By Jacqueline Samaroo
Using protective styles for natural hair care is really more than just tradition – it makes good haircare sense! Natural curly, coily, and kinky hair is prone to both dryness and breakage, making length retention difficult. It’s why protective styles and natural textured hair go hand-in-hand.
Keep reading as we take a look at the benefits of protective styles for natural hair. We’ll share some tips on how to ensure your protective styles do exactly what they are supposed to do – protect your hair and help you to enjoy healthy hair growth.
For more on protective styles for natural hair growth, read 7 Tips For Growing Out Your Natural Hair While Rocking a Protective Hair Style.
What are protective hairstyles?
A protective style is any kind of hairstyle that helps to protect natural or chemically-treated hair from damage. That damage may come from the environment, the way hair is manipulated, or products used on the hair.
Quite often when discussing protective styles, the emphasis is placed on how the styles protect the ends of your hair by tucking them away. Yes, everyone will agree that is a big plus. But, we should not forget that any protective style we choose should protect our hair from roots to ends, not just the ends (said while giving some serious side-eye to those TOO TIGHT braids and high buns).
Benefits of protective styles for natural hair
Naturalistas know that caring for your natural hair can take plenty of time and effort. It’s why we often depend on protective styles to help take some of the hassle out of our hair care routine. Apart from that, protective hairstyles are also pretty darn awesome because they:
- Tuck away the ends of your hair.
- Help to reduce breakage and, as such, help with length retention.
- Are low-maintenance styles that often require very little daily tending.
- Require no manipulation or low manipulation once installed, reducing physical damage to hair.
- Can protect your edges from thinning and in some cases, you can use protectives styles to regrow edges.
- Prevent knotting, tangling, and snagging of hair which can lead to single-strand knots, split ends, and breakage.
- Protect hair in cold, dry, hot, humid, windy, and other harsh conditions.
- Help hair to retain moisture since the strands in protective styles are often grouped together.
- Come in a wide variety of styles to suit personal tastes, occasion, hair length, hair type, etc.
- Are great for busy or active lifestyles that leave little time for hairstyling.
- Can help to reduce the damage to fragile hair by color treatments and chemical treatments.
Interested in how to best promote the growth of baby hairs? See Natural Hair Care: 11 Tips to Regrow Your Hairline.
7 points to keep in mind about protective styles for natural hair
1. Take care of your hair and scalp before and after wearing protective styles.
Ensure your hair is clean before you add any protective style. Then, after taking the style out, a good cleaning to remove buildup is always in order. Trimming your ends is another good habit to keep up if you wear protective styles. Trims remove split ends and can stop breakage in its tracks.
Also, deep condition your hair both before and after protective styling. Of course, deep conditioning should always be a regular part of your natural hair care routine. But, these are the times when your hair will really benefit from the strengthening and nourishment deep conditioning gives.
2. Take care of your hair while wearing protective styles.
Don’t neglect scalp and hair care while wearing protective styles. Scalp treatments, such as healthy oils, are a wonderful idea. So, too, are gentle scalp massages you can do on your own. Keep up a regular wash day routine, using good-quality shampoos and conditioners, and adding a deep conditioner as often as you think your hair needs it.
It is also important that your hair stays moisturized throughout the day. Hair that is dry and brittle will break even if it is in a protective style, so a leave-in conditioner is a must.
3. Give your protective style extra protection.
Protecting your protective hairstyle at night is crucial. If you’ve always taken care to wrap your hair at night, that’s awesome! Be sure to continue the practice now that you are rocking a protective style. On the other hand, if you haven’t been practicing nightly head wrapping, now is the perfect time to start!
Use a silk bonnet or silk scarf. They won’t pull oils and moisture from your scalp and hair. They also won’t snag your strands or cause friction that can lead to breakage. While you’re at it, consider a silk pillowcase, too, for the same reasons.
When you wash your hair in its protective style, use a microfiber towel to soak up the excess water. A microfiber towel doesn’t need any rubbing (and friction) to get water out of your hair. What’s more, the loops on the surface of a microfiber towel are much smaller than the ones you’ll see on fluffy terry towels. They won’t snag and pull your hair.
6. Give your hair a break between protective stylings.
Protective styles can be a big help, especially when you are transitioning to your natural hair. But, be careful not to overdo wearing them. Give your hair at least a week’s break and some extra TLC between styles, such as with deep conditioning and trimming. Consider getting your hairstylist’s advice on whether you need any additional treatment, such as a protein treatment, to help strengthen your hair.
It’s also important that you know when and how to take your protective hairstyle out. How long you keep your hair in a protective style (a few days or up to 2 months) will depend on both the style and how you have managed to maintain it.
When undoing your protective style, go slowly. Rushing could lead to breakage and end up making your protective style counterproductive.
7. Consider all your options when it comes to protective styles for natural hair.
Check out these four for some inspo!!
1. Classic cornrows
IG @stephrachel_ #protectivestyles
2. Stylin’ Bantu knots
IG @iamxcleo #bantuknots
3. Divine halo braid
IG @voiceofhair #halobraid
4. A headful of twists
IG @yvettetransformshair #naturalhair
And for other gorgeous ideas, be sure to check out these natural hairstyle roundups:
Do you have any tips on how to use protective styles for natural hair growth? Share!