By Jc of The Natural Haven Bloom
Some hair can gain length without protective styling but some hair simply cannot. If you are in this latter category, you will have to try to spend more time in a protective style and honestly not everyone can do it effectively especially with own hair braids and twists. If you have been slacking on protective styling because the style itself is an issue, here is my guide to matching your personality to your protective style:
1. You are not particularly patient and you want fast results
If you are the person who wants long hair and you want it yesterday, then the message of being patient and waiting several years to gain length will quickly be pushed aside. You may be tempted by products that promise faster growth, be constantly on the search for the perfect ‘holy grail’ product that would help you achieve your goal or you may indeed be discouraged by the fact that your hair may not gain an inch every month.
This does not mean that you cannot retain and grow your hair long. If your goal is long hair, then spending some time with your hair in extensions (braids or weaves) or wigs may well serve to give you some satisfaction of longer hair that you can immediately play with for a while. You must of course make sure that your braids or weaves are installed well and that you care for your own hair during the time that it is in extensions or under a wig. Extensions and wigs can actually help you increase your patience and keep a protective style in for longer. You should spend periods of time though without extensions to make sure you are knowledgeable on how to handle your hair as it gains the length that you desire.
2. Having your hair looking cute is more important than keeping length
There are some among us who really cannot live in 3 week old braids or twists. There are some naturals who hate twists and braids because they feel that they look scalpy. These are all valid arguments for choosing a non-protective style simply because it is more aesthetically pleasing to those individuals. However, if your hair requires protective styling to grow longer and that is your desire, you can still do it.
Your ideal protective style is likely to be a bun. This is a quick way to tuck in those ends and maintain a smooth non-fuzzy look (we all know the smooth hair trick — spray with water, tiny bit of oil, tie down a scarf for 15–30 minutes). Buns, however, do not work for all hair types as a protective style. If your hair prefers little to no handling, even the little bit of finger detangling that you do to maintain a bun as a daily style may affect your hair length retention. In this case, take a trip to Youtube and look up the beautiful pinned up twists and braids that could help you look cute and still retain length.
3. Your are patient with your hair, your sole goal is to get longer hair
If you are patient and able to spend longer periods in protective styles naturally, then you are built for the natural staple of own hair braids and/or twists. The more frequently you wet the style (for moisture or for cleansing), the more of a fuzz halo — as I call it — you will have. This are the tiny bits of frizz or fuzz that form over time with braids or twists. Naturally you can try the smooth hair trick mentioned above but there is a point when it no longer works substantially. The one danger that you must avoid is spending too long in braids or twists. Lint and matting can really undo progress rapidly so it is essential that you know the point when your hair is no longer benefitting from being in a protective style. This can be as short as 2 weeks or as long as 8 weeks depending on your texture, strand thickness and density. You can gradually extend your time to see what is your personal limit.
Ladies, are you more like #1, #2 or #3? What is your protective style of choice and how does it fit your personality?