From buns, to braids and twists, many naturals use protective styles as a way to protect their ends and retain length. But a discussion often arises about whether protective styling is as useful for Type 3 hair as it is for Type 4 hair. We asked two writers with different hair types to share their experiences.
Type 3: Christina
Hair typing for me has always been difficult, because I have multiple textures that behave very differently. The back half of my hair is very loosely curled, almost wavy and closer to a 3B. The front half is a tighter curl/wave, and very 3C. My crown doesn’t know what it wants out of life, and has to be convinced mightily to even partially curl. But to simplify things, I go by 3C. My hair is medium density, and I have medium/fine strands.My strands used to be stronger, but they’ve been weaker since I got red ombre back in October 2014. I have to overcompensate by adding lots of protein into my regimen.
How much of your month is dedicated to protective styling?
If we’re talking “traditional” protective styling, like zero. None at all. But if a wash & go is considered protective styling. Then about 97%. My Wash and Go Protective Style Regimen
Most of my regimen, whether I’m trying to be protective or not, is dedicated to the wash & go. It’s the easiest style for me to do, and I’ve pretty much got it down to a small science for my hair. Every year or so, I experiment with mini twists of some sort, but for me it’s a minimal return on investment. My twists stay in for a max of 4–5 days, but really by day 3 they start unraveling and looking super fuzzy. Some things just aren’t meant to be for my hair, and I’m okay with that.
The main challenge I have with my hair, whether protective styling or not, is scalp psoriasis. In order to keep things from spiraling out of control, I have to wash my hair every 3–4 days or so. That’s honestly one of the main reasons why I can’t “put my hair away” for extended periods of time in a protective style. Other than that, I will say me wearing my hair “out” pretty much daily means that I have to be super diligent about keeping my ends moisturized and sealed. And to be honest, I’m not that great about it — it’s a habit I’m still cultivating. As a result, I find myself inspecting my ends more regularly, and staying on top of my seasonal trim schedule.
How do you keep your hair protected outside of protective styles?
Hydration and deep conditioning. Since I wash my hair (mainly co-washing, I shampoo once a month to clarify) so often, it is never at a loss for hydration. And I always make it a point to use a super-rich rinse-out conditioner or deep condition. Staying on top of giving my hair the right conditioners has been its saving grace, honestly!
Do you retain length better with protective styles? Or do they not make that big a difference?
My length retention is about normal, in my opinion. I don’t have massive breakage or terrible knotting, because I’ve zeroed in on what types of products work best for my hair. In order to maintain my hair as a “protective style”, I opt for heavier gels that clump my curls together and form that gel cast (aka crunch) that everyone hates. It usually goes away after the first day, but having somewhat of a coating to reinforce my hair when it’s vulnerable (wet) seems to help.