10 Long Protective Styles That Instantly Ignite Your Main Character Energy

Bring on the selfies.

long braided hairstyles

Protective styles are designed to keep your curls happy and healthy. But for many naturalistas, they’re also one of the best ways to try different trends. Whether it’s a fun color or an interesting take on a bob, they allow you to smoothly transition from one style to another. Perhaps the most beloved element, though, is length. Within a few hours, you can easily add inches to your hair and have a gorgeous new look. Even better? In the vast category of long braided hairstyles, there are tons of options to choose from.

Sure, braids may be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a lengthy look, but they’re not the only style available. Cornrows, for example, have an edgy elegance that’s only amplified when braided beyond the shoulders. While twists and faux locs are also appealing in waist-skimming lengths, there are even options for those in need of a quick hairstyle. Have a last-minute girls’ weekend coming up? Consider opting for a extra-long sleek ponytail or give jumbo twists a try. With the larger size and lighter weight, they’re great for shorter periods of wear.

It can be easy to get into a rut when it comes to protective styles, but luckily, the internet is loaded with inspiration. Read on to see some of the best long braided hairstyles — be sure to bookmark your favorite.

Large Knotless Braids

While small braids are trendy, larger knotless styles have an edge to them that’s hard to ignore. With just a few plaits and sharp parts, the look is even more appealing with longer lengths. You can keep the ends loosely unraveled for an organic feel, or, for a fun twist, try adding a Bantu knot closure instead.

Butterfly Locs

It’s good to give your hair a break from braids every now and then. Fortunately, there are still lots of stylish looks you can sport instead. Take these extra-long burgundy butterfly locs, for example. The crochet installation method puts less stress on your hair. Plus, the lived-in feel of the style gets even better as you wear them.

Micro Braids

Teeny-tiny individual braids have a different effect when they flow far past the waist. The longer length and the micro-size are an alluring combo — even the way they move is distinct. Rather than appearing stiff, they have a fluid look and sway naturally. Whether tied up into a high ponytail or left hanging free, you’re sure to make a statement wherever you go.

Fulani Braids

Tribal braids are a blend of cornrows and box braids. Aside from their cultural significance, they’re also a great option for a long, regal hairstyle. The best of both styles, you can get creative with the final look. This braider opted for a traditional pattern for the crown and cool triangle parts in the back.

Jumbo Twists

Recently, twists have become a popular alternative to braids. Not only do they protect your curls from heat damage, but they use less tension to ensure your hair stays healthy. While the mini size is trendy, jumbo twists are just as appealing. Take a cue from Chrissy Rutherford and mix in a coordinating hair color to really make the style your own.

Long Braided Ponytail

Slicked-back styles are one of the best ways to protect your natural hair. Smooth and sleek, they keep your curls tightly tucked into a bun — but that doesn’t mean your look will be boring. With a waist-trailing ponytail, you’ll be the envy of any room you enter.

Boho Braids

Despite their beachy appeal, boho braids work year-round. The floaty curls, thin braids, and loose ends give them a free-flowing feel. Unlike traditional knotless braids, they’re versatile and can easily take on many popular hairstyles. From half-up , half-down looks to messy buns, the options are endless.

Straight Back Cornrows

There are so many ways to get creative with cornrows. From stitch-parting to viral heart designs, there’s no limit to what you can do. Still, the simple straight-back style is one of the most beloved, especially with super long braids. Whether you opt for the standard eight rows or a crown of smaller plaits you’ll never go wrong with this classic hairstyle.

French Curl Braids

The category of braids is extensive. So much so that some styles, like French curl braids, often fly under the radar. Unlike other hairstyles, this one requires a longer length to get the full effect. The voluminous curls have an elegant feel that’s unmatched. Try using colored braiding hair to make them one-of-a-kind.

Cornrow High Ponytail

Braided ponytails come in all lengths and styles. If you’re looking for a long-lasting and chic option, why not give this cornrowed look a try? The towering height and free-flowing micro braids are perfect for vacations or special events. You can even wrap the hair to create a sophisticated bun.