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Is Protective Styling Important for All Hair Types?

• May 30, 2015

Type 4: Chinwe

 chi twistout

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.

chi loose

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.

Click to go back to Christina’s Type 3 take on protective styling.

Do you think you think it matters the hair type in protective styling? Are you a Type 3 that regularly uses protective styles? Are you a Type 4 that retains length without protective styles? Sound off below!
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ThickNigerianHair
ThickNigerianHair
6 years ago

My sentiments agreen with Chinwe. I have 4c hair too and I find that protective styling, even when washing the hair, is a must to reduce tangles. But I’ve mostly given up on conditioners. I can’t find one that keeps my hair soft when it dries. Certainly none that have slip and heavy. So, I detangling under running water and use my QB AOHC to double as a leave in, moisturizer, and styler.

Mukisa Kibaya
6 years ago

I think that the centrality of protective styling DEFINITELY depends on the type of hair. I have 4C hair as well and all I do it is protective style, just like Chinwe describes. I style on a monthly basis and wash day is a whole day for me, because I wash and style in the same day.Protective styling is a time saver for me as a full time certified pharmacy tech and a full-time student. I also retain length more when my hair is not manipulated and is just left alone to grow. I think as long as every naturalists… Read more »

tracena barnwell
tracena barnwell
6 years ago

I have 4a hair & I wit Christina in regards to protective styling. I wear alot of wash n gos most of the time which has helped me master what works for me. If I was to protective style it might be a bun or French braid. These two styles might last 2 days, my hair gets fuzzy quickly so they don’t last. Twist are time consuming, it don’t last very long without retwisting.

Hair Anomaly
Hair Anomaly
6 years ago

I have 4‑something hair. I thought it would be best to stop my daily wash and gos and start protective styling (updos) once I hit the 2 year-APL length mark last month, and to start caring about tangles and knots if I wanted to continue growing my hair. Welllll…by day 3 the itchy scalp was unbearable. By the time I took my hair down it was drier, more tangled, and more matted than I had ever seen it. It was a nightmare. My spaghetti noodle-sized curls just don’t like being manipulated. I have managed to retain length on my Type 4… Read more »

Cosita
Cosita
6 years ago
Reply to  Hair Anomaly

What I liked about the 3 article is she mentioned her scalp. EVERYTHING IS NOT about hair type. The scalp does its own thing, has its own mind and has nothing to do with hair pattern. Not everyone’s scalp will tolerate the same length of time between washing. And most protective styles are not friendly to those of us who can’t go even a week without washing our hair. I tried that cowash only method a few times and my scalp was hell to no.

Annabel Chima
Annabel Chima
6 years ago
Reply to  Cosita

Exactly — i have dry 3c hair but oily scalp so shampooing once a week or every other week is a must. However I need to deep condition and use moisturising products often for my dry, thick (coarse) 3c strands.

Cosita
Cosita
6 years ago

I’m 4 but the extent of my protective styling is a bun. My hair and scalp need washing every 3 to 4 days which doesn’t work well for most protective styles. . I find putting a little something heavier for sealing on my ends helps.

Robin
Robin
6 years ago

I’m a type 4 who wears wash & gos 95% of the time, and I seem to retain length just fine. Since the 1 — 4C type chart is just one of many hair behavior factors, I don’t think it’s the only determinant of who benefits most from protective styling. I’m also apparently one of the few women who never use gel in their wash & go routine. I don’t usually worry about curl definition because I’ve already got plenty of that. (Last time I used gel for a wash & go, I swear my coils all looked me dead… Read more »

Pat
Pat
6 years ago

I have to wear my hair loose since twists will unravel. I wash, condition and use my flaxseed gel for styling. I dampen my hair daily until the next wash day for me, have fibe texture. I love the look of coils and twists but my hair doesn’t cooperate with those styles.

fancycoils
fancycoils
6 years ago

I’m all about low manipulation; so, I wash & go or wash & puff 99% of the time. I don’t wear them, but I can respect low-maintenance or long-term NATURAL hairstyles. I admire any style that shows a woman puts time and attention into maintaining the aesthetic, health and cleanliness of her hair. Wigs/weaves/extensions get no love from me. I don’t know what they are supposed to be protecting because they seem to cause more harm than good. Especially since most of the women I see wearing them have NO edges…fake hair holding on to scalps solely by the grace of… Read more »

lizllizzie
6 years ago

I am love low manipulation more than having protecting styles long lasting. My hair is 4b and ever since I become natural, I have tried the protected style and failed. Im telling protected style is no good for me, for my case. It just get worst such as no edges, shedding , itchness and many more. I just love when my hair spiritual free from those protected styles however, fauz locs, braids , twist and flat twist are my best low manipulation.
Ghanian girl represent 🙂

lizllizzie
6 years ago

My hair actually does retain length without the protected style. My hair is 4b and I realized low manipulation such as weave, wigs and all that does not work for me. It cost me more damage, shedding , no edges and the itchiness is a whole another level lol.… no no protected styles is a no np but I am glad that low manipulation such as flat twist , updos has worked terrific for me.

Ghanan girl represent!

LBell
LBell
6 years ago

Glad to see I’m not the only type 4 who doesn’t protective-style. I know for a fact I’d retain more length if I did — I have fine mostly-4b coils — but I simply don’t have the patience for twisting anymore and I refuse to wear weave, wigs, or extensions. I do retain length, just not as much, and since I’m not in a race to get long hair, that’s fine with me.

tinabobina
tinabobina
6 years ago

I have “type 4” hair (what is the tightest hair type? 4b? 4c?), and I have done all different types of regimens. Whether I do mostly protective styles or wash-and-gos, I end up retaining the same amount of length. So I just do whatever I feel like doing at the moment.

Cheri
Cheri
6 years ago

I’m so glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t do protective styles. Reading and hearing so much about protective styling, I was starting to doubt my haircare system of twice a week washes and a wash and go for styling. My scalp becomes unbearably itchy and my hair becomes dry and brittle if I don’t wash it at least 2 times a week. My hair is short right now, I’m not really challenging myself to grow long hair so length retainage is not that important. I’m more concerned with overall health of my hair. If it grows long, that… Read more »

androu
androu
6 years ago

I’m type 4a. Fine strands. Wearing a protective style for weeks on end is a no for me.
Wash n go’s are also a no-no for me cuz my hair shrinks to a minimum, causing all kinds of tangles. My hair does best with low-manipulation, stretched styles, with daily moisturizing.

Aliyah
Aliyah
6 years ago

Is an updo a protective style ? Because only twist outs blow outs roller sets braid outs bantu knot outs cornrows twists without added hair just my own hair and updos work for me. I tried weaves wigs braid extensions and twist extensions and I got alot of dandruff, breakage ‚single strand knots ‚and tangles even though I took good care of it . Plus it took FOREVER to take down ! My hair likes to be up and tucked away but it does not like fake hair added to it . That’s why I love updos . I look… Read more »

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