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3 Protective Styles for Maximum Length Retention of Type 4 Hair

Avatar • Jul 13, 2013

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By Chinwe of Hair and Health

Most type 4 naturals benefit from protective styles in order to retain length.  Many wear these styles majority of the time.  If you have been natural for a while, you probably already know which protective styles work best for you.  However, if you are new in your natural journey or maybe you have been natural for some time but have not found the protective style that fits you, check out the following recommendations:

1. Loose Twists – Easiest Takedown

Many of you probably first heard of loose twists while reading some of Cipriana’s posts.  Since then, naturals have been adopting the method, including youtuber MsTanish.  The benefits of this style – aside from length retention – include that it is fast to put in, easy to take down, and offers versatile styling.  Loose twists are ideal for those who want the versatility and appearance of loose hair without actually wearing their hair loose.  For more details on how to do and maintain loose twists, watch this video by MsTanish.

2. Box Braids – Longest Lasting

When it comes to length retention of type 4 hair, box braids are probably number one on the list – and also last the longest of these three.  This protective style is super low maintenance and can be worn for a longer duration than twists.  Additionally, because box braids do not expand as much as twists, you can wash your hair more frequently without worrying about unraveling and serious meshing.  Box braids, especially miniature ones, do take time to put in but may be well worth it depending on your lifestyle.  This protective style is ideal for those with fine strands since it hinders knots and tangles much more effectively than twists do.  For guidance on developing a box braid regimen, watch Pookinapp’s video.

3. Small or Mini “Traditional” Twists – Easy To Do Well

Lastly, “traditional” twists – especially small or miniature ones – are a pretty popular and effective protective style for some type 4 naturals.  They are easy to do, low maintenance, and allow for versatile styling.  However, they cannot be washed as frequently (if at all) as box braids and also get frizzy faster.  Regardless, if you are not quite feeling the maintenance and/or style of loose twists AND you do not want to commit to putting in (and taking down) box braids, then traditional twists – small or mini – may be the best option for you.  For one example of a mini twist regimen, check out KinkyKurlyQueen’s video.  (You can also check out my blog for my own twist regimen.)

Ladies, have you had success with any of these protective styles?

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About Chinwe

Healthy hair care tips and more! http://www.healthyhairbody.com

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Kayce
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Kayce

I like all of these styles but I’m not so sure about doing them so small on my hair. In the past I have done them much bigger. I feel like I would end up ripping out a ton of my hair trying to take it out. I might try that first one. My hair is pretty thin though so it probably won’t come out looking so full and fun.

cb
Guest
cb

good post, I have fine, thin hair and traditional twists have worked well…have you heard of ‘tree braids’ and what do you think of them as protective styles?

Kgc
Guest
Kgc

Can somebody help me,I think I’m a type 4 but idk(one is with conditioner and the other with gel)
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/image-28.jpg[/img]
[img]https://bglh-marketplace.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/image-29.jpg[/img]

Alisa
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Alisa

You will be able to determine what your hair type is better if you look at your hair without any type of product in it(conditioner,gel, etc.) Here is a link to the naturally curly website that lists the different hair types. You can look here and decide for yourself.

http://www.naturallycurly.com/hair-types

Tamara
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Tamara

it looks like your 3b/3c or 3c/4a hair type your hair has a loose curl patter in the front can’t so much as see the back of your head.

Kgc
Guest
Kgc

The back is the same but more frizzy,the middle is the driest and has tiny curls,then the sides are similar to the front just a little amaller but bigger than the middle.

Candice
Guest
Candice

I always think it’s a good idea to put in mini braids until I have to take them down. Then it’s nothing but regret.

Thick Nigerian Hair
Guest
Thick Nigerian Hair

Exactly! That’s why I haven’t had braids/twists (with extensions of course) installed for almost a decade. They take 8+ hours to put them in and I have to plan in advance when to take them down because it’s an all day process.

But I’m getting tired of manipulating my hair. Next time, I’ll just get medium sized twists and regularly wash my scalp with diluted shampoo because that build up also added to my painful take downs. I think I’ll use Chinwe’s twist washing method.

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

My daughters and I wear braided extensions sometimes but they only take five hours with breaks (I put them in myself) because I put thicker ones in. No mini‐twists or microbraids. Plus I’ve seen first‐hand what those tiny braids can do to some Black women’s edges. I don’t want to put my daughters at risk for any kind of alopecia or thinning. The extensions are still versatile, the braids still look full and all four of us have retained length. Two of my daughters have type 4b hair and have slower length retention but they are regularly retaining length. We… Read more »

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

I looooooove mini twist but the take down causes breakage especially after two weeks. Medium twist are better for me. I would love to do box braids one day soon!

lovechele2
Guest
lovechele2

Hi guys I have a question about traditional twist. I just want to know if I am doing the protective style right. I have had my hair in medium twist for a little over a month. I wash it every week with the twist in deep condition it and every other week I protein condition it. My twist do come undone during the washing process. so I retwist my hair. I don’t comb it I finger comb the twist before I retwist it. I have not had a problem with locking at all. I just wanted to know if this… Read more »

carlyfanjaxfan
Guest

Sounds like you are doing everything right. You are being gentle and only manipulating the hair bi‐weekly so yes, I’d say it’s a P.S.

JENNID
Guest
JENNID

KGC your hair looks more curly than nappy so you wouldnt be catagorized as a 4, but look around at some pics. It doesnt really matter in the end. Your hair looks healthy despite not knowing your type so you are doin something right. Medium smallish two strand twist work the best for me. I haven’t tried the loose twist yet. I may try them in the fall when I go back into protective style mode. I wish box braids work but oh my are they hard to intall and the take down is worse than how some of you… Read more »

mahogany
Guest
mahogany

I do mediumish twists as my protective style however I create the look using African Threading. I find that by using this technique my “twists” last longer and look better and I usually keep them in for three to four weeks. Since my hair is both long (BSL) and thick ‚I moisturize every night by first spritzing with a rosemary mist (rosemary tea combined with half the amount of aloe vera juice/gel), oil with vatika oil and then add Jamacian black castor oil to the ends. I keep seeing that amla/olive oil heavy butter by qhemet biologics. Has anyone tried… Read more »

carlyfanjaxfan
Guest

Yes! African threading taking over. Lol.

Cece Danielle
Guest
Cece Danielle

OMG! Please show a pic!!! I would love to see this!!

Monisola
Guest
Monisola

box braids all the way! fine 4c easily breaking and tangling hair…

box braids loose on the edges, VIGALENT moisturizing, and large‐ish sections. My hair grows like wild fire in these styles. especially when i do a protien treatment before and after and take them down no later than after 4 weeks time.

I thought my hair was slow growing–1/3rd inch a month. But when i installed yarn braids and braids with kinky hair, my hair grew like 1 inch in a month! no lie!

no lie!

Monisola
Guest
Monisola

i guess i this post means box braids without extensions, but when done right and not too heavy or too tight, extensions can be fine as well.

mahogany
Guest
mahogany

Extensions even weaves are fine but most peoples problem is that they kind of forget about their hair underneath so that when they take them out it breakage city. My cousin only wears box braid w extensions that she does herself and moisturizes regularly and her hair is hip length.It depends on your hair and how much care you put into it

afrolover
Guest
afrolover

What about buns?
Wet bunning has worked the best for me.

mangomadness
Guest
mangomadness

I LOVE the look of the protective styles in this article — especially the loose twists — but they wouldn’t vibe well with the needs of my hair and scalp. Buns and updos done on stretched hair are the protective styles that work best with my kinky, coily, super dense hair and my scalp. I like buns and updos ’cause they’re quick to put in, can last for a week (from wash‐day to wash‐day), are quick to take down, are easy to detangle, allow me to wash my scalp weekly and allow me to fully re‐hydrate my hair weekly (via… Read more »

Rachel
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Rachel

I agree with Tamara 3b/3c/4a. But it would be best to see your hair with nothing in it but water.

Alwina
Guest
Alwina

I love my small twists, but I have to re‐do them every two weeks and plan when I take them down/put them in. When I wash them, I still end up re‐doing some of the hair for the front edges to look neat. I did the braids once and it looked like I didn’t have hair on my head. Someone even thought I put synthetic hair in and I didn’t. I haven’t done the loose twists. Maybe one day. Right now I have marley twists that I did myself. Yay for me!

The Mane Captain
Guest

Hey all, make sure you read this post about “when protective style is not protective” before embarking on the task
http://themanecaptain.blogspot.ca/2013/07/when-protective-styling-is-not.html

YOOHOO
Guest
YOOHOO

I LOVE TWISTS PERIOD, HAVE NO PAITENCE FOR BRAIDS THOUGH AND I NEVER ADD HAIR

nappy headed black girl
Guest

I lived in twists when I was loose. The really small ones were a no‐go, though. They caused too much tangling and matting when I took them out.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Help meee someone pleeeeaasseeee!!! I need some protective styling ideas. I’ve made upp my own roll protective style and it’s pretty, but I’m tired of it. I don’t like extentions, I dont like mini twists, and My hair is in that wierd in‐between stage, like collarbone length. so any ideas will be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Nyala
Guest
Nyala

HAVANA TWISTS.

ALL DAY. EVERYDAY.

I love these types if twists because they are so easy to put in and take out. :3 They don’t last long (in two weeks they get kinda fuzzy so that’s when I redo them), they also look really good big or small and are very natural!

You don’t have to buy that special hair everyone keeps griping about, just some kinky looking hair will do just fine.

annnsow
Guest

Great post, very useful, thanks.
I shall try moisturizing my hair with loose twists & mini braids from now on (medium braids in my case)
Gotta find the good regimen though.

Sandra
Guest
Sandra

Am I the only one who has bushy single strand knotted ends when hair is in box braids? It’s pretty annoying… help!

Kelly
Guest
Kelly

My daughter had the same issue. Make sure you are oiling the ends of your hair daily, that helped her.

trisha
Guest
trisha

Mine is bushy only after I just come it. After a week, the ends curl uniformly. Don’t know why but I just work with it.

Monisola
Guest
Monisola

I used to do small box braids, but Now I am going to switch to twists of the same size, (braiding at the roots since i get a lot of meshing there.) Braiding all the way to the ends is rough on my fine 4+ year old ends. I am hoping twists are much better, and I intend to wrap my hair at night (like a relaxer) to prevent twists from shrinking too much. After 4 years, I am not convinced I have found what really works for my hair, I believe the way (not the amount) I manipulate my… Read more »

Hello
Guest
Hello

I don’t like any of these styles. If I keep my hair in two strand twist every week, I gain a lot of length. However, two strand twist don’t look good on me. I want to look nice and grow my hair. What is the point of keeping your hair in an ugly protective style most of the week only to let it down on say, Friday and Saturday. I am mostly seen during the weekdays. Right now my hair is rather long. That is because I haven’t been taking care of it, I just leave it to do what… Read more »

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[…] parties, family and friends. Have you planned your holiday hair yet? If you’re wearing a protective style for the winter have you thought about how you will dress it up for the events you will be […]

Alycia
Guest
Alycia

Does anyone know if the box braids or mini twists work well for those of us with fine hair who usually get the “scalpy” look when doing regular size twists?

I never really do twists and when I do, I do small, not mini twists, and I wear a hat/scarf over it when I go out because they’re no where as full as I’d like them to be.

Also, I stretch my hair but what is the best way to stretch the very ends of your hair to ensure my hair doesn’t tangle after twisting/braiding??

Any tips would be appreciated!!!!!

Yayla
Guest
Yayla

You could try using small perm rods on the ends. Last inch or so? Hope that helps.

Cece Danielle
Guest
Cece Danielle

Yes!! I LOVE TWISTS! Super low maintenance. I cowash my twists like every 2 weeks and they don’t get tangled.

TWA4now
Guest
TWA4now

Nice pics!

Di
Guest

My hair does best in box braids, especially when I transitioned. I get up to 95% length retention and lightning fast growth (approaching 1 inch a mont) and they last 3 months when installed (even with frequent washes).

wow
Guest
wow

but who gon take em down

NHCN
Guest

Totally love the styles as presented. Anyway, for those wondering if they’re doing protective styling right, check this out: http://www.naturalhaircarenews.com/2015/01/06/are-you-protective-styling-or-defective-styling/

Guest
Guest
Guest

You most definitely can wash your hair frequently in mini twists. To me, they are the most freeing option of the list above. I do have 4c hair though and I do it without extensions.

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