When it comes to styling natural hair, the options are endless. But when it comes to protecting your hair from damage, maintaining optimal hydration, and retaining length, it's all about protective styles—finding the right low-tension look that can keep your hair tucked away. That's where box braids, cornrows, and twisted styles come into play. Choose your style and set it, then let your natural hair flourish and grow. Bored of the old faithfuls? These examples are proof that protective styles don't have to be basic and repetitive. From a scarf-adorned braided pony to flower-embellished box braids, here, you'll find options for every occasion. Read on for 23 of the most stunning protective styles to screenshot and save.
Jazz up your low puff by embellishing with accessories like a rope, like Issa Rae's look created at the hands of Felicia Leatherwood.
There's nothing like a classic low-maintenance cornrow look to keep your strands protected. Look to Thompson's effortless stitched style, dreamed up by Lacy Redway.
The high ponytail will forever serve as one of the most effective means to easily securing your strands. Dress it up with a statement accessory. Then do as Jourdan Dunn has here and finish with a bouncy twist for added flair.
Logan Browning stuns in a side swept flat twisted look, complete with mini buns.
Reimagine the top knot by braiding your strands before wrapping into a high bun. For even more flair, style out your baby hairs, like model and influencer Joyjah Estrada.
Gabrielle Union effortlessly slays Senegalese twists on the red carpet in an elegant side swept fashion.
It's safe to say that a classic low bun will never go out of style. Marsae Martin stuns with a braided low bun and strategically placed swirls of baby hairs on the red carpet of the 50th Annual NAACP Image Awards.
Keep your tresses protected while making a statement with this Bantu knot look. Lacy Redway makes the case for the protective style by creating an effortless iteration on actress Zazie Beetz.
Take a cue from Teyonah Parris and play up your box braids with the strategic placement of flowers throughout your style.
Imagined by hairstylist Lacy Redway on actress and activist Yara Shahidi, this intricately braided faux hawk is a masterpiece!
It's clear that Ciara can pull off every hairstyle that she debuts, and this two-toned look is no different. Whether you're contemplating a loc journey or seeking to temporarily switch up your look, faux locs are a bold and low maintenance style to try on your natural hair.
Get into these '90s-inspired straight back cornrows. Add a bold statement to the classic style by going blonde like Karrueche.
Goddess locs are another style iteration to keep on your radar. These faux locs complete with curly ends adds a whimsical boho touch. Make like Meagan Good and try a side-swept French braid.
Bey hit the red carpet of the 2019 Lion King premiere rocking finger waves, reimagined. The singer shows off intricately styled cornrows braided into a swirled pattern reminiscent to the 1920s look.
ICYMI: Going for a braided style is the perfect go-to when wearing protective styles. Ashley Blaine looks absolutely regal wearing a statement-making halo braid complete with gold cuffs.
Dress up your Fulani braids by adding beads and hair cuffs. Solange lets her blonde braids do the talking by accenting her look with statement-making red beads.
Experiment with color without a permanent commitment by opting for fun pastel extensions to incorporate within your protective style. Emulate Brandy's sweet Marley twist with various hues of pink.
Play around with your favorite scarf by adding the accessory into your hair. Here, hairstylist Araxi Lindsey complements Ross's eyeshadow and ear cuffs by intertwining a scarf into her super long braid.
Singer and actress Ryan Destiny stuns with her hair pulled back into a Rapunzel-like braid on the red carpet at the 2019 BET Awards.
Jhene Aiko's braided styles never cease to amaze. Here, the singer shows off long knotless box braids. Give this look a try if you're looking for a versatile style that lasts six to eight weeks.
Justine Skye reimagines the classic high bun by parting her hair into three sections and adding mini space buns in the form of a faux hawk.
Here, stylist Lacy Redway plays around with proportion by creating jumbo knotless braids on actress Tessa Thompson. The beauty in this look: the install takes half the time of traditional box braids.
How stunning is this look? Hairstylist Vernon François worked his magic on Amandla Stenberg to create stitched cornrows complete with a chic bun and gorgeous subtle swirls of baby hair.