Lessons learned protective hairstyles

Lessons Learned From Protective Hairstyles

Do protective hairstyles protect your hair?

This week’s question drew inspiration from the ongoing debate surrounding protective styling. While I appreciate the versatility and convenience of a protective hairstyle, my answer to this question would probably be no. I have worn my share of protective styles over the years, and experience has taught me that there are better ways to care for, manage, and “protect” my hair.

Today, I’m sharing some of my lessons learned and reasons why protective hairstyles, though beautiful and convenient, are no longer an option for me.

  • Unnecessary stress on the hair – a full day of twisting, braiding, weaving, and crocheting can cause more stress and strain on the hair than weekly washes and styling. This stress will undoubtedly lead to damaged cuticles, weakened hair strands, and hair loss
  • Friction and traction alopecia –we love sleek, well-polished hairstyles. Unfortunately, these can come with a price tag. When our hair is too tight, extensions are too heavy, or wigs continually rub our hairline, the result is typically hair loss, traction alopecia, and baldness.
  • Dryness and damage – A significant concern for most naturals, dryness is inevitable with protective styles. No amount of oils before, during, or after styling will increase your hair’s moisture levels or prevent the damage that results from stress and neglect.
  • Neglects your hair’s needs – Protective hairstyles typically last weeks, sometimes months; the more time our hair spends in as protective style, the less time we spend actively focusing on and working towards healthier hair.
Exceptions and alternatives

When you love your natural hair and still want versatility and convenience, there are things that you can do

  • Twists or braided styles that don’t require extensions – This is an option if your hair is dense enough. It will allow you to maintain healthy hair practices and continually focus on your hair’s health
  • Wash and gos, braid outs, or twist outs – longer-lasting styles are possible and help you safely protect and care for your hair. Selecting the right products, learning appropriate techniques, and consistency leads to styles that last.
  • Clip-ins – Looking for fuller curls or versatility in styling? Clip-ins are a great short term option that will give you both!
  • Short courses of protective styles – If you’re still intent on wearing protective hairstyles, calculate the risk and wear them for shorter periods. When starting with healthy hair, four, maybe six weeks should be the max.
When in doubt weight the benefits

Protective hairstyles are appealing and do carry some perceived benefits, but is it worth it?  When choosing what is right for you, remember my lessons learned from protective hairstyles, weigh the risk, and consider the benefits first.  Address the health of your hair and always choose options that fit your lifestyle and promote healthy hair.

For more on how to improve the health of your natural hair before or after a protective hairstyle, check out these fantastic resources at Bold Kulture Beauty!