15 Protective Hairstyles Celebs Love — & How To DIY Them

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
If there's one thing every person with curly or textured hair knows, it's this: Winter can be hell for your tresses. Whether it's cold air and windy conditions blowing them around, or wool hats and scarves sliding across them, your coils are exposed to tons of potential damage — and it's just as bad in the summer. (See: sun, sea, and heat exposure.) The reality is, taking care of your hair in harsh weather — no matter the season — is tough. The solution, however, is easy: protective styling.

"The number-one benefit [of protective styling] is that you're protecting your hair from environmental damage and potential heat and styling damage," celebrity hairstylist Ursula Stephen tells us. If Stephen's name sounds familiar, it's likely because she owns an eponymous salon in Brooklyn and has worked with celebs like Rihanna, Laverne Cox, Naomie Harris, and Taraji P. Henson.

According to the pro, protective styling is ideal for those with curly hair and many African-American women, because our coils can be extremely delicate. "We need to take [styling] breaks so we don’t abuse our hair," she says. That means turning to protective styles like box braids, cornrows, and wigs to keep hair safe and allow it to grow. However, Stephen cautions that while the styles are inherently protective, they can be damaging if you don't strike a "good balance." (Too much of a good thing is not great, but more on that later.)

First things first: You need to know your hair type and texture. And, of course, be sure to follow steps to maintain and clean your hair appropriately, so the style stays fresh. Note that these styles also work for more than just natural hair — they can benefit those in different stages of their hair journeys, from relaxed hair (which Stephen notes is "already dry" and may need a break) to natural curls — and everything in-between. That is, a protective style can "get you over the hump" of transitioning, if you don't want to chop your relaxed lengths or ends.

Convinced? Great, let's get started! Ahead, we've rounded up 15 celebrity-approved protective hairstyles — and everything you need to know to give 'em a go now.
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Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.
Protective Style To Try: Box Braids

Want to channel your inner Poetic Justice while protecting your hair? Then box braids are perfect for you. It's one of the most popular protective styles, and celebs like Beyoncé, Solange, and Zoë Kravitz have all rocked it.
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How To Do Box Braids

Natural-hair blogger Naptural85 breaks down how to create box braids on your own — from the comfort of your own home. It's actually easier than it looks, but be ready to spend lots of time on this look.
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Photo: Via @badgalriri.
Protective Style To Try: Loc Extensions

Real locs are beautiful, but they're also a major commitment. If you want the RiRi-approved look, without the dedication, give loc extensions a try.
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How To Do Loc Extensions

Press play to watch vlogger ShineStruck break down how to do your own loc extensions at home by using Marley hair.
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Photo: Via @gabunion.
Protective Style To Try: Senegalese Twists

This protective 'do is easy to maintain and style. Celebs like Brandy, Gabrielle Union, and Michelle Williams have all worn twists at one point in time.
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How To Do Senegalese Twists

Vlogger Mahogany Curls doesn't just show you how to do twists here, but how to prep your natural hair before you get started.

Bonus: Her follow-up video that shows you great ways to style your twists is also a must-watch.
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Photo: Via @amandalastenberg.
Protective Style To Try: Bantu Knots

Real talk: Bantu knots are always cute. They also protect your hair from heat damage and other elements. But here's the real added bonus: When you take out your Bantu knots, your curls will be gorgeous.
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How To Do Bantu Knots

ShineStruck also made this video back when she had a TWA (teeny-weeny Afro), proving that you don't need super-long hair to rock Bantu knots.
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Photo: Via @iamnialong.
Protective Style To Try: 2 Cornrows

They go by many names, but in the end, they're all the same: a set of two cornrows on either side of your head. It's an easy protective hairstyle that anyone can do.
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How To Do 2 French Cornrows

Vlogger Jasmine Brown shows you the step-by-step breakdown of braiding natural hair in this extended video. Tip: You probably don't need to watch the entire thing, but it's nice to have her do it along with you in real time.
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Photo: Via @tarajiphenson.
Protective Style To Try: Wear A Wig

Wigs are a great protective hair option because they're fun to style, reliable, and easy to remove. Celebrities such as Taraji P. Henson and Zendaya are known for putting on lace-front wigs to change up their looks while protecting their natural locks.
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How To Place Your Wig

Vlogger Raven Elyse copied Zendaya's American Music Awards hair by styling a cute, curly wig. It's a great video to show you proper placement and a few styling tricks. She also has plenty of other videos on her channel to show you how to place and style a variety of different wigs.
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Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images.
Protective Style To Try: Crown Braid

It should come as no surprise that Tracee Ellis Ross, patron saint of natural hair, is the queen of the crown braid. It's one of the easiest protective styles to add to your arsenal — and it always looks classy and regal.
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How To Do A Crown Braid

It's surprisingly easy to do. Seriously, people will think it took way more time and effort than it really does. But isn't that the true sign of an epic hairstyle?
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Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage.
Protective Style To Try: Style A Headwrap

Is there a better way to shield your hair from the elements than, well, literally shielding your hair with a beautiful scarf? Take Solange's lead and give this style a go.
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How To Style A Headwrap

Here's the thing about a headwrap: It looks amazing, but if you've never worn one, it can be intimidating to try. Why? Likely out of fear that your scarf will end up looking like a big ol' mess. The good news is that there are plenty of step-by-step tutorials for beginners, like this one.
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Photo: Via @yarashahidi.
Protective Style To Try: Double Buns

This style isn't for everyone, because it can feel a little juvenile. But, if Black-ish star Yara Shahidi's face is any indication, it's a fun and playful look that everyone should try once. It's also super-easy to copy...
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How To Do Double Buns

Vlogger Natural Neiicey does the double-bun style, which she calls "Pigtails: Bun Style." Whatever you call it, it's a hairstyle that's fast, easy, and cute.
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Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage.
Protective Style To Try: High Bun

Thandie Newton's high bun is perhaps the easiest protective style around. Most curly girls already use this style on days when they're not up for styling their hair, but the added benefit is that it gives your coils a bit of a break from harsh weather, too.
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How To Score The Perfect High Bun

We know what you're thinking: I don't need a video to show me how to put my hair in a high bun. But, honestly, maybe you do. Press play for tips and tricks to make your bun look sleek and perfectly pinned.
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Photo: Amanda Edwards/WireImage.
Protective Style To Try: Halo Braid Or Twist

This style is extremely similar to the crown braid, but the difference here is that the plait wraps completely around the front of your head, framing your face like a halo.
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How To Do A Halo Braid Or Twist

Fun fact: You don't have to braid your hair to get the halo look. You can actually do a flat twist and you'll get the same results, like you see here. Bonus: You'll score soft curls when you remove the twist.
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Photo: Steve Granitz/WireImage.
Protective Hairstyle To Try: Classic Pompadour

There's a reason Janelle Monáe rocked this style for so long: It's chic and protects her curly hair. The pompadour is a great protective style option if you're looking for an updo with some vintage flair.
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How To Do A Pompadour

Sorry to say, but the pompadour is actually kind of hard to accomplish, since it requires your hair to be swept up and pinned — and that can be a chore for those with curly hair. Just the same, if you have the patience or a friend (or mother, like in the video) to lend a hand, it's worth the time. You can also try a twisted mohawk, if you're looking for something similar with some edge.
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Photo: Charles Sykes/AP Images.
Protective Style To Try: Side-Braid Or Twist

This is a great protective style if you're looking for something classic and polished. The end result will differ, depending on your hair's texture, but it's gorgeous all the same. In this photo, Zoe Saldana has her hair loose on top, but if your hair is super-curly (3a to 4c), you can do a flat twist at the top to secure all of it.
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How To Do A Side-Braid Or Twist

In this video, vlogger Mahogany Curls twists her hair — from the root downward. The end result is a cute side-twist that will protect your hair and look chic as hell.
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Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images.
Protective Style To Try: Cornrows With Extensions

Cornrows are always a great option for protective styling, but when you add extensions, it transforms the look into something that's both glam and dramatic.
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How To Do Cornrow Braids

Naptural85 has one tutorial for beginners on how to do cornrow braids — and it's a great start — but in it, she shows you how to do Ghana cornrows. They're slightly different, because of the way you add the extra hair into the braid. Press play for more...
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Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images.
Protective Style To Try: Braided Updo With Cornrows

This style is gorgeous — but it's not easy to re-create on your own. In fact, you'll most definitely need a pair of helping hands. With that said, it's worth it — just look at the beautiful end result on Lupita Nyong'o.
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How To Do A Braided Updo With Cornrows

This video is long because it's a pretty intricate style. And it takes a long time to do. But it's mesmerizing to watch experts work their magic and finish with a beautiful updo that can also protect your curly hair.
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