If you’re transitioning, natural-haired (or if you’re not) you’ve probably heard of many terms, recipes and -ism’s by now. One in particular that’s all the buzz at the moment is the term ‘protective style’.
Of course this term, like the term ‘natural’, means different things to different people so there are two schools of thought on this.
One is that a protective style is worn to tuck away and protect the ends of the hair from damage. Doing so allows for minimum manipulation, and helps to retain the length of hair as it grows. Examples of protective styles would include twists, braids, buns, wash and go’s etc.. Basically any style you don’t have to fuss over on a daily basis and can wear for an extended time.
Another thought is that protective styling is a manner by which you handle your hair. For example, if I apply coconut oil to my strands then add conditioner to detangle my hair before shampooing, that’s a protective measure to reduce overall breakage. It also goes hand in hand with carefully detangling, using the right tools, even sleeping with a satin bonnet or on a satin pillow case is protective.
When you think about it the whole concept of protective styling involves all of it. Why protect our hair with twists and then mishandle our strands on wash day creating breakage?
So why bother with protective styles? Benefits include achieving length, protection from outdoor elements, a break from styling routines, and is good during transitioning from relaxers, to name a few.
I usually sway toward the second school of thought. I enjoy wearing my hair out too much to tuck it away for long so I do what I can in my daily regimen and handling of my hair to reduce damage or breakage.
This has really helped me figure out how to care for my hair, what it likes and how to deal with it at different stages and situations along my journey. Probably the biggest thing it did for me was increase my self confidence and acceptance each day. I may attempt to wear a protective style one day, if I can figure out something I like and leave alone long enough to count!
There’s several paths to achieving healthy hair and the choice will always be a personal one. It’s always good to research and experiment to know what works in your situation. Just don’t forget to learn your hair and take out time to ENJOY it. You’ll be glad you did!
Do you wear protective styles or practice protective styling techniques? What’s your reasons for doing so?