Protective hairstyles are used to protect hair from manipulation, the elements and clothing and when we talk about protective styling, many women with 4C Hair begin to listen. Black hair needs more protection than straight hair as our strands are more prone to breakage and with it’s coilier texture. The coilier or kinkier the texture, the more delicate the strands and will be more susceptible to damage.
There is a myth that one must protective style to get length retention, especially if you have 4C hair. 4C Hair is the coiliest on the hair typing chart and That’s simply not true but for many protective styling is an asset for less manipulation, lasting styles and protecting hair from clothing, the elements and from yourself. Protective styling is only one trick to steering clear of damage but it is a useful one.
What Is 4C Hair?
4C hair is the coiliest, kinkiest or tightest strands of hair on the hair typing chart. 4C hair is the driest hair type and usually has no clumping without styling products. There is a lot of shrinkage with 4C hair (up to 75%!) and many feel that 4C hair does not grow. It does grow, just like all other hair types but if not properly cared for, it will break more easily than those other textures. With that in mine, many women with 4C hair, choose to wear protective styles to limit hair breakage. Here’s a list of the best styles to not only protect your hair but to give you great style too.
The tuck and roll is a popular quick style that many naturals gravitate to when looking for simple yet elegant. One of the easiest and quickest protective style for 4C Hair naturals, this hairstyle incorporates the action of rolling, tucking and usually pinning hair into place and ends out of harm’s way. No real talent is required and this style puts in double duty as a go-to for an old hairstyles while also protecting ends from breakage.
Many women with 4C hair will first stretch hair in twists, braids or even rollers to fight shrinkage and give hair length to create a more voluminous roll & tuck style. Tuck and roll or the roll, tuck and pin have several variations and no one creation is the best. You use your own creative style to make this look work and as long as you moisturize hair well and keep it covered at night, this style will last for days. You can add twists, cornrows to give added flair or simply add a scarf or headband.
Many naturals gravitate to Bantu knots to create a uniform curl to their transitioning hair but the style is beautiful as is and a wonderful natural protective hairstyle for women with 4C hair. This beautiful style has a rich history in African beauty culture and has been fully immersed itself into the natural hair movement.
One of the best features of this style is how long they last. They can last for a week or more but can then be transformed into a Bantu knot out, where the knots are released and worn as a beautiful uniform curly Fro. A styling tool and a protective style allow this look to be one of the best to learn how to do for any hair type but especially for 4C naturals who are worried about hair breakage.
Gloria Ann shares from wash to finish her Bantu knots installation to her magnificent curly Afro. Her expert application created a protective style beautiful enough to wear “as is” but her creation was for styling purposes.
For variety to your style, add hair extensions, beads, scarves and even hair jewelry to take your Bantu knots to another level of perfection. Even the parts can be creative so once you have perfected the style, get adventurous and have fun!
One of the most fun and versatile protective styles for 4C naturals would be hair extensions. While sew-ins and wigs are not the most ideal, braids, twists, faux Locs and the ever-popular crochet braids are great ways to add variety to your hair while protecting them. The choices are pretty endless as new styles, hair and applications continue to grow.
From crochet braids to Senegalese twists, you can fully cover and protect your hair while you have fun with various colors, lengths, textures and styles. Most naturals now know to worry about these extensions being too tight around the edges, staying in too long or not giving hair time to rest in between installations.
Being vigilant on caring for hair while in these hairstyles will allow you to wear them with no breakage or trauma occurring to your own hair. Installation may be the biggest expense but many naturals have taken that upon themselves and lowering the expense to almost nothing. These are a win/win protective style as long as you care for your own hair underneath, ensure they are not too tight or in too long and giving hair breaks in-between applications.
Updos are a favorite among women for not just protective styling but for creating flawless looks that can worn at work, at play and even at special events like weddings.
The variations of updos are pretty endless since you can marry twists, braids, hair pieces and buns into them. Updos can be created on hair while in its natural state or on stretched hair with the stretched hair giving volume and length to the updo.
Updos offer long-lasting styles but also give the wearer an option to revitalize an old style by adding re-moisturizing and add a few more days to hairstyle. Many natural use an updo to fix a mess up that can happen especially if working on a new style or doing a no-no like taking hair down while wet and creating frizz.
Another great look for updos is to add Marley or some other hair extension to give hair volume or the opportunity to create intricate styles. When using extensions, hair is usually tucked away giving an added layer of protection.
Everyone LOVES a Faux Hawk and cynthykay obi created a popular video showing how to achieve this beautiful style even on short hair. Using Marley hair she ends up with one of the most gorgeous updos! This look is excellent for any special occasion and can you imagine adding some flowers or hair jewelry and making this your bridal hair? I love this style!
Buns are versatile. Buns are fun. Buns are a go-to when in a rush, unsure what style to wear or just when you do not want your hair out. Low, high, double, to the side…there are no rules for buns and this makes them ideal for a 4C protective style. Often worn on stretched hair, this style is masterful at being ideal for work and play with everything in-between.
Creativity is always welcome when rocking a bun because it adds character and individuality to the basic style. Add a braid or two, wrap a scarf around the base or even create more than one. The choices are available even if you have short hair as you can easily add some Marley hair to give you more options. As long as your hair (ends) are safely tucked away, this qualifies as a protective style.
Another style that can be created on old hair, the beloved bun is here to stay and as long as we continue to update it’s flair, have fun and functionality while protecting your hair rocking one.
What’s your favorite protective style for 4C Hair?