibes. And like most other protective styles, passion twists retain length and additional growth with the duration of your style. 

Follow Kinzey for a detailed tutorial on Passion Twists.

8. Crochet Braids

protective hairstyles for natural hair with weave

My personal all-time favorites are crochet braids because they are super versatile. This innovative hairstyle allows you to rock almost every type of hair texture without having to manipulate your own. By simply attaching synthetic hair extensions, you can pretty much rock any look while still protecting your natural hair. 

Trust me, the crochet method is super easy as explained in this YouTube video.

9. Head Wraps

best protective styles for thinning edges

Uhh, child, the elegance of head wraps has taken the natural hair community by storm. Now welcomed in every environment, from work to school, a beautifully tied scarf can make heads turn. While head scarfs are not a long-term protective style, they are an easy alternative for a bad hair day. 

The only thing you need to consider when using a head wrap is to purchase a satin head wrap that will not suck all the moisture out of your hair like cotton headwraps. 

Trouble figuring out how to tie a headscarf? Get instructions here.

10. Faux Locs

protective hairstyles for transitioning hair

Last but not least, one of my favorite styles. Faux locs are a funky but fun protective hairstyle for short hair. The style requires very low maintenance apart from the consistent conditioning and moisturizing and can be worn for weeks on end.

While installing faux locks takes a long time and involves more hair than simple box braids or chunky twists, this hairstyle is not more damaging to your natural hair than any other protective style. So if you have always wondered what you would look like with dreadlocks, then faux locs are a great way to experiment. 

Is braiding good for 4c hair?

As you can tell from the list above, a lot of the styles are braided. And if you are anything like me then you might have had a bad experience with braiders in the past. Even though it’s a very simple style, a lot of people experience hair loss afterward. Why? Because the braids are installed too tight or are too heavy.

In generally braids are good for 4c hair, as long as you remind your braider of the following:

  • The sections of hair should not pull your edges
  • Dip rubber bands in oil first to avoid snagging
  • Don’t use too much braiding hair on one small section

Of course, there are many more protective hairstyles for 4c hair, such as a low bun, space buns, and more. I share some of those here. For now, all you need to remember when choosing a new style is that it needs to be a simple hairstyle that keeps you from having to do your hair every morning so that you don’t have to manipulate your hair as much. 

The longer you can keep in the same protective style, the more new growth you will have without losing length. 

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