Protective Styling

A protective style is a style that protects your hair and scalp, simple right? These are low manipulation styles that when done properly can cause hair growth and length retention. Many of us have been protective styling since the beginning of time, without even knowing it. The braids and twists we always had in our hair with the bobo’s at the end, the cornrows, the beaded styles, all of these were protective styles.

One thing you’ll notice with all of these protective styles is that the hair doesn’t require constant manipulation once it’s in its style. This is a style that once it is made, your hair can be left alone for a set amount of time without having to restyle. This alone can lead to great length retention. To all those with Type 4 kinky hair, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the more you run your hands through your hair (if you can) and the more you style and re-style your hair, the more breakage and hair shedding you see. This is caused by over-manipulation. Allowing our hair to rest and just be, is essential to our hair’s growth. This is why Protective Styling is great.

When does a Protective Style stop protecting your hair?

If your style doesn’t allow you easy access to your scalp then it isn’t really protecting much. You need access to both your scalp and hair strands, as much as possible. This access allows you to oil and massage your scalp which will improve blood circulation to the scalp and prevent scalp dryness and itchiness. Access to the hair strands allows you to moisturize your hair while in the style. A big mistake that many make is not routinely moisturizing hair while in protective styles. Your hair still needs that moisture while its being protected – this is easier to do when you protective style with your natural hair.

If there is too much tension on your scalp, edges, and hairline then you are causing more damage to your hair than protecting. Installing styles that are too tight causes tugging on the hair follicles especially at our hairline which generally has weaker strands. This is evident when you take your style out and realize your edges are visibly thinner. Always make sure that these styles are comfortable!! Continue moisturizing and massaging oils on to your edges and hairline throughout the style as well!

We are all striving for length retention and longer tresses. Protecting our ends is KEY for this. Our ends are the oldest and most vulnerable parts of our hair. They need all the TLC we can give. While installing/wearing your protective styles, always think of how you can better protect and tuck your ends. The styles aren’t protecting the ends if our hair is always exposed to the harsh weather conditions and always brushing against our shoulders and clothing. This is an easy way to get split ends. Try to wrap your ends in buns that will keep them away from your shoulders and protected from the elements. Try hanging bantu knots that keep ends tucked while wearing hanging styles like two strand twist or braids. If you are protective styling with hair attachments, then your ends will already be tucked. Just be sure that they are moisturized before install and during wear!

A personal favorite protective style at The4cVoice is twists! Twists are very versatile and can be done and worn in a variety of ways. They are easy to install and allow moisture to be retained in the hair strands. They can be done on a large scale or mini scale, depending on your preference and what you have time for. When pulled into a bun, they look so pretty! Check out our latest YouTube video on installing mini twists on 4c hair! You will see how the twists are installed and hear thoughts on hair practices that will lead to healthy hair!

The4CVoice Tips for Protective Styling

  • Ensure hair is thoroughly moisturized before installing protective style

  • Keep your hair and scalp moisturized while in the style!

  • Keep scalp clean, wash scalp when it is feeling itchy

  • Don’t leave styles in for too long! A good rule of thumb is to keep them in for less than 6 weeks

  • Install styles that are comfortable on your scalp and edges

  • Be gentle when removing your protective style! Use oil or conditioner to help

If you follow these tips for protective styling, you’ll see that length retention in no time! What are your favorite and go to protective styles? Let us know in the comments below!

See you next Sunday!