The Best Protective Styles for Relaxed Hair : 26 short & long term options!

The best protective styles for relaxed hair

 When you want a break from leaving out your relaxed hair, you turn to short or long-term protective styles. But with your new relaxed and fine texture, not all hairstyles will favor your hair.

So which are the best protective styles for relaxed hair?

The best styles are ones that protect your ends and don't cause excess strain on your roots. From short to long-term hairstyles -  here are 26 protective styles for relaxed hair!

Are protective hairstyles good? What are they?

Protective styles for relaxed hair : black girl taking mirror selfie with relaxed hair and rainbow aesthetic
If you interview all naturalists who grew from damaged breaking hair to long healthy locs, they will all say the same thing - don't underestimate protective hairstyles! Keeping your hair in a protective style, puts your individual hair strands into groups to face harsh conditions better - as they say, two heads are better than one. Putting your strands together does four major things for you
  •  Retains moisture, by reducing large surface area for moisture loss.
  • Prevents tangles, by maintaining static motion between your strands.
  • Protect your ends from hair breakage and split ends, by putting your strands into groups (major reason).
  • Creates a favorable environment for growth, since breakage is minimal, i.e length is retained.
 
Traditionally, these 4 points should help you know which styles are protective or not, but here at Curlfit, we like to emphasize protecting both the ends and roots of your hair. A protective style should prevent your ends from breaking or splitting and your roots from being damaged by tension. That is why we don't recognize long chunky/jumbo braids (done with extensions), faux locs, chunky long twists, or any style that directly tugs on your relaxed hair, as a protective style for your relaxed hair. Relaxed hair has gone through cuticle restructuring to produce its final result. Usually, it leaves your hair with less strength and elasticity. These styles tend to be heavy and weigh down directly on your roots, putting them at risk of breakage and causing injuries to your scalp. 
So bullet point no.5
  • A protective style should not strain or weigh down on your roots, excessively.

Best protective styles for relaxed hair

Protective styles for relaxed hair : bantu knots on type 3 curly hair black girl

How do you style your relaxed hair naturally/short-term?

Most natural protective hairstyles are short-term because of frizz and new growth. They are equally as beneficial as long-term hairstyles, just that they require a weekly redo. It is best to do short-term protective styles when you just newly relax your hair. Your hair is in shock and needs at least 2 to 3 weeks to rest, before manipulating it into any drastic style like a weave or braids. After 2 weeks, you can begin to guide your relaxed hair through its recovery process with natural protective styles.

1. Mini Twists with Color

Protective styles for relaxed hair : Fair black girl with freckles and brown mini twists
Mini twists are by default the protective style to fall to, because they favor all hair types (except silky straight hair, since they can't hold styles so well) and secure your roots and ends. Some might call this style cliche but have you ever thought of mini twists and temporary hair color
We'll let your creativity do the rest!

2. Natural Bantu Knots with Beads

Bantu knots with front feed in braids and beads on black girl child
Bantu knots date back to Ancient Africa and have stayed in mainstream ever since. Every time you do Bantu knots you celebrate the African culture and its richness. You can be flexible with them and do a plaited fringe in front. Play with beads and sizes to switch up your style.

3. Loose Top Knot

Relaxed hair mesy Top knot on black girl
If you have relaxed hair, you have probably done a quick top knot at least twice. But I bet you didn't know that securing your crown in a bun updo was protecting your ends from wear and tear. Top knots should be taken down and moisturized after two days to prevent tangles and dryness.

4. Natural braids with Copper highlights 

Black sunkissed girl with natural brown and copper braids
Natural braids are the default hairstyle to fall to. They require more time than twists but last a longer time. Even cuter, add copper hair makeup to the tips to give an ombre look from your natural hair color to metallic ginger!

5. Halo braided braids

Halo braids with front feed in braids and beads on indian girl
When a halo braid isn't enough, you can switch up natural braids into a halo braided braidwith beads.

6. Satin/silk Headwrap

Fair black girl wearing a brown scarf
This is by far the easiest and fastest way to protect your relaxed hair while you sleep or when you're at home. Your hair glides across silk or satin material with minimal friction and absorbing capacity compared to cotton material. So your natural moisture is retained and wear and tear avoided.

7. Claw clip Updo

Black girl bhaddie using a claw clip to tie up her relaxed hair
Claw clips are cute and very versatile. You can secure your hair in different forms with a claw clip and it's way better than having hair clips getting tangled in your hair. *The pain*

9. Natural Boho Braids 

Hair dresser showcasing natural boho braids on a black girl customer

We came across a tutorial on Natural Boho Braids and it was love at first sight! This is a cute plot twist to your classic natural braids and is very simple to do. Just ensure to moisturize your boho braids so your leave outs don't frizz and tangle up with the braids.

10. Natural Colored box braids

Bhaddie with lashes with blue natural box braids and golden hair rings
These mini box braids with gold rings are giving us strong baby girl energy and with this vibrant burst of blue.... a dream come true.

11. Wig

White hand holding a straight wig with closure

 Wigs date far back to the 17th century with Louis XIII and has remained high in demand ever since. Modern hair industries introduced wigs of all hair types, from kinky blowouts to bouncy 3c curls. It is considered a protective hairstyle because your natural hair is secured from the sun, wind, and manipulation under the wig. And when you use an effective Wig band, your front hair is protected too.

12. Classic two-strand twists

Black girl in jumbo juicy twists up and down style
Before you twist your hair, saturate it with your favorite leave-in-conditioner and oil to get juicy final results.

13. Straight back Cornrows

Black woman with bronze straight back cornrows and gold hair accesoroes

When we think of protective styles for relaxed hair, this is the first style that comes to our heads. It's a classic! And you can switch it up hair accessories and hair makeup from Curlfit's array of non-damaging hydrating temporary hair colors. Check out how good bronze goes with her skin!

Short-term natural protective styles should be done once a week to prevent frizz and tangles - which could lead to split ends and hair breakage. 

Long-term best protective styles for relaxed hair

Pretty black girl with clear skin in natural two strand twists

how do you style your relaxed hair for a long period?

The best long-term protective styles for relaxed hair, are ones that don't weigh directly on your roots and tuck your natural hair inside. These two features are guaranteed for short or medium-length styles since the weight of the extension won't be too much for your hair to handle. And we have multiple long-term protective styles to share!

14. Medium Length Fulani Braids

Fair african woman in medium length braids with column of black beads
Fulani braids (AKA Feed braids) originate from the Fula people in the West Africa and Sahel region. They comprise horizontal cornrows and one vertical cornrow down the middle. Fulani braids are very popular. To reduce tugging, opt for medium or short Fulani braids with a column of beads. It's equally fabulous!

17. Weave

Dark hand sewing in weave on customer
A weave is a long-term version of a wig. This style is usually sewn onto your natural cornrows and so protects your natural hair below it. To prevent itching, moisturize the areas in-between each layer with your favorite oil after spritzing it with water, and finish off with a moose.

18. Medium length braids with beads

Pretty sunkissed girl in medium length braids with transparent beads
Medium-length braids with beads might take you back to elementary school but "old-school" is the new trend. We love how she tucked the front pieces behind her ear to bring out her baby hairs.

19. Short Bohemian bob

Black girl in bohemian boho bob
Bohemian braids + A Bob, equals this mature bob of curls. If you want to try out a bob, switch it up with a bohemian-style bob.

20. Passion Twists

Fair happy black woman with short burgundy passion twists and red tips
Passion twists, no matter the length, are always a statement. We love how her burgundy passion twists "ombré-d" into a beautiful red/neon pink. You can do that yourself with Neon pink hair makeup from Curlfit. It's suitable for all hair types including extensions.

21. Butterfly Locs

Fair black girl in old butterfly locs at a restaurant If you're looking for lightweight locs - it's Butterfly locs. This is a mix of goddess braids and passion twists and is the safest loc option for your relaxed hair. 

22. Cornrows updo to ponytail

Cornrow updo to brown ponytail
A cornrow updo couldn't be better with a faux ponytail. This protective style is fabulous but it does mean that you would have to take care of your exposed scalp. To prevent itching, go in with an antibacterial oil or cream, like tea tree oil and Sulfur8.

23. Straight braids

Fair chubby girl with straight black and blonde braids

24. Butterfly Plaited Box Braids

Black girl holding Butterly plaited box braids
Butt-length braids bring out our inner sass, but as we mentioned earlier it tugs directly on your roots, and your relaxed hair might not be able to handle the weight. But this Butterfly Plaited Box braid style solves that problem! Instead of dragging all your hair into a braid, plait it to distribute the weight and let it meet where the braid is to be attached. You can also try different designs and styles. 

25. Pop Smoke Braids

Black woman in bikin and jeans and long pop smoke braids with brads
Pop Smoke stormed the music industry with his TikTok banger "DIOR", but sadly he passed away too soon. Nevertheless his legacy is left behind with his sound and his signature hairstyle (jumbo feed-in braids). We love her twist to this style with zig-zagged partings and white beads. This style doesn't weigh directly into your relaxed hair and secures it inside the extension.

26. Coi Leray Braids

Fair black girl with coi leray braids

Coi Leray turned her signature hairstyle into a whole fashion trend. This medium-length box braid hairstyle unravels into a wavy bounce of curls and is a perfect long-term protective style for relaxed hair. It'll make you look fabulous without weighing down on your hair. 

Plus, you get to show off your baby hairs!

Hairstyles that are bad for relaxed hair

In the introduction of this blog post, we stated what benefits a protective style should give you. Some protective hairstyles with extensions, protect your ends but cause a tug on your scalp that can make your relaxed hair weaker and more viable to break. Hairstyles that require excess gel to get a smooth finish like sleek buns are bad for your hair as well. Gels contain alcohol and other ingredients that suck up the moisture in your scalp and hair, to provide a stronghold 

Some examples of hairstyles that are damaging for relaxed hair

  • Tight ponytails
  • Semi-permanent colored styles (consider replacing it with hair makeup)
  • Jumbo braids
  • Chunky twists
  • Tight bun 
  • Long braids
  • Sleek and tight buns, etc.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the relationship between damage and braids. By default, we turn to braids to add length and volume. Natural braids are great for your relaxed hair but braided hairstyles that are too tight and weigh too much, cause tension and damage to the roots of your relaxed hair - which is far worse than damaging your ends. 

The short and long-term protective styles we suggested for your relaxed hair are the safest, proven and most DIY-friendly styles there are. 

We hope this blog helped you a ton in deciding on the protective styles for your relaxed hair! And let us know which you're picking in the comments below :)