I am a naturalista that loves the convenience and versatility of protective styles. They give me a multitude of style options from cornrows to sew-ins that I can leave in for longer periods of time than I normally could with just my natural hair alone. Us natural girls get so excited for this break, we sometimes forget that the purpose of protective styles is to ultimately “protect” our hair underneath. I’m beginning to see more and more naturals with damaged hair or completely losing their hair altogether from the misuse of protective styles. Here’s a list of some hidden dangers of protective styling we all need to be aware of:
When deciding on giving our hair a break, many of us opt for a sew-in with natural part. This is when you leave out a section of your hair at the top in order to cover the weft and blend in with the hair from the extensions. This isn’t a huge issue if the texture of the extensions is pretty close to that of your natural hair. Then you don’t have to do much for your hair to blend right in. However, some of us prefer silky and straight, or loose wave options that are a complete contrast from our natural texture. Then, what do you have to do to blend your kinky/curly hair with the straighter hair from the extensions? Blow dry and flat iron that leave out to death! This is done repeatedly throughout the life of this style. Now, you’re left with irreversible heat damage on your natural hair and straight pieces that will never blend in with the texture everywhere else on your head.
Traction alopecia is hair loss due to tight braids and/or excessive pulling. We all want our hair to be nice and neat and sometimes believe that the only way to do this is with tight braids and ponytails. Some of us can handle the extra pulling without it ever affecting our hair, but others are a bit more sensitive to this. Everyone is different, but you know your hair better than anyone else. If you get an instant headache the moment that stylist starts braiding your hair, let them know! If you feel like a certain hairstyle is thinning out your edges, then stay away from it. “Prevention is better than cure.” Therefore, don’t wait until it’s too late to start doing something about your thinning hair. Put a stop to the cause of the problem and stay away from hairstyles (and hairstylists) that may be pulling out your hair.
We sometimes fail to realize how lack of moisture can negatively affect our hair. Dry hair breaks easily, even with little to no tension. I understand that It can be somewhat difficult moisturizing your hair once you have your protective style already in. That’s why it’s important to spend some time beforehand deep conditioning your hair. Doing this does not eliminate the need for moisture once your hair is braided or twisted in your protective style, but it helps to retain some of that moisture throughout the life of your style. Get creative and find ways to moisturize your hair underneath while you have your style in. This will help your hair to stay soft and pliable and it will be much easier to manage when you take your protective style out.
Protective styling is great for changing your look and giving your natural hair a break, but be mindful of the condition of your hair underneath. Take necessary precautions when wearing your hair in braided, twisted, crocheted, and sew-in styles. Rock your next protective style with confidence knowing that it’s doing exactly what you intended for it to do.