Combing and brushing, and gelling and pinning. Flat irons and curlers, and flaking and itching. Knots after knots, blow drying that burns. These are few of my least favorite things!
Oh the woes of being au natural! How they seem to stream longer and longer with each inch of new growth.
And just as it seems that we’d be left at the mercy of our own monstrous-catastrophe of curls, Protective Styling seizes the day!
What is protective styling, you may ask?
Protective Styling (v) : Styling the hair in such a way that prevents damage from everyday elements.
Now that you have the idea of what protective styling is, there are reasons behind why a few treatments of the TLC that comes along with protective styling for your hair is beneficial, for both you and your everyday life, along with your hair and it’s natural state of health.
Don’t believe that you are limited to protective styling due to the length, type, texture, of your hair. There are protective styles for all hair types, and not just those that are chemical free. When you think of protective styling, think of styles and techniques that are done in order to keep the state that your hair is already in happy and healthier.
1. Retains Growth :
Retaining growth of our hair is probably one of the greatest attributes of protective styling. There are some women who have hair that never grows beyond shoulder length. Thousands of naturals are stuck at the shoulder length hump. Just look around you. There are still many of us with shoulder length hair that won’t seem to grow past this length. Protective styles are a great way to push the hair past this growth plateau.
Forget the prevailing myth that black hair doesn’t grow, for it most certainly does. Nevertheless, it can also break off at an alarming rate because loose ends catch on fabric, car seats, cotton pillowcases and more. When hair constantly breaks, it’s difficult to see and measure growth. Putting your tresses up and keeping them protected prevents a large amount of breakage. Over time, you’ll see longer, stronger hair that’s not compromised by everyday stressors.
2. Low Maintenance :
Think about it, ladies. The less pulling and tugging, application of heat and over-usage of product is given to our hair, the better chances it has of flourishing. Our hair can rarely stand the type of manipulation we so often put it through, much less those depicted in commercials: the piling of hair on top of the head to shampoo, the 100 brush strokes, etc. Instead, our natural hair tends to grow longer when left alone and when minimally and most of the time, free from experimental manipulated activity. Protective styles offer the low-maintenance that so often benefits our hair type. Especially if longer lengths and a far from super-high maintenance style is your aim.
3. Easy to love/softer texture for your hair :
If you’ve ever worn your hair up for the day instead of wearing it out, you may notice a difference at the day’s end where softness is concerned. Take down a chignon and you’ll usually find it soft and supple because it’s held in much of the natural oils that get soaked up by dry air and clothing. A well-moisturized mane, one that feels soft to the touch, is less likely to suffer breakage and dryness, which in turn leads to growth retention. Think of your hair as a sponge. What happens to a damp sponge that is left outside for an extended period of time? It dries out and becomes over rigid. The internal water/moisture has been depleted and it is no longer pliable. The same set of principles apply to your hair. Your hair given these considerations will most likely dry out and break off. When your hair is allowed to be complied together, it is more likely to retain it’s moisture throughout the hair. Softer hair is a highlighted benefit of wearing tresses up and out of sight; even if for a little while.
4. Versatility :
Oddly enough, many people have formed the idea that daily protective styling is boring. Nothing could be further from the truth if you only use some creativity when doing your ‘do’. Individual braids can be worn loose, or with a headband or scarf, or even pulled back with an attractive elastic, and also worn half-up/half-down. The possibilities go on and on for all hair types.
The style that’s probably catches the most smack for being “dull” is the bun. Why not dress your bun up with a feathered hair accessory or sparkling pins? Try a double bun instead of a single one, or a braid and bun combo. There’s no lack of versatility, even with these hairstyles, when you put some imagination into it!
5. Time Saver :
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s caught myself saying, “there aren’t enough hours in the day.” And to be honest, with all that’s going on, times have changed and boy does it feel like it. With many of us naturalistas, time is very important and of the essence. Maybe you’re not the type who has unlimited time in the morning for hair styling. And if so, protective hairstyles may be your solution to getting ready more quickly, making for a smooth start to your day. Once you style twists and braids, you don’t need to do much to them besides the occasional touch-up with a loose twist or a daily spritz with natural oils. Just make sure you secure your hair at night before bed and in the morning, you may be ready with a gentle shake of the head.
Types of Protective Styling :
As for the types of protective styling, there are two well renowned types. A good regimen will contain a healthy mixture of both types-for variety and for your sanity.
Complete Protective Styles: Styles that have the ends out of sight and are 100% protective. These styles include: all varieties of buns, chignons (French rolls), tucked styles, phonytails (phony-ponies), wigs, and sew-in type weaves.
Low-Manipulation Styles: Styles that do expose the ends to some degree, but are protective in that they drastically cut down on the manipulation (combing/handling) the hair experiences. These styles include: Rollersets, Braids, cornrows, some updo’s or pinned up styles, braidouts and twistouts.
Protective Styling for Shorter Hair
Hair that falls shorter than shoulder length is a protective style in and of itself! You do not have to worry about the ends fraying and splitting from rubbing against your back and clothing throughout the day. Your only concern would be protecting the hair from the elements-air, wind, rain, heat, and cold. Luckily, even this concern can easily be taken care of by simply moisturizing and sealing the ends of the hair each day. With hair at this “protective length, ” you could technically wear the hair down fairly often. However, you would still need to be very mindful of keeping the heat you use on your hair to a bare minimum.
The best styles for hair shorter that the shoulder are curly styles like: braidouts, twistouts, bantu knots, strawsets, rollersets, and anything pinned up. Some women like to wear braids to help grow them past this awkward length/styling stage. Once your hair reaches shoulder length, or fairly close to it, you can begin bunning. Buns are the ultimate protective style.
Though buns are the ultimate protective style, it is more protective at certain lengths. If your hair is a length (usually between neck length and shoulder length) where being pulled into a ponytail causes the holder to sit on your ends, low manipulation protective styles are best for you. Your holder may cause more damage or breakage to your ends since the holder is much closer to them, this renders the style not so protective. You should wait until the hair is fully shoulder length or just below to begin bunning.
There is no doubt that protective styling is an essential key to healthy hair. Embrace the versatility and other helpful benefits that come packaged with the protectiveness of loving and styling your hair.