What is a Protective Style?
A protective style is a style in which the end of your natural hair is tucked away. This way, the hair does not have much exposure to the surrounding, varying from rain to the summer heat, which can influence the health of your hair. Additionally, the hair can be kept moisturised and grow in length, while daily manipulation is reduced. Many black women use protective styles as a way to have a break from their hair, allow their hair to grow, or simply for a change of style.
Examples of Protective Styles
In recent years, I have personally seen the discussion of what exactly a protective style is. Many have said a bun could be a style while others disagree. So, these examples I post are my personal opinions of what I think a protective style is, where I’ve done the majority of these styles and my natural hair is kept healthy and tucked away.
1. Braids (with or without extensions)
As a child, my mum always used to braid my hair weekly, and to be honest I believe that is why my hair has turned out the way it is. Braids are a great way to have your ends tucked in while allowing the brains to soak in the moisture. Braids are also a great way to just switch things up, and I think one of the easiest styles to be done.
Image Source: @bengine.eliscar
2. Twists (with or without extensions)
Twists are kind of similar to braids. They can be done with or without extensions, depending on the length, and how long you want them to last. I usually do twists on my natural hair and keep them in for about 1-2 weeks max, or I take them out mid-week to create a ‘zig-zag’ type of curl for a different look.
Image Source: @locsbyc
3. Faux Locs
So, for me, faux locs were the best protective style. Not only because of the style itself but how moisturised my hair remained after taking them out. The way my stylist did them was by braiding my natural hair then wrapping the loc around the braid. This way when I unwrapped the loc, my natural hair was so moisturised and kept in-tact. It all depends on the stylist, how they work and how much product they put in your braid, however, I would always recommend faux locs as it is a top tier protective style.
I’ve never experimented with weave and wigs (even though I’m sure I will soon), so I have no personal experience. But from people I know to YouTube videos and tutorials, I know they are one of the best ways to have your hair fully tucked in, having little to no exposure to the environment that may affect it. It’s a great way to test out different hairstyles, lengths and colours as well as knowing your hair is slowly growing underneath.
Image Source: @nellarosee
How long should I keep my protective style in for?
So, this question can vary from person to person, as well as the style you have and the texture of your hair. I would usually keep in a style I have with extension in for about a month and a bit. Some people may cringe to that and some may agree, but in all honesty, if I spend a certain amount on a style, I will make sure it lasts me. I do recommend washing your hair if you have braids, twists or locs with extensions and using apple cider vinegar to cleanse. That way the frizz won’t be as much, and your scalp will be clean. Oiling your scalp daily is not a way of keeping your hair healthy either. Putting oils onto your scalp too often can block the way of new strands of hair to grow from your follicles, and therefore creating build-up which can lead to itchiness and dryness.
That all being said, I do feel like protective style and everything that comes with it depends on how long you want to keep it in that way and financial costs. If you are unable to pay for a style, you can always do styles with your natural hair and watch tutorials on how to do them. Making sure your scalp is clean and not dry is the main point, so if you have that covered I’m sure your hair will be healthy and ready for whatever style you want!