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40 Protective Ponytail Styles for Natural Hair that are Perfection

It’s no secret that we love a good afro puff, but wearing them too often can wreak havoc on your natural hair. Thankfully, these protective ponytail hairstyles enable you to tuck your ends away, and enjoy longer lengths and creative looks, oftentimes in a matter of minutes.

One of the easiest natural hairstyles ever, there’s no simpler, quicker or more chic fix for a bad hair day. And we haven’t met a person yet who couldn’t pull off a ponytail. So what are you waiting for? Keep scrolling for all of the innovation and inspiration you could possibly need.

40 Perfect Ponytail Styles for Natural Hair from Short to Sleek

Whether you want to rock it straight and silky, or explore more natural textures, experiment with a drawstring or clip-ins, with braids, twists or slicked back, your ponytail possibilities are truly endless.

1. Rope Twist Ponytail

Long silky ponytail in a rope twist hairstyle on a young Black woman
IG: @dekamchunu

Ponytail hairstyles, don’t come simpler or silkier than this.

Just slick your natural hair back into a high bun and attach your preferred lush, long straight ponytail. Set aside a small section to wrap around the base to conceal your hair. Then, twist the remaining length and voilá, ponytail perfection in under five minutes.

2. Flat Twists into Kinky Curly Ponytail

Flat twists into a kinky curly drawstring ponytail on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @olushola

This hairstyle features a diagonally flat-twisted front, along with a middle row of rubber band twists, all finished with a kinky curly drawstring ponytail.

Already gorgeous on their own, adding gold jewelry to the flat twists, truly made this look a gem.

3. Low Kinky Curly Ponytail with Middle Part

Long, low kinky curly drawstring ponytail on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @poupeekinky

Part your natural hair in the middle and slick it back at the base of your head, ideally with a strong hold botanical gel. Then, if your length isn’t quite lengthening yet, attach a kinky curly drawstring ponytail or clip-ins for the win.

4. High Braided Ponytail on Stretched Natural Hair

High braided ponytail hairstyle on Black woman with stretched natural hair
IG: @thechicnatural

This style was started on stretched natural hair, gathered into a high ponytail and secured with a hair hook. One bundle of pre-stretched braiding hair was then attached to the base of her ponytail, plaited about halfway down and held with a rubber band.

Her natural hair was then wrapped around the base and pinned into place, and later concealed with a small section of braiding hair. As a finishing touch the loose ends were teased to give the style more character and turn up the playfulness of this ponytail look.

5. Low Kinky Straight Ponytail

Low kinky straight ponytail hairstyle on Black woman with natural hair
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Both full and fluffy, we are feeling the texture of this low kinky straight ponytail.

6. Flat Twist with Blown Out Ponytail

Blown out ponytail with flat twist on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @jd_winters

Adding a single flat twist, is an easy way to elevate a basic, but still beautiful, ponytail hairstyle.

7. Ghana Braids Ponytail with Gold Cuffs

Black woman wearing a Ghana braids ponytail with gold cuffs as a protective style in her natural hair
IG: @freshlengths

Although your styling options are pretty limited given the direction of these Ghana braids, there’s no occasion or place that this gold-cuffed ponytail wouldn’t be perfect.

8. Cornrows and Criss-Cross Braided Ponytail

Black woman wearing a cornrows and criss-cross rubber band braided ponytail hairstyle
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Edgy and unexpected, this combo of cornrows with a criss-cross rubber band style is everything.

9. Ponytail Updo Hairstyle

Drawstring ponytail updo hairstyle on Black woman with natural hair
IG: @creolenaturelle

Instead of leaving it down and dangling, try pinning up your drawstring ponytail to create a similar jumbo bun hairstyle.

10. Senegalese Twists Ponytail with Twisted Bang

Senegalese twists ponytail with twisted bang worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @tupo1

Whether you’re rocking twists or box braids, you can still play around with putting your protective styles into a ponytail. Experiment with braiding hair colors, ponytail placement, even adding a bang until you find the looks you love.

11. Ginger Box Braids High Side Ponytail

Ginger box braids ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @naturallydidi

12. Greyish Blonde Box Braids Ponytail

Greyish blonde box braids ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @zurihairstudio

13. Jumbo Braided Mohawk Ponytail

Jumbo braided mohawk ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @nellzlioness

Heads are sure to turn when this style steps into any room. Featuring a wrapped bun front and center and a jumbo braided ponytail, this frohawk is super-sized sophistication.

14. Side-Swept Bobby Pinned Ponytail

Tia Mowry wearing a side swept ponytail with bobby pins as a protective hairstyle on her natural hair
IG: @tiamowry

Your bobby pins don’t always have to be hidden in your hairstyle. Feel free to create a design or choose colored clips, that can be showcased like the ones in this side-swept ponytail look.

15. Floor Length Ponytail with Middle Part

Black woman wearing a floor length braided ponytail
IG: @glowprincess
Black woman wearing a floor length braided ponytail
IG: @glowprincess

There is nothing understated about this uber long ponytail and we are HAIR. FOR. IT!

16. Long Low Curly Braided Ponytail

Long low curly braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @freshlengths

Serving Rapunzel realness, this curly braided look is the ponytail of our dreams.

17. Soft Faux Locs High Side Ponytail

Long soft faux locs high side ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @qourtknee

Sexy and striking, we are in awe of this fierce faux locs ponytail.

18. Braided Ombre Ponytail

Braided ombre ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @kersti.pitre

This gorgeous ombre ponytail is unbelievable. Or should we say ombre-lievable? Created with just two packs of braiding hair, an elastic band and some hair gel, it’s basically just one jumbo box braid.

Needless to say, simplicity can be stunning. Check out the tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

19. Romantic Fishtail Braided Ponytail

Fishtail braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @asiyami_gold

This style lets you skip the slicked back approach, for an intentionally loose look. And needless to say we’re feeling this fishtail braided ponytail’s effortless slay.

20. Passion Twists Ponytail

Passion twists ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @syeda_bombom

Passion twists in a high side ponytail screams classy but carefree.

21. Butterfly Braided Ponytail

Butterfly braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @beautyxdija

A butterfly braid takes a basic, but still beautiful, ponytail to a whole other level.

22. Frohawk-Inspired Pompadour Ponytail

Frohawk-inspired pompadour ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda

Texture takes center stage in this must-try twist on the traditional. Both, elegant and eclectic, this frohawk ponytail with a pompadour has Janelle Monae written all over it, but is clearly fit for any queen.

23. Sleek Chestnut Wavy Ponytail

Sleek wavy chestnut ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @jalynbaiden

The juxtaposition of the sleek front against the wavy ponytail at the back is…chef’s kiss.

24. Faux Blonde Ponytail over Real Locs

A Black woman wearing a blonde faux ponytail over her real dreadlocks
IG: @dbellalocs

This lovely look combines real locs with a faux blonde ponytail for an unexpected texture twist.

25. Bun Hawk with Low Ponytail

Tia Mowry wearing a bun hawk with low ponytail as a protective hairstyle on her natural hair
IG: @tiamowry

Why stick to one look, when you can combine curly buns with a faux pony to create this couture fashion-forward frohawk?

26. Shuku Braided Ponytail with Beads

Shuku braids ponytail with beads worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @vanessamatsena

Clearly fit for a queen, ponytails don’t come more regal than this tribal braided and beaded look.

27. Pinned Updo Ponytail Hairstyle

High side braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @crystalotv

We’ve already proven that you can’t go wrong with a high side pony, but wrapping it around the perimeter of your head and pinning it into place is pure perfection.

Braided ponytail updo worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @crystalotv

28. Two Cornrows into a Single Ponytail

Two cornrows tied together into one ponytail on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @erica_letstalkhair

Equally cute and creative, two cornrows are tied together to give the appearance of one seamless braided ponytail.

29. Stitch Cornrows in Fishtail Braided Ponytail

Stitch cornrows fishtail braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @jess_jessy.s

Multi-sized stitch cornrows are combined with a fab fishtail braid to create this stunning ponytail hairstyle.

30. Peek-a-Boo Ponytail with a Cornrow

Rear view of a Black woman wearing a sleek ponytail hairstyle with a cornrow up the back
IG: @taylordhair

A braid up the back is a simple way to switch this style up. They might not notice your peek-a-boo cornrow ponytail until you walk away, but they will remember it.

31. Three-Color Knotless Box Braids High Ponytail

Black woman wearing long three-color knotless box braids in high ponytail
IG: @karlatobie

Long knotless box braids wow in a high ponytail, thanks to this daring and dazzling three-color combo.

32. Two Water Wave Fro Twist Ponytails

Black woman wearing two water wave fro twist ponytails as a protective hairstyle
IG: @jassl_

When one ponytail just won’t do, why not go for two? Then add texture, like this Water Wave Twist to take your slay up another notch.

33. Afro Kinky-Curly Ponytail with Cornrows

Afro kinky-curly ponytail with cornrows worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @thelolawilliams
Afro kinky-curly ponytail with cornrows worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @thelolawilliams

While technically this look is comprised of just three cornrows and a ponytail, the appeal comes from the unique way her hair is parted. Various sized cornrows braided on a slant, give this style the visual interest to wow despite its simplicity.

34. Bubble Ponytail

Bubble ponytail worn as a protective style on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @iammarybennett

We’re suckers for a protective ponytail hairstyle that you can pull off in a snap. So this bubble ponytail, also known as a pom pom ponytail, is a great go-to look.

After gathering your natural hair into a low bun, attach your braiding hair, pinning it into place at the base.

Then add elastic bands evenly spaced along the length of the ponytail, fluffing out as you go.

35. Space Buns with Bubble Ponytail

Space buns with bubble ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @juskeepcurlin

Now this look combines a bubble ponytail and space buns in an unexpected way. And while we get that it might not be for everyone, we absolutely love the creativity, and respect anyone who’s confident enough to pull it off. May the fierce be with you.

36. Low Kinky-Curly Ponytail on Two Cornrows

Two cornrows with a low kinky curly ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @poupeekinky

Part your hair in the center and cornrow two braids toward the back of your head. Instead of leaving the ends to dangle, simply wrap them into a small bun and cover with a kinky curly ponytail to create a pretty, protective style in a matter of minutes.

37. Fulani Braids Low Side Ponytail with Beads

Fulani braids low side ponytail with beads worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
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Typically left to hang loose, Fulani braids are gathered into a low side ponytail, for a reserved regal look.

38. Cornrow Rubber Band Braided Ponytail

Cornrow rubber band braided ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @kersti.pitre

Don’t be fooled by this pretty, protective ponytail. While it may appear complex at first glance, alternating cornrows and connected rubber bands comprise the majority of this look. Once you’ve mastered the front, the back is simply a braided ponytail, decorated with gold string to complete the style.

Check out the tutorial for step-by-step instructions.

39. Twisted Edge Fishtail Braid Ponytail

Tia Mowry wearing a sleek fishtail braided ponytail as a protective hairstyle on her natural hair
IG: @tiamowry

In a literal twist on a fishtail braided ponytail, this twisted edge version is a sexy finish to this sleek style.

40. Jasmine Ponytail

Jasmine ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with natural hair
IG: @hakima_alem

While we love a good slicked-back look as much as the next natural, it’s refreshing to see a ponytail style that’s still serving sans gel or baby hair.

Regardless of your preferences, one thing’s for sure, as you can see from the plethora of ponytail possibilities for naturals, there’s no reason to ever have a bad hair day again.