Protective styling is to style your hair in such a way so as to protect or conceal the ends of your hair. The ends are the very oldest parts of your hair and tend to be the driest and in need of the most tlc. Protective styling comes in many forms such as twists, braids, buns, weaves, wigs, pin and tuck styles and also styles which incorporate scarves or head coverings. I have found there are two main benefits to protective styling for my hair texture.
Sealed in moisture for longer
When I do a protective style I find that my hair stays moisturised for longer. If I properly moisturise and seal my hair with a heavy butter (e.g shea butter) I can go for days without adding any more moisture to my hair. When hair is properly moisturised it is less likely to break.
When wearing a protective style I find that I retain more length. This is probably for two reasons. Firstly because I am not manipulating my hair everyday therefore there is less chance of breakage occurring. Secondly, my hair is not repeatedly exposed to the weather elements or to garments and accessories like woolly scarves I might be wearing.
As I mentioned earlier there are a range of protective styles you can do. I prefer not to use weaves, wigs and extensions for a number of reasons. Firstly I don't like to go to the hairdressers. I like to do my own hair as I know exactly how it should be treated. I also like to save money and time and I find going to the hairdressers (for me) wastes both (unless of course it is a special occasion).
Another reason why I prefer not to use weaves and wigs is that I enjoying learning about my hair and how it reacts to different products and techniques. I would also feel there would be a risk of me forgetting to keep on top of moisturising my hair while wearing such a style, resulting in bad breakage when taking the style out. Lastly I have learnt that my edges can not take the strain of tight braids over a long period of time, I know from past experience that my edges would become badly damaged. (Please note I have nothing against anyone using these protective styles, the points i've mentioned apply to what I've learnt about my own hair!)
So when doing a protective style with my own hair I've noticed some styles are better for my hair type and texture than others. These are my top 3 protective styles:
1. Loose two strand twist
- This is my ultimate protective style at the moment. Loose two strand twists are just like the regular single twists , but looser. The looseness makes my hair look fuller which I prefer. I don't have the problem of the twists unraveling as I really twirl and seal my ends well so they stay put.
- Moisture retention is good with loose twists, but if my hair does dry out I simply spritz and seal my hair without the worry of shrinkage and tangles.
- I can also wash my hair while in this style and re-twist to neaten as and when I have the time. Which means if I don't have the time to re-twist all the twists in one go I can re-twist a section each day while still wearing the style.
- Loose twists allow for versatility of styling during the week and there is absolutely zero manipulation in the morning. I simply throw a hairband or hair accessory on and go. The longest I've gone without re-twisting is about 8 days but I could easily carry this style for two weeks or longer if I re-twisted it. The only down point to this style is that it is essential you do not wash your hair too many times while it is installed without re-twisting, or else you might end up with locs! I usually wash my hair once or twice and then I make sure I either take down the twists or re-twist.
2. Flat and chunky two strand twists
- I tend to flat twist the back area of my head while chunky twisting the top and front area to allow some versatility of styling each day. Pros are that you can easily carry this style for days without having to re-do the whole the style each morning hence reducing manipulation and breakage during the week. The moisture retention is very good when wearing this style.
3. Tuck and pin
- A tuck and pin style is simply when you tuck sections of your hair and pin them down. What I love about this technique is that you can very quickly create some really lovely shapes and designs. All that is needed is a comb for parting and bobby pins. This technique works best on stretched hair.
- The downside to this style is that you will need to re-twist or stretch your hair each night and re-do the style in the morning. This means that you are manipulating your hair everyday which could increase the chance of breakage. Also, another issue I've discovered is that moisture is easily lost when my hair is stretched and left untwisted or braided. I guess this is because the outer cuticle layer is slightly lifted as a result of the hair strand being stretched into a straighter shape, this therefore allows for moisture to escape a little easier.
What protective styles do you like to wear? Which are best for moisture and length retention for your natural 4c hair. Leave you comments below!