I can’t count how many times other women have warned me to put a protective style in because it’s getting colder. Simply too many, when in actual fact, I was wearing a protective style!
Protective styling can take on so many different forms, according to preference. It can mean braiding, weaving, using scarves and wigs or simply just tucking your hair away. We do it for various reasons including a lack of time, or energy, and also to protect against harsh weather elements. In the last two years and half years, my preferred method is up-dos , flat twists or roll and tuck methods. I have probably used a protective style once (braids) in that period of time and this has resulted in the biggest revelation of all. I discovered we do not need to hide our hair way as often we thought and these styles are not as protective as we have been led to believe all these years. Here’s a few reasons why these styles just don’t do it for me anymore.
- My 4C strands are fine and really they do not take well to weight of extensions for a prolonged period of time. The last set of braids upset my edges. Ladies, hair will never look healthy without some good edges. Tip: Protective styles like braids put a lot of pressure on fine strands. Perhaps learning to pin and tuck or flat twist may be the way forward.
- My strands tend to get dry quickly, meaning a proper moisture routine is required. That just can’t happen with weaves and braids. Tip: If you hair is the type that gets dry easily, a better option may be thoroughly moisturising and deep conditioning and not lock your hair away making it hard to effectively moisturise.
- I work out 4 times a week, meaning sweat and hair product residue is bound to build up. Coconut oil, castor oil, leave- ins, tea tree infused water for my scalp. You name it! Because of this I need a thoroughly good cleaning routine. Tip: If you work out often or sweat a lot, this means you need to wash you hair more often than a person who does not. The more you wash you hair in a protective style such as braids or weave the more pressure you put on your strands and edges and the more dirt/ bacteria gets clogged between strands. If you must protective style, perhaps a wig or head scarf may be the thing for you.
- I don’t feel comfortable wearing wigs. I came really close to commissioning a friend to make me one twice, but I just could not do it. Every time I came to close to, I thought, ‘that’s not really me anymore’. It does not look like me; it does not feel like me. Tip: If you also feel that way then do not be intimidated by everyone else standards of beauty like having extra volume or straight hair. If you choose to style your own hair just keep it neat.
- I have concluded no hair stylist’s hands are good enough for my strands. It’s nothing personal; it’s just that I have taken the time and steps to qualify myself as the best handler of my own strands. If I have an Msc in my hair, why allow someone with a certificate to handle it. Tip: If you really want those cute box braids, or weave, then head to the hair appointment with moisturised stretched and detangled hair. Make it ‘hairstylist ready’ yourself. Do not show up with your knotted afro and expect them to do it all without damage. They will either blow dry your hair on the highest heat setting or just break off the knotted bits as they go along. Have a bit of understanding for their waiting appointments. Sheesh!
- It is very easy to get lazy with protective styles. You put those braids in aiming to take them out after four weeks and here you are six weeks later, thinking about how you don’t have the time to take them out and detangle and wash. The thoughts surrounding a ‘braids take down’ can be overwhelming. Meanwhile underneath it all, the hair is getting drier and brittle and clumping together even more and more. Tip: Consider the hardworking ant, you lazy one! Haha!
- Last but not least, I am confident that my natural hair is not weak, neither is it a bad texture or shabby because it coils. It does not break because a gale was blowing this week or because it snows in January. It does not break because its winter, it breaks when I allow it to get very dry so with a bit more attention and effort during the winter months it’s absolutely fine. Tip: Have more faith in your hair type and the look it gives you.
Whatever you choose, overtime, it will reflect on the health of your hair. When you see that reflection, don’t just walk away, make the required adjustments.
I hope you continue to appreciate and care for your natural hair.