It isn't uncommon for one to hear persons say that wearing protective styles such as braids, twists, buns, cornrows and/or wigs have helped their hair to grow. But is protective styling pivotal to a successful hair journey?
Before the dissection of this question, we must first consider what a protective style is. A protective style is a style that safeguards the hair from the elements (eg. heat, wind) and over-manipulation. It's a style that gives your hair a break and tucks away the ends from damage. This style/s can last for a few days or a few months.
Benefits to protective styling:
- Wearing a protective style helps to retain length. Contrary to it growing the hair: what it does is protect the ends from major manipulation which would lead to breakage.
- Reduces breakages. Without the hair breaking or breaking at a lower rate, one is able to retain the length achieved while the hair is growing.
- Low manipulation. Low manipulation is essential especially for finer/thinner strands; the less you do with it the more it tends to flourish.
- It saves time. If you're in college, university or you have a job sometimes it may appear that you and time are not longer friends. Protective styles can be a life saver when it comes to styling your hair for school or work.
- It gives you an opportunity to experiment. If you're bored with your hair a protective style can help bring out a little oomph and added versatility!
- Holds in moisture. If you've gone through the steps of prepping your hair for a style ensuring it's moisturized, once your hair has been placed into the style one should experience less dryness.
However, with all these great benefits, protective styles can be damaging if done improperly.
1. Even with moisturizing your hair prior to doing the style, it is also important to moisturize while wearing the style. Sometimes because we're in a style we can forget to take care of our real hair (in regards to wigs, sew-ins, braids)
2.Tight styles don't help the hair at all. All it does is encourage follicle damage and breakage.
3. Wearing the style for too long is also a big contributor. Styles like braids (extensions), mini twists and sew-ins should have a time limit. Because the longer we wear them they could be causing more damage. For braids especially if they're long braids once they begin to grow out they tend to add more weight to the hair. If the hair holding the extension is small or fine in comparison to the extension- this could potentially pull out the section.
I love mini twists. It takes me a while to install them but once I've completed the style I can rock it for 1-2/1/2 months. The downfall I've noticed with them especially if I try to wear them longer is they can begin to lock at the root and if I'm not patient to take the knot out I experience severe breakage.
While I've never personally had a sew-in, I've observed that if you wear them for too long it can cause severe matting.
- From my experience 1-2 months maybe 3 should be the maximum time to wear your style. Refreshing the edges and nape is also a good idea whatever style your wearing- this prevents matting or locking.
I love protective styling and it has some amazing benefits. Nevertheless, it isn't a prerequisite for growing healthy hair. If you wear wash n go, twist out, braid and curls you can still achieve your hair goals!
What are your thoughts on protective styles and do you wear any? If so which ones?