As I approach my tenth ‘natural hair anniversary’, I must say it couldn’t have been done without protective styling. Being a naturalista is no small feat. Natural hair can seem complex, so I want to share some hair care tips as well as my experience with braids and twists in general. A prevailing theme that has always felt connected to natural hair for me is patience. Natural hair really does its own thing and it takes time to find your niche. You really have to study your hair in order to achieve the look and health you desire. Waiting for your fro’ to grow takes patience as well. Protective hairstyles have been the best method for me in navigating the natural hair world.
Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair Health
Wearing your hair in protective styles gives your hair the opportunity to grow from minimal manipulation. Constantly combing, brushing, and tugging at your strands can cause breakage. Protective styling is encouraged because it gives your hair a break and allows it to flourish, lasting anywhere from one week to two months. There are many options to choose from to fit your lifestyle and needs.
Many of us have experienced heat damage at some point in life. When your hair is in a protective style – there is no need for heat or styling whatsoever. If you are someone who gets tempted to blow dry or flat iron your hair, protective styling may be perfect for you. The sun also causes destruction to natural hair, especially if you have hot summers like me in Texas. Protecting your hair from any form of heat is essential for hair across all spectrums.
Braids, Twists & Growth
Versatility is a significant reason why I’m fond of protective styling. Sometimes I can wear my fro’ out and feel powerful and womanly. I can also have braids to give a more polished and organized look. I love twists to bring youth and carefreeness to my look. All of these styles allow me to shift based on my mood and season of life. It also gives me the opportunity to grow my hair while exploring other hairstyles.
My favorite protective style is box braids. I usually get them butt length, and they last up to two and a half months. I tend to take them down right at two months. I notice significant growth once I take down a set of box braids. This year I am dedicated to growing my natural hair as long as I can, so I’ve been protective styling for the last four months. In between natural hairstyles, I make sure to trim my hair and do treatment masks. I let my hair breathe for about a week before getting a new set of braids. The hardest part about having braids is missing your afro and staying strong. Like I said, patience is key and a lot of waiting is involved with growing natural hair.
Other ways to do protective styling which I haven’t explored are wigs and weaves. Typically your natural hair is braided underneath these extensions and serves as a protective barrier just like braids, and twists. There are also protective styles you can do with your own hair that last about a week such as a bun, french braids, or one single braid. With so many options for protective styling, I look forward to trying more of them and venturing out of box braids and Marley twists.
Perks Include: Low Maintenance
Protective styling provides a very chill regimen for your hair. It saves time when getting ready for your day. All you have to do is worry about what you’ll wear or makeup because your hair is already done. You’ll need to moisturize your scalp and keep your braid roots nourished. But, the care for protective styling is minor. This is why protective styles are ideal for vacations, especially tropical ones. You can swim and sweat freely and your hair will still look great, giving you an easygoing trip.
Many women get a protective style right before childbirth. Having your hair put away will give you more time to rest, and take care of your new baby. The last thing you need is to fuss with disobedient curls when you are under a lot of stress and having a big life change. Having a busy toddler has provided less time for hair maintenance, so braids have been a godsend.
New to Natural Hair?
If you are a brand new naturalista or thinking about beginning your natural hair journey, you’ve come to the right place! It can be daunting to cut your hair really short, but just know – with a few inches of new growth, fun hairstyles are right around the corner for you. Natural hair truly is for anyone who wants to get more in touch with themselves and embrace their true appearance. I hope this article has encouraged you to embrace your hair in the many forms it can be presented. Let me know where you’re at in your hair journey in the comments below, Pretty Birds.