15 Cute Protective Styles to Try This Summer


street style at paris fashion week womenswear spring summer 2021 day nine

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Quarantine has ignited the inner hairstylist in just about everyone. Remember the dark, early days of the pandemic when you attempted to cut your own bangs? Or maybe you lived out your Y2K dreams and opted for a blonde transformation? Did you invest in a wig and Megan Thee Stallion-approved wig glue? However you styled your hair in quarantine, your mane could probably use some rehabbing. Enter: Protective styles.

As the name suggests, protective styles protect your hair from your antsy hands and other damaging tools and products you use daily. These styles take on many forms—braids, twists, updos, ponytails, etc.—and are great to help your hair grow, prevent constant manipulation on your natural hair, and give you a new look when you’re in need of a refresh. Need some inspo for your Hot Girl Summer ahead? Allow Viola Davis, Zazie Beetz, Brandy, Alicia Keys, and more to show you your next hairstyle.

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If you’re the adventurous type like Lupita Nyong’o, try installing locs for a no-fuss, worry-free trip. Depending on the type of locs you get installed—Lupita appears to have yarn locs—the style is typically lightweight, versatile, long-lasting.


Box Braid Bob

Zazie Beetz is giving Jada Pinkett Smith in Set It Off. With the impending summer heat, this short bob style gives you one less thing to worry about when getting dressed for warm-weather activities.


Boho Braids

Braids connoisseur Lacy Redway installed wavy boho box braids on Tessa Thompson, a chic and softer alternative to traditional braids.


Low Curly Ponytail

So you’re on day three of your twist out and have run out of hairstyles to do before your next wash? Allow Viola Davis’s fluffy curly ponytail serve as your next hair inspo.


Braided Updo

The beauty of box braids is that they can be manipulated into a bevy of styles. Here, Regina King refreshed her box braids by creating a large twist along the side of the hair and morphing it into an intricate design.


Butterfly Locs

Boho locs are so 2020. This year, butterfly locs are all the rage. The shorter, messy alternative is basically the wild little sister to classic locs.


Boho Locs

Ciara set the tone for Hot Girl Summer with boho braids. Her version includes bright blonde highlights throughout the hair for a summery vibe.


Color Locs

Why stick to black locs when they are a thousand other colors to choose from? With summer coming up, take the Keke Palmer approach by installing burgundy faux locs to brighten up your face.



India Arie said it best: “I am not my hair.” So whether you’re feeling frustrated with your mane or need a new ‘do, Arie shows that slipping on a turban, gold hoops, and a red lip is all you need to add a little oomph to your look.



Curl queen Tracee Ellis Ross preserves her ringlets by adding large cornrows to her hair. Add earrings to look a bit more dressed up.


Low Ponytail

Alicia Keys gave the iconic low ponytail an edgy update. She parted her hair in three to form a triangle at the high point and slicked her hair back to a low ponytail. The singer added white string to the large twist hanging over her shoulder.


Top Knot Bun

Braids and twists are cool, but sometimes you need a look that’s easy as one, two, three. Here, Tika Sumpter slicked her hair into a high ponytail, braided the leftover hair, and twisted it into a sleek bun.


Passion Braids

If 2020 was the year of passion twists, 2021 may be the year passion braids takeover. Similar to its predecessor, passion braids are created using curly hair and are loosely braided to give a messy finish.


Braided Pigtails

Shahadi’s pigtails are the grown-up version to the ones we used to rock as youths. Each pigtail is braided into a fishtail style and secured with a rubberband to create a fluffy ponytail at the ends.


Jumbo Knotless Braids w/ Curly Ends

Coi Leray’s signature jumbo knotless braids have become the hairstyle du jour. The easygoing hairstyle features large knotless braids that fall into curly ends. Baby hairs are optional.

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