...And how to avoid it.
Protective styles are a useful way of maintaining your hair’s integrity and strength and is popular among naturalistas who want to keep their hair free from tangles or any other damage.
There are different ways that you can protect your hair, these can be done through braids, wigs, weaves, basically, any style that tucks your natural hair away so that it is untouched to receive little to no manipulation.
The idea behind protective styles is that since our hair is delicate, overstyling, heat, combs and brushes are believed to damage our hair.
Sometimes, however, even in our best efforts, we can cause more harm than good with protective styling. How can protective styling go wrong if it is supposed to protect your hair? We’ve put together some of the top ways we can get it wrong.
1. Not getting moisture into your hair. While your hair is in its protective style, it can be easy to forget to apply a water-based product to your hair periodically. Hair needs moisture to remain its elasticity, without it, it becomes brittle and snaps. To maintain moisture, try a moisturizing spritz or create a D.I.Y. by mixing some of our Get Slick Hair Smoothie in a spritz bottle with filtered water, this is will keep your hair and scalp hydrated, soft and it will prevent product buildup.
2. Too much tension in your protective style. When it comes to styles that require braiding, tighter isn’t better. Traction alopecia is a gradual form of hair loss where the strands are pulled from the scalp. Overtime, the root becomes damaged which leads to scarring and hair loss, that can be permanent. Avoid anything that causes your hair to feel pulled or give you a headache. Your edges will thank you!
3. Using only butters and oils on your hair and scalp. Similar to our first point, using only oil to your natural hair in a protective style can lead to product build up and brittle hair. Butters and oils are great for sealing in the moisture, however, when your hair isn’t properly moisturized, using only oils & butters will keep your hair and scalp from absorbing moisture from the atmosphere. The results are an itchy scalp, clogging of the hair follicles and creates tons of flakes.
Stay away from heavy butters and oils that can ‘sit’ on your hair, opt for a lighter oil such as jojoba that mimics our hair and always spritz water. You can also do rinses to your hair with Apple Cider Vinegar to help remove oils and dirt which will also add moisture back into your hair.
4. Keeping a protective style in too long. As with anything, protective styles also have an expiration date. Experts suggest taking out a protective style after 8 weeks. Because your hair isn’t loose, it is harder to get into the scalp to properly clean it as well as removing dirt and build-from there hair. The longer you leave in a style, the higher the prospect of bacteria, mold and fungus growing in your hair due to certain parts of your hair staying dark and moist.
We asked natural hair expert, Nicole J, owner of A Distinct Image, for some simple steps to aid in decreasing the amount of damaged/ dry hair accumulated after taking down a protective style and here were her tips: 1.Use an astrengent/antiseptic to cleanse the scalp 2. Spraying the hair and scalp with a water refresher will moisturize the scalp and hair. 3. Using a light oil to nourish the hair and scalp afterwards.
Be aware of protective styling, having healthy hair is important but you do not want to risk it all by not taking care of your natural hair. Paying attention to what your hair and scalp needs can prevent dryness and breakage in the future.