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Protective Styling

Protective styling can be very beneficial for you hair.

What is Protective Styling?
There are many ways to define protective styling and there are many methods as well. With protective styles, the hair isn't worn loose. Protective styling requires all or most of the hair to be tucked away, especially the ends of the hair since they are the oldest and most fragile part of the hair. Protective styling promotes and maintains the overall health of your hair and it helps you retain length.



Why Protective Style? 




Most naturals protective style because of the low maintenance that comes with protective styling. Styling natural hair can be time consuming. Those with busy schedules simply may not have time to dedicate to weekly hair maintenance. Re-twisting every night to make sure you have a bomb twist out just doesn't fit into your busy schedule. Or, you simply just don't feel like doing anything to your hair! The beauty in protective styling is that your hair looks presentable without spending a lot time on it.

Others protective style because of length retention. Fellow naturals may be unable to get their hair to grow past a certain length because their ends aren't protected from:

  • The friction created from your clothing. Throughout the day, the friction created from your hair rubbing against your clothing (shirts, sweaters, scarves, etc...) can cause your hair to snap and break. This can also happen with any knitted surface, such as the head rest of your car seat, your couch, and chairs. Protective styling prevents this, as your ends are tucked away and are safe from breakage. 
  • External factors. In practicing protective styling, you can protect your hair from the damage caused by the sun, wind, and/or snow. Damage from external factors can cause breakage and split ends.
  • Everyday manipulation of the hair can also stunt hair growth. Constant combing and handling of the hair can be damaging since the hair is prone to breakage. 
  • The Hand in Hair Syndrome a lot of us naturals seem to struggle with can also be damaging to the hair. This consists of the constant touching, twisting, twirling, and playing in our hair. We want to touch our hair and feel our soft curls but this may be what is causing our hair to break. Constantly touching our hair throughout not only causes frizz, but it can also lead to breakage and single strand knots. 



Maintaining Healthy Protective Styles

Tension: If your hair is too tight (especially if it's in Senegalese twist, box braids), don't be afraid to have them redone so they aren't so tight. Yes, they get looser in a couple of days, but you may be causing permanent damage to your hair and scalp. Traction alopecia is real and it can sometimes be permanent. I suffer from traction alopecia in a couple of spots around my edges and I also have thin edges from tight box braids in the past and from my own pulling and tugging at my hair (more info on that in a later post). The hair is starting to grow in, but it is important to keep tension at a minimum.

Moisture: Many women put their hair away in a protective style and completely forget about their hair. That is a big NO NO!! I made this mistake plenty of times in the past when putting my hair up in braids. Our hair is up, but we cannot get lazy with moisturizing. It is still important to moisturize your hair while in a protective style. This prevents dryness, breakage, and split ends. You're hair can still benefit from some TLC while it's in a protective style.

Time: You shouldn't leave your hair in a protective style for too long. Doing so can cause unwanted stress on the hair. Also, depending on the protective style, there may be a build up of lint and dirt on the hair. This is seen especially in box braids or Senegalese twists. Dirt and lint gets trapped at the base of the braid, which can be difficult to remove from the hair. To prevent this, try washing the hair every couple of weeks to keep dirt and lint at bay. If this doesn't work, then it's time to take your hair out of its protective style!

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