Protective styling; It’s a topic that comes up often in natural hair care discussion. And while it’s a proven way to retain length and improve the quality of natural hair, it’s far from a natural hair requirement and it definitely rubs some naturals the wrong way. Here are 5 signs that protective styling is just not the thing for you…
1. Your hair can retain length without protective styling
Does your hair sprout like weeds regardless of what you do to it? Then you, my friend, have strong hair and probably don’t need the added “oomph” of protective styling for length retention. We’ve featured quite a few women who don’t need protective styling to retain length (check out Elle, Geri and Jess).
2. You value styling over length
Why should I go natural, only to keep my hair hidden all the time?, is a common refrain from naturals who don’t like the idea of rocking the same style for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. If you are one that likes to switch it up on the regular, and ‘length goals’ aren’t a concern of yours, then feel free to mix it up!
3. Length is not a concern for you
This is pretty self explanatory. Growing natural hair out is a time commitment, and so is maintaining long natural hair. While waist‐length natural Geniece recently shared that maintaining long hair doesn’t have to take forever, it does undoubtedly take more time than managing short hair. If long hair maintenance is not your cup of tea, feel free to bypass protective styling.
4. Your hair is prone to locing
Have you kept your hair in a style for a few days, only to discover that certain areas started locing? Now of course, this would be a blessing if you were transitioning to locs, but if you plan on rocking loose strands, this obviously won’t work for you. You will either have to abandon protective styling altogether, switch to loc resistant styles (like cornrows or flat twists) or cut down on the number of days that you keep your hair in protective styles.
5. You have a scalp condition
Some scalp conditions, like dandruff or psoriasis, require you to wash and/or apply product to your scalp at an increased rate and protective styles can get in the way of that. Before you take on a protective styling regimen, get your scalp condition under control. And keep in mind that protective styling often comes with some minor product buildup on the scalp. Be sure that this won’t agitate any existing scalp problems.
Alternatives to Protective Styling
There’s more than one way to retain length. While I would venture to say that for most naturals, protective styling will be the most effective, there are still plenty of ways to resist breakage.
Low Manipulation Styling
So you can’t put your hair in a set of twists and leave it for two weeks… but you CAN rock styles that don’t require excessive tugging and pulling. Try as much as possible to recycle styles, like converting a second‐day twistout into a bun or updo — instead of starting from scratch with a new style.
Combing is a major culprit when it comes to breakage. Be sure that your combing technique isn’t causing breakage and try to incorporate finger combing where possible.
Keep your Ends Stretched
Stretched ends won’t tangle up on each other, and will ultimately lead to less breakage. Try setting your ends on rollers or placing your hair in bantu knots.
Regular Deep Treatments
Remember your treatments! Moisturized hair is strong hair, and strong hair is breakage‐proof. Incorporate regular strength and deep conditioning treatments into your regimen. And if your hair is shedding or breaking at an increased rate, reach for the protein.
Alright ladies, sound off! Is protective styling for you? Do you incorporate it in your regimen? Why or why not?