Having always had my hair out when I was a relaxed gal (with less than stellar results as my history so blatantly displays) , protective styles have been my answer to hair length and health retention as a natural. Protective styles are styles that ensure that our strands are protected from mechanical damage brought on by excessive heat, manipulation and combing.
My protective style of choice has always been two-strand twists. I literally do nothing else with my hair - no braids, no crotchet braids, no weaves, no cornrows. This is because I find that like dreadlocks, two-strand twists are easy to maintain and style. Occasionally, I'll have my hair in wigs. But that's it.
But of course, my choice of style doesn't always suit everyone else. Based on my experience so far, these are my top tips for caring for your hair while protective styling. I use braids, weaves, crotchet braids as my examples as these are some of the most common styles within the natural hair community. These tips, however, are applicable across a vast array of protective styles.
1. Keep it simple.
Truth is, the creativity within the natural hair community is outstanding. Plainly put! When I first went natural, I wanted to try out all the styles that I saw on every forum. I realised though that my hair did not like all that manipulation and it would knot and tangle. Now, I simply double tap when I see gorge styles on Instagram, and I keep my own styling simple. I throw in an updo every so often, but when I'm not trying out the latest bendy rollers or faux buns, I'm living vicariously through other naturalistas!
2. Proper installation is key!
If you can, do your own braids/weaves/crotchet braids yourself. Yep! It is absolutely possible with a couple YouTube videos and practice. If you must have them done at a hair salon, please please, as much as you can, do away with mass hair braiding boutiques. Treat your hair like silk and only put it in the best hands, particularly in those of a trusted hairstylist who values your natural tresses as much as you do. Avoid too much tension on your edges and on your strands themselves - these styles aren't meant to last 6 months anyway! Lol!
3. Keep up your hair regimen.
While you may not be able to slather your weave with avocado (hihihi!!) you should be able to maintain the very basics of your regimen. By this I mean: moisturize. Remember, a hair regimen is basically a systematic way of ensuring that your hair is moisturized.
If you have braids: wash them weekly with conditioner and every two weeks with shampoo. Take a little olive oil (1-2tspn for all your hair) and massage it along the length of your hair in the braid. Don't use heavy pomades like Dax and ORS butters on your scalp either. These can cause buildup and give your braids a really staaankky stench! Lol! Also, avoid over-styling the braids. Our hair thrives best when it is just allowed to be.
If you have crotchet braids: cleanse your scalp weekly. Use diluted shampoo to really get to the cornrows underneath and massage the product into the hair. Rinse thoroughly with warm water to rid your scalp of buildup.
If you have a weave: This one is a little trickier - because depending on whether or not you have the weave glued or sewed on, you still have to wash your hair. (Haiya! some people don't think so! Hence the stories of moulding-sweaty-stanky-weaves-now-turned-worm-fests that pop up on your facebook profile every so often!) Like crotchet braids, keeping your hair in weaves requires lots of care. You might want to stick to curly weaves rather than straight human hair weaves as these might last longer with a frequent washing schedules. Unless of course you are willing to fork out the cash to have your straight human hair weave re-touched in a salon every week. While weaves can easily amp your look - especially for an office setting - the costs of patting them when they get itchy might be too high. It's easy to give up on caring for your natural hair if it's always covered up.
What other tips and tricks have worked for you in your hair journey? What is your protective style of choice and why? I'd love to know!
As always, thanks a gazzilion for stopping by!
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