It’s winter time in South Africa and all the hype of protective styling is with us. Protective styles are a great way to retain length because they protect your hair against either the harsh weather elements, over manipulation or rubbing against your clothes which tend to hurt your ends and cause breakage. You may protect your ends in so many different ways, like, cornrows, braids, twists, bun, or weaves, whether you choose to add extensions or not, the list is not exhaustive.However, for you to get maximum benefits from a protective style, you need to make sure the fundamentals of healthy hair care are still adhered to. There are so many things that people do or neglect to do when their mane is in a protective style and though they gain some length after they undo their twists or braids, in about two weeks, all their gained length seems to be lost to breakage and their hair just seems to be going nowhere. Sounds familiar? Here are some tips you need to know to win with protective styling.
- Remember our hair is generally dry and needs moisture like crazy. So you have to make sure to keep your hair well hydrated even when in a protective style, hidden in a weave, wig or braids.When we talk of moisture, we are not referring to that jar of Vaseline or any petroleum based hair food that you are basing your scalp with. That is for the scalp and will not moisturise your hair at all, if it does not clog your scalp pores and also cause unnecessary build up. Only water can moisturise your hair and a good oil will help keep the moisture in your hair longer. Find yourself a good moisturiser that does not have mineral oil in it and is water based and keep those locks well nourished through out winter.
- You will also need to make sure your protective styles are not too tight. I can never over emphasize this point. Quite often I meet ladies with a beaming, shining forehead after a visit to the salon to have their braided and the like. If they are in front of you and you call them, it seems like a real pain for them to turn their heads. Come on gals! It only means that hair style is way too tight. Pulling your hair out of your scalp will not grow your hair. All you are doing is hurting your follicles thereby damaging them and you may need to deal with traction alopecia later.
- I know micro braiding or twists are trending these days but please look at the bigger picture. If you are installing hair extensions because you think they are really cute compared to your real hair and you do not care if your real hair breaks, thins and sheds whilst you have your “really cute” hairstyle on, then I think you should go ahead and have them. But, if installing hair extensions is for the purpose of protecting your hair, then I really don’t think having micro braids or twists is the way to go. Why do I say so you may ask? Well, to start with, They take long to do and long to undo. But that is not the issue. The thing is, extensions will be added to very small sections of your hair and this will weigh down your hair leading to thinning especially the edges, and excessive shedding which may lead to bald patches. Ever heard of the saying ” Divided we lose, united we win.” or something along those lines? The same goes for your strands. Those who have lost hairlines because of micro braids know what I am on about. Don’t become a victim of traction alopecia (receding hairline) and say I did not warn you.
- It is advisable to know when to take down your extensions to avoid your hair matting and knotting beyond any detangling. There are some people with hair that just knows how to behave well in braids or twists and they can keep them on for more than two months even three without looking scruffy. For me this is not a problem because by week three, I’m all ready to remove them because they will be so untidy. However, if you can keep your extensions or even braids or twists with your own hair, for longer than six weeks, you need to take care that you don’t end up with matted hair or knots because in detangling, you may break off most of your gained length. Try and keep your hair in braids or twist for not longer than eight weeks and detangling should not be a major problem upon undoing your protective style.
- You will also need to rest your hair and wear it out a few times before having it plaited again. Your hair needs the fresh air and having it in weaves continuously will not help you in the long run, especially if you do not take care of your real hair in the meantime. Braids also tend to weigh down your hair so resting your hair for a week or two will be beneficial.
And my final word, moisture is key to retaining length. So protective style or not, keep those moisture levels up always. Do not neglect to wash your hair at all because it is in a weave or braids. You need a healthy scalp clear of build up for healthy hair. You may want to wash your hair at least once every two weeks but keep that spritz bottle very close to you, your hair needs the water.
Keep warm this winter. xoxo
Some protective styling ideas from the net.