I've seen many different protective hairstyles but I will discuss four of the most popular.
1) Braids can be worn by braiding your natural hair or by adding hair extensions. This style is great for those who are active and worry about sweating in their heads. Braids can be styled many different ways allowing you to switch it up.
2) Buns are simple and can work for any occasion, casual or formal. This style allows your ends to be completely protected. To achieve the look loosely pull your hair back using an elastic band and use hairpins to tuck the ends into the shape of a bun.
3) Sew-in Weaves are done by braiding your hair down and sewing weave to the braids. It covers the hair and and keeps it from being manipulated. Full sew-ins will allow for your hair to be 100% protected from the sun or cold air. While this is a great protective style it is very important to care for the hair under the weave.
4) Wigs are a quick, effortless protective style. With their growing popularity there are a number of styles available that will allow you to go from curly to straight or from long to short in minutes. As with sew-ins it is important to care for the hair underneath the wig. Wear a wig cap to avoid unnecessary rubbing and make sure that your wig is fitted properly.
All of these styles are great alternatives to the daily manipulation of your hair but should not be mistaken as a way to avoid caring for your natural hair. Proper care and low manipulation will protect your ends helping you to meet your hair growth goals.