Protective Styling 101

As an African, I took for granted many things that I’m now finding out are extremly beneficial to my hair. Who knew that wearing a turban/scarf or as we call it in my native language dhuku, is actually more than dresscode? I had no idea that the african threading hairstyles that my mother ever so neatly created on my head every three weeks or so were not her way of just putting my hair away but actually protected my hair and helped me retain length.

What is protective styling?
A protective style is one that disallows the manipulation of hair for a long period of
time. For a style to be considered “protective”, the ends of your hair must be tucked/wrapped away and not accessible to external forces such as the environment, products and finger/comb tempering. Great examples are wigs, weaves, braids, threading and buns.

For a while I did not know that there was another term that I was totally missing out. There are low manipulation styles that are mistakenly referred to as protective styles. Please note, a protective style can also be referred to as a low manipulation style however, low manipulation styles are simply that, never protective styles. Why? Styles like loose twists and braids you create on your hair in preparation for a twistout or braidout respectively, do not cover the ends of your hair. You may have a long stretch of time in between styling, hence the term low manipulation, but your ends are still left out to be affected by external factors like clothing and weather.

Now that we know that putting our hair especially our ends out of reach is protective styling, let’s talk about what we must do to ensure that protective styling awards us optimum length retention results.

Preparation:
It’s one thing to put our hair in a fancy and gorgeous protective style. It’s actually another to actually protect your hair. Sometimes protective styles prove to be damaging because people neglect the first and most important step to protective styling. Think about it. We preach moisture importance daily yet some people don’t make sure that aspect of natural hair care is administered before styling our hair in a way that let’s us go weeks or months without applying conditioners and oils to it. We must make sure our hair is moisturized before tucking it away. The last thing you want is your hair to come back from vacation all shriveled-up and before you know it, big chop #3 is in order.

1. Cleanse
2. Deep Condition
3. Rinse out Conditioner
4. Seal with oil then seal again with a heavier oil or butter

These steps are essential. A must. Mandatory. If your hair needed a protein treatment do that before the steps above. But the above steps MUST be incorporated in your preparation schedule.

The final step in prepping your hair would be a trim if needed. I know,I know, you planned on trimming after the takedown of you 8 week old style. Let me remind you that split ends travel up the strands. As your hair lays dormant those splits are still causing damage. Trimming your hair before will eliminate that problem.

After this process feel free to braid, weave, twist, bun it up and wear a turban for as long as recomended.

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