Type 4: Chinwe
My hair type is 4C. My strands are fine in the back and medium everywhere else. My hair is also medium density and naturally strong.
I devote three to four weeks of the month, depending on the season, to protective styling. I spend the last few days to a week in an “out” style, which is usually a twist out afro.
What styles do you use for protective styling, and what is the rationale behind those styles?
I primarily use medium to small twists that are bunned or in an updo for protective styling. (If I get bored, sometimes I will wear the front/bangs as a twist out for a couple days OR wear my stretched loose hair in a bun.) My rationale behind doing twisted styles is multi-fold — twists are 1) super easy to do, 2) quick to install, and 3) secure on my hair. The style keeps my strands stretched (to a degree) and bound, which helps to reduce tangles and SSKs (single strand knots).
What challenges does your hair have when it isn’t in a protective style?
My hair will eventually tangle and knot due to shrinkage while being loose. (My hair shrinks around 80% or more.) Removing those tangles and knots can translate into mechanical breakage and length loss. For that reason, I try to wear loose styles for a minimum amount of time (e.g., a few days).
How do you keep your hair protected outside of protective styles?
I use deep conditioners with immense slip and weight (which translates to hang time) to minimize any mechanical breakage I may incur during detangling. I also wash my hair in twisted sections to reduce tangling and knotting during the wash process. Those are probably the two most important forms of protection for me outside of protective styling.
Do you retain length better with protective styles? Or do they not make that big a difference?
Yes, I DEFINITELY retain length better with protective styles. This is because these sort of styles keep my hair from tangling and knotting on itself very badly.