Protective Styles 101 For Healthy Hair – Who Why How

Protective styles are characterized by closed or tucked ends,allowing for the oldest part of the hair to be protected from daily manipulation in an effort to promote healthy hair. Some women wear protective styles to give their hair a rest, especially in the south during the summer months of high humidity. Protective styles are a great way to maintain healthy hair well as fight humidity with style.

Protective styles are also a mainstay for busy professionals who want freedom from everyday styling while still maintaining a signature style. Angela Basset comes to mind along with Susan Taylor, both high-profile female executives who wear protective styles really well.  On the celebrity front, who can forget Nicole Ari Parker, Jill Scot and the most stunning Alicia Keys all wearing glamorous protective styles on the red carpet or, the most iconic Ledisi singing “Precious Lord Take My Hand” for an Academy Award.   You too can wear these and other protective styles for healthy hair if you just have a little knowledge up front.

First Steps

Preparing your scalp is important, since protective styles like braids and twist tend to put a little pressure on the scalp. It is a good idea to to Pre Poo with a nourishing product likeThree Layer Oil. Let the oil soothe and relax your scalp, and then cleanse the hair with sulfate-free shampoo. After cleansing with clarifying shampoo, follow up with moisturizing shampoo to make sure scalp and hair are both clean and ready.   Shea Butter Leave In Conditioner will nourish every strand and allow conditioning to penetrate the strand. Make sure to use a few drops of oil to seal strands before applying setting lotion or gel.


Braids are always a popular and timeless choice for protective styles. There are many, many versions of braids, so the sky’s the limit here! Let your imagination go wild, or just take a quick look at Pinterest for inspiration for various braided looks from cute to elegant.

Bun or Mini Buns

If you have enough length to pull hair back into a high ponytail, you can create en elegant bun. Simply apply gel to hair and pull it up into a high ponytail and secure it with a satin tie, or cloth-coveredscrunchie. Never use a rubber band as they are damaging to the hair strand and can defeat the protection you are trying to provide.

Gently spread the ponytail out and begin to shape it into a bun. Tuck the ends under the bun and secure with bobby pins. If you do not have enough length, you can pull hair back with a lined headband and form mini buns in sections, securing each section end with a bobby pin. Make sure the pins are rubber tipped so as not to injure scalp.

Single Twists

Single twists can be accomplished by dividing hair into sections, then each section into smaller twist-size sections. Apply a small amount of styling gel from the root to the tip. Start at the root with a twisting motion, with one or both hands curl strand working your way down to the tip, eventually wrapping around your finger until hair forms a tight coil. Continue completing sections.

Two-Strand Twists

Two-strand twists begin the same way as single twists, but after one smaller section is twisted, you take the adjoining section, twist it in the same fashion, then twist those two individual sections together. Applying a small amount oil to the ends will help keep them sealed up. Two-strand twists can be small or large in size, but like single twists, the smaller the sections, the longer the twist will stay intact. Use Curl Sealer and Pure Pudding to produce soft twist outs.

Havana Twist

These chunky twists are all the rage with celebs.We saw them first on Janet Jackson, then Brandi rocked them. Tracy Ellis Ross glams with her Havana Twist, and Carla Hall ignites daily television when she cooks with her Havana Twist on The Chew. So if you want to trya Havana Twist or the Dutch Version, prepare your hair like you would normally for a protective style. After you apply leave in, add a touch of oil to seal the cuticle. Now it’s time for Styling Dredz with Tea Tree Oil. You’ll notice hair and scalp will be happy with flexible hold, and you will be too, with your healthy hair’s high shine. If you goal was for your healthy hair to be all protected, you’re there…your hair couldn’t be safer if it were in Witness Protection!

Caring For Your Protective Style

Protective styles are low maintenance, not maintenance free.Be sure you keep your protective style in satin wrap cap or tie a silk or satin scarf to hold everything in place. Further protect hair and skin with a satin pillow cover. There are a number of sleeping aids that elevate the head at night to help keep your hair protected longer.  The better you care for your protective style, the longer it will last. No matter the style you choose, you must keep your scalp and protective style clean and moisturized in order to maintain healthy hair.Check out our recent blog post on caring for your protective style for in-depth instructions.

Hopefully these basic protective styles will inspire you try out a few new looks this fall in your quest for healthy hair.