Protective Styles: Doing More Harm Than Good?

What is your protective style of choice…braids, twists, wigs or sew-ins? Whatever it is, protective styles are meant to keep your hair tucked away in order to avoid manipulation and damage from things like combs and brushes, heat styling tools, the weather, etc. The less manipulation that is done to your hair, the less stress your hair will have.

Combing and brushing your hair daily causes tension to the scalp and hair which leads to breakage. Did you know that there is a proper way to comb your natural hair in order to avoid damage like breakage which causes split ends? You should start from the ends and work your way to the root. This minimizes knots which in turn causes the breakage. And you know that split ends stunt your growth, right?

Applying heat to your hair daily causes major and sometimes irreversible damage which can result in having to cut your hair. If your goal is to grow your hair while retaining length, it’s best to avoid heat all together. And depending on the type of protective style, heat isn’t applied directly to your hair, if at all.

Although protective styles are meant to protect your hair; there has been a misconception over the years that regular maintenance isn’t necessary. This is not true. Regular maintenance most definitely should be done to care for your hair while wearing the style. Women have found that even while wearing these styles, they have still experienced hair damage and hair loss. After removing the style, they noticed thinner edges, excessive split ends and bald spots.

You must realize that protective styles should be treated as if you aren’t wearing them at all. Your hair still needs proper maintenance. If you wear braids, you should be oiling or greasing your scalp. You should be sure that your stylist doesn’t braid too tight at the edges as this will cause tension and ultimately thinning and balding. Twists are the ultimate protective style as there is really not much tension on the hair and no heat is added. Just make sure it’s moisturized and you are all set with this one.

If you wear wigs, be sure you’re wearing a cap over your hair to ensure that if the adhesive is glue, it’s not being applied directly to your hair. This again will cause thinning and major hair loss. If you love sew-ins, like I do, you have to treat it just as if it’s your natural hair. You must shampoo and condition it. A great, experienced stylist will get into the parts of your sew-in to shampoo and condition your braids and scalp. In between shampoos, you can oil your scalp and what braids you can reach to keep both from being dry. The longest you should wear a sew-in is a maximum of 8 weeks. If you take care of it as if it was growing out of your head, you will definitely see the results you are looking for.

If you’re considering a protective style to maintain your long, healthy hair or to grow your hair, be sure that you are caring for your natural hair underneath as it lay tucked away resting from the daily manipulation it experiences. Be good to your hair even when it’s out of sight and it will be good to you.

Thumbnail & Header Photo - Aysha Sow


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