What is Protective Styling and What is the Purpose?

When you have long hair, you know the troubles that accompany it. Hours of hair maintenance every day can take time out of your busy schedule, and simply be extremely annoying. Furthermore, there's always the persistent enemy of split ends, which can set back your hair growth goals by months when you're forced to trim them. Despite all this, many women desire long hair, not just for their appearance, but also just for self-satisfaction and confidence. To this end, many hairstylist recommend protective styling as a means to longer, healthier hair.

Protective Styling

At its simplest, protective styling is any hairstyle that tucks your ends away safely. By keeping the ends of your hair away from the environment, protective styling can prevent the ends from splitting and fraying over time. Furthermore, since most protective styles last for weeks at a time, protective styling can save you time and hassle, allowing you to get by with your day instead of struggling with your hair every morning.

Types of Protective Styling

There are a number of different choices and styles for someone who wants to look into protective styling. One option is to hide the hair away entirely, underneath a wig. Another is to lock the hair down into complicated braids. You can also utilize twists as a protective style. Each of these options manifest in a number of different ways, and have different advantages.


Wigs provide the very most protection, as they serve as a literal protective shell for your actual hair. Some wigs are highly recommended for protective styling, such as Peruvian straight hair, a wig that fits in very naturally with the skin and hair tone of many women of African descent. The main trade-off with wigs, though, is that they can be uncomfortable, trapping sweat on top of your scalp and potentially causing itchiness.


Braids are one way of protecting hair while keeping it out in the light. A braid weaves the hair into solid masses, whether they be close to the head like cornrows, or a longer braid that goes down the back. While much less restrictive than wigs, braids can still be somewhat uncomfortable, due to the lack of motion in your hair.


A final option for protective styling is using a twist. Twists are similar to braids, but instead of a more solid mass of interconnected hair, twists weave the hair into smaller, individual sections. The main advantage of a twist is that twists can move freely of each other, thus most closely mimicking natural hair. However, with more mobility comes less protection, and it's still possible to have some damage done to your hair in a twist, albeit much less than no protection would have.

In the end, the choice is mostly stylistic. If you want to protect your hair, you absolutely should, and the style you choose to protect it should be one that you enjoy, that makes you feel confident as you go out in the world. Whether that choice be a braid, a wig, or a twist is up to you.

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