When you think of protective styles, I am sure a word or phrase instantly comes to your mind. For me, that phrase is ‘box braids.’ Yes, most times, I decide to do protective styling; it is indeed braided, and more recently, I do crochet styles as well. Essentially, protective styles are any way you style your hair that keeps your ends and hair protected (from the elements) for some time. I didn’t realize that there were wrong ways to do protective styles when I first returned naturally. How do we know if we are doing the protective style thing correctly? Over the years, there are specific criteria I try to tick off when deciding to style my hair in a certain way.

  • Does the style I won’t require it to be installed tight? – We all know edges are critical out here, so ditch any styles that required extra tension on your edges or hair in general. You can also find a professional who is mindful of taking
    proper care of natural hair to avoid this.
  • Does the style require washing? – Clean hair grows, so if the protective style will be in for an extended period, then it is a good idea to wash your hair in the style if possible. This can work for box braids, mini twists, and crochet. Just be sure to be gentle while washing your scalp so as not to make your styles frizzy. If you have in a short term style like a bun, then you can wash your hair weekly or as needed. Based on my schedule I would decide if the style is worth putting in or if
    to go with a shorter-term protective style.
  • Is my hair ready for a protective style? – In a previous blog post, I talked about preparing my hair for a protective style; I think it is imperative that your hair is as healthy as you can get it before tucking it away. Tucking away dry, lifeless hair in a bun for a week or two will only leave you with a matted mess after and defeating the purpose of the protective style in the first place.

When in doubt about protective styling, seek out professionals who are versed in natural hair and can guide you accordingly. Your hair is your crown, so wear it with your head held high!

Shemelia Small-Shortte
Wife| Mother| Hair Enthusiast

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