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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!


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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 😀


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… 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… 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’.