1st August 2017
Lately, we have been coming across a lot of social media posts about protective styling, which is normal because we are in the middle of winter and naturals want to keep their precious tresses safe from the harsh conditions. Sadly, we have noticed that often the posts end in disappointment and, in some cases, disbelief about the realities of certain protective styles. Especially from those who try them for the first time.
Protective styling is the ultimate key to preserving the ends of our hair. Black hair is extremely fragile and, in certain environments, it needs to be kept safe from breakage and knots. This is especially true for hair that goes beyond shoulder length because friction plays a massive role in hair breakage. Protective styles are, in essence, styles that keep the ends of the hair up or fully or partially tucked away.
Essentially there are two types of protective styles which can be used together to create a third type. Complete protective styles keep the ends of the hair completely out of sight and can be achieved without heat—they are highly protective. Low manipulation styles are medium term styles that don’t need daily combing or brushing. Used interchangeably, these styles greatly reduce the chances of hair breakage and so they improve length retention.
Even though protective styles are super effective at keeping our hair’s health in check and have been proven to improve length retention, they are not absolutely necessary for growing hair—growth happens with or without protective styles. They do, however fit very well in a healthy hair care regimen and, when done right, they are greatly beneficial. If retaining length has been a problem for you in the past, it may be worth giving protective styles a shot.
We often joke about how certain stylistS would braid your eyebrows if they could and, sometimes, that joke is pretty close to the truth. When done right, braids, weaves and wigs are an awesome way to experience the versatility of hair without having to colour, cut, or straighten your own. Also, because they can be worn weeks at a time, they are extremely low maintenance which our hair loves!
That said, misusing these styles can (and often will) result iN breakage, thinning, and hair loss. Far too often, the hair growth benefits of these styles are stunted by poor execution and neglect—they are thought of as a passport to weeks of little to no hair care. Hair doesn’t see a drop of clean water for daaaaaaays!
The styles alone won’t protect your hair, we still have to do some of the work. If you’re considering a protective style that involves extensions, try these tips before you visit the salon:
If you catch yourself lying awake at night questioning your sanity because you have to sleep face down, your style is probably too tight. How do you tell if a style is too tight for sure?
All in all, when done well, protective styles are great for keeping our hair in a good condition and for encouraging length retention. Allowing our hair to rest for two to four weeks between styles and not keeping styles for more than eight weeks ensures healthy maintenance of our hair.
*Information sourced, summarised, paraphrased and quoted from The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis Sivasothy.
Bantu Knots, Beauty, Braids, Dreadlocks, Hair Care, Hair Extensions, Healthy Hair, Locs, Natural Hair, Natural Hair Products, Protective Styles, South Africa, Twists, Weaves