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Protective (OR) Style: More Than Just A Hairstyle

As you juggle deadlines, household needs and maybe even professional commitments: you can thank modernity for such blessings. Now take the thought of carving out some time to commit to personal care, on top of everything else that you have to do. Great! The premise for styling our hair is one area of hair care that is constantly seeing new and daring transformations. We have seen many brews of styles, trends and even peer pressure to make a person jump through hoops in order to escape FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Styling hair is something that some of us (if not all of us) do regularly. Whether you love a dramatic or a subtle style, there is a good chance that you look to braids, or other forms of plaiting to achieve most of your hairstyles. There may be lots of reasons why you or your friend may be looking to flaunt a certain “protective” hairstyle but understanding what is actually protective and what is just a style should prevail in our hairstyle decision making.

As mentioned above, you may prefer a dramatic look over a low manipulation protective style, and in most cases the styling routine involves braiding and plaiting, maybe even additional hair extensions (after treating your hair underneath, we hope). With longer lasting and short-lived styles, these hairstyles heroes do the expected role of covering, allowing versatility, they may even transform one’s personal look and sometimes personality. For some (myself included), hair care has been the same way our whole lives. A bit of familiar dryness here, some neglected dullness there and felt a lot better with a protective style on, never bothering about really getting into extensive hair care. Jokes aside, even with the protective style on there was no aftercare involved. But I was quickly saying goodbye to my twenties with no sign of improvement so here I am, learning about my own hair.

So, we now understand (or have heard about) what strengthens and affects the condition of the scalp on our heads. We can combine this learning to make better choices when it comes to how we mind the health of our hair when it comes to styling it. The one tip that seems to be a psalm in the natural hair community is the importance of taking care of the scalp (in this case to avoid hurting your scalp). Some have seen many issues as a result of constant over manipulation of hair, while they swear that it is the main thing that promotes their hair to grow. To move from this perception that your hair only grows or is only protected in an overly manipulated style is important. How about the stress that you put on making time to put an outfit together, a daily gym class or ditching your me-time for a catch up with friends? Now that we do not have the luxury to catch up with our mates, this thinking too, should be a permanent part of our hair care thought line up.

Protective Styling:

If you have the right hairstyle, you can go about your business. Our hairstyle superstars can be really creative and might like having a new style monthly, weekly or even daily, but whether that is protecting your hair can be up for debate. To help you assess your hairstyle contenders from dozens out there, we weigh in on the basic regulars for our protective style days.

Braids and cornrows are the champions of the hairstyle nation. They are luxurious, versatile, trendy protective hairstyles that can be worn up, down, side-to-side, loose, straight, long or short, formed by twisting or weaving one’s natural hair with (or without) extensions. In my previous experience, braiding only meant pain and discomfort, which meant that hair day was always a complete ordeal. I was put off braiding my hair for a good 8 years thinking to myself; why put unbearable strain on my head when I should enjoy my hairstyle without a construction happening on my head? This is our opinion on how you should enjoy your hairstyles and save your scalp; avoid pressure on your scalp. While this is something you should keep in mind throughout your healthy hair journey, sometimes the style you want requires just that, pulling. Maybe it is time to reconsider your hairstyle practices.

Low Manipulation Styling:

Until you have to go somewhere, it is easy to neglect your hair up to the last minute. Low manipulation styles are great options to freestyle and experiment with your natural hair’s versatility. These are also dazzling (and simple) ways to play with your hair and looks, with or without extensions. The sad thing is that I know women who do not believe simply manipulating your own hair makes them beautiful.

They include simple hairstyles like flat twists, single twists, two or three strand twists, knots, curls, a braided or non-braided Updo, ponytails that you can accomplish anywhere. The list goes on, but what an oxymoron to say that these are “simple hairstyles”. Who here has not tried an “easy” YouTube tutorial only to find that it is trickier than it looks? Well, we know how that goes; practice makes perfect.

Before you learn how to have your hair protected in a style, get to know how you should not overwork your scalp in the first place, and some reasons how your scalp might suffer. The same way that prevention is better than cure, you should not wait until your scalp is completely plastered

beyond repair before you think differently about plaiting. If this has not crossed your mind, consider this indefinite stay at home order to normalise healthy hairstyling habits. Until next time friends, remember that practice makes perfect and tight is not right.  Please Keep learning about some of the health implications of plaiting, braiding or even combing African hair, and more about the effects of hairstyles that constantly pull on your hair