13 Best Protective Styles for Transitioning Hair

Next up in the relaxed to natural hair series is the 13 best protective styles for transitioning hair. 

When I started transitioning, I jumped on protective styles right quick because I did not understand what I was doing and it was tedious dealing with the two textures.

Until I figured things out, protective styles were a huge blessing. Protective styling is vital in helping you manage the two textures when you’re transitioning to natural hair.


Protective styles prevent you from manipulating your hair too much and help preserve the line of demarcation.

Long-Term Protective Styles for Transitioning Hair

Long-term protective styles for transitioning hair can last up to 12 weeks when properly installed and well taken care of and they are the best hairstyles for relaxed to natural hair. 

1. Clip-in Hair Extensions

Clip-in hair extensions are a fast and simple way to protective style while transitioning to natural hair. 

Clip-in hair extensions come in multiple lengths with small clips. You can just cornrow or do medium individual plaits then install it in your hair. 

They are available in all types of textures and lengths and are simple to install. 

Clip-in hair extensions are going to be my go-to protective style next year and I’ll be sharing my experience on the website. 

For more on clip-in hair extensions, head over to Benefits of Curly Clip-in Hair Extensions for Hair Growth.


2.  Braids

Braids were my no 1 protective style while I was transitioning to natural hair.

They were super low maintenance and prevented me from handling my hair frequently.

When transitioning, don’t wear braids for longer than 8 weeks before taking them out, and do not make them too small. 

The diameter of a pencil is the smallest each braid should be. If they are too tight and/or uncomfortable, take them out immediately.

I highly recommend knotless box braids when transitioning to natural hair. They are low-tension and lightweight on the scalp. 


3. Braided Wigs

Still want braids but ain’t about that sitting for 5 – 6 hours life? Then braided wigs are what you’re looking for. 

All you have to do is cornrow your hair in a beehive pattern, slip on a wig cap and wig headband and place the braided wig on for a seamless style. 

Below’s a picture of my braided wig. It came straight but I curled the ends.

Wearing braided wigs as a protective style

4. Headband Wig 

A headband wig is easy to install, natural-looking, and most important of all, it places minimal tension on your edges and nape. 

And you can play with the style a lot for this reason. You can either get a straight headband wig or a curly headband wig which you can practice on until you’re fully natural.

5. Headwraps

Headwraps are no maintenance. Just cornrow your hair and wrap up your head or you can simplify your life even more and buy a pre-tied headwrap.

Headwraps come in different colors, styles, and patterns. For some inspiration, head over to 21 Plus Gorgeous Pre-tied Head Wraps.


6. Faux Locs

Faux locs are another easy style to install on your own or have a professional install. 

Be careful to keep them lightweight as if they’re too heavy, they’ll tug on your edges. 


Short-Term Protective Styles for Transitioning Hair

Short-term protective styles for transitioning hair don’t last very long and you usually have to redo them within 10 – 14 days. 

They are great for when you have a bit of new growth and you want to switch up your style or take a break from long-term protective styles. 

7. Cornrows

Cornrows while transitioning to natural hair can take several forms. You can either cornrow your hair or cornrow with braiding hair. 

You can also cornrow then add braiding hair to the ends and twist that into a bun. 


8. Bantu Knots

Bantu knots are created by separating your hair into medium to large sections and then twisting each individual section into a knot. 

I could not figure out how to do this properly when I was transitioning but it’s another low-maintenance style.

Start on freshly washed hair and use excellent styling cream. You can check out this video for bantu knots step-by-step tutorial.

However, bantu knots do not last that long – 5 – 7 days before you have to take them down and redo them.

9. Flexi-Rod Sets

I was terrible at this while I was transitioning to natural hair but once they dried, my hair was nice and stretched and I could throw it in a bun for the week. 

At other times, I would braid my hair into two ponytails and accessorize it for the week.

Flexi-rod sets require some patience as you will need to manipulate your hair a bit but it’s a good way to blend the new growth with your relaxed hair. 


10. Curlformers

Curlformers were another lifesaver when I was transitioning to natural hair. 

With a great styling cream and some oil, you can blend your new growth and relaxed hair quite well with Curlformers

You can style the Curlformers or untwirl the curls and throw your hair in a bun.

Sometimes, I also twisted my hair after taking out the Curlformers and wore it in a bun for about 10 days.

For more on different Curlformer sizes and how to choose, check out Curlformers for Natural Hair + 15% Off

Curlformers Set Spiral Curls

11. Faux Ponytail

A faux ponytail works best when your new growth is starting to be more than your relaxed ends.

You can brush your hair into a sleek bun and wear a curly ponytail at the end. You can also wear a curly puff.

Keep in mind you have to move the bun position around every few days or you’ll end up with a bald spot. 


12. Roller Sets

Roller Sets are fantastic for stretching your hair and blending new growth and relaxed hair together quite well. 

You can use jumbo rollers and throw your hair in a bun afterward or some other style. 

How to Roller Set Ntural Hair

Or you can use smaller rollers that allow you to style a little bit more after taking them out. 

You can wear the set for a few days then turn it into two braids or a ponytail to extend the protective style for another week or so. 

For more on roller setting, head over to How To Roller Set Natural Hair.

13. Space Buns

Space buns are another good style for in-between hair length. They are cute, simple, and fast. 

Just part your hair down the middle into two even sections, then bun up each section and secure it with silicone hair bands and you’re good to go.

You can accessorize the buns to liven up the style a bit. Don’t forget to reposition the bun every few days to prevent tension breakage. 


Final Thoughts on Transitioning Hair

Transitioning can be frustrating but it can also be a lot of fun and a great time to get to know your natural hair so enjoy the journey.

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