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Weaves, Wigs or Braids? How to Choose the Best Protective Style For You

Avatar • Jul 31, 2014

I am an unapologetic advocate of protective styling as a method of retaining length. Not only does protective styling allow me to keep up with my busy lifestyle without worrying about my hair; it also helps me keep my breakage-prone hair moisturized and damage free. If you are also a fan of protective styling or have explored it as an option, you’ve likely compared a number of styles that work best for your lifestyle. I know the challenges associated with choosing a style that meets my personal taste and hair goals, so in this article I relay some of the pros and cons of different methods of protective styling.

Wigs

Whether it’s a wig, weave or extensions, using added hair can be a great option for women on the go. While the type of hair will influence the price of the style, wigs are generally the least expensive option. Even if you purchase one comprised of human hair you can avoid the cost of installation which often makes the cost of sewing in a weave or extensions more costly. Wigs also have the added advantage of allowing you to change your style frequently which can be a great option for women who get bored easily. I loved wearing wigs and half wigs because it allowed me to envision how longer hair would frame my face. In fact, I eventually decided that I no longer wanted experience longer hair vicariously through my wigs and made the decision to grow and retain my own natural hair. A word of caution: If you use glue with lace front wigs be sure that you are not allergic to the glue. A negative reaction can cause hair loss, something discussed by celebrities like actress Countess Vaughn from Moesha.

Weaves

Weaves are another great option if you want to wear a style with loose hair (not braided or twisted) but want to keep you natural hair protected. I would caution you to keep in mind that some weaved styles require that you to keep a portion of your hair out and keep it straightened if you are blending with a straight weave. After weeks you may find that you have heat damage to that small section of hair. Also, be mindful that you do not have the weave sewn in too tightly, as it may cause traction alopecia.

Braids & Twists Extensions

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I came of age in the 1990s and just about every little girl I knew had braid extensions. It wasn’t until my mid-twenties that I had my first set of extensions (Senegalese twists) installed. Extensions are low maintenance and carefree in a way that wigs and weaves are not. For example, a day at the beach may be a bit tricky to maneuver if you want to keep you weave intact, not so with braid/twist extensions. With braided extensions water may lead to a little frizz but won’t have nearly the same effect on the style. I also found that with extensions I was able to directly moisturize my hair using braid spray because by hair was exposed along the length of the twist and not under the hair, as would be the case with weaves.

Protective Styling Using Natural Hair

Wearing protective styles using your own hair in my opinion is a great way for you to learn how to style your hair in a way that makes it uniquely tailored to you. If you feel that you are style challenged then you may consider alternating between protective styles with added hair until you perfect a style with which you feel comfortable.  I recommend that even if you love your weaves or braid extensions you give your hair a break for a few weeks in order to prevent breakage or damage. I have seen over and over again the effects of continual weave/extension wearing among women that I know. Unfortunately, some of the damage can be permanent. I also find that styles using my natural hair allow me to get a good sense of the needs of my hair in terms of dryness and moisture.

When deciding which protective style works best for you consider your lifestyle and the time you have at your disposal. Make decisions that work best for YOU and fit the goals that you have set for your hair.

Which type of protective styles do you like best?

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Trust me, black women don't wear weaves because they aspire to be white - Classic GhanaHBeezzAdeHoneybrown1976db Recent comment authors
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Tabatha
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Tabatha

I prefer braids, but my sister prefers wigs.

Miss Mo
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Miss Mo

Braids take out my temple which I don’t have much of.

I do weaves and wear wigs. Just take long breaks in between. 🙂

Cynthia
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Cynthia

I use my natural hair. Less money, and Is overall the best for my hair. It’s super easy to moisturize my mini twists, and I can do a ton of styles. My hair grows just fine in them. #Happyhair

Nappy 4C Rocks
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Nappy 4C Rocks

good for you! great article and I think I am going to try weaves…maybe the bone straight variety

db
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db

I always find mini twists difficult because I get tons of single strand knots and they get frizzy very easily.

Darlyn
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Darlyn

I prefer braids and twists.

Jacky
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Jacky

Nice article! I hate weaves: high maintenance and if i don’t wash my hair after two weeks( which is very difficult with weaves ), my scalp start getting itchy plus moisturizing my hair under the weave is a difficult task. I love braids though and I’m thinking of trying out crotchet braids. Wigs? I own some but it looks like I’ve stopped using them.

Cece Danielle
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Cece Danielle

I usually wear my own hair but I want to start wearing wigs on my lazy days.

kris
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Wigs and sometimes weaves. It’s easier to care for your hair under wigs though.

Honeybrown1976
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Honeybrown1976

I like the comfort of wigs. I can use and take them off the same day. I don’t like having my hair confined after usage of weaves and braids years ago.

Ade
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Ade

I used to wear braids. I realised that no matter the size of braids (usually not so tight), it always takes out my edges. So I started wearing wigs. Right now I think I am tired of wigs and would love to try out weaves and see if I have any luck with them.

HBeezz
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HBeezz

Wigs so easy to moisturize my hair and a lot of different looks !

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[…] the actual reality. Hair extensions are not a rejection of our natural hair. If anything, these are protective hairstyles for the natural hair beneath them, which also help you retain your hair length because […]

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