There are several styling options for natural hair. Even those of us who love to rock big afros need to give our hair strands some rest. These series of protective hairstyle articles are not about length retention, but about styling options for those individuals who want options.
Protective styles can be worn during any season. Most women prefer to use these style options in the winter when hair is more brittle and susceptible to breakage.
Protective styling involves minimal hair manipulation that limits possible breakage or damage. Minimal manipulation of hair prevents tangling and breaking; two things that damage hair, natural or otherwise.
There are some women who attest to healthy hair growth from protective styling. For others, protective styling does nothing but create a tangled mess. The best advice is for one to know one’s hair and determine what works. For some, there is a sustained belief that protective styling somehow creates long, healthy hair because the hair is tucked away into a style that prevents breaking. This is not always true.
Long hair does not equal healthy hair. All hair has some form of breakage. The key is to maintain a clean, healthy scalp and maintenance routines that work for the hair to improve the quality, prevent split ends and encourage growth. Even if one’s hair grows from protective styling, it will eventually break if it is not healthy.
When choosing a protective hairstyle, choose styles that:
- will still allow you to wash, condition and moisturize your hair when needed – this prevents dryness, dandruff, etc.;
- do not involve a lot of extra work, especially if the reason for the protective style was to save time;
- will not break the bank, and will allow you to get your money’s worth;
- do not damage your hair strands – for some, pulling, extensions and the like involve tangling, which damages, rather than improves hair quality; and
- work for your face and lifestyle.
The possibilities are endless for protective styles. From cornrows to twists, tree braids and everything in between, the sky is the limit.
Be warned that not everyone can wear protective style options. For some people with extremely dry scalp, the inability to thoroughly wash and care for the scalp may hinder the health and quality of their hair.
One question I get all the time is what type of protective styles, if any do I rock on my natural hair. For me, it is quite simple. Anything that allows me to do any of the following works for me: (1) save time; (2) avoid manipulating my hair daily; (3) looks good; (4) allows me to still wash, condition, deep condition and moisturize weekly or semi-monthly; and (5) lasts for up to three months.
One protective style that I use at least six months out of the year is tree braiding.
Stay tuned for part 2, which will discuss tree braid styling options in detail.
Related natural hair care articles:
Natural hair care: How to deep condition natural hair with coconut oil
Natural hair care tools and products
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