What are protective hairstyles? Why do we need them?
Well, let’s talk about it. As previously discussed in our last blog post on how to grow and retain the length of your hair, protective styles are certainly beneficial when properly maintained. So, what exactly is a protective hairstyle? It can be any style that allows the hair to have minimum manipulation where the ends are usually tucked away.
Examples of current popular protective styles are braids, twists and buns, but this is just a few of the many styles that offer protection to your hair.
Why does our hair need to be protected?
Well, it’s simple. Have you ever gotten tired of doing your hair OR have you found yourself too busy to do your hair, so you skip it? Well, when we neglect our hair we leave room for tangling, dryness and breakage to occur. By styling your hair in a low-maintenance style, you are protecting your hair and also freeing up your time.
Many protective styles are stylish and serve more than one purpose. Yes, they help with growing and maintaining hair, but they are also trendy and youthful. The best part, to me, is how these styles prevent tangles and help to maintain moisture. Speaking of moisture, it is important to know how to maintain your protective style and when the style is no longer protecting your hair.
How to Know When to Remove Your Protective Style
First thing first, every style has a different expiration date, so to speak. This is the date or amount of time you will need to refresh your style so that it does not have the opposite effect on your hair than originally intended, which would defeat the purpose of trying to protect the hair in the first place.
I always tell people to listen to their hair. If your hair feels dry, add moisture to it. Dry hair results in breakage. It’s only a matter of time. Breakage is not inevitable. It only occurs when your hair and/or scalp are not being “listened to.”
So, what are some examples? A bun will only last for maybe 3-14 days. 14 days is stretching it, but it is totally possible IF you are adding moisturizer, oil, spraying water or a leave-in conditioner to maintain the moisture. After 14 days, it’s time to wash your hair sis!
If you’re looking for a longer protective style, twists or braids are the better option. Braids can stay in for months if properly maintained. However, not oiling your hair or scalp for months is not a good idea. Although these styles allow for less manipulation, tugging and pulling, you are not totally off the hook for maintaining a healthy scalp and moisturizing your hair. Remember, dry and brittle hair leads to breakage. We don’t want breakage!
Knowing when to remove braids is fairly easy. As time passes, you will begin to notice new growth. Once your hair begins to grow, the style will begin to look a little dated. It’s important to refresh your hair when this happens because the braid will begin to pull on the new growth, which adds pressure to the hair strands making them weak and eventually causing breakage. You already know how we feel about breakage. If you begin to feel pulling or your braids begin to feel heavy, it’s time to take them out. Also, if your hair or scalp feels dry, begins to flake or shed, it’s time!
More examples of protective styles
Box Braids: lasts at least 4-6 weeks with proper care
Pros: You can get your braids wet, they are easy to wash and you can also keep them moisturized.
Cons: Installing braids is a lengthy process and it requires time to install AND to remove them
Crochet style: lasts for 2-4 weeks
Pros: This style is easier to maintain than the braids and also takes less time to install. You can get them wet. You can use a conditioner in them to keep your scalp moisturized.
Cons: May require a professional to install and requires a bit of time
Wig: lasts as long as you maintain the wig
Pros: Wigs protect your hair from dust or other elements in the air. You can get any kind, any style or even any color to protect and cover your hair.
Cons: Wigs still need to be maintained
Braided Crown and Low Bun: lasts 1-2 weeks
Pros: These are two of the easiest styles to get and are easy to maintain. These styles give you the protection you want and can transform your hair from informal to formal in no time.
Cons: These styles don’t last very long and you’ll soon find yourself needing to do a little maintenance.
Two-strand twists: lasts 1-4 weeks
Pros: You can get this style easily. You do not need a professional to do this style. Twists are easy to maintain and also really cute.
Cons: Does not last as long as some other styles
Protective styles are perfect when we are busy, don’t have time or simply don’t feel like doing our hair on a regular basis. These styles allow us to continue to grow, maintain, retain and protect our hair. We need to be mindful of the length of time we keep each style. Remember to moisturize your scalp and hair, even with a protective style. Happy styling!