Whether you are natural or transitioning to natural, the one thing that is evident from your own experience (or from reading about everyone else’ experiences) is that your hair is very fragile and requires special care.
Along with growing a healthy mane, most of us want to be able to retain that length, and the ends of our strands are where that battle is won or lost.
What are Protective Styles?
Protective styles are hairstyles that allow the ends of our strands to retain moisture by tucking them away. These styles prevent the friction that gets created when your hair rubs against your shoulders or clothes that are made from materials that rob your hair of moisture and hasten the splitting or breaking of your ends.
Shielding your ends in these styles also protects them potential damage from the elements (rain, snow, etc.).
Examples of Protective Styles
This is not an exhaustive list of all protective styles, and within this list are worlds of creativity and individuality that can be explored. While some may consider this type of styling limiting, many others use their goal of length retention as a means to fuel their creativity!
Another benefit is that the styles do last for varying periods of time, and do not require a daily change. Do not be afraid to try something new or even mix and match styles to create something unique. There are many ways to accomplish, simple, polished styles that are professional, as well as fun and funkier styles for social fare.
Here are some of the examples:
- Bantu Knots/Nubian Knots/Chiney Bumps
- Tight Afro
- French Braids
- Flat Twists
- Phony Ponies
Protective Styles vs. Low Manipulation Styles
Along with protective styles, low manipulation styles are a great way to style transitioning hair, as well as maintaining healthy, natural hair. These are styles that you can do without applying damaging heat to your hair.
Some examples are all the ‘outs’ of protective styles: braid-outs, twist-outs, Bantu knot-outs, as well as roller sets, pin curls, or flexi rod sets. These are all beautiful hair-dos, but since your ends are not shielded while wearing them, they do not qualify as protective styles.
Are protective styles really necessary?
Ideas vary about the necessity of caring for your hair to this extent. Many truly believe styling their hair in this manner has helped them with length retention. Some others argue that they have managed healthy hair growth through a good hair care regimen alone.
As with most things, people are different, our hair textures are different, and our overall health and habits are different – and because of these factors, results will vary.
If you are not noticing any length retention with your current hair care regimen, try protective styling, and see if that is the key you are missing. Also remember, with all this time and attention spent on caring for your hair, enjoy your hair too!
While you wear your protective styles to protect your ends most of the time, always make time to let your hair down.
Photo by Bluenile Photography