Transitioning to natural hair can be an exciting, intense and self rewarding journey. It can also leave us feeling very anxious. Whether undergoing a gradual transition like growing out your relaxed hair or getting straight to it with the big chop, maintaining your natural hair will involve educating yourself on the dos and don’ts of what works for your hair. One universal concept prevalent within the natural hair community is the notion of protective styling.
Protective styling has been rendered one of the holy grails for naturalistas everywhere. Protective styling allows women with different hair types and textures to implement and execute cute, easy, and flexible hairstyles that can aid length retention and strengthen hair. So, what are the real perks of protective styling? Here’s a list:
- The freedom to try a variety of different looks (weaves, wigs, braids, crochet styles, faux/goddess locs, twists, the possibilities are truly endless!)
- Retaining hair length (the longer you keep your hair in a protective style whilst maintaining moisture and hydration to your scalp and ends, the longer your hair can grow!)
- Easy maintenance (for a lot of naturals, the hardest part can be the weekly routines of twisting, braiding, parting/sectioning hair, deep treating, etc. - but with a no-manipulation style like box braids or senegalese twists you won’t have to worry about combing/detangling hair!)
But like with everything good, there’s always some caution needed to ensure you gain the maximum results from your protective styling. Some good tips and tricks for using protective styling includes: avoiding braiding/twisting your natural hair too tight, excessive pulling on your edges, hairline and hair overall, protection of your ends, nurturing your scalp by oiling/greasing it routinely i.e. in between cornrows before putting a wig on, conditioning your hair and detangling it prior to a box braid installation to avoid loss of hair, not blow drying your hair for too long or on heat that is too high etc.
Protective styling is essentially about what it implies - protection. Don’t forget that you can protect your natural hair even before implementing one of the styles mentioned above. Conditioning/Co-washing and twisting your hair after a wet day at the beach is one way to protect your fro and even getting down to understanding that protecting your hair starts from within - with a proper diet and a balanced amount of water intake.