Protective styling is, without doubt, the one thing a curly girl has to have in her hair care repertoire.
Stressors On Curly Hair
A protective style is a process or method of styling curly hair to protect it from stressors. Stressors could be:
- Combs, brushes, accessories
- Heated styling tools
- Over manipulation
- Harsh weather conditions
- Single strand knots
The stressors as described above can cause hair damage, leading to hair that is dry, dull, frizzy has split ends, is difficult to style and doesn’t appear to grow.
Long Term Protective Style
The two approaches to protective styling are short term being a day or two and long term over several weeks. The styles used for long term styling are:
- Crochet braids
- Bantu Knots
ChicNatural takes you step by step through how to crochet braid, box braids
Short Term Protective Style
Buns, hats and scarves, as well as the styles listed above, can be utilized for short-term protective styles.
Naptural85 takes you step by step through a lovely protective style that can be easily transformed from informal to formal
Daily Protective Styling
Hats and scarves are a great way to daily protective style limiting daily manipulation. There are some beautiful, creative ways to style scarves that are super stylish.
Naptural85 has a great tutorial of 10 chic ways to tie headwraps
When To Protective Style
Without some form of protective styling in your regimen, daily styling and manipulation of curly hair can lead to dryness and breakage. However, it’s a great way to give yourself a break from the daily decisions that need to made for how you’ll style your curly locks.
Protective styling can also help when transitioning from chemically processed hair to natural curls it will support growing out your two textures along the hair shaft. It’s an effective way to navigate styling straight and curly hair that require two different types of moisturization and styling until the hair is fully transitioned to natural.
The intent when protective styling is to reduce the requirement for daily styling to curly hair. Leading to reduced breakage and consequently length retention. Because the curls for hair type 3 and 4 have bends along the hair shaft, the hair is fragile and delicate. Vigorous and harsh styling can lead to splitting and breakage at each point that the hair bends. A protective style allows curly hair to hang-out and just be.
Benefits Of Protective Styling
There are a host of benefits that are derived from protective styling that make the effort required to style the hair in the beginning worthwhile.
- Longer hair and length retention
- Less hair breakage
- Fewer single strand knots
- Healthy hair
- Fewer split ends
As with general hair care, a protective style whether it be long or short term works as long as you maintain a moisturization and cleansing routine whilst in the style. However, if the style is not maintained nor cared for the hair will become dry, damaged, matted, break and result in alopecia.
How To Protective Style For Success
Ensure when you decide to have a protective hairstyle you’re starting with clean conditioned moisturized hair. If you’re short term protective styling you’ll be moisturizing in a few days. But with longer-term styling, you’ll need to moisturize and cleanse your hair in the style to avoid your hair becoming overly dry, matted, tangled and breaking.
It’s important to use quality products when moisturizing hair in a protective style. If products are too heavy and coat the strands there will be product build on the scalp and hair. Potentially leading to knots, breakage and heavy shedding on a takedown. Therefore it’s vital to cleanse the hair when it’s in a longer-term protective style.
When hair is taken down from a long term protective style there will be, what appears to be a large amount of hair loss, because hair sheds approximately 100 hairs a day. Use the approximation as a guide to the amount of hair loss you’ll have for a long term hair protective style.
When Protective Styling Goes Wrong
There are documented videos and pictures of when things can go horribly wrong when a protective style is implemented incorrectly (too tightly), not maintained or kept in the style for too long. Alopecia, hair loss and bald patches are the consequences this can be devastating to an individuals esteem and confidence. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley has very bravely highlighted the issue of alopecia here.
Sierra Champrise discusses how weaves severely damaged her hair and scalp
A hairstylist shows the dangers of leaving in a weave for almost a year
If you choose to protective style and you don’t have the required skillset, visit a qualified stylist. That has experience in creating the protective style you desire and will do so without damaging your hair or scalp.
Get more insight into The Essential Steps In Maintaining & Moisturizing Locs & Protective Styles .