Belle Afrique: Protective Styling
When it comes to taking care of our luscious mane, less is more when it comes to styling.
The idea of protective styling is that we avoid wearing the hair loose or in it’s naturally fro like state. Instead, hair is worn in a way that requires little manipulation, tucking away the oldest and most delicate part of the hair…the ends.
Protective Styling (PS): styles that help maintain moisture between washes. Also helps maintain length because the hair is not exposed to the elements…being heat styling, fingers in fros syndrome, extreme weather, and the general stresses of being handled due to styling. My favs are bantu knots, midi twists (bigger than mini twists), or two chunky loose flat twists.
Low Manipulation Styling: similar to above, these are styles that require little combing/brushing to maintain, but don’t necessarily tuck the ends of hair away. My favs are the bantu knot out, flat twist out, an updo, or Curlformer curls.
Nowadays, we cannot avoid the draw of loc extensions, faux locs or twists as they are a great protective style. I am yet to try them, but I have been fiending for faux locs for the longest time…
If you have the patience to endure the instal process and can carry the new weight on your head, and deal with the take down, then this could be a great protective styling option for you. Bear in mind that the weight of braids and locs can pull on the hair, so it is best to avoid wearing braids in too high and tight ponytails. This similarly applies for buns. Buns should be worn slightly loose to avoid breakage at the nape of the hair and to reduce the pulling sensation on the hair which can also leads to breakage.
If you like to change up your hairstyles regularly, protective styling can take some getting used to…You may feel that you are missing out on opportunities to enjoy your hair as she’s hidden away in a set of twists or a bun. I swiftly get over this feeling on wash day when I’m re-styling my hair, after I’ve washed it and I notice an increase in my hair’s length and the general health and softness of my hair after being in a protective style.
However, we do need to give our hair a break…even from protective styling. It is also imperative that we learn how to maintain and look after our hair and hairstyles when worn in loose styles, for example, a twist out.
Although protective styling is frobulous, it doesn’t necessarily stop hair breaking; healthy hair habits/care, a good diet, general health, the environment, and genetics have a part to play.
The objective is learning what are the right products, amount of moisture and the overall needs of your hair, before, during, and after protective styling, so that we keep our hair in a well balanced state.
When hair is dry, this may mean the scalp is dry, which can lead to itchiness or irritations and of course a problem with the hair's natural sebum moisturising our hair strands to the ends. Protective styles are meant to give us a break from doing our hair, but they aren’t an excuse for us to leave our hair alone indefinitely. We still need to keep up the L.O.C. steps.
Although it may be less fun than sporting your naturally fly fro, the benefits of protective styling can outweigh the joys of showcasing your luscious mane on too regular a basis. If the goal is to “whip your hair back and forth” protective and/or low manipulation styles will need to become part of your healthy hair routine.
Benefits of PS
- Gives our hair a break from daily styling.
- Protects delicate ends.
- Saves on styling time and salon costs (for a time).
- Reduces the amount of damage caused to hair.
- Locks in moisture for up to a week. So, maintains hair’s softness and shine.
- Stretches hair.
- Provides the basis for next week’s styling!
- Maintains length and promotes growth.
- Can benefit short, growing hair and long, flowing hair.
Top tips for PS
- Chose styles that can become other styles, e.g. bantu knots provide a great bantu knot out.
-Braids and twists can be styled like normal hair and braided hair can be turned into another glamorous updo.
- You still need to LOC/LCO every few days…spray lightly with a mist of fresh water and seal the moisture in with a leave in moisturiser or butter/oil.
- Apply coconut oil or sweet almond oil to your hands and fingers when removing the protective style to cut down on frizz.
- Pineapple hair at night, by scooping it to the crown of your head and wrapping in a silk or satin bonnet/scarf.
- Three week (max) cycle, one week break. Avoid leaving hair in a protective style for too long. Hair can become matted, dry and susceptible to breakage…and more importantly there can be greater pain of freeing tangles. Braids may be worn for slightly longer, depending on personal preference.
Hope this protective styling feature provides a useful insight into some of the care needs for our hair. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @Belle__Afrique for more styles, tips, tricks, and product details.
We look forward to hearing from you 😊
Be sure to check out our Belle's previous feature "back to basics", to learn more about Belle Afrique, check out her hot seat post here.
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