IG: @sheilandinda

40 Pretty Protective Styles for 4C Natural Hair You Can Do at Home

Here at Hey Curl Hey, there’s no shortage of info and inspo to help you pick your next pretty protective look. But if you’re a 4C naturalista specifically in search of protective styles created by others with your hair type, well look no further. This is definitely a for us, by us, post.

And the best part is, all of these styles are DIY-friendly, if not outright easy. Don’t worry though, beginner doesn’t have to mean basic or boring. So prepare to be amazed and step your skills up in the process.

And as much as we love extensions, if you’re just looking for actual all natural 4C hairstyles, without adding weave, then you can still get your fix with just one click.

How do you take care of 4C hair in a protective style?

Not only can damage occur during the installation and takedown, but as a result of improper care in between. Make sure therefore that your protective style isn’t installed tightly, you keep your scalp clean, moisturize your hair daily with a leave-in, prevent dryness and preserve its appearance using a silk or satin scarf and practice patience when removing your style.

For more specifics about the steps, best products to use, and recommendations to retain length and grow your hair while wearing a protective style, click here.

How often should you keep your hair in protective styles?

You can safely install protective styles back-to-back, when wearing low manipulation looks like miniature or flat twists without weave. If adding extensions, which usually involve tension and weight, give your hair and scalp two weeks to recover, with help from a deep conditioning treatment. Regardless of upkeep, no style should be left in for longer than eight weeks.

Can 4C hair grow without protective styling?

Although protective styling has lots of benefits that help with length retention, they are not necessary for hair growth. As long as you can minimize manipulation, and keep your ends in particular, moisturized and sealed, to prevent them from splitting, drying out and breaking off, your mane will reap the rewards.

What is the most protective hairstyle for 4C hair?

The most protective style for 4C hair is a crochet install using the illusion method. This pattern not only enables you to totally tuck your hair away, but the braids provide a secure, tension-free foundation to attach your faux locs, curls, and twists. Not to mention, you still have easy access to properly clean and care for your natural hair.

40 Protective Styles for 4C Natural Hair

1. Frohawk-Inspired Low Ponytail

Pompadour frohawk protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda

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

2. Double-Braided Ponytail

Double braided ponytail protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @deograciousdube

If you can slick your natural hair into a high ponytail, then this adorable double-braided look should be easy to DIY. One pack of braiding hair, a few bobby pins later and a little gel is all it takes to create what we like to call the dynamic duo.

3. Two Feed-In Braids with Curly Ends

Two cornrows with curly ends worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @thelolawilliams

Don’t be fooled by the seeming simplicity of two cornrows. There are still so many creative ways to approach this hairstyle. Thankfully, this version is super cute, quick and easy.

After creating two cornrows, wavy hair was crocheted starting a few inches up from the end of the braids. The same needle was then used to crochet gold string throughout in a criss-cross design. And voilá…Done and dazzling in a matter of minutes.

4. Sleek High Jumbo Bun

Sleek high jumbo bun protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda

We like big buns and we can not lie. LOL! We also like how easy this look is to replicate. Simply secure a drawstring ponytail to your slicked back natural hair and wrap to the desired size, bobby pinning it in the process.

If your interest is piqued, then head this way for even more ways to slay your bun and ponytail hairstyles.

5. Low Bun with Accent Braids

Black woman with 4C natural hair wearing clip-ins in a low bun with braided bands as a protective style
IG: @adannamadueke

To copy this look, comb your natural hair back into a sleek bun and cover it with kinky straight clip-ins, added for length, volume and versatility. Use two of the remaining wefts to create a halo braid to carefully conceal the clips.

At that point, you can opt to create the bountiful bun you see pictured above or try out the variety of styles captured in the video below, for edgy, but effortless appeal.

6. Faux Locs Updo

Faux locs updo worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @stylehairven

Fashionable and functional, faux locs styles are among our favorites for protecting your natural hair. If you’re feeling them as much as we are, check out even more un-faux-gettable looks.

7. Fairy Locs Lob

Fairy locs lob worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda @spritzhairstudio

8. Half-Up Half-Down Headband Wig

Headband wig worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

Styled on a pre-prepped headband wig, the front half of this hairstyle was originally just a bun that was released and left to hang forward. If you need the full deets on the installation, jump back to the beginning of the tutorial below.

9. Headband Wig Top Knot

Headband wig top knot worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

A different texture than the hair in the style above, but with similar steps for the installation, this look is yet another headband banger.

And the best part is, this wig didn’t require any prepping. To style, all of the hair is simply combed forward to the front of her head and secured with an elastic band. The ponytail is then two strand twisted and wrapped around itself, for a top notch top knot.

10. Afro-Kinky Wig

Afro-kinky wig worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @iammarybennett

When you want to protect your natural hair, and still proudly rep your hair type, a voluminous kinky unit can typically do the trick.

11. Half-Up Half-Down Short Butterfly Locs

Half-up half-down short butterfly locs worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

It’s no secret that we love a good butterfly locs look. But we’re over the moon about this half-up half-down hairstyle with space buns.

If this looks like a DIY that you want to try, first you have to master the installation. So be sure to check out both tutorials below to see which method you prefer, although we’re partial to the pre-looped locs.

And click here for even more beautiful butterfly locs styles.

12. Two Pigtails

Two pigtails worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

Don’t sleep on the possibilities with two packs of pre-stretched braiding hair and a little gel. These two perfect pigtails were created in no time.

13. Jumbo Senegalese Rope Twists

Jumbo Senegalese rope twists worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

If you want the knotless braided look, but haven’t quite mastered the technique, then the rubber band method is for you. Click below to see how easy these jumbo Senegalese rope twists were to install, delivering maximum style with minimal effort.

14. Kinky Twists with Middle Part

Kinky twists worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @joynavon

No rubber bands. No crochet. No worries. These super cute kinky twists, using springy afro twist hair is a must-try, which makes this tutorial a must-watch.

15. Short Crochet Passion Twists

Short crochet passion twists worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @mandy_jacobz

With a little ingenuity, creative crochet hairstyles like these pretty passion twists are literally limitless.

16. Kinky Braids High Bun

Kinky braids high bun worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda @oneaonhairsalonandbarbershop

This kinky braided high bun dazzles thanks to subtle hair jewelry.

17. Side-Swept Cornrows

Side-swept straight-back cornrows worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda @spritzhairstudio

Straight-back cornrows braided on a slant, make this side-swept style even sexier.

18. Half-Up Half-Down Tribal Braids

Half-up half-down tribal braids worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @tupo1

This half-up half-down tribal braids hairstyle is a mane masterpiece, and the specifics are just a click away.

19. Distressed Ginger Jumbo Marley Twists

Distressed ginger jumbo Marley twists worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @joynavon

A bit shabby, but still chic, these distressed ginger jumbo Marley twists are a welcome departure from the more typical structured styles.

20. Straight-Back Flat Twists into Low Bun

Black woman with 4C natural hair wearing straight-back flat twists in a low bun as a protective style
IG: @thejennjackson

If you can create one flat twist, seven should be no problem. Then, wrap them all into a bun at the base of the braids. Ease meets elegance, this is truly the perfect protective style. And the best part is no extensions are needed.

21. Half-Up Half-Down Red Passion Twists

Black woman with 4C natural hair wearing red passion twists as a protective style
IG: @thejennjackson

Her dark natural hair braided into red passion twists give this lovely look an ombre effect we absolutely adore.

22. Wavy Crochet Locs

Wavy crochet faux locs protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @mandy_jacobz

If you have the time, the know-how is no problem. YouTube plus practice, will turn you into a protective styling pro, consistently whipping up gorgeous looks like these soft wavy crochet locs.

23. Chunky Cornrowed Bob

Chunky cornrowed bob worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair

IG: @thejennjackson

Get all the deets to DIY this adorable, chunky cornrowed bob below.

24. Crochet Jungle Box Braids Bob

Crochet jungle box braids worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @mandy_jacobz @re4uhair

To create this sexy style, her natural hair is braided in an illusion pattern in the front, to make it appear as though she has individual box braids, while the rest consisted of straight-back cornrows.

Using a crochet needle, seven packs of 12″ pre-looped jungle box braids were then added, distributing them evenly throughout. As a final step the braids were cut to the desired length and the ends burned, resulting in this super chic bob.

25. Jasmine Ponytail

Jasmine ponytail worn as a protective hairstyle on a Black woman with 4C 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.

26. Halo Braid with Gold Cuffs

Halo braid worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

Since this regal halo hairstyle calls for a sleek base, start by gelling your natural hair back into a bun. Use one pack of hair to create a single braid, making sure not to remove the enclosed elastic band.

Attach that braid to your bun and wrap it around your head, bobby pinning it into place as you go. Last, but certainly not least, if you’re feeling like a queen, gold crown cuffs can be added to complete the look.

27. Coi Leray Braids

Coi Leray braids worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @tupo1

The perfect hairstyle if your skills aren’t quite up to par, these juicy, jumbo braids are beginner-friendly and fabulous.

28. High Side Bubble Ponytail and Bangs

Kinky-curly bubble ponytail with bangs worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @mandy_jacobz

Kinky, curly and super cute, a high side bubble ponytail and bangs for the win!

29. Half-Up Flat Twists and Bantu Knots

Hlaf-up half-down flat twists and bantu knots worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @allthingsjonna

Flat twists with bantu knots make up the front of this half-up half-down hairstyle. And while you could easily opt for a wash and go, or even braid out in the back, crocheting gives you a similar look in a pretty, protective style.

30. Bun Hawk with Low Curly Ponytail

Bun hawk with a low curly ponytail worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda
Side view of a bun hawk with a low curly ponytail worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair

IG: @sheilandinda

Featuring two buns and a ponytail, this minimal mohawk-inspired hairstyle was created using Sistar Ceres crochet braiding hair.

Start by parting and securing your natural hair in three sections. Then, work your magic, by wrapping and attaching the faux hair from there.

31. Short Butterfly Locs Half-Up in Space Buns

Short butterfly locs with a pop of color half-up in space buns worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @vanlenore

Sometimes a pop of color is all it takes to level up your butterfly locs.

32. Ginger Top Knot

Ginger top knot worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @joynavon

Adding ginger hair gives a timeless top knot a vibrant twist.

33. Passion Twists High Ponytail

Short passion twists high ponytail worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @keke.j_

Beyond how gorgeous this style looks, it stands out as one of our favorites, because it’s surprisingly tension-fee.

She started off by dividing her natural hair into boxes, braiding the roots of each section and twisting the rest. Waterwave hair was then cut in half, inserted at the base of each braid with a crochet needle and then twisted with her hair.

And that’s it. Simple, stunning and truly protective.

34. Short Spring Twists

Black woman with 4C natural hair wearing short spring twists as a protective style
IG: @sheilandinda @oneaonhairsalon

One and a half packs of Ceres crochet hair got this short spring twists style all the way together. It’s lightweight and resembles 4C hair so closely that no one will know it’s not yours, unless you tell them.

35. Bantu Knots

Bantu knots protective hairstyle on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @khadajeeee

If you can create a classic bun, then basic bantu knots should be no problem. After parting your hair in the desired design, simply twist each section, until it starts to wrap around itself. Then, continue until the ends are secured at the base to protect them.

Starting on stretched hair is recommended, since it can take forever for wet hair to dry when it’s wound so tightly. Another easy approach is to use an oiled rubber band to hold the the root of each section and then twist or braid it before winding.

And as a bonus, your bantu knots can be taken down at a later date to reveal what is likely to be a very lovely bantu knot out. It’s a win-win.

36. Traditional Ethiopian Half Cornrows

Traditional Eritrean cornrows worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @hakima_alem

While this look could easily be accomplished on 4C hair without adding weave, no worries if you’re lacking the length. Cornrows and crochet hair can be combine to create this must-try traditional half-up half-down hairstyle.

37. Box Braids High Bun with Swoop Bangs

Black woman with 4C natural hair wearing box braids in a high bun with a swoop bang as a protective style
IG: @vanlenore

If you’re already wearing your natural hair in a protective style like box braids, gathering them into a high bun with a swoop, is a simple but sophisticated switch, from just letting them hang loose.

38. Flat Twists into Low Bun

Needle and yarn created flat twists in a low bun worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @adannamadueke

A far less common, but still effective way to flat twist, is by using the needle and yarn method. If you’re having trouble with the traditional, try the tutorial below for a twist with Marley hair.

39. Half-Up Half-Down Ombre Box Braids Wig

Half-up half-down ombre box braids wig worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
@adannamadueke

Hands-down one of the best braided wigs we’ve ever seen, now you can get beautiful ombre box braids in an instant.

40. Thigh Length Straight-Back Cornrows

Thigh length straight-back cornrows worn as a protective style on a Black woman with 4C natural hair
IG: @sheilandinda

It’s no secret that we love long braided hairstyles, as long as they’re relatively lightweight. Needless to say our feelings about this thigh length braided look are right on brand.

Hopefully by now, you’re full of ideas and inspiration to create your next protective style. Again, please be diligent about taking care of your natural hair underneath, opting for looks with as little tension as possible, and giving your hair a break in-between.

Otherwise, length retention likely isn’t happening, and you’d be defeating the whole purpose of protection. And now that we’ve delivered our PSA, you can grow on with your bad self.