It’s that time of year when some tend to look into protective styling to maintain the health and length of their hair. Before I give you my personal favorites I need to make sure you fully understand what “protective styling” is, the benefits, and the disadvantages.
Images by Endia Beal “Can I Touch It” Series
“Styles that require low manipulation of the hair. Done to protect the hair or give it a break from daily styling and/or wear and tear. Can include weaves, braids, wigs, twists or even wearing a hat”. – truth2roots.com
“It promotes and maintains the overall health of your hair.In practicing this styling method you ultimately will protect the hair from external factors that result in damage and breakage. Damage can be a result of elements (wind, sun, and/or snow) or chemical alterations such as chemical straighteners, texturizers, or color. One thing that many of us do not think about is the scarves or turtlenecks we’re wearing causing breakage“- naturalhairrules.blogspot.com
Protective Style examples:
- Mini twists
- Senegalese twists
- Crochet braids
- Box Braids
- Goddess Braids
- Flat twists
- Fish Tail Braids
- Faux locs
The ends of your hair are the oldest and most fragile therefore they require the greatest amount of maintenance in order to successfully achieve any length goal you may have. If your hair is not long enough to achieve all of these styles don’t worry, that’s where extensions come in.
Now, now before you get excited remember like anything there are pros and cons to this protective styling game. We’ve already discussed benefits such as increased hair length, low manipulation, protection from harsh elements, and increased time to get dressed. Going forward let’s consider the disadvantages of protective styling.
Like the saying “out of sight out of mind” most people, myself included, neglect their tresses. Protection without the upkeep of moisturizing your hair with water and oil, sealing your ends, and keeping your scalp buildup to a minimum, will ultimately bring about breakage and overly dry hair.
Immoderate pulling from the roots due to styles such as long extensions, buns, or ponytails, can cause damage like traction alopecia. Also note that when you are installing any type of extensions or using your own hair, aim for a medium size braid or twist. The smaller the braid/ twist increases your chances of battling tangles, buildup, excessive pulling, and locking of the hair. The larger the braid/twist the less chance you have of maintaining a neat “do” for a long period of time. Lastly be mindful that the longer you leave your hair “protected” the more detangling, patience, and spare time you will need to have when removing the hair that has shed and accumulated buildup.
Now that you are familiar with what protective styling is, the benefits, and the disadvantages I hope that you will make smart decisions when it comes to whatever style you choose for the upcoming season. If you are getting your hair professionally done tell the stylist to be gentle with or leave out your edges. Trust me nothing is worth damaging your hair that you’ve waited patiently to grow. Personally I’m not able to achieve half of the styles I would like to with my current hair length, but I take full advantage when wearing senegalese twists or box braids. I prefer those types of protective styles over a weave because I have more styling options. See below for some of my favorite styles that I’ve had done in the past!
Side Sweep w/ Senegalese Twists
Mini Two Strand Twists
Rolled Mohawk via Box Braids
U Part Weave
Goddess Braid via Box Braids
High Side Bun
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