"The LORD is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?"

- Psalms 27 : 1

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Focus on...Protective styling

When I first did the big chop, I asked myself why it was necessary for me to ever wear a protective style, I love my hair like this, I said to myself. Well, it really isn't a matter of loving your hair or not when it comes to protective styling. Of course, many women prefer to wear wigs, or extensions until they obtain the length they are comfortable with and can easily rock.
Here are a few reasons you should consider wearing a protective style if you have natural hair:
1. Less manipulation of your hair: This is my number one reason for wearing protective styles. By manipulating your hair less, you can easily retain length! This is true because the brushing, combing, washing etc. we do to our hair can cause our hair to break if not done properly, especially the weak ends. So, by putting your hair in a protective style, you are actually doing your hair a favor, and that's where the word, "protective" comes from.
2. Less time spent on your hair : This is why protective styles are great for women on the go or for busy students. I remember wearing a protective style just a few months back while studying and the liberty of waking up in the morning and not having to style my hair or worry about when I would have time to wash it was great! If you are entering a period in which you know you will be busy, why don't you consider protective styling.
3. Your hair is protected against harsh weather : This is particularly true during the cold winter days! Natural hair is already dry on it's own. I can tell you that my hair dries out in the summer, not to talk of the winter! I cannot imagine wearing an afro in the harsh cold of the winter. For every natural woman, I would personally advise, guarding your precious tresses by wearing a protective style that is easy to manage and easy to care for during the winter.
4. You have a change of look : This is true for a lot of women and this was the reason I did my first protective style. We all like a change of look once in a while, so why not wear a quick wig, do some plaits or just rock some two-strand twists!
Well, after speaking about the pros of protective styling, let me lay down some of it's downsides:
1. If not properly taken care of, you could end up having an unhealthy scalp/hair : this is true because though your hair is in a protective style, it still needs the necessary moisture and your scalp still needs to be oiled. Unfortunately, a lot of women do not know this and think that the fact that their hair is in a protective style makes everything is good. When wearing a protective style, don't forget to moisturize your hair (depending on how dry your hair is) and also oil your scalp at least once a week. Remember, the key is listening to your hair.
2. You could loose some of your hair : this could happen if for example, you braid your hair and you pull too tight, you could just pull your hair out. Always remember to be gentle with you hair, with or without a protective style!
3. You could loose your edges : By pulling your edges too hard when doing braids or even sew-in weaves, in time, you will definitely loose your edges. Be careful about your edges, they are very fragile.
Another thing to note is that there are different types of protective styles. All that's left is for you to chose one, depending on the look you want or how much maintenance you can handle.
1. two strand twists: these are done without extensions. They can last up to a month or so depending on how big they are.
2. twists (nubian twists, kinky twists) /braids : these are twists done with extensions. While doing these, you need to make sure your hair is carefully tucked away in between the extension. Try not to rock this hair style too long (up to 1 month is okay in my opinion but not more than 6 weeks) because you should not go too long without washing your scalp (to ensure proper growth).
3. braids (plaits) : there are numerous designs you can come up with while plaiting. But don't pull too hard! These can last more than a month if maintained properly and can be done with or without extensions.
4. sew-in weave : the principle is simple. Braid your hair and sew a weave on top. This style is the "prefect" protective style because your hair is well covered from any harsh weather and your scalp cannot dry out though you should moisturize your hair well enough and oil your scalp sufficiently before doing this style. Also avoid cutting off your hair while taking off the weave!
5. wigs/half wigs: these are great because you can easily put them on and take them off and rock a different style as you please. Just be sure to braid your hair underneath it and protect your hair with a wig cap or if wearing a half wig, keep the part of your hair exposed moisturized! Wigs are also a great way to protect your hair. If your are looking to keeping your hair protected and concealed until you attain the length you are looking for, this is a great way of doing so!
Overall, I think every natural woman should try and wear a protective style once in a while. It not only gives you a new look, or give you some time to do something else other than style your hair, it also helps retain length and many attest to the "leave your hair alone" method of growing hair to be very, effective! Have fun protective-styling!

I would love to hear your ideas and experiences with protective styles 

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