If you ask almost any natural hair guru for tips on how to grow out your hair, protective styling would most likely be at the top of the list. There’s no doubt that we all in the natural hair community agree that protective styling is good for hair growth. However, a lot of people live by protective styles and yet do not notice any significant hair growth. Today, I’ll be sharing with you guys the reasons why I think this is so.
Protective styling would only yield good results in the health and length of your hair of it is done properly. Quite a number of people think that protective styling is a license to get away with not caring for their hair. This is a wrong mindset; if you don’t care for your hair, it’ll show whether you’re on a protective style or not. By caring for your hair, I mean moisturizing, washing, deep conditioning etc.
Secondly, another reason why protective styling doesn’t yield good results for some people is that they don’t prepare their hair before wearing the protective style. Before installing any protective style, you should properly moisturise and detangle your hair especially if your stylist isn’t familiar with natural hair. A lot of people leave their hair care in the hands of their stylists and this is wrong. If you do not moisturise and properly detangle your hair yourself before going to the salon, your hair won’t be manageable and this will cause your ‘inexperienced’ stylist to take laws into her hands by combing the hell out of your hair. You know the result; breakage. Just imagine if someone follows this bad routine regularly, of course such a person will have short, unhealthy hair eventually.
In addition, another bad hair practice that could result in poor hair health and no growth is wearing your protective styles too tight. Some stylists would say, “your hair won’t be fine if I don’t make it tight.” Please avoid such stylists. Don’t be shy to tell the stylist to make the hair looser if it’s becoming too tight, she will not help you to carry your cross when you loose your hair. The sad part about wearing styles that are too tight is that they can cause alopecia over time which would make your hair scanty. There’s nothing as cute as full, healthy natural hair so don’t let any stylist deprive you of that.
Finally, another reason why some people don’t reap the benefits of protective styling is that they wear their protective styles for two long at a time. The purpose of protective styling is to keep your hair protected while it grows so that you’ll maintain most or even all of the hair you grow. However, if you wear your style for too long, your hair might start to lock which will make detangling a lot difficult thereby causing breakage. Also, if you wear your protective style especially braids for too long, your hair will grow out under the braid and form a knot at the boundary between the new growth and the braid. When you finally take down your braids, this boundary becomes very fragile as you detangle because you’ll have two different textures on the opposite sides of the boundary; kinky new growth and hair stretched by the braids. At the end of the day, breakage is inevitable. I recommend wearing each protective style for a maximum of 3-4 weeks at a time.
I know that caring for your hair while you have a protective style like braids on is difficult because let’s face facts, you don’t have access to your hair except the root and scalp. Nevertheless, these are some tips that could help:
- Wash your hair,deep condition, moisturise and thoroughly detangle before installing any protective style.
- Massage your scalp with a light oil e.g coconut oil once in 3-4 days to keep your scalp clean and prevent dandruff. Don’t grease your scalp, just apply the oil to your hands for lubrication.
- Allow your hair breathe for at least one week between protective styles.
- You don’t have to moisturise everyday but as soon as you notice your hair is starting to feel dry, spray some water and seal in the moisturise with an oil or butter
- Always sleep with a satin scarf or on a satin pillowcase to keep your hair looking fresh.
- Don’t wear your protective style for more than 4 weeks at a time.
Let me also add that sometimes the problem doesn’t lie in the way we wear our protective styles but in the way we care for our hair when we are not wearing any protective style. Some people wear protective styles so often that they do not know how to protect their hair when it’s worn out. If you retain all your length when you have a protective style on and engage in bad hair practices when you take down your style, you may loose most or all the length you gained so learn to care for your hair whether you’re wearing a protective style or not.
Ladies, what are the tips that have worked for you in retaining length when wearing protective styles?
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