By Geniece (pictured above) of Beautifully Made
When I am asked to explain how I retain length I usually begin by discussing the role protective styling has played in my regimen. For some, that advice is a big downer. I’ve essentially told them that if they follow my regimen they will forever have to sacrifice style for length. I get this concern. In fact, I too believe that if I’m going to grow my hair long I do want to wear it out. To me, it isn’t a matter of if I will wear my hear in “out” styles on a consistent basis, it’s when I choose to do so. I wear my hair “out” occasionally but at some point, provided it doesn’t make my regimen more complicated (I’m all about ease and speed), I will probably wear my out just as often, if not more than I wear my hair in protective styles.
I began long term protective styling with the idea that this is merely delayed gratification. I knew that length retention was guaranteed with low manipulation, regular moisture and protective styling. For me that is a hair fact. I also know, from experience, that I can wear my hair out regularly and, while I won’t suffer breakage, I won’t retain much length either. Take last summer for example. During the heat wave that hit New York City I chose to wear my hair in a braid outs. Despite the alternating dryness and humidity in the weather my hair was fly (if I do say so myself) and I loved not being confined to a bun because of extreme weather. I did notice , however, that by the end of the summer my ends were knotted and that the dryness and heat had taken a toll on my hair. By the end of the year I realized I didn’t retain nearly as much length as I did the year before but neither did my hair break. In fact, I retained at least two inches. The necessary trimming that was needed from wearing my hair out offset some of my growth, but it didn’t cancel it out completely. In short, I was able to maintain my length and even add a little length while enjoying my length.
If my goal is to retain 5–6 inches a year then protective styling 90% is something I have to do. Once I reach my goal length of waist length I can wear my hair out, knowing that even if I have to trim a bit more often I will be able to maintain my length and may even add one or two inches in the process. So while some protective stylers may advocate protective styling as the ONLY way to keep hair on your head, I am not one of them. I believe that if length is your goal and you know that such styles assist you in reaching that goal then commit to protecting your ends for two, three of four years then you rock all the “out” styles you wish. The one thing that you may find in the process is that protective styles suit that you no longer view it as a compulsory chore. You can then enjoy the best of both worlds: elegant updos and superfly styles that display your length.
Ladies, have you phased out protective styling as part of your regimen? Are you considering it?