Skip to Content

Protective Hairstyles For 4c Hair

Protective hairstyles for 4c hair

Once you start your natural hair journey, your ultimate goal becomes healthy hair and growth.

Which is what is all about.

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.

It’s the best way to grow long hair and avoid hair damage.

side by side picture of black woman with a headwrap and black woman with short bob braids

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 detangle it.

Because natural 4c hair is prone to breakage and damage, protective styling is essential to its health and growth.

Common protective styles include 4c hair ponytails, natural hair braids as well as beautiful wigs.

Thankfully, you have come to the right place if you are looking for a popular protective hairstyle.

Below I share very fun, elegant, and easy protective styles for black hair.

Here are 10 of my favorite protective hairstyles for 4c hair.

black woman smiling into the camera while holding her twisted natural hair in hand

What protective styles help hair grow?

Now that we all understand that protective styles help hair grow the question is which are best.

As mentioned before, the benefits of protective hairstyles are that they are heat-free and keep the ends of your hair concealed, which helps with length retention.

Meaning your kinky hair is safe from friction and shedding and your hair strands stay moisturized which decreases breakage and leads to longer hair.

However, there is a wide range of what is considered a great protective style.

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.

young black woman showing off her straight back cornrows

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.

Some of the best styles for that are two-strand twists or flat twists.

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

If you have thin natural hair, however, you can simply use Marley hair to create the look as well.

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

Hands down the best protective styles for 4c hair are protective braids of any kind.

Whether you choose thick box braids or fancy knotless braids.

Both are very popular to install and last for a good amount of time. For women who have a very busy schedule and don’t have the time to style their hair every day, box braids are perfect. 

When installed correctly, and 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, the braiding hair is 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

Protective hairstyle number four is perfect for a quick, but practical hairstyle right after wash day.

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.

They require less braiding hair 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, depending on the length of your hair extensions

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. 

The only difference? Instead of using braiding hair, you use synthetic wavy hair.

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 with a crochet needle, 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 and is definitely the easiest protective style of them all.

While head scarfs are not a long-term protective style, they are a great option for bad hair days. Plus it’s cheap! All you have to do is find a beautiful satin scarf on Amazon.

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 consistent conditioning and moisturizing and can be worn for weeks on end.

While installing faux locks takes a long time and involves more braiding hair than with 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. 

young black woman in an orange dress with braids in a big top bun

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 general 4c hair braids are good for your natural 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.

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. 

black woman smiling into the camera while holding her natural 4c afro in hand

Can natural hair grow without protective styles?

Yes, natural hair can grow without a protective style. As a matter of fact, hair grows all the time.

However, in order to increase the length of your hair, you have to find ways to avoid hair breakage.

Split ends, frizz, and too much daily styling can break your hair, which is usually what happens if you wear your hair in its natural texture for a long period of time.

However, if you just want to give your hair a break for a while, then make sure that you use the right products and protect it otherwise.

Articles related to protective hairstyles for 4c hair: