In my OPINION, protective styling and low manipulation styles are two different things. Although, in the natural hair community, these terms are often used interchangeably. I do believe that a low manipulation style can be turned into a protective style, but ultimately, they are not the same.
1. Protects the ends of your hair from damage caused by exposure to the elements
2. These styles typically last two weeks or more
3. Examples: updos, twists or braids worn in a bun, wigs, weaves
Low Manipulation Styles:
1. Requires minimal styling and upkeep
2. May require you to touch up or refresh your style
3. Examples: wash and go, twistout, braidout
The main difference between the two is after you do a protective style, your ends are tucked away and you will not have to manipulate your hair for weeks. After a low manipulation style, you may have to twist or braid your hair at night to maintain the style, your ends aren’t tucked away, and the style may need to be refreshed daily. Many naturalistas argue that wash and go’s are damaging to the hair, but for some, its a low manipulation style that simply requires you to pineapple your hair at night. The low maintenance of a wash and go, for some, can aid with hair growth because you are not manipulating your hair for days at time. This is a prime example of the difference between a protective style and a low manipulation style. Here are some links to some videos that may be helpful in distinguishing the difference between the two!
Natural Hair: Protective Style vs Low Manipulatio…: http://youtu.be/ugRSQaD5R0Q
Protective Hair Styles v Low Manipulation Styles: http://youtu.be/snVYVBq7LVk