Wandering which hairstyle is best for natural hair growth? I break down the top 17 hairstyles plus the top 3 you should try out if your goal is hair growth.
There are so many natural hairstyles you can get done to change up your look for a bit but not all hairstyles are equal or help maximize natural hair growth.
I shared a lot of hairstyles in I’m Tired of My Natural Hair. What Do I Do? including my three favorite hairstyles for my hair.
The best way to optimize natural hair growth is with hairstyles that keep your hands out of your hair and your ends hidden away.
By default, these are known as protective hairstyles in the natural hair community.
What is a Protective Hairstyle?
A protective hairstyle is a hairstyle that keeps your hair away from normal everyday handling and manipulation.
A protective hairstyle tucks your hair and ends away for an extended period of time.
This allows your hair to rest, recuperate and rejuvenate. You will also maximize retention.
The question here should be – which is the best protective hairstyle for natural hair growth?
I’m going to answer that question in this post so you can make an informed decision about your next hairstyle.
17 Types of Protective Hairstyles
The most popular and top 17 types of protective hairstyles for natural hair include:-
- Box braids
- Knotless box braids
- Crown braid
- Senegalese twists
- Passion twists
- Wigs with cornrows or flat twists underneath
- Faux locs
- Bantu knots
- Crotchet braids
- Flat twists
- Headwrap with cornrows or flat twists underneath
- Butterfly locs
- Updo with drawstring ponytail
- French braided buns
Best Protective Hairstyle for Natural Hair Growth
So which protective hairstyle on the list is the queen?
For optimized natural hair growth, you cannot go wrong with:-
- Box braids
- Wigs with cornrows or flat twists underneath
- Headwraps with cornrows or flat twists underneath
Why Box Braids for Natural Hair Growth?
Box braids when done right is a very effective hair growth protective style.
Braids are minimal maintenance and keep your hair away from your hands for 8 – 12 weeks.
Properly moisturized with an effective braid spray, you are looking at great length retention.
During the years I used braids as a primary protective style, I grew 7 inches every year and retained all the growth.
Below is a picture of my current braids situation. I will be wearing this until December and used X-Pression Pre-Stretched Braid Hair, Color 1.
An alternative to sitting down for hours on end for braids is braided wigs. Have a look at Protective Styling With Braided Wigs for more on this.
Note – careful take out of braids is needed to prevent hair loss and you should give your hair breaks between braids.
Why Wigs for Natural Hair Growth?
Wigs have been my primary protective hairstyle for the past few years.
After the pandemic and lockdown arrived, I just didn’t feel like doing hair.
Plus I’d just moved countries and my braiders were no longer available.
The easiest thing to reach for were wigs and I’ve had amazing hair growth results.
With wigs, all you have to do is cornrow or twist your hair underneath and you’re good to go for two weeks at a time with moisture spray every few days.
This is even more hands-off than braids and you can be sure you will have great length retention with this protective hairstyle.
And unlike braids, you don’t have to take breaks between cornrows or twists because you redo them every time you shampoo and deep condition.
Note – customized wigs for your head are the best and don’t glue wigs to your head. It’s best to take them off every evening.
Why Headwraps for Natural Hair Growth?
Headwraps are even less maintenance and hands-off than a wig, and pre-tied headwraps are the best!
You can find some gorgeous pre-tied head wraps at 21 Plus Gorgeous Pre-tied Head Wraps.
You don’t even need full cornrows. You can just wear your hair in 4 – 6 plaits, pin them down, and slide on your headwrap.
Same as with wigs, it’s best to shampoo and deep condition every two weeks for maximum health and retention.
Note – head wraps can get expensive when you become addicted to building a collection. You’ve been warned! 🙂
When it comes to the best protective hairstyle for natural hair growth, you can’t go wrong with one of the recommendations above as long as you follow the best hair care practices.
More Resources for Natural Hair Growth
For more on maximizing natural hair growth, be sure to check out books 2 and 4 in the Healthy Hair Care Series:-
- The Ultimate Hair Growth Guide: Recover from Hair Loss. Regrow Bald Spots. Fill in Thin Areas
- 365 Days of Moisture for Dry & Parched Hair: Best Practices, Products & Recipes for Perfectly Moisturised Hair
9 Ways To Maintain Your Protective Hairstyle
I’ve discussed best practices for maintaining a protective hairstyle several times on Healthy Natural Hair Products and those will never change.
However, the most important protective hairstyle rules include:-
1. Don’t Ignore Your Natural Hair
When you take out a protective hairstyle, your hair should be healthier, longer, and thicker.
Anything else indicates neglect while wearing the protective style.
2. Moisture. Moisture. Moisture.
Always moisturize your hair when wearing a protective hairstyle.
A few sprays of diluted leave-in conditioner with some essential oils every day should be adequate.
Find my favorite recipe for this at DIY Anti-Itch Braid Spray.
However, any good water-based leave-in conditioner should do.
3. Give Your Hair Breaks
Depending on the chosen protective style, remember to give your hair breaks in-between installations.
1 – 2 weeks between each installation is fine and during the time, massage your scalp regularly.
4. No Tight Hairstyles
For braids, ensure they aren’t pulled too tight. Tight braids will snatch your edges and nape hair right off.
I don’t recommend gluing wigs to your head but if you must, be careful. There’s the potential to snatch edges there too.
5. Cleanse Hair Regularly
Shampoo and deep condition every week or every 2 weeks and give yourself a nice scalp massage as well. Great for promoting circulation.
Also, include a scalp massage brush in your shampoo regimen if you haven’t already.
6. Don’t Leave-in Too Long
Your protective hairstyle should not overstay its welcome.
For instance, braids should not be in for months at a time. 8 – 12 weeks is a good time.
7. Watch Out for Product Build-up
Don’t allow product build-up on your protective hairstyle. When you start seeing a white film in your hair, that’s product build-up.
Take down the protective hairstyle and clarify your hair ASAP.
8. Protect Hair While Sleeping
Don’t go to bed without protecting your hairstyle, either with a satin or silk pillowcase or a satin or silk sleep bonnet.
You can find my best recommendations for this at Benefits of Sleeping on a Silk or Satin Pillowcase for Curly Hair.
9. Don’t Use Heavy Products
Don’t use heavy products when wearing protective hairstyles. All products should be heavily diluted. Avoid hair gels and hair oils while wearing braids.
If you want laid edges, just brush down with an old toothbrush.
You can also use a mini hairbrush like Pattern Beauty Edge Control Tool for Curlies, Coilies, and Tight Textures.
When practiced properly, protective hairstyles for natural hair growth have the potential to maximize length retention and improve hair density and health.
If you have any more questions about which hairstyle is best for natural hair growth, drop them in the comments section.
Abi is a curly hair expert, researcher, product tester, and author of the highly-rated Healthy Hair Care Series. She is also the founder of Ade Ori Hair Care, Healthy Natural Hair Products, and Natural Oils for Hair & Beauty. HNHP has strict editorial standards and ensures all the information on Healthy Natural Hair Products is the best for natural hair care. Learn more about our Editorial Policies
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