Protective styling has been the holy grail for many women on their journey to longer and healthier hair. Protectives styles provides protection by keeping the hair tucked away, and it also gives the hair a break from daily manipulation. Women do protective styles for a myriad of reasons such as giving the hair a break, damage recovery, transitioning, style flexibility, etc, but regardless of the reason these styles are great tools for length retention. On the other hand, if not done and cared for correctly protective styles may cause damage that will decrease the health and length of the hair.
How are protective styles beneficial to our hair?
Protective styles are especially important to afro-textured hair based on the chemical and physical make-up of the strands. Our curly hair has many twists and turns which makes each change in direction in the strand a potential breaking point, so occasionally we need to give the hair a break from daily manipulation. The ultimate goal of a protective is to retain length, and putting the hair away for a period of time reduces damage thus increasing the health of our curls.
Protective styles are amazing, but let’s take a look at how they can cause damage to our hair and decrease length retention.
The Big ‘T’!
Applying tight protective styles will without a doubt create ‘tension’ on the strands and cause breakage. In some cases it may be as extreme as traction alopecia or damage to the hair follicles which may lead to irreparable baldness. The concept of protective styling is designed to help you keep as much hair on your head as possible, but excessive tension will indeed stunt your growth.
If you are getting your hair installed by someone, I would recommend that you let the person know not to apply the style too tightly. No one can care for your hair like you can, so please speak up so you can keep your hair and edges intact.
Many women forget that they still have to care for their hair in a protective style, and after taking the style down they experience a ton of breakage. Ladies and gents, its imperative that you still moisturize and cleanse the hair and scalp while giving it a well needed hiatus. The hair will become dry and dirty which will lead to excessive breakage and ultimately loss of health and length. And I know that’s the opposite of what you want, so you still need to maintain your regimen during this time.
3. Not taking a break
While I’m all for protective styling due to its benefits, it’s not advisable to do them back to back or leave them in for too long. The longer they stay installed the more build-up and shed hair get accumulated which will lead to tangles and breakage. The hair needs to breathe, it needs to be conditioned and treated, and it needs a break from tension.
4. The type of style
If you are working on protecting and retaining your length then the type of protective style that you choose is incredibly important. Styles such as sew-ins, micro-braids, glue-in styles, etc are not advisable when you are trying to grow your hair out. While some women might have had some degree of success with these styles, they will over time lead to extreme damage, weaken the strands, and keep your hair at the same length.
5. The size of your braids
For women who love to wear braids, twists, cornrows or any style that requires using additional hair in the mix , you must take into consideration the ratio of added hair to your hair. For example, if you are installing box braids and you add three times the amount of braiding hair to your natural hair then you are inflicting tension on a small area. This can actually pull the follicles out of the scalp and lead to traction alopecia. Micro braids create tangles and breakage as well, so try to make your braids as medium-sized as possible to get the most out if your style.
6. Wearing your buns in the same spot
A bun is an easy and great protective style, but honey if you keep putting it in the same ‘ole’ spot every time it will lead to tension and breakage. A lot of women have experienced damage from either wearing a high or low bun in the same spot repeatedly. The damage usually occurs because of excessive tension. Try to switch the spots every time you do a bun to change the tension area, and also try not to do them too tightly as this definitely contributes to traction alopecia.
What would you say is the most common mistake with protective styling?
Thank you for stopping by again guys. I hope this is of some value to you, and please don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts. Until next time HHJ!
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