It’s been discussed over and over again that protective styling properly is the key to some great length retention, however it can be difficult to decide which protective style is right from you. Protective styles have taken on a life force of their own in the natural hair community and has shown great versatility and options that prevent damage to your own natural hair. From crochet crochet braids, lace front wigs, sew in weaves, box braids, and twists it can be a bit confusing and a challenge to make the right choice that you’ll be rocking for the next 2-8 weeks depending on how long you  keep your protective style in. Below are the protective styles that have been tried, tested, and natural hair community approved, but the difference between them can sometimes be blurred or lost in translation.

Protective Styles:

Protective styles are styles that are worn for certain periods of time that hide away/ protect the ends and lower/decrease the amount of manipulation and styling to the natural hair. Proper protective styles are kept in from one to eight weeks, while maintaining a natural hair regimen that helps the natural hair flourish beneath the protective style. Below are the examples of protective styles that are quite popular in the natural hair community but are often confused or are seen as interchangeable.

Havana Twists:

Havana Twists are similar to Marley twists however they use Havana hair that can be found from Havana hair is a slightly different texture than marley hair, is found solely in one place as opposed to the marley hair that can be bought in just about every beauty supply store, and havana hair is a bit more expensive than marley hair. Havana twists are also much lighter than their marley twist counterpart because the hair itself is lighter than marley hair, therefore havana twists may be the protective style you choose if you’re looking for the big full chunky twisted effect without the heavy weight than can come along with it. However I’m the type of person who just goes on a whim when protective styling.  With Havana twists you are going to need to purchase the hair online at least two weeks in advance to when you plan on installing in order to make time for shipping. Positive… the Havana hair is sold and said to be reusable so you can use it again after you take it down.

Senegalese Twists:

Senegalese Twists also known as rope twists originated from Senegal (hence the name duh!) Most of the time synthetic kanekalon hair is used to create the smooth sleek look of the twists. Marley twists and havana twists not only use different types of hair they are also much bigger/chunkier twists compared to the senegalese twists. Which means these types of twists are usually lighter for the most part depending on how small or how many twists you have installed. This type of hair is usually the cheapest to purchase which makes senegalese twists the cheapest route if you go the DIY method, however be warned that I have a difficult time with kanekalon hair when box braiding… so I can imagine how difficult it can be to DIY the twists. Because the hair does not tangle very easily it will unravel if your twisting technique is not perfect.


Marley Twists:

Marley twists are similar to havana twists, using Marley hair that can be found in just about any color, in any beauty supply store that has hair extensions. Marley twists are also sold by several different brands, therefore you have options, and variety to choose from. Marley hair comes at a much cheaper price point to havana hair as it can be found for as low as 4.99 to 7.99 while havana hair consistently runs at about 12.99 per pack. The flip side is you will need more marley hair to get your fuller look because the strands are thinner than the havana hair. So more packages at a cheaper price may balance out monetarily.

Box Braids

Box braids are the classics in this protective styling convo! Box braids were my first protective style (besides a sew in weave) and were the first protective style that I DIY’d!! Box braids also use kanekalon hair and require a third piece instead of just a twisting pattern. Box braids come in all shapes, sizes, lengths, and colors. This protective style honestly in my opinion looks good on just about everyone which is why it is the tried and true classing to the natural hair protective styles game!

Faux Locs

Faux locs are my new favorite protective styling option! I recently did a 4 week stint with faux locs after I DIY’d them on Thanksgiving. This protective style works best with marley hair as it appears to take dread loc form when wrapped tightly around the hair. I shared my easy DIY tutorial here that took me 6 hours to complete and wasn’t too heavy at all. The best part I only used 4 packs of marley hair which cost me well under 20.00.


Hope this helped clear up any confusion when it comes to differentiating between the different protective styles available in the natural hair community that are easily mixed up! Which protective style do you think you’ll be trying out for the rest of the winter season?

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3 Responses to Whats The Difference Between These Protective Styles?

  1. This was extremely helpful and I figured out I wanted rope twists after reading this, I also wasn’t sure what hair to buy so thanks!

  2. I am a 20 yr old Female just hoping someone would help me ! Ive stopped using chemicals of all types and i do my own hair,its been 5 months natural..6 in February…im always looking for a new hairstyle and i REALLY need a beuatician (Olympia/Tacoma) but ive been wanting a weave so bad but it always breal my hair and so does singles so i stuck with crochet braids so far im tired of the style for rn ! What should i do ? For a weave, does a lace closure or frontal work best ? When and how to properly take care of it ? For Braids im going for Faux locs is a giod decision ? Please let me know ! Very anixous !

  3. I love to wear box braids as they enhance the beauty of natural hair to a great extent. I tried nubian twist as well and they demand extra care and maintainence