Pho­to Source

Kristi­na brings a very inter­est­ing ques­tion;

So… I’ve been try­ing to fig­ure out a pro­tec­tive style reg­i­men for a while now. First I was rock­ing the indi­vid­u­al twists and braids then I stopped doing them because they took too much effort to put in and take down, and I felt I was los­ing hair in the take­down process. So I start­ed doing buns and updos. But I found that those styles stretched my hair to a point that it almost became a bit dried out. Now I’m gear­ing up for anoth­er 3 weeks of pro­tec­tive styling and I’m not sure what to do. I’m not deal­ing with a lot of length (9 inch­es at the longest points).

I want­ed to ask your read­ers; for those of you who have tried both indi­vid­u­al twists & braids and less ‘piecy’ pro­tec­tive styles like buns and updos; which did a bet­ter job of help­ing you retain length? And why? I know the answers might vary from head to head, but I’m hop­ing that some help­ful themes will emerge.

Alright ladies. Share your advice!

Which style helps you retain length bet­ter?

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Black Girl With Long Hair

Leila Noel­lis­te, founder of Black Girl with Long Hair (April 2008). Social media, pop cul­ture and black beau­ty enthu­si­ast. bell hooks’ hair twin…

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56 Comments on "Individual Twists and Braids vs Buns and Updos; Which Retain Natural Hair Length Better?"

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Aliyah Morrison

Twists work best for me in pro­tec­tive styling and retain­ing length. I always get two strand twists and I love it . I go to the salon to get it done once a mon­th and I can do so some styles with twists as well .


I think twists are best because usu­al­ly you’re start­ing on clean hair and using good mois­tur­iz­er, sealant, (and a styling cream) and you’re doing this to the hair even­ly because it’s in sec­tions and detan­gled. It’s a great way to prompt you to keep it mois­tur­ized.
Then if hair is long enough to pull into a bun with­out even using a brush (except if you want to brush a hold­ing pro­duct on your edges) I think that’s the best thing then because there is hard­ly any manip­u­la­tion at all, just make sure to keep hair spritzed and mois­tur­ized.


My goal being able to put my hair in ONE BUN! I haven’t been able to do this since I was a kid! For now. Twist, braids, and updos do it for me!


Hi, I do think this is an excel­lent site.

I stum­bledupon it ;) I will revis­it once again since I saved as a favorite it.
Mon­ey and free­dom is the great­est way to change, may you
be rich and con­tin­ue to guide oth­er peo­ple.

I kept my hair in two big twists for 5 months straight, of course I’d take them down wash/co-wash mois­tur­ize and seal but them put them right back up and put a wig over if I went out. My hair was chin length (relaxed) when I start­ed tran­si­tion­ing, when I final­ly decid­ed to do a length check my hair was almost past my shoul­ders (curly)! I chopped about 2 inch­es of the relaxed ends 3 weeks ago since I’m opt­ing for a grad­u­al tran­si­tion instead of a BC and my hair has already grown half an inch. I was stunned.… Read more »

Mini­braids work best for me. I don’t wear them down much, most­ly in banana clips and in updos. I cosign with sweet­afro­hair. I make sure that I am care­ful putting them in on stretched, mois­tur­ized, and sealed hair. I take them down by using my mix of dis­tilled water, oil, and con­di­tion­er as a spritz to help the braids loosen with­out a lot of manip­u­la­tion. I usu­al­ly leave them in for 5 weeks tops, because I don’t want my hair to loc.


Twists work best for me. I usu­al­ly end up wear­ing them in an updo, and they do a great job. I wet them every few days then seal them with a shea but­ter coconut oil mix. and they don’t unrav­el. I wash every one to three weeks (yes, that’s right, 1–3, depends on my sched­ule.) I may try braids, because as a school teacher, the less work I have to to on my hair every few weeks the bet­ter. I want to main­tain it’s health, but not spend hours twisting/braiding every cou­ple of weeks. Thanks for the input, ladies!


Can you all give me any sug­ges­tions for pro­tec­tive styles for short­er hair…I would love to learn how to do a bun. Please!!!!!


they’ll all retain equal length, but it’s how you comb your hair when you take those styles down that will deter­mine whether you keep the length. you can grow 2 inch­es and break off 3.


We had two wed­dings that wekened so I didn’t get to watch entire doc­u­men­tary on it but based on what I saw I total­ly agree with you. Kate’s bridal bou­quet, I felt like it didn’t match the dress and wasn’t ele­gant enough. For me it would be per­fect if she had a huge bundle of white tulips. The lace on her dress was just too bulky for lily of the val­ley look. The rest of the wed­ding was also miss­ing flow­er pres­ence, I was pret­ty bummed out about it.


Check out this gor­geous hair by “Long­hair­dont­care2011” on Pro­tec­tive Bun on Nat­u­ral Hair video.



Twists or braids for me. Buns can be if I am lazy but I bet­ter pro­gress with twists :)

When I first went nat­u­ral I retained the longest length doing twists with my own hair(4B/C) but as my hair got longer I noticed a lot of knot­ting, tan­gles and break­age from this when­ev­er I took them down. So at a cer­tain length point I switched to buns(I think they were a bit tout) coz my edges start­ed suf­fer­ing. So now I do flat twists and the­se are great because they dont take so long to put in you can braid them in dif­fer­ent styles every week and I dont get any knots or tan­gles so far my hair is… Read more »
Annie L.
I’m so-so at plaits, twists and flat twists so mine are for indoors only at night but it allows me to make them loose and com­fy. They’re easy to do, retain a lot of mois­ture and allow me to be as gen­tle as I want with my hair­line. They’re also easy to remove. What pro­tect­ed my hair from dam­age, knots and break­age for long stints the most were Khamit Kinks’ baby curl twist exten­sions. The style, the hair tex­ture and the pro­fes­sion­al know-how all com­bined to be a HUGE way to retain length by pro­tect­ing my ends, allow­ing mois­ture in,… Read more »

I like buns and updos. They are quick (to put in and take down) and keep my hair well stretched (allow­ing for eas­ier detan­gling).

Deneya Carter

Okay well I don’t think you guys can see it that well because the pic­ture is all blur­ry.

Deneya Carter

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Here’s a pic of me in twist. I love hav­ing my hair in twist espe­cial­ly after I take them out :D


Buns are eas­i­est for me.

I can’t say which ones I retain length with bet­ter, because I mix the two. I think they both have their ben­e­fits if done in ways that work for your hair and alter­nat­ing the two types of styles can work. It’s fun­ny, because I just did a post on sim­ple, quick, low manip­u­la­tion styles and how I think those are bet­ter for my fine hair … the next day, I did box braids! LOL!! Then, I was real­ly lik­ing those because I didn’t have to both­er with my hair for a week, even went white water raft­ing and they held… Read more »

omg…soooo pret­ty!!!




Thanks Toya and Car­la!

Le Le
I like twists the most (but not mini twists–those things take too damn long). I have not man­aged to make my twists look cute enough to wear com­plete­ly out, so I wait until the cool/cold months which is when I often wear hats and oth­er head cov­ers when in pub­lic. I plan on get­ting some new hats and scarves some time this mon­th. Braids are ok, too, but I prefer twists. My hair is too short (6–8 inch­es) to do looser buns. My buns have to be kind of tight in order to stay in place, so at this point… Read more »
So I’m fine-haired and some­where in the 4b/c range. I real­ize that tak­ing twists down was a pain and I end­ed up hav­ing alot of knot­ting and break­age. I don’t do buns any­more because my hair­line suf­fers. I have kin­da stuck to plaits/braids. I like it becuz I can wash my hair with this style and not unrav­el it. This is CRUCIAL to me. I have to wash my hair every 4 days or my scalp will itch like crazy. With twists I have to redo the style every­time I wash my hair. :(:( My plaits are usu­al­ly done on the week­ends and… Read more »

Cosign­ing on indi­vid­u­al plaits over twists or buns for my 4b hair. I can wash as oft as I please with­out tan­gling and twists trans­form them­selves into sin­gle coils on my hair lol. My length reten­tion with mini­braids as my sta­ple style has been excel­lent. My longest lay­er is bra strap now when stretched. If you’re dis­cour­aged by the take­down or shed hair from mini­braids check out video #45 on my YT chan­nel: Hope­ful­ly it’ll help some­one.


For­got to say I can only man­age to keep twists for about 3 weeks max with restrict­ed wash­ing, where­as my mini­braids are good for 5–6 weeks with lib­er­al wash­ing.


Agreed with the braids and plaits. They work for my hair I view twists as my treat style because my hair sim­ply won’t stay in twists


My hair is long enough to do a bun but its so thick that it slips out of of the pony­tail hold­er lol So i have to wait on that, but I always do twist or braids with my own hair and put them in a bun. I have been retain­ing all if not most of my length I believe. Though I get less knots at the end of my hair with braids and if i do my styling on stretched (band­ed) dry hair, I get less tan­gles too


Can some­one please tell me why buns are con­sid­ered a pro­tec­tive style?
It seems that con­stant­ly pulling your hair back like this will even­tu­al­ly cause more harm than good…


It is a pro­tec­tive style because the ends are tucked away, and usu­al­ly you don’t have to manip­u­late it a lot. When doing buns one should not pull back their hair so tight and also they shouldn’t do the bun in the same spot over and over because like you said over time one might notice some dam­age. Also you can be even more gen­tle by using sat­in scruchies com­pared to elas­tics.


Twists are my go-to style since they are so ver­sa­tile. Depend­ing on how I want to style my hair, I will either leave them down or put them in an updo or bun. I think any style can help you retain length as long as your hair is well mois­tur­ized, and your ends are gen­tly main­tained.

I find that what­ev­er enables me to leave my hair alone the longest works best. I tried twists but found that I was con­stant­ly hav­ing to re-twist cer­tain sec­tions and my scalp gets irri­tat­ed if I don’t wash it once a week, so all the time spent twist­ing and then try­ing to main­tain the twists only to take them down at the end of the week hard­ly felt worth it. I tend to shy away from indi­vid­u­al braids (par­tic­u­lar­ly with­out exten­sions) just because they make me look more juve­nile (I’m 22 and most peo­ple think that I’m 14 or 15… Read more »

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Cute! I think the col­or real­ly enhances the flat twist pat­tern too and the place­ment makes it ele­gant. The pics real­ly helped! Thank you!

Annie L.


That is just too cute! Love the col­or.


I love it. Sim­ple and classy


Sounds cute. Do you have any pic­tures of this style? Thanks!


I agree! Pics please!




For­got to leave the pic…
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Absolute­ly love your bun! What prod­ucts did you use in your hair to achieve this style? Thanks!


Thank you!

I used a leave-in (I think Curl Junkie Smooth­ing Lotion), sealed with olive oil and used raw shea but­ter on the edges to keep it togeth­er. When it comes to buns, I keep it pret­ty simple…HTH


I loce your hair Car­la do you know what type curls u have? I am try­ing to fig­ure out what type I have

jenna marie christian

pret­ty :)




For me its buns because my hair is up and out of the way with min­i­mal manip­u­la­tion. I haven’t tried twists yet, but that may be my win­ter project.


I am a type 4 b-c girl for the most part and medi­um indi­vid­u­al plaits/braids with­out hair exten­sions work best for retain­ing length for me. I will rock an updo, but if I do an updo my hair is in braids or twists.


For me twists and braids were the best for retain­ing length…but only if I didn’t make them too small, didn’t leave them in too long (you CAN’T treat the­se styles the way you can when using store-bought hair), and took them down GENTLY (see pre­vi­ous point).

Thank you, by the way, for say­ing “which retain nat­u­ral hair length bet­ter” instead of “…which make hair grow faster”. Because we should all know by now that styles don’t make hair grow…

Medi­um size twists work well for my hair, and I can’t do with the mini-twists those would put hav­oc on my hair. I do like braids, but the take­down on those esp. if you put alot on ur head is killer for me about 8 is good :). I dont do the buns my hair is to thick and plus that’s to much pres­sure on my del­i­cate edges. _____________________________ Also saw this men­tioned on CN and want­ed to share FYI: Just want­ed to let you ladies know that Tar­get on the main page, for the Tar­get­coupons sec­tion under beau­ty when you click… Read more »

My hair grows like crazy in mini-twists. Then again, I’ve decid­ed to take a break from them because they also bring on an unbe­liev­able amount of sin­gle-strand knots and they take FOREVER to fin­ish. Wear­ing buns is eas­ier and faster, but doing so doesn’t appear to ben­e­fit my hair at all.


twists pinned up into an updo was the easiest/best for me

Von­nie of


Me three. I’ve been doing big thick twists though, so it doesn’t take as long.

Betty Chambers

Yes! And you can switch up with twists by open­ing them and wear­ing the hair loose, or putting them in rollers for a nice new style.

Very ver­sa­tile and allows the hair to be very easy to man­age.

jenna marie christian

+! same here


Same for me as well and you don’t have to many them small either. Just enough to cre­ate a cute up-do. I usu­al­ly retain length best this way.


What­ev­er styles are sim­ple for you to do. Mini twist and braids stressed me out because they took too long, and when im stressed my hair falls out o_O so that was a no go, and updos dried my hair out and put stress on my edges and nape…So now I main­ly do twist outs. I know its not a ‘pro­tec­tive style’ but my hair has retained its length because my twist outs dont take long and its bet­ter on my hair instead of con­stant­ly putting it into dif­fer­ent ‘pro­tec­tive styles’.