Some months ago, a friend of mine wanted a new hairdo to replace her 4-weeks old braids. I instinctively suggested something low tension and low maintenance. She immediately rejected my suggestion saying she did not want to braid her hair again. I was a little confused because I wasn’t referring to braids. I was referring to any other protective hairdo that is easy to manage and easy on her afro-hair.
You see when most people think of a protective hairdo, the first thing that comes to mind is braids. However braids are not the only protective hairdo out there.
Protective hairdos are exactly what they sound like, which is protective. The hairdo keeps the hair tucked away from manipulation, tugging, or pulling to help prevent split ends. Apart from this, protective hairdos are also ideal for most weather and can help with easy moisturization. Afro-textured hair being prone to breakage is one of the reasons why a protective hairdo is advised, so as to strengthen and reduce the tension applied to the hair.
“Whether you’re trying to grow out your hair or prevent hair damage, protective hairdos can help make all the difference in your mane’s overall health — especially for those with curly and coily hair”– Shalwah Evans, L’oreal Paris Magazine.
Be sure it is a protective hairdo
Thanks to the MyHairDO app, you can now easily access thousands of protective hairdos that would suit your texture and facial features. When choosing a protective hairdo, the first thing to ensure is that it is indeed protective. Questions such as “is hair tension reduced, are hair strands covered, does it need constant restyling, is there too much handling and pulling of the hair?” are asked. Answering these questions will help in realizing whether your option is protective not only of your edges but also the health of the hair as a whole.
A protective hairdo is not meant to last for a long period
After finally deciding on which protective hairdo to do, another important thing is the period of time the hairdo is meant to style. Stylists recommend that protective hairdos should only last for about 6-8weeks to ensure proper growth, avoid the accumulation of dirt or flakes on the scalp, and also tangling.
High or Low maintenance, your pick
One great thing about protective styling is that you can decide to use just your natural hair or with extensions. The low-maintenance hairdos are easily made and require little to no attachment, examples are the Bantu knots, natural ponytails, Space buns, and Topknot while there are also some that extensions or attachments are used in the hair for more protection, examples are box braids, knotless braids, faux locs, crotchet, cornrows with extension, double braids, two-strand twist e.t.c.
Avoid any style that is heavy, tight, or tiny (high tension)
Here I want to talk to the braids and ponytail lovers. As much as box and knotless braids can be protective hairdos, they can also fastly become unhealthy for the hair due to high tension. With afro-textured hair, high tension is not healthy on the scalp, hairline, or hair generally, This is why hair experts advise against heavy, tight, and tiny hair and also wearing hair down to avoid putting the weight of braids on the scalp.
Protective hairdos should not stop hair care
Although putting the hair in a protective hairdo can be referred to as the last step in a hair care routine, it is still necessary to maintain a healthy hair care routine of hydrating and moisturizing the scalp and hair post-styling. While protective hairdos can trap moisture it does not completely prevent the loss of moisture due to environmental factors. Therefore, moisturizing, massaging the scalp, and wrapping the hair in a silk bonnet before bed are some good practices to maintain post-styling. Imagine having a dirty scalp underneath the pretty protective hairdo, resulting in dandruff and unhealthy roots.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with switching it up
Do you know that the saying “variety is the spice of life” also applies to protective hairdos? Loving Bantu knots? Amazing then why not try space buns next? There are many other options available, so why settle for one style all year long. Not only will a change of style give you a new look while also helping in balancing out the handling of every section of the hair. Switching up your hairdo regularly can also help in ensuring equal growth in every hair section. Trying to keep the hair tension-free and healthy while encouraging growth can be tricky yet rolled into one.
Let that hair rest
The whole essence of putting the hair in a protective style is to give your hair a chance to rest from the frequent handling, washing, and overall tension that daily styling can cause, so why are you still “tensioning” the hair? The protective style is meant to tuck your hair in to avoid friction, so why the constant and daily tugging and pulling? Another thing is that after taking out a hairdo, it is necessary to leave the hair for at least a week, for the scalp to relax before putting the hair in another protective hairdo.
Stop trimming, except it is your split ends
Most stylists’ usual routine includes trimming natural hair that makes an appearance in protective hairdos (like braids, cornrows, faux locs, and the rest), it is also a habit that should be put to an end. Trimming is a word that comes to play in natural hair only when there are split ends, the continuous practice of trimming to give the hairdo the “neat” outlook will only result in an unequal length of hair strands in the long run. Try moisturizers or hair mousse, as an alternative that saves the hair and maintains its neatness.
Take it out gently
Aggressively loosening hair is counterproductive. You must remember that your hair has been stuck in the same position for the duration of wear of the hairdo. This can cause the hair to be weak and more prone to breakage. Therefore it is very important to loosen it gently to avoid unnecessary breakage. It’s like trying to untie a rope tied several weeks ago, attention given while untying makes the process a quick and painless one. Take out braids or weaves gently, detangle with your fingers, wash to remove debris, and comb with a wide-teeth comb.
Flaunt it, Enjoy it
Protective hairdos are not just to protect your hair but also an opportunity to express your creativity and the diversities in your personality. So enjoy the process! Choose hairdos that complement even flatter your facial features. Your hair is your crown girl so make sure you protect it as you wear it.