Hello, everyone. Today I am going to be sharing with you why I am absolutely in love with putting my hair into protective styles, and why I started making it a major tool in my journey to healthier hair.
I started my natural hair journey three years ago. With the big chop. But I mean a BIG CHOP. Like I cut off all of my hair. It was so short, the shortest it has ever been. Honestly, it was also very liberating and it made me think a lot about the social construct of hair, and how it is connected so heavily with femininity (but that is for another post lol).
I have experienced many ups and downs while trying to grow my natural hair out. I recently had a horrible run in with heat damage, and I am working really hard to grow out this awful heat damage and start a healthier hair journey.
So, I guess the first question would naturally be:
What exactly is a protective hair style?
A protective hairstyle is a style that helps keep your hair protected and healthy. Pretty self-explanatory, right?
Why use protective styles?
Using a protective hair style is a really great way to help retain length while growing out your hair. Most protective styles tuck the ends of your hair away keeping your hair safe from daily manipulation which can take a toll on the health of your hair. I have “hand in hair” syndrome with a realness, and keeping my hands out of my hair makes a huge difference. The fact that you are not yanking and pulling or using heat on your hair every day keeps you from shedding as much hair and keeps those awful tangles and knots away. Normally when you experience breakage in your hair it happens at the weakest spot, which for many of us happens to be at the ends of our hair because the ends of our hair is the oldest hair. They need the most care. If your ends are breaking at the same rate your hair is growing you will never see a significant change in hair length even though your hair is in fact still growing.
How long should I wear a protective style?
It all depends on your hair type, how fast your hair grows, and how thick or thin your hair is. The protective style itself also has a major role in the time the style can be worn. For example, buns and chunky twists should be taken down and redone every two to three days.
Protective styles like medium/small twist and braids done with your own hair can be worn for one to four weeks. The lifetime of the style heavily depends on the size of your braids, twists, cornrows etc. The smaller they are the longer they can be worn in the style. The larger they are the sooner you will want to take them out and replace them. The danger you face with these types of protective styles are matted ends, so you want to take extra care and precaution when you take these styles out to not break the ends of your hair.
Box braids and hair styles that mix in synthetic hair with your own hair have a much longer lifetime of six to eight weeks. This time frame varies from person to person and heavily depend on the rate at which your hair grows. As new hair growth occurs the point where your hair and the extension meets can become too heavy for your new growth to support causing breakage at the tension point. It is very important not to wear your hair past either the eight-week point or two-inch new growth point because it can cause a significant amount of damage to the hair.
Make sure to be really intuitive when using protective styles. The point of protective styling your hair is to retain length, not to just tuck your hair away and forget about it. Pay close attention to your hair while it is in the style; watch for damage. If a style just doesn’t seem right for your hair take it down immediately.
#1 Rule: MOISTURE
Do not, I repeat, DO NOT ignore your hair because it is in a protective style. I know that it may be tempting but your hair still needs love and attention when it is tucked away. I personally still deep condition and wash my hair weekly as well as oil my scalp as needed even while I am wearing a protective style. Protective styles are a great way to help your hair retain moisture which is a crucial part of growing your hair/maintaining healthy hair. Ignoring your hair while it is in a protective style can again cause harm and damage instead of improving the health of your hair. An easy way to keep your hair moisturized while wearing protective hairstyles is by creating a daily and weekly routine and sticking with it for the entire duration of your protective style.
I love switching up my hair. By utilizing protective styles I am able to change up my color or length without any true commitment or damage to my hair. I would say I normally spend about an hour every night on twisting and moisturizing my hair, and a half hour every morning on taking out the twists and styling. One of my favorite things about protective hair styling is that I get a much needed break from the daily manipulation.
Another very important rule to remember when you put in a protective style is to always make sure that your style is not to tight. Be especially careful with your edges because they are so fragile. Be sure to keep a clean scalp. Build up can be damaging for your hair and is just plain disgusting. Also be very careful when taking down these styles. You do not want to be too rough with your hair because, again, the goal is health, and if your are yanking and pulling your hair out of styles you are going to causing damage to your hair.
My personal rule for using protective styles is the amount of time I wear a protective style I have to then wear my hair out of a protective style. So let’s say I get box braids for 8 weeks for the next 8 weeks I will make it a point to keep my hair out of any protective styles just to make sure I am not doing more harm than good to my hair, and to get it really clean and moisturized.
Here are a list of some protective hairstyles:
Chunky french braid pigtails
Any other style that you come up with that keeps your ends tucked away and safe also qualifies.
Thank you so much for reading my post. I am excited to share more about my natural hair journey, and I hope you have a great week. ❤