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Curly Nikki

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

By January 27th, 202119 Comments
So Fine: Let’s Talk Protection
by Cassidy of Natural Selection Blog

The online natural hair community is riddled with protective styling challenges, videos, forums, and blogs. There are many people that speak of protective styling as the key to healthy hair and for them protective styling has helped them retain length. HOWEVER, for some of us, particularly those of us with fine hair, protective styling can actually do the exact opposite.

Coily, kinky, curly hair is by definition more fragile because the nooks and crannies of the curl are weak points. You can take a piece of string and twist it into all sorts of shapes with out doing any damage to it.

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

But if you were to take a filament with more curves in it, you could really do some harm if you play with it too much.

Let’s use a slinky as an example. We’ve all played with these metal coils of joy!

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

So you’re there with your slinky and having so much fun watching the thing walk down the stairs, bouncing back and forth between your two hands, and making cool shapes. Then you get a little bored and you decide to get innovative with the damn thing. So you decide to see how far it can stretch out before slinking back up. You grab a friend and each hold on to an end to see how far you can stretch it.

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

Then you let go and expect it to slink back up and it doesn’t because all of the bends have now been over stretched and your slinky is dunzo. No matter how hard you try to reform the coils this is what you wind up with.

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

This point of no return can also happen for coily hair in the form of breakage and thinning ends. When you put so much stress on your fragile strands keep up a regimen of protective styling, you can be doing more harm than good.

I have found personally that the best thing that I can do for my hair to retain length and encourage growth is to leave it alone. That is why I prefer wash’n’gos. I find that although my hair is out and exposed to the elements, leaving my hair in a low manipulation style such as this one is truly the best way to protect my coils because my hair is at its strongest when it is not stretched and pulled. Of course sometimes I need to mix things up and so maybe once every two months I’ll throw in some twists or braids for fun. But in general, my focus is to manipulate my hair as little as possible. Check out my [Af]Rotation for my quick and easy wash’n’go tutorial that I’ve used to stretch my wash’n’go to 9 days!

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

That said, I know that there are a lot of people out there who experience significant tangling when they wear their hair loose and so they prefer to wear styles to prevent this issue. If you have fine hair, instead of twisting or braiding your hair daily, try to extend the life of your style by doing smaller twists or braids, ones that can be left in for at least 1 week. 2 weeks would be ideal, and if you can get 4+ weeks out of one style, you’re really golden. Braids and kinky twists are good options for protective styles with a longer shelf life.

So Fine: Natural Hair Part 6

So the next time you’re thinking of incorporating frequent protective styling into your regimen, remember that the best protective style might just be doing nothing at all!

**If you’re in the SF Bay Area, please join Cassidy of Natural Selection and her fellow Bay Area Naturals for NATURALS NIGHT OUT this Saturday April 9th. For more details please visit“**


  • Coutman says:

    People keep asking me how long does it take to get my hair that way. They think I am lying about just shaking. Loving this series.

  • LovelyB says:

    Wash-n-go are no gos for me now, although they were originally my go-to style when I first went natural :/ Now my hair tangles tangles tangles. Much prefer twist-out, however my hair does still love water, so after a few days I normally need to co-wash and re-do my twists (also they start getting fuzzy frizzy) but I'm trying to cut back to only styling my hair once a week (because of time AND manipulation). ugh. Still looking for a style besides straightening that will last my hair at least 6-10 days.

  • Naijaprincess says:

    Whew! Glad to see I'm not alone in this. My friends think I'm crazy when I tell them wash-n-go's are a protective style for me. My hair is extremely coily/curly- so coily that people think I have comb coils or that I've gotten it professionally styled when I wear my wash-n-go's. I wore wash-n-go's almost exclusively for my first two years being natural. Now that my schedule is a bit more hectic, I twist it up and slap on a half wig and only mess it with every 2 weeks when I detangle.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you notice your hair clumping with conditioner in it.
    Then your hair clumps.
    Most of the time, we go back and disturb those clumps, by combing/brushing all in the name of detangling. Or just putting them in twist/braids to stretch them.
    It's possible to freeze those coils into place, so that they don't 'unclump'/frizz up.
    With what? with — gel. Putting gel over a leave – in on dripping wet hair to hold those coils will keep the clumps in place.

    Just thought I should put that out there, for those wanting to explore other options..

  • Anonymous says:

    @NappyRina – you described my 4b, very fine, dense strands to a tee. WnGs don't work for me either. I thought shingling would be the magic bullet to make it clump like the author's hair–but no such luck. I don't even wash my hair lose anymore. It is in braids every night and during bi-weekly washing/conditioning and in braidouts during the day, so it is always stretched out. The length of my hair is about 7" after the braids dry. I did worry about the broken slinky effect of keeping it stretched out 100% of the time; but after a year I find that it is still growing and super duper coily (as @b said above) like a spring in an inkpen.

  • Anonymous says:

    Yup so true NappyRina! As I stated before (anon 4/6/11 5:42 pm -> I should learn how to sign in, lol!), when it was short, the WnGs were great, no issues but once I progressed to ear length hair, the SSKs became unbearable to the point I BC’d again not knowing that the WnGs was causing it until I saw a post on Curly Nikki advising that the WnGs was the culprit. Since doing protective styles as of December, I’ve found that the best routine for my hair is to let it air dry in twists to achieve some stretch and minimize SSKs. I was blow drying and then twisting to get maximum stretch but the heat was a bit much so I cut that out with the quickness. All trial and error and still learning. As with all things, this does depend on each individuals hair; I am a 4A/4B with very coily extremely fine dense strands, nothing like that of the pictures depicted in the article. WnGs is my frienemy!

  • NappyRina says:

    I would love to just wash n go & leave my hair alone BUT I think this advice will only work for those with hair that is both fine & hair that CLUMPS like in the pics of the author. The fact that her coils clump together protects it from forming the single strand knots & tangles that MY 4B hair forms when left unmanipulated

    For example – you see that pic of the tangled slinky? Well that's EXACTLY what 4B hair does when wet & left to dry unmanipulated! Our coils twist & bend naturally with little to no clumping so the coils are allowed to interweave & intertwine just like that slinky – and can you imagine how damaging that is?!!

    So if your strands are FINE and they DON"T clump like the author's texture I would STRONGLY advise one to stay away from wash n gos – as awesome & carefree as they are, they will not help ME retain length at all. I tried them for 2 weeks straight last year and I couldn't believe how many single strand knots & tangles I had!

    My hair happens to be very dense ( so many strands) but the strands are fine so I have to be very careful to keep it in at least a semi-stretched state – it seems wash n gos would only work for me if I kept my hair short and wasn't concerned with retaining length.

    **This is not to discount at all what the author is advising:

    I just felt the need to post my experience so that others won't assume that having FINE strands was the only requirement for following this wash n go regimen successfully – Curls/Coils that clump together (and therefore protect the strands from interweaving / intertwining with reckless abandon)whether they are tight coils or loose curls, is KEY to this wash n go routine actually working in my opinion

  • bkKinksnCurls says:

    Completely agree with this article! I love showcasing my natural texture. I follow the Tightly Curly regimen and do weekly wash n gos. My hair thanks me by being soft, bouncy, moisturized and relatively tangle free. I have medium 3c4a hair.

  • Anonymous says:

    I wore wnGs for most of my TWA days but I found as it got longer, the more WnG that I did, the more knots, specifically single strand knots I got. So since December, I have been doing more protective styles that ranged from kinky twists, flat twists to the latest a curly weave. Only the weave seemed to have a serious adverse affect, doubt I do that one again 🙂

  • Anonymous says:

    I thought that I had fine strands and coarse hair but after reading the article and the comments maybe I don't. I will experience more breakage from just letting my hair be. If I did a wash and go I would have to spend hours detangling my hair. My hair is thriving in stretched protective styling.

  • Anonymous says:

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!! lol I soooo appreciate this So Fine series. I am a wash 'n' go girl also. This style works best for my hair, my lifestyle and my sanity (what little I have haha). But it seems that everything I read encourages protective styling as the ONLY way to retain length. So I'm thrilled to know that this isn't the best & only method of protection for curlies – especially those with find strands like me. Thanks a million for the info and this series – you've answered many of my questions =0)

  • Anonymous says:

    OMG I needed to read this sooooooo much!! wow
    I just see so much about protective styles that I just felt I had to do them….but I always experince my tears and breakage when I do then with my wash and go's…..thanks soooooo much

  • sugarandcurls says:

    This is soooooooooo ME!!! I wore my wng for the majority of my 1yr and 9mths of being natural and tried the protective styling thing in Feb. for the Kim Coles' GOC. Uh uh! Earlier this week, I modified my GOC regimen to go BACK to my trusty, dusty wngs! It's just what works for me – this fine hair thing ain't no joke – whew! Thanks for this affirmation!

  • Anonymous says:

    Great tips! I get the best retention by leaving my hair alone. I like kinky twists and now kinky curly weaves as protective styles.

  • Unknown says:

    I love this series. It is so informative and on point. My daughter's hair is very thick and fine, and I have found low manipulation works best for her hair. Right now she has yarn braids that she will wear for a month, after that a wash n go for about a week, then back to the yarn braids. As much as I love to do weekly styles for her hair (especially the ones I see on BB&B) her hair does not retain length with weekly styling.

  • b. says:

    Your analogies are awesome.

    The longer my hair gets, the more I can dry it in twists to stretch it and then leave it out. As it shrinks over the course of a few days I eventually pin it up or stretch it again. My hair is super-duper coily (like the spring in a pen and smaller) and this is working well for me. Maintaining my hair in twists worked well during my "in-between" length but now it's not as necessary all the time.

  • GGmadeit says:

    This had been a great series!! I too find that when I Wash n go there is little to no manipulation of my hair after the initial styling session!

  • Anonymous says:

    I've always thought the same thing. I have an easier time detangling a wash n go than twist outs. Also my hair loves water, so I have to get it wet at least once every 3 days.

  • Anonymous says:

    I soooo appreciate this series about fine hair. Thank you, Cassidy. And for the millionth time, thank you Nikki for this forum.

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