Protective hairstyles have become the secret to tress success for many naturalistas. What are protective styles, you ask? These are braided, twisted, or pulled-back styles that shield the ends of your hair from elements that cause breakage.
Jill Scott attended HBO's post Golden Globe Awards party in an intricate braided updo. Scott's stylist created this look as a combination of the trendy top knot and pompadour styles that are popular right now.
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Eva Marcille has historically been a fan of wearing her signature, super-short pixie cut, but recently the "Diva" debuted box braids at the Let The Kids Grow Foundation Holiday Gala.
Photo by Jerod Harris/WireImage
Red Carpet Ready
Naturi Naughton put a new spin on the braids trend when she arrived at the Sparkle premiere in Hollywood. This style shows that protective styles can be dressed up for an elegant look, too.
Kandi Burrus attended the opening of her new series The Kandi Factory in flowing, long braids with loose ends. This protective style has become a favorite for naturalistas since it offers several styling options.
Chrisette Michele piled her loose braids into an easy-breezy topknot when she attended the premiere of Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection.
Pomp and Circumstance
Janelle Monae’s signature style — the expertly sculpted pompadour — has become a favorite and quick protective style among natural girls. Since the ends of her hair are neatly tucked away, there’s less risk of developing split ends. By using a satin scarf each night, pompadours can last up to a week — just tuck, tie, and go!
Always on the cutting edge, Solange sported long, early ‘90s-style braids. Solange’s plaits can last up to six weeks, making them a great option when your hair needs a styling break.
With her lush micro-braids Joy Bryant makes a protective style statement on the red carpet. When recreating this look, choose human hair which lasts longer than using synthetics.
Hot Cross Bun
At the The Miu Miu Galleria opening in Houston, Solange swept her braids up in a wildly glamorous, oversize topknot, giving her protective style a touch of class.
Photo by Federico Villamayor for www.culturemap.com
Chrisette Michele’s amber micro-braids are fiercely hot! If you’ve been wanting to play around with a new, bold hue, micro-braids are the way to go! They’re so small that the colored extensions easily blend into your natural color.
Tressed to Impress
At the “What’s Your Number” premiere, Tika Sumpter rocked a super-elegant braided headband over her pulled back ‘do. For Tika’s look, section off the hair around your front edges and straighten it with an ionic blow dryer on low heat. Your hair in the back can be pulled into a bun or cornrowed for a protective style that’s creative and chic!
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Eva Marcille’s prairie plaits are so fresh and pretty for the fall and her statement earrings give the look an extra touch of glam!
We adore Alicia Keys’s tiny cornrows. This is definitely a scene-stealing, natural look! To make this ’do go the distance, visit your stylist every two to three weeks and have her rebraid just the front and be sure to sleep in a satin scarf to prevent frizz.
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this look on Beyonce, but here’s another cornrowed coiffure that never goes out of style. Want to jazz up your braids? Try using extensions in two complementary shades for a pop of color.
India Arie shows the versatility of box braids by sweeping hers into an elegant side ponytail. Whether in an updo, ponytail, or simply left hanging long, you can never go wrong with protective plaits!
Tried and True
Tracee Ellis Ross is a huge fan of pulling her natural curls back into prairie braids and frankly, we love seeing her rock this look! Do it yourself by parting your hair down the middle, adding a french braid on each side, and tucking the braids in the back with bobby pins. (P.S. There are tons of YouTube tutorials for this style!)
Melyssa Ford took a break from weaves and wigs to rock a gorgeous set of old-school, thick cornrows. Melyssa turned this style up a notch by having smaller cornrows braided along the hairline and adding fun diagonal parts.
Bring on the Drama
At Maxim’s 10th Annual Hot 100 party, Ciara flaunted uber-dramatic, waist-length, cornrowed braids. Another way to rock this look is to roll the hanging braids into a chic chignon.
Half n' Half
Jill Scott’s faux “side shave” ’do can be turned into a protective style by gathering all of your natural hair into tiny, precise cornrows, and adding loosely waved extensions that fall to one side.
Selita Ebanks looks red-carpet ready wearing prairie braids. This protective style is definitely a fan favorite!
Pint-size trendsetter Willow Smith recently sculpted a heart out of her micro-braids. If you’re not as adventurous as Willow, pull your box braids up into a top-knot or bun. It will be just as fun, we promise!
Stunning songstress Goapele looks elegant in tiny cornrows and a decorative headpiece. Goapele’s protective style can last up to a month with proper care.
After nearly two decades in the music industry, Brandy recently returned back to the hairstyle she helped make trendy in the '90s.
Solange Knowles has single-handedly brought back ‘90s-era, Patra-style braids — and we love it! If you’re concerned that braided extensions will be too heavy, take after Solange and have your stylist taper the braids at the ends.
Over the Top
At a recent awards show, Jada Pinkett Smith rocked a faux-hawk pompadour created entirely of box braids. Make this look your own by restyling the top knots into a low side bun or simply let them hang loose and long. The possibilities are endless!