3 Type of Low Manipulation Protective Styles for Fine Hair

Last updated on May 25th, 2023 at 10:16 am

When making the decision to utilize protective styling for length retention, you also need to make the decision on what types of protective styles will work best for your hair. The protective styles for natural curly hair below are easy to do and super cute!

protectives styles for natural curly hair

First off, because this is a blog is typically written for those with a fine natural hair type (although not always), I’d be remiss in advising that fine hair does best when handled less. Conversely, you don’t want to just “set it and forget it.”

So, there’s three “types” of protective hairstyles in particular (with variations of each) that I find are low maintenance and the least manipulative. Yet, they allow flexibility for moisturizing and detangling when needed.


Buns can be done on your hair in a number of ways. One bun, two buns, three buns, four. Depending on the length of your hair, you can set your buns in a manner that creates an intricate look:

triple low horizontal bun
triple vertical bun

Buns can be kept in for more than a day when tied down over night. When redoing your bun, it’s wise to change the placement of the bun(s) so that your hair doesn’t get stressed in any one area.

Since getting my hair pressed and cut, I’ll likely stick with buns done without tying the hair with an elastic.

A bun created by simply wrapping the hair and securing it with a satin scarf works well for my shorter hair.

For a versatile bun on curly hair, two flat twists can be added to the front. When seeking more volume, a banana clip is my hair accessory of choice.

Large Twists

protective style
held together with a banana clip

Twists are a great way of adding versatility to your hair while still keeping it protected. When you set your hair in large twists, you are able to style them in different looks while not having to actually manipulate your hair. Plus, they are very easy to do.

Consider doing 8-10 twists. I’m loving YouTuber, Kimmaytube’s #10TwistBun. You’ll not be able to do it on straight hair but this makes for a great protective style on stretched hair.

Unfortunately, she removed her videos from YouTube and has left the platform. She advised gathering all the twists to the top of your head. To avoid crown breakage, I prefer gathering them either mid height or low. Since I can’t share Kimmaytube’s version, the photo above is my low bun variation.

Here is a single giant flat twist and falls right under the umbrella of large twists:

flat twist protective style

It doesn’t require nearly as much manipulation as it takes to do a cornrow or braid, even a large one.

Roll, Tuck & Pin

Flat twists make for great protective styles for natural curly hair but since we are focusing on using low manipulation, rolls work better.

You don’t have to detangle your hair when you roll the hair versus flat twisting it. You can just grab sections of hair, roll it, tuck it (effectively hiding your ends) and pin it in place.

Like buns, you can choose to roll one, two or three sections of hair.

Here’s a pic of one of my favorite Roll, Tuck and Pin styles:

protective style for natural curly hair

A twist (no pun intended) on this style would be to roll the hair but instead of tucking it, wrap it in a bun before pinning in place. I shared this style back when this blog was Radiant Brown Beauty:

protective styles for fine natural hair

Each of these three types of protective styles fulfill the criteria of low manipulation and ease of being able to take down for moisturizing and/or detangling.

While on my continued hair growth journey, these are the protective styles that I have been doing to maintain the length on my fine natural hair throughout the winter.

When the cold weather rolls around that’s usually when we whip out our best protective hairstyles. However, it doesn’t have to be cold to engage in protective styling. The above protective styles for natural curly hair can be done any season of the year.

Now, let’s look at the benefits of protective styling.

Benefits of Protective Hairstyles for Natural Curly Hair

Length retention is the main benefit of styling curly hair in a protective manner.

A great protective style will protect the ends of your hair as well as help protect your hair’s moisture levels.

Black women have been doing protective styles since the beginning of time. While some add hair to their own hair to bulk it up, I think it’s a good idea to work with what you have because adding hair (human hair or synthetic) can absorb moisture away from your own hair.

The benefit of length retention is realized regardless of how you choose to set the style. However, you must always be careful with the take down and taking into account if your hair has dried out while in the style.

Before The Style

First, when you decide on your protective style, you’ll want to do so with protection in mind. Protection from dryness and breakage by following a few simple best practices:

  1. Always do a deep conditioning treatment on freshly washed hair to ensure whatever style you do doesn’t degrade your healthy hair.
  2. Use a leave-in conditioner on damp, not wet hair
  3. Avoid scalp tension at every point during the styling process

How to Maintain Your Protective Styles

Regardless of what type of style you do, you need to protect it: from frizzing, from drying out and from loosening.

Sleep with your hair tied down with a satin scarf. Depending on the style, you can cover your hair with a satin bonnet.

If you have your hair in twists or braids, a satin hair tie will keep them together. This will help them last longer.

Another great option for protecting your style if you don’t want to cover your head (ex: if you are menopausal) is to simply sleep on a satin pillowcase (avoid cotton pillowcases which leach the moisture right out of your hair).

Silk is a good alternative to satin. It’s more expensive but a really good option because it is more kind to curly and kinky hair. So, using a silk bonnet or silk scarf instead of satin is definitely worth the investment.

To help keep your hair lubricated and your scalp “calm,” apply a small amount of hair oil to your scalp. Massage it in and repeat every few days. This is especially helpful if your hair is in braids.

Other Protective Styles for Natural Curly Hair

As long as your ends aren’t coming into contact with anything, the style is protective. While I aimed to share easy styles you can do, there are many other protective styles that you can do as well. Some require the use of hair extensions.

These include:

  • Box braids
  • Crochet braids
  • French braids
  • Fulani braids
  • Dutch braids
  • Cornrows
  • Bantu knots
  • Faux locs
  • Flat twists
  • Two-strand twists (that you pin up)
  • Marley twists
  • Chunky twists
  • Havana twists
  • The low bun
  • The high bun
  • A mid height bun
  • The braided ponytail
  • A low ponytail
  • The high ponytail (See 50 Natural Hair Ponytail Hairstyles)

Here’s a photo gallery of other protective styles (some from the list above) that can be done on those with natural curls. These styles won’t cause any hair damage and are great for curly girls.

If you haven’t tried any of these styles to date, this is the perfect opportunity to rock a new look on your natural hair.

Frequently Asked Questions About Protective Styles for Natural Curly Hair

1. What is the best protective hair style for curly hair?

Hair styles that protect the ends of the hair without compromising the rest of the hair.

The best protective hair style for curly hair is going to be different for each person because of each person’s hair type and hair texture.

For example, if you have very thick dense hair, braids may be the best protective hairstyle for you. If you have fine curly hair, twists will fair much better because they require less manipulation to install and take down.

So, the best answer is the best protective styles for curly hair is going to be based on a yes answer to these 3 questions:

  • Does it require least amount of manipulation to set the style and take down the style?
  • Is it totally protecting your hair?
  • Will this protective style stress any part of your hair?

2. What is the safest protective style for natural hair?

The style that doesn’t cause tangling, drying out of the hair or breakage will be the safest. For most people this will be large twists that are pinned up. Or one of the styles shared above. If you can do it on fine hair, with no issues, it’s safe.

Keep in mind that the safest protective style will also be the one that allows access to your natural hair and scalp. You need to be able to add moisture to your hair and you need to be able to access your scalp.

3. Do braids protect curly hair?

Braids do protect curly hair because they create a “cocooning” effect. It’s very much like what twists do.

When the strands are wrapped around each other, they are protected. Just keep in mind the manipulation that’s required to braid and unbraid your hair.

Also, pinning the braids up in a manner that removes end exposure is what will make them truly protective.

4. Are protective styles good for natural hair?

Protective styles are excellent for naturally curly hair. Because natural hair is easily tangled (and tangling can lead to breakage), it’s a good practice to stick with doing a simple style.

While all of those intricately braided styles are breathtaking hairstyles that are just beautiful on black hair, they also require a lot of manipulation to do.

I’ve found that medium size twists and buns work best on fine natural hair. This is my experience and while I’m not a hair expert, I have done the hard work of discovering what it takes to grow long hair.

fine natural hair growth

Roll w/ Flat Twist Protective Style

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Milk Maid Braids

How to Care for Fine Hair in a Protective Style

Easy Guide for How to Section Your Natural Hair

7 Hair Washing Hacks to Save Fine Hair

A Prayer for Our Hair:

Father God, your Word says to always give thanks so thank you for my fine strands. May they continue to grow. In Jesus Name.

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