Looking for protective hairstyles for white hair? We’ll show you the benefits of using one of these hairstyles, how to style them, a few real-life examples, and a few things to consider before rocking one of these styles.
Are There Any Protective Hairstyles for White Hair?
Are there any protective hairstyles for white hair – as in, a white person’s hair? You bet! That might surprise you, since protective hairstyles are most commonly used to style and prevent damage to the African (or Afro-textured) hair type.
Styles like braids, dreadlocks, buns, and twists are some of the most popular protective hairstyles and have been for centuries. But do the same types of protective styles work for white people?
It depends. Some protective styles designed for Afro-textured hair will work better than others on Caucasian hair due to the differences between the 2 hair types. While styles like twists that rely on grip and coarse hair texture are better suited for highly textured African hair, others (like braids) can work just as well on Caucasian or white hair.
And some “unexpected” protective styles, like buns, modified twists, and rolls are perfect protective hairstyles for white hair.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these 2 ethnic hair types to better understand why protective styles for white hair are a little different.
African and Caucasian Hair: What’s the Difference?
Not all protective hairstyles are a good fit for Caucasian (white) hair because the texture, shape, and curl pattern is typically much different than African (black) hair.
Some popular protective styles can work well on white hair, but it’s important to know what makes these 2 ethnic hair structures different to understand which styles you can wear without worrying about unraveling or loosening up.
- May be straight, wavy, or curly
- Strands are oval-shaped
- Diagonal scalp growth – grows about 0.5 inches per month
- Densest ethnic hair type (out of Caucasian, Asian, and African)
- May be tightly curled, coily, or kinky with Z-shaped kinks
- Prone to “shrinkage” – reduced length due to spiral structure
- Strands are flatter in shape than Asian and Caucasian hair
- Parallel scalp growth – grows about 0.3 inches per month
- 2nd densest ethnic hair type after Caucasian hair
Since Caucasian hair has a different shape (oval vs. flattened oval), texture (straight, wavy, or curly compared to curly, coily, or kinky), angle of growth (diagonal vs. parallel to the scalp), and density, it’s easy to see why some protective styles are a better fit for African hair.
For long-term protective styling, the spiral, highly-textured characteristics of African hair are a perfect fit. This hair type easily “locks” into different braided, dreadlocked, and twisted styles that prevent damage to the hair.
In some cases, you may not even need rubber bands or elastics to hold common styles like twist outs in place on Afro-textured hair. A white person’s less-textured, finer hair may have a harder time staying put in protective styles that are meant to last for days or weeks.
But that doesn’t mean protective styles can’t work for white hair! In fact, there are tons of protective hairstyles for white hair. You just have to know which styles will “stick” and which ones to avoid with your hair texture and strand shape.
We’ve got lots of options to show you next that will protect your hair from damage and help you achieve faster growth with less breakage – and you’ll look good wearing them! Check out some of our favorite protective hairstyles for white hair below.
15 Protective Hairstyles for White Hair You’ve Gotta Try
Looking for protective styles that can work for a white woman? Here are 15 damage-defying looks you’ve really got to try.
1. Double Dutch Braids
These twin Dutch braids sit on top of the hair to really pop and create a look worthy of lounging around at home or going out. This style is so cute, it’s merely a bonus that it protects your hair from damage and keeps it gathered tightly for style security.
Split your mane down the middle and clip one half out of your way. Take a small section from the front, split it into 3 pieces, and begin a Dutch braid (the opposite of French braids – weave under, not over).
Secure with a coated elastic to prevent damage to your ends or place a small roller on your ends to keep them contained and repeat for the other side. This also prevents stick-straight ends in your next-day hair!
2. Halo Braid
A halo braid makes an incredible protective hairstyle for white hair. And it’s pretty enough to wear anywhere – you can even rock this style at your wedding!
Make it loose if it’s a look you want to wear out, or weave it tighter for a protective style that can last 2-3 days. Begin a halo braid where you’d start a deep side part. French (weave pieces over each other) or Dutch (weave under) braid, following the circumference of your head as you go.
When you’re near the ends, secure the braid with a small elastic. Tuck and pin the ends for a seamless, damage-defying style!
3. Half Cornrows Into Low Pony
Cornrows are probably one of the first protective styles you think of, and they can definitely work on white hair. We love this modified version and it’s a great fit for the finer texture of Caucasian hair.
Making your sections straight and even is very important with any type of flat braid (like cornrows). It ensures all braids are similar in size and thickness. This protective style is perfect for DIY since the cornrows stop at the crown (it gets hard to braid your own hair beyond that).
Section and tightly braid the front, securing each row with a small elastic as you work. You can then create a quick low pony and wrap loose hair around the elastic for an added touch of chic.
4. Jumbo Cornrows
Don’t have the time or finesse to create a bunch of tiny cornrows in your hair? Try thicker cornrows as a protective style. By making the sections wider, you end up weaving fewer braids and get the same damage-protection benefits of traditional cornrows.
Plus, larger braids put less tension on the scalp and may be more comfortable to wear for a few days. This could become your go-to summer protective style to protect your strands from UV, salt water, and chlorine exposure.
5. Upside Down Dutch Braided Buns
Starting your braids at the nape of the neck instead of in the front is a cute twist on basic Dutch braids. We love this as a protective hairstyle for white women because it genuinely contains every bit of hair (from root to ends) without leaving any hair out or loose.
It may look complicated, but it’s actually simple to do if you know how to French or Dutch braid! Split your hair into 2 equal sections and clip one side out of the way.
Tilt forward so your head is upside down and take a small section from the nape of your neck. Begin a normal 3-strand braid, then start picking up additional hair as you weave the growing 3 pieces under each other.
When you reach the crown area (or where you’d like your buns to be), cap the braid off with a small elastic and twist the remaining loose hair into a coiled bun. Slide a few bobby pins in to hold it securely and repeat for the other side. Protected, pretty, and perky!
6. Quick Twisty Top Knot
Even super-simple top knots can be a protective style. It keeps your hair contained and wrangled while covering your ends. This can help prevent split ends and encourage your hair to better retain moisture.
You probably wear this style on a regular basis, but if you’ve never tried a top knot, it’s easy to do. Gather your hair high up on your head, at the crown or slightly further up.
Twist the loose ponytail upward into a coil and wrap it around the base of the ponytail loosely. It’s okay if it’s messy! Secure it with a large elastic (or scrunchy for more damage protection).
7. Low Coiled Ballerina Bun
Look elegant and graceful when you sport a low ballerina bun as a protective hairstyle. This style wraps and tucks the ends of your hair safely in a thick bun that helps retain moisture and prevent damage to your ends.
Brush your hair straight back and gather at the nape of your neck.
Coil the gathered hair and wrap it in a spiral around the base to form a bun. Wrap a large elastic (if you plan to wear out) or a scrunchy around the bun to hold. Add in a few bobby pins for more staying power.
8. Messy Bun With Scarf
Wait – a messy bun, AKA the easiest hairstyle in the world, can actually protect your hair from damage?! Yes ma’am, it can! As long as you’re keeping your hair bundled with the ends tucked away, you’re preventing damage and protecting your hair.
We love the addition of a cute scarf to make this style even better for your mane. Here, you’ll create a quick messy bun at the crown and pin your bangs (or just the hair in front) back with a little “bump” in volume.
Wrap the scarf around your head to hide the pins. It can double as sun protection if you plan to be outdoors for a while!
9. Triple Buns for Next-Day Waves
We’ve covered tons of methods to get pretty heatless curls, but this 3-bun style is another excellent option that doubles as hair protection. By securing your hair in triple coiled buns at the nape of your neck, you avoid loose ends that are more susceptible to damage.
Plus, you get the benefits of truly gorgeous next-day waves or curls. Brush your hair straight back and divide it into 3 equal sections. Secure each section with an elastic right at the nape.
Twist and coil each section into a small, tight bun. Make sure to pay attention to how you wrap the ends if you want to wear the next-day waves! Sleep on your triple buns and take them down in the morning to reveal your pretty texture.
10. Twin Rope Braids
Rope braids only use 2 strands, so if you typically struggle with 3-strand braids, this is a great protective style to try. It does leave your ends out, but you can always coil each rope braid into a bun to get Princess Leia-inspired buns that better protect your ends.
Split your hair down the middle and halve each section so you have 4 equal sections (two on each side).
You’ll be twisting both pieces on one side in the same direction – away from your face – and then twisting the furthest piece from your face around the closest piece. It’s really easy to get the hang of, and you’ll be able to do it with one hand with a little practice.
11. French Twist
The French twist is such a classic style, but you probably didn’t realize it’s a great protective option! It contains the length of your hair in a bundle and keeps the ends tucked away to prevent damage.
Creating a stylish French twist like the one pictured takes a little practice, but it’s worth it! To create a simple, protective French twist, brush and gather your hair at the nape of your neck and slightly off to one side.
Twist the hair into a long coil as you bring the ends upward toward your crown. Hold the twist tightly and tuck the loose ends in beside it. Pin with a few bobby pins and add a few to secure the twist itself. This is a chic style that begs to be worn somewhere special!
12. Bantu Knots
Rocking Bantu knots overnight will give you bouncy, tight curls with tons of volume and movement. They also protect your hair while you sleep, and if you choose to keep them in for a few days, you’ll get added damage-protection benefits.
In this style, your hair is completely contained with the ends tucked into each knot.
It offers maximum damage protection and is great for insulating your hair from damage while it grows, as you start a damage-repair routine, or to prevent everyday sources of damage from harming your hair.
Split and section your hair into equal pieces. Larger sections will give you larger curls and take less time to twist. Simply twist each section until it coils, then wrap the coil around the base tightly before securing with an elastic.
13. Overnight Roller Set
It’s been a while since we’ve heard about a good old fashioned roller set (also called a shampoo and set or wet set)! That’s too bad, because it’s honestly one of the most beneficial protective hairstyles for white hair.
The idea is you wash and condition your hair, roll it up, and allow it to dry in the rolled shape for perfectly styled curls sans heat.
An overnight roller set will prevent your loose hair from rubbing against your pillowcase as you toss and turn. You’ll get fewer tangles, shinier texture, and less breakage when you regularly choose overnight protective styles like this.
Roll each section according to the look you want the next day. You’ll usually roll the sections around your face backward and the roll the rest underneath horizontally.
14. Upright Pin Curls
Get a little vintage vibe with this protective, overnight style that gives you beautiful curls the next day! Upright pin curls are very simple to do. Just take small sections of hair about an inch and a half wide and wrap the ends around your finger to start the curl.
Roll from the ends toward your scalp. Roll under for sections around the back and sides and roll away from the face in the front-most sections.
Slide your finger out as you finish rolling each section and slip a bobby pin or alligator pin in to anchor the base of the curl to your scalp. Cover with a silk bonnet or scarf for the best overnight protection.
15. Overnight Silk Scarf Wrap
If you’re all about keeping things simple, you’ll love the idea of using a silk or satin scarf as a quick overnight protective style.
You can wear a braid, bun, or ponytail underneath to prevent tangling and sliding around while you sleep. Pop the silky scarf over your hair at bedtime and tie it securely to protect your strands with silken smoothness while you slumber.
Frequently Asked Questions
Protective hairstyles for white women come with a lot of questions. Here are some of the most common questions we’re getting – see if you can find the answers you’re looking for here!
Which protective style grows hair the most?
Any protective style that helps reduce breakage and damage will help you grow your hair longer. For the most growth, look for protective styles that reduce breakage – this will make your new length appear to accumulate faster and get rid of scraggly, unhealthy ends.
Styles that tuck and contain your ends are best for growth, so try protective styles like buns, Bantu knots, pin curls, roller sets, and halo/milkmaid braids if you’re trying to grow your hair out.
Are braids good for white hair?
Braids should not damage white or Caucasian hair if they’re not done too tightly. In fact, they’re a great style for damage protection as long as they’re not putting excess tension on the scalp!
Pay close attention to the hair ties you use to secure your braids if you want to avoid damage. Rubber bands are known to snag and break the hair, so opt for coated bands, scrunchies, or spiral hair ties to get the most damage protection with braids on white hair.
Are there protective hairstyles for straight hair?
Absolutely – there are tons of protective styles for straight hair! All of the styles on our list are straight hair-friendly. But if you want to keep your hair straight (no next-day curls), your options are more limited.
Wearing a silky scarf or bonnet over your straight strands at night will work, but any braid, bun, twist, or rolled styles will give you heatless curls. Keep this in mind if you want to stick with the straight look!
How do white girls twist their hair?
The finer, less-grippy texture of Caucasian hair makes it less suitable for twisted styles worn on Afro-textured hair.
If you want to wear twists, you can try flat twists – twists that are tightly secured to the head like a French braid – or hanging rope braids. Both offer that twisty look without relying on the spiral texture of African hair to keep the twists in place.
Will protective hairstyles for white hair repair damage?
Protective hairstyles help prevent damage to your hair, but they won’t repair existing damage. Protective styles should be a major part of your damage-repair regimen if you’re seeing signs of damage in your strands.
These types of styles will help prevent additional damage to your hair while you work to repair and restore the health of your hair.
Things to Consider
There are tons of protective hairstyles for white hair! Some are cute enough to wear out, even to a formal event – we’re looking at you, French twists and halo braids!
Others are best kept as your little secret to sidestep damage (overnight roller set or pin curls, anyone?). When you work any of these protective styles into your hair care routine, you lavish your locks with a little extra TLC and prevent new damage from taking root.
If you’ve been sleeping with your down and loose, heat styling daily, or noticing more and more signs of damage, it’s time to start relying on protective styles more often.
Keep the following things in mind as you choose protective styles suitable for Caucasian hair.
- Bundle and tuck. When in doubt, any hairstyle that bundles your hair (all together or in sections) and keeps your ends tucked away safely can count as a protective style. Experiment with all types of braids, buns, twists, roller sets, and wraps to find your favorite ways to style your hair for the most damage protection.
- See more growth by protecting your ends. If sluggish growth and breakage is driving you to look for protective styles, make sure you’re choosing options that protect your ends. This won’t actually make your hair grow faster (there’s always Folexin for that), but it will reduce breakage drastically. That will help you see the accumulation of growth faster and get your hair health back on track.
- Use flexible rollers for overnight protective styles. Hard rollers are uncomfy to sleep on, to say the least. Choose sponge rollers or another type of soft, flexible roller if you want to try the overnight roller set style.
- Keep strands moisturized. Preventing damage starts with keeping your hair topped off with plenty of nourishing moisture. Try a hair mask for damaged hair to deeply inject moisture and reparative nutrients into your hair as you begin experimenting with protective styles. You’ll double your damage protection and get healthier hair fast!
- Never go to bed with loose hair. Sleeping is one of the “hidden” sources of physical hair damage because of the friction between your hair and pillowcase. Tangles, frizz, and breakage are almost guaranteed if you sleep with your hair loose. So pop it into a bun, braids, or cover with a satin scarf or bonnet at bedtime to hit snooze on unnecessary damage.
What’s Your Favorite Protective Hairstyle for White Hair?
Finding protective hairstyles that work for white girls seems tough when you’re looking at the common protective styles for African hair.
But once you realize that protective styles just need to bundle your hair and keep the ends protected, the world of possibilities really opens up! You don’t have to get intricate cornrows, two-strand twists, or dreadlocks to avoid damaging your hair.
Focus on doing simple styles with staying power to prevent damage – chances are, you’re already rocking some of these styles on a weekly basis.
Messy buns, chic braids, elegant twists, and overnight roller/pin curl sets are all excellent styles that will protect your hair from damage without requiring a ton of time or a professional’s help to do.
Don’t be afraid to get creative in your journey to try more protective styles – you might discover a new look that you love while reaping beaucoup benefits for your mane!