2. DO: Keep the correct style in for long enough — Stretch it out
For retaining length, a protective style is not effective unless it is kept for a sufficient time. This is especially true for no manipulation styles where elimination of breakage is a priority.
Taking a quick survey of naturals with long type 4 hair (examples Sera, Mwedzi, Aijo, Maestra Diva, Loo, Dani), the most success seems to arise from a period of two weeks (though often 3–4 weeks) or longer in twists or braids. Hair is not subsequently left free for long (usually 2–3 days) but is instead rebraided or retwisted for another 2 week (or longer) period. Many of these ladies will have periods of free hair but often not for long during the year. I would estimate that until getting to around mid back length most will be spending 70% or more of the time with twists or braids.
DON’T: Neglect hair or keep the style in for too long.
When hair is in a no manipulation style, your regular routine should not be postponed. You can still wash your hair as normal as well as apply water and oil to moisturise your hair (or whatever you normally use) whenever you feel the need.
For no manipulation styles, there is a danger of build up, lint and matting which can all lead to a loss of length as more aggressive combing, cutting and trimming may be necessary to fix the problems. It is possible to keep a protective style well beyond 2 weeks (even up to 8 weeks). However, a key factor in successfully doing this is to watch out for the possible build up and matting and pay special attention to the hair around the perimeter taking care to redo it every 2 weeks or so.
Ladies, what are your protective styling do’s and dont’s?