Variety of Protective Hairstyles

Easy Protective Styles For 4C Hair


Khadija B.
July 24, 2022

Having natural hair is amazing but sometimes we need a break from our natural hair while still making sure it stays healthy. This is when we decide to venture out and try new hairstyles protective styles.


Protective hairstyles are hairstyles that will keep your natural hair moisturized and prevent breakage. They are usually low manipulation styles and do not require heat because you do not have to have straight hair to accomplish these styles.

Naturals with 4C hair usually have thick dense hair and a protective style could be a great way to retain moisture and not have to deal with your hair for a few weeks up to a few months, depending on the hairstyle.

In this article we are going to discuss how you should prep your hair before getting a protective style, different protective styles and how to properly take the style down after it has gotten old and dry.


Preparing Your 4C Natural Hair For A Protective Style

No matter whether you are 4C or 3B, you should always prepare your natural hair to be manipulated. If you are getting extra hair installed or if you are getting your natural hair braided into protective styles these steps are extremely important.


Step One – Give Yourself a Good Hair Wash

The first thing you should do before getting protective styles is to wash your natural hair with a sulfate shampoo.

I know a lot of people with natural hair will not use sulfates but if you know how to properly replenish the moisture in your hair that the sulfate took away then this isn’t a problem for you.

Using a sulfate shampoo ensures that all the oils, butters, silicones in your hair are 100% gone and will not cause any buildup while it’s in protective styles.

Buildup can cause your protective styles to not last as long and also make your hair dirtier quicker and cause dryness and an itchy scalp.


Step Two – Use A Moisturizing Conditioner

After you have washed your hair, then you want to go in with a very moisturizing conditioner to replace the moisture that was lost from your shampoo.

Now during this step, I like to detangle but you can detangle whenever you want. Just make sure you detangle your hair before getting the protective hairstyles.


Step Three – Apply Your Favorite Moisturizing Hair Mask

After you rinse out your conditioner, then you want to go in with your most favorite and moisturizing

hair mask. Hense the word “favorite”.

If you are anything like me, I am a product junkie and I usually have a hair mask or two in my arsenal that I haven’t used yet. However, this isn’t the time to test that product out.

My hair masks will make or break a hairstyle. If the hair mask doesn’t work, then your hair will be dry

before you even style it and it’ll make It hard to comb and that’s not good.

After you have done a good hair mask session then you rinse it out and add your moisturizing and styling products based on what hairstyle you are trying to achieve.


Step Four – Apply a Moisturizing Hair Cream

If you want box braids, chunky braids, faux locs, a sew-in or if you’re getting a wig installed then you need to apply a very moisturizing hair cream.

Applying a hair buttercream will give you added moisture to help your hair stay moisturized during the duration of your protective hairstyles.

After you apply a buttercream, you can apply an oil of your choice to seal in the moisture.

And when you get the hair installation, make sure your hair is 100% dry even after applying the cream.


If you are going to be installing flat twists to your hair or if you do a twist out or any kind of bun updos then you can apply a lighter hair cream or a leave in conditioner

After you apply the leave in conditioner then you can go in with your styling product of choice.

If you are going to be doing a stretched style on your own hair, for example a flexi-rod set, then you can use a spray leave in product on your hair first since it’s lightweight.

Then you can go in with your preferred styler.


Step Five – Apply A Heat Protectant

If you are going to be blow drying your hair for a more stretched out protective hairstyles or if it’s just more convenient then make sure you apply a lightweight heat protectant.

You don’t want to damage your natural hair just to get a protective hairstyle.

Step Six – Learn How to Comb Natural Hair

Now this step is something I have recently learned about getting my hair done by people who do not know a lot about how to comb natural hair.

You would be surprised on how many people do not realize that you should start from your ends and work your way up, gently.

I have gotten my hair braided and even flat ironed in a salon by a master cosmetologist and still had to bring my own brush. I use the Tangle Teezer.

It works miracles and makes the braided or whoever is handling my natural hair/s job a lot easier.


Different Types of Protective Hairstyles For 4C Hair

There are lots of different types of protective styles out there. Whether you are a natural who likes to wear weave in your natural hair, or you like to get a protective style with your real natural hair there are plenty of different options for you.



Braids are one of the most popular protective styles and this is one of my personal favorites because it is easy to maintain and gives me a different look.

There are hundreds of ways you can get your natural hair braided.

You could get flat braids or box braids or even chunky braids which are very popular right now.

You can even get your natural hair styled into a braided updo and when you’re tired of that updo you

can take it down and style your braids a different way.

Faux Locs/Twists


Something that’s pretty new and popular are faux locs or twists. I absolutely love this look, although I haven’t tried it myself yet.

Being able to pull off a more rugged look with the different types of locs you could get installed and

simply take them out when you’re done is amazing.

You could also put it into a bun updo.

Passion twists or sengalese twists are perfect for people with short hair. Some naturals have even given

you some very easy tutorial videos to follow if you’re more of a DIY person



These styles are very pretty and long lasting. This is a great way to have straight hair without damaging your natural hair since it is put away.

Flat Twists


This style is more for those naturals who do not like adding extra hair or if you just want your real

natural hair in a style that’s different from your wash and go.

This is a really nice and professional protective style so if you’re going on a business trip this would be perfect.

And if you mostly wear wash-n-go’s like I do, then this will be a good way to give your wash-n-go a little more personality

Twist Outs


This is a very popular protective style. It is also a very easy style to accomplish on your own without paying anyone.

Also, making sure your natural hair is 100% dry before you take the twists out will ensure your style lasts longer.

Bun UpDos


This style is also an easy and more professional look. No matter if you have braids, a sew in, a twist out or if your natural hair is in a wash n go state, like mines normally is, then putting it up in a bun when it’s on its last leg will give you a few more days to wear it without having to take it down and it’ll still look good!

This is one of many really good low maintenance protective hairstyles for short natural 4C hair. Not to

mention it’s a very cute updo!

Other Protective Hairstyles

These include go to styles like crochet braids, twists, bantu knots, cornrows, and faux ponytails.

How to Maintain Moisture During The Protective Style

If you have braids or faux locs or twists, you could use a very lightweight moisturizing spray. Something like the CAMILLE Rose Honey Spray* is a lightweight spray that works well.

The Take Down

Taking a protective style out can be very tricky.

If you don’t do it properly you could potentially take out more hair than needs to come out. No matter what you’re taking down or out of your hair, always use an oil.


When I have braids, I always oil my hands while I’m undoing the braid and when the oil seems to have

absorbed into my hair I apply more.

Also, make sure if your hair is tangled after you take down your protective style that you gently detangle it before you wash it.

Washing tangled hair can result in matting and then you may have to cut it and we hate doing that when

it’s unnecessary!

Choosing The Best Protective Style For Your 4C Natural Hair


When looking for a protective style you must choose what’s best for the health of your hair and convenience. Do your research in finding a braided or looking for the right twisting cream. Make good decisions for your natural hair and it will thank you in return.

Khadija B.