Natural Hair Care

Protective Styling Do’s & Dont’s

2nd April 2015
Woman with Afro Hair

Protective Styling Do’s & Dont’s

Protective styles are amazing for length retention and provide a low maintenance way to wear your hair. When choosing the right protective style it is beneficial to know exactly why you’re doing it and what steps you can take to ensure that the up keep of your protective style doesn’t create breakage or dryness. Protective styles should be chosen based upon a realistic idea of what works for you. If you don’t like using a lot of gel or tend to forget about moisturising when your hair is up and out of the way, go for a style that compliments that fact. Having a realistic and holistic approach to protective styling can allow your hair to rest and flourish.

What Are Protective Styles?

Protective styles are hair styles that require low maintenance and pull and tuck your hair out of the way. Length retention can be hard to achieve for some because the tighter the curl pattern the more you have to do to tame it and sometimes this causes breakage and stress on the hair. If your hair is left alone for longer periods of time the growth process isn’t being hindered in any way.

When Should I Use A Protective Style?

Protective styles should be used when you notice extreme breakage, when the hair is exposed to harsh cold weather, periodically to give your hair a break or simply when you want a break from styling.

What’s Cold Weather Have To Do With Anything?

Cold weather is stingy, our hair absorbs moisture from the air and winter air contains a lot less moisture and leads to frizziness and dryness making us want to do more to tame our hair for styling purposes leading to stress and hair loss.

Be Mindful of Your Edges

Most up do’s require gel to smooth the hair down and not all gel’s are created equal. Most of them leave your hair feeling dry and can cause an itching sensation especially around the edges. Since your hair is pulled up there is already some stress around the edges of your hair and for the sake of upkeep many won’t want to add water to moisturise so they lightly scratch. This is fine but repetitive scratching can cause breakage and scalp irritation. Using moisturising gel’s help and also taking your hair down and moisturising it after wearing the style for a few weeks can help as well.

Bristle Brushes For Smoothing

Bristle brushes for many are key in smoothing down hair and creating that slicked down look your protective style calls for. Styling with them isn’t a real problem but using them for maintenance and up keep on certain styles is. When your hair is pulled up using this brush to smooth down a few hairs that weren’t tamed overnight under your scarf can be counter productive to the health of your hair. Bristle brushes are densely packed with bristles that find and catch onto every curl pulling them outward like fingers in an unbaling fist. With your ends tucked into a pony tail and the rest of your hair being combed by these bristles you could cause knots and breakage. Instead use coconut oil and smooth upward with your fingers before bed and tie your hair down. This oil moisturises and is great at coating strands for smoothing.

Longevity in Wear Isn’t Always Better

The longer you wear a protective means that you’re leaving your hair alone and that’s always a good thing. However depending on the style this can cause negative effects. Mainly with up do’s the longer they’re worn the more likely we’ll have to smooth down fly away hair’s and add ton’s of gel and product. Taking down these styles every two to three weeks to replenish your hair’s moisture is key.

Don’t Forget Your Ends!

The ends are the oldest and most fragile part of the hair so tucking these away will be top priority. However if you haven’t prepared your ends properly they will become very dry. If you’re going for a style that involves tucking your ends away use a heavy strengthening oil as a sealant like olive oil. Olive oil is good at sitting on top of the hair and not moving which can seal in moisture effectively.

How Often Are Wash Days Needed?

Depending on the style you’re rocking wash days can be cut down for the sake of leaving your hair alone unless your hair feels dry. If you’re using loads of products for upkeep but only in a certain area of your hair then wash days can become infrequent (every three weeks) however if you’re thinking of doing this then implement a deep conditioner when you do wash. If your ends are dry then a take down and co-wash should happen asap.

Examples Of Protective Style’s

Wigs, half wigs, twist outs, bantu knot outs, buns, pompadours, up do’s, and braids. If you’re looking for some unique protective styles I have a few on my youtube playlist Natural Notebook  that are quick and easy. The youtube channel Tiffany Nichols Design has excellent protective styles that are docile and affordable.

I wore a protective style for six months and through trial and much error discovered a few key points in correctly protective styling. During that time I experienced tremendous growth while enjoying the benefits of low maintenance hair care. Protective styling is beneficial for everyone especially those with busy lifestyles and with the endless choices available there’s a style for everyone!


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