Can Extensions Be Considered Protective Styles

The world of hairstyling is an ever-changing one. New styles come and go every other day. However, you can always cling to the classic timeless styles. Our favorites are definitely protective styles as they serve a practical purpose as well. There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding this style, however.

For example, we are often asked “Can Extensions Be Considered Protective Styles?” The answer is no. You can add extensions to protective styles to elevate them. Styles that lend themselves well to extensions are Braids, Cornrows, Twists, Bantu knots, Senegalese twists, Fulani braids, Box braids, and Crochet braids.

Extensions are a great way to jazz up these styles. They also offer a few other key benefits, given that they are installed right and maintained well. But before anything else, you need to know what the key difference between natural hair and extensions is.

Natural Hair Vs Extensions

Natural Hair Vs Extensions

Natural hair is quite adaptable. You can wear it in many different styles with ease. If cared for appropriately, you will have great hair elasticity. This means you can try out curly, stretched, matted, straight, or any other fashionable styles. Your hair type does matter though as you can’t go for curls with fine, straight hair without intense heat treatments.

Needless to say, heat treatments are something you want to avoid at all costs. That’s where extensions come in. You can use these bad boys to rock your favorite styles without manipulating your natural hair.

Extension Styles Vs Protective Styles

Extension Styles Vs Protective Styles

Extension styles are any styles that feature heavy use of extensions. Protective styles are styles that hide away the ends of your hair to keep them safe. The ends of your hair are the most fragile part of your hair.

As you can see, these are two different types of styles. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t overlap. There are a lot of protective styles that you incorporate extensions into. But is that the best thing to do for your hair? 

Why Extensions Are Good For Protective Styles

Why Extensions Are Good For Protective Styles

There is no clear-cut answer to if you should add extensions to your protective styles. There are pros and cons to every hairstyling technique. Let’s start with the process.

1. More Variety

You can try out a lot more styles and are not limited by the natural texture of your hair.  Extensions allow you to go for styles you would never have thought possible with the type of hair you have.

2. You Don’t Need Length

We’ve all gotten that one bad haircut that takes forever to grow out. With extensions, you don’t need to wait a long time for your favorite styles. Just add extensions and you’re good to go.

3. Less Manipulation Of Natural Hair

You have a lot more freedom when it comes to styling hair that isn’t yours. You can use as many products as you like, comb them freely, and add as much heat as you like. As you will be removing this hair soon, you do not need to worry about long-term damage.

4. Great For Transitioning Period

Clip-in extensions allow your hair to heal quickly during a transitioning period to your natural hair. We always recommend doing this as chemical treatments can do a number on your hair’s quality and it’s very easy to notice. You need to try and reverse this damage. How do these extensions help?

They look great, conceal any breakage the chemicals may have caused and allow you to ease into the new style.

Why Extensions Are Bad For Protective Styles

Why Extensions Are Bad For Protective Styles

On the flip side, if extensions are not well maintained or installed the right way, they can have a few detrimental effects on the health of your hair.

1. Damage To Hair

Improper installation and lack of care with extensions can lead to hair loss. Edges and hair strands are damaged due to friction during installation, daily wear and tear, and removal. You need to minimize contact with the extensive, especially if they have a rough texture.

2. Pressure On Scalp

Follicles weren’t designed to support that much weight. If you wear extensions for a long period of time and it isn’t installed properly, there will be a lot of tension on your scalp. This will lead to long-term effects and reduce your hair’s natural growing abilities.

3. Looks Fake

It is hard to find the perfect synthetic hair for your hair that blends into your hair in an unnoticeable way. Human hair extensions are your best bet. They look somewhat natural. Clip-ins are the best installation method as it’s hard to. 

The 3 Types Of Hair Extensions You Can Go For

If you have weighed the pros and cons and still decide to go for extensions, we suggest going for one of these 3 methods of installation.

1. Clip-in extensions

Clip-in extensions

Exactly what it sounds like, you clip in extensions into your natural hair. This is the easiest to install, maintain and remove. The entire styling process can take as little as a few minutes. It can be done at home and it is the cheapest option. The only caveat is that they don’t last very long. You should remove them daily but you can go a few days if you must.

2. Sew-in extensions

Sew-in extensions

Also known as weaving, this is the perfect choice for thick hair. The extensions are sewn into your natural braids. Traditionally, this is done over cornrows. It is not suitable for thin hair as a robust texture is needed to handle the sewing process.

It is the most expensive and labor-intensive option when it comes to extensions. You may need to wait for over 2 hours at the stylists for this installation. However, it’s totally worth it because of how good it looks and the fact that it lasts up to 10 weeks. 

3. Tape-in


What can you do if you have thinner hair and don’t want to go for clip-ins? Tape-ins are a good option for you. Extensions are placed with adhesive strips and heated glue. The installation process here is the most dangerous. If too much heat is used, your scalp will be severely damaged. That’s why you need to opt for a good stylist if you are going for this.

There are also strict maintenance guidelines such as washing your hair with mild temperatures and avoiding heat altogether. Why go for this super risky process ahead of something as simple as clip-ins? They look vastly different and if that is your preferred look, you need to put in the effort. They also last longer if maintained well, around 6-8 weeks.

8 Protective Hairstyles That Go Well With Extensions

While you can virtually slap extensions on any protective hairstyle and it will look great, these 8 styles are so well suited for extensions that not wearing them is a total missed opportunity.

1. Braids


Braids are the quintessential protective style. This classy look can go well with any outfit and there are so many spins on this style. You are free to express your own fashion with this versatile style. Extensions add volume so you have more to work with.

2. Cornrows


Cornrows are one of the most difficult styles to install. Yet, they are a staple in the fashion community. It just goes to show how good they look. Of course, not everyone can pull them off. If that is the case, not even extensions can help you.

3. Twists


This stunning style was tailor-made for Afro-textured hair. The amount of time it takes to install depends mostly on how long your hair is. You don’t need a lot of hair for twists, around 2 inches, but longer twists certainly look better. You can add extensions to do that.

4. Bantu Knots

Bantu Knots

This is another style that requires a lot of skill to execute. Bantu knots are not a style you can do at home. Even professionals struggle with this style. However, if done right, this style will sweep anyone off their feet. Extensions can add a nice lift in volume for this style.

5. Senegalese Twists

Senegalese Twists

Senegalese twists are one of the most culturally significant styles out there. The name of the origin country is literally in the name. This is not a style you can do with all types of hair. If you don’t have the natural hair for it, the entire style has to be done with extensions.

6. Fulani Braids

Fulani Braids

If you find conventional braids boring, this style is for you. The introduction of beads elevates the look to the next level. In fact, this style has often been associated with social status in African culture. Extensions can help you increase the length and add more beads.

7. Box Braids

Box Braids

You can’t go wrong with box braids. This style has been the style of choice for African people around the globe for ages for a reason. They are versatile and easy to pull off. Extensions can add thickness to this great style.

8. Crochet Braids

Crochet Braids

Last but certainly not least, we have a style that is sure to turn some heads. Crochet braids are a difficult style to pull off but when pulled off well, jaws will drop to the floor. Extensions can help add an extra bit of flair to this already extravagant style.

Are Extensions The Right Choice For Black Hair?

Protective styles are a strong part of black culture and so, it is important to know if extensions can cater to african american hair. The short answer is yes, extensions that fit smoothly into your hair styling routine.

Two myths surrounding african american hair and extensions seem to be floating around. First and foremost, they are not bad for black hair. In fact, they are just as good for this type of hair as any other type. You reap the same benefits. Secondly, African American hair extensions last as long as any other type of extension.

Now that the myths are busted, what extensions are best for this type of hair? If you want a voluminous and low-maintenance look, go for clip-ins or sew-ins. Tape-ins are a bit risky as they are best suited for thinner hair. You need to keep in touch with a professional if you go for tape-ins.


What is considered a protective style?

Protective styles are hairstyles that minimize manipulation and protect the ends of your hair, such as braids, twists, buns, or updos.

Does your hair grow faster in protective styles?

Protective styles don’t directly affect the rate of hair growth. However, they can help retain length by reducing breakage and damage, giving the appearance of faster growth.

Do I have to take a break in between protective styles?

It’s not necessary to take a break between protective styles, but it’s beneficial to give your hair and scalp regular breaks to moisturize, cleanse, and assess its health.

How long should you keep your locs in a protective style?

The duration of keeping locs in a protective style can vary. It’s generally recommended to keep them in for 2-4 weeks to minimize frizz and maintain neatness.

How long do you have to keep braids in for hair to grow?

There’s no specific timeframe for hair growth with braids. However, keeping them in for 6-8 weeks while properly caring for your hair can promote healthy growth.

How to do black girl hair braids?

To create braids, part your hair into sections, take three strands, and cross them over each other. Continue adding hair as you braid and secure with a hairband or a knot.

Are French braids a protective style?

Yes, French braids can be a protective style as they keep the hair contained and reduce manipulation, helping to protect the ends and minimize breakage.

Can weave be a protective style?

Yes, weaves can serve as a protective style by allowing your natural hair to rest and minimizing exposure to daily styling and manipulation.

Why is my hair so thin after extensions?

Hair thinning after extensions can occur due to factors like excessive tension, improper installation or removal, lack of proper maintenance, or underlying hair health issues.

What type of hair extensions are least damaging?

Clip-in hair extensions are generally considered the least damaging as they don’t involve any adhesive or chemical application and can be easily removed and reinstalled.

Do weave extensions damage hair?

When installed and maintained properly, weave extensions shouldn’t cause damage. However, if the installation is too tight, not properly cared for, or left in for extended periods, it can lead to damage.

What is the least damaging weave?

Sew-in weaves are often considered the least damaging as they involve braiding your natural hair and sewing the wefts onto the braids without the use of adhesives or glues.

Do protective styles damage locs?

Protective styles can be beneficial for locs as they help minimize manipulation and prevent excessive unraveling or breakage, reducing the risk of damage.

Can I wear my hair up with a weave?

Yes, you can wear your hair up with a weave. However, it’s important to ensure that the weave is securely attached and doesn’t cause tension or pulling on your natural hair.

Which weave is the strongest?

When it comes to strength, a well-installed and properly cared for sew-in weave tends to be one of the strongest options as it provides a secure and stable foundation.

What are the least painful braids?

Pain from braiding can be minimized by ensuring proper tension, using smaller sections, and having an experienced stylist. Box braids and passion twists are often considered less painful options.

Is a high bun a protective style?

Yes, a high bun can be a protective style as it keeps the hair away from friction and manipulation, reducing breakage and promoting healthier hair.

What are the easiest braids to maintain?

Box braids, Senegalese twists, and cornrows are among the braids that are relatively easy to maintain due to their longevity

Let’s Wrap It Up

We can see where the misconception stems from. The most popular protective styles all go well with extensions. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a protective style that wouldn’t benefit from the addition of good extensions. However, can Extensions Be Considered Protective Styles? Certainly not.

You can’t just wear extensions and leave the ends of your hair completely exposed and call it a day. The fundamental definition of protective styles is that they protect your hair’s weakest part, the ends.

Whatever style you go for, you need to maintain your hair well. No protective style can substitute for a good haircare routine. This means using the right products in the right amount and frequency. You need to use them hand in hand to ensure that your hair is in the best shape possible.

By Cindy Mahlangu

Hey there! I'm Cindy Mahlangu, a pro hairstylist with a serious passion for natural hair care. My mission? To inspire and educate others on the beauty and benefits of protective hairstyles. Through my creative writing, aim to empower individuals to embrace their unique hair texture and confidently care for their locks. So, whether you're rocking locs, braids, or twists, join me on this hair journey and let's achieve healthy, fabulous tresses together!

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