Picture this: It’s currently 9 a.m. You’ve just woken up and are running 30 minutes behind schedule because your pesky alarm decided not to ring on time. Trying to plan for the full work day ahead, you hustle and bustle with outfit ideas, today’s makeup look, and how in the hell you’ll style your bedhead before you head out of the door.
As you get out of bed, you scrummage through your vanity drawer only to find a few hair ties, some edge control, and that trusty wooden hair brush you’ve had for the past eight years. Don’t worry; we’ve all, in fact, been there…
Spoiler Alert: There’s no better way to cut hours, if not minutes, out of your hair routine better than with a protective hairstyle. “When you’re in a hurry, the last thing you want to do is spend time carefully styling your hair,” explains a celebrity hairstylist and NTRL by Sabs founder, Sabrina Rowe Holdsworth. “These styles — which can include everything from cornrows to locs —help to protect the hair from damage while keeping it healthy,” she adds.
More From ELLE
Protective styles not only help to cut a significant amount of time out of our hair care routine, but also cut down on potential heat damage, the need for chemical treatments, and dryness onset from cold weather. “What makes [these styles] so special is that they allow you to give your hair the rest it needs while still looking chic and put-together. Plus, they can be a great way to switch up your look without having to make any drastic changes,” adds Holdsworth.
So now that you’ve gotten a glimpse as to why a protective style can help simplify your hair routine this season, we’ve compiled a list of all the best, hassle-free, looks we’re currently loving this winter so you can try them out yourself.
The ponytail is always at the top of the list when you’re in a rush for time. It’s sexy, sophisticated, and super easy to style on any given day. “A ponytail is the perfect style for busy women on the go. It’s quick and easy to achieve and can be dressed up (or down) depending on the occasion. Best of all, “a faux ponytail requires very little maintenance,” explains Holdsworth. Start off with a trusty spray bottle, the As I Am Smoothing Gel, a hard-bristled brush, and a few hair ties.
If you’re styling this look on your own hair, start by spraying some water into your curls before applying gel to your hair. Begin to brush the hair to the back, then tie it into a tight ponytail. Finish the look off by spraying more water on the pony and applying a leave-in conditioner to the curls.
If you’re using a faux ponytail for this look, Holdsworth recommends to “simply brush it out and re-secure it as needed.” Try adding some loose curls with a curling iron for an extra touch of elegance. To get started, simply gather your hair at the crown of your head and secure it with an elastic band. Apply and secure the pony on top of your natural pony. Next, take a small section of hair from the top and wrap it around the band to conceal it. Finally, mist your hair with a light-holding hairspray and you’re all set!
Flat twists are extremely versatile and require the least amount of maintenance. Whether styled naturally or with a few add-in extensions, flat twists are perfect for any bad hair day. To achieve this look, start by washing and conditioning your hair. We’re currently loving Pattern Beauty’s Hydrating Shampoo and Hydration Conditioner With Slip. Next, part the hairline using a rat tail comb and section off your hair in as many sections as you want. Follow through by twisting two sections of hair around each other, then add in some hair from the top part of the section. Repeat this process throughout the rest of your head until you’ve achieved your desired look.
If you have absolutely no time to style your hair during that busy morning, Holdsworth recommends a hair wrap when you’re all pressed for time. “When you’re in a hurry, the last thing you want to do is spend time carefully styling your hair. Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy solution that can help you achieve a polished look in minutes: hair wraps. Hair wraps are pre-tied head scarves that can be easily slipped on when you’re short on time. They’re also versatile enough to be worn in a variety of ways,” she explains.
“Whether you want to rock a sleek topknot or a bohemian braid, hair wraps come in an endless array of colors and patterns, so you can always find one that matches your outfit. So, [the] next time you’re running late, don’t stress—just grab a hair wrap and go!”
According to Holdsworth, “Bantu knots are a fashionable and cool way to wear your hair.” The great part about this style is that you can wear it as is at the beginning of the week, then take them out later on to achieve heatless waves or tight curls. “They can be worn in many different ways, including all up, half-up, or to the sides. You can also use them to create different looks, such as braided or twisted styles,” she adds.
To achieve the perfect bantu knots, you will need a few supplies, including bobby pins, hair ties, and a comb. Grab your favorite gel or pomade, then start by parting your hair into small sections. Then, take a small section of hair, apply gel, and twist it around itself until it forms a small coil. Next, wrap the coil around itself to form a small knot. Secure the knot with a bobby pin or hair tie and repeat this process until finished. You can style your knots as desired. “For an even more polished look, you can use hairspray to keep your knots dialed and in place,” adds Holdsworth.
Middle Part Bun
The middle part will never go out of style. Whether worn to work or grabbing groceries, this timeless look is a must for any and all occasions and takes no time at all to put together. Using the Mielle Organics Pomegranate & Honey Maximum Hold Gel Styler, a trusty spray bottle, a rat-tail comb, and a hard-bristled brush, begin to part the hair down the middle and separate the two sections.
To get the hair as sleek as possible, spray some water on the hair and brush both sections to the back of your head. Once you’ve achieved the desired look, use two hair ties to hold the hair back. To finish it off, start by twisting the ponytail around a few times while wrapping the hair around the other hair ties to achieve a donut shape.
Two-strand twists are one of the easiest and healthiest protective styles to date. With the least amount of effort, this style is extremely easy to achieve and results in the least amount of damage to the hair or scalp. “Achieving the perfect wash and go can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you have damage-prone hair. One style that can help to minimize hair damage is the two-strand twist,” says Holdsworth.
“This style helps to protect the hair by evenly distributing the tension throughout the length of the strands and also helps to keep the hair hydrated while minimizing frizz. To achieve this style, I recommend using a lightweight conditioner or leave-in conditioner to hydrate the hair before twisting,” she continues.
“Next, divide the hair into sections and twist each section tightly. Once all of the hair has been twisted, allow it to air dry or sit under a hooded dryer. Once dry, and if desired, you can undo the twists and finger coil each section. Finally, apply a light oil or cream to seal in moisture. For shine and definition, I recommend using an alcohol-free gel or cream. By following these steps, you can create a long-lasting wash and go that will help to minimize hair damage.”
Double French Braids
French braids are a classy and effortless style that will significantly help to reduce styling time while preventing hair frizz and friction. Try wearing your braids overnight and then taking them out in the morning for a great set of voluminous waves. Using a trusty hair pick, start at the root and slightly lift the hair up from the scalp for more volume.
Now that winter is finally here, Marley twists are the perfect protective style because of their effortless protective nature. If you’re looking for a style that will preserve your tresses while having long-lasting wearability, this one is for you. “Marley twists are a popular hairstyle choice for many women, and it’s easy to see why. They offer a chic, on-the-go style that can be worn both casual and dressy,” explains Holdsworth.
“What makes Marley twists special is their unique twist pattern. Instead of the traditional two-strand twist, Marley twists use a three-strand twisting technique that creates a tightly coiled, spiral effect. This style is perfect for those who want to add a bit of flair to their everyday look. And because they can be worn in a variety of ways, Marley twists are also a great option for those who like to switch up their style often. Whether you wear them loose or in a bun, Marley twists are sure to add a touch of elegance to your appearance.”
The crown braid (aka halo braid) is a versatile style that can help to transcend any look. If you’re looking for the perfect up-do for a day-to-night transition, then the crown braid is a great protective style to try out. “This winter, why not try something new with your hair? The crown braid (or halo braid) is a stunning hairstyle that is perfect for both formal and casual occasions,” shares Holdsworth.
“And the best part is that it’s surprisingly easy to achieve! Simply start by parting your hair in the middle, then create two Dutch braids on either side of your head. Next, criss-cross the braids in the back of your head and secure them with bobby pins. Finally, add a bit of hairspray, and you’re all set!” She continues.
Wash your hair with an NTRL by Sabs combo like LavRiche or the Nourishing collection for best results.“”I recommend using the Amika Beauty Plus Size Volumizing Mousse to give your hair extra volume and hold. Trust,you’lll love the way you look with this gorgeous winter hairstyle””
Ifyou’ree looking for a style that requires the least amount of time and an easy removal process, jumbo braids are always the perfect way to go. Because jumbo braids are parted into larger sections, the styling time is super short and can be worn either with your natural length or with hair added in.
Start off with freshly washed hair Curlsmith’smith’s Core Strength Shampoo and Multi- Tasking Conditioner. Follow through by parting the hair into as many sections as you want (remember, the bigger, the better). Using a hair gel, begin to secure each section with rubber bands, then start braiding each section. If you want, you can start to use add-in hair to each braid and continue to braid down throughout the rest of your head.
Finger coils are a simple and trustworthy look that takes no time to style. The best part about finger coils is that they work on any texture — and provide a uniform look for any and all occasions. Simply follow through with your trusty wash-and-go method using the As I Am Coconut Co-Wash and Carol’s Daughter Jelly To Cream Conditioner. Part your hair into different sections and rake through the curls thoroughly. Finish the look off by coiling each strand one section at a time, then apply a spray-on oil for shine.